The Quickie: "What Starts in Texas Doesn't Stay in Texas"
For Immediate Release: March 16, 2023
Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day. You can read “The Quickie'' online here.
In today’s Quickie: PP talks mifepristone case, TN politicians cut HIV funding, UT effectively bans abortion, and PP continues the discussion on weaponized motherhood.
“WHAT STARTS IN TEXAS DOESN’T STAY IN TEXAS”: Yesterday, Planned Parenthood officials held a press call after a federal district court heard oral arguments in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, the case challenging the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, one of two medications most commonly used in medication abortion. Wendy Davis, Senior Advisor to Planned Parenthood Texas Votes; Dr. Bhavik Kumar, Medical Director of Primary and Trans Care at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast; and Carrie Flaxman, Senior Director of Public Policy Litigation and Law at Planned Parenthood Federation of America explained what is at stake for abortion both in Texas and nationwide in ongoing court cases including the mifepristone case, the first of its kind civil wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, and other attacks on abortion rights.
“Earlier today in Amarillo, oral arguments were heard in a case that could overrule the FDA’s 22-year approval of mifepristone,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, those arguments were not streamed to the public outside of courthouses in Amarillo and Dallas… But this case is indicative of how Texas — even after Roe v Wade was overturned and abortion banned in the state three times over — remains the epicenter for the continued attacks on our reproductive health and rights. And as we’ve seen, what starts in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas — it often has grave national implications.”
“The court has never taken this kind of action that has been requested to remove a safe and effective drug from the market,” Flaxman said. “We are in unprecedented waters.”
“As a physician, it is my ethical duty to ensure this care is safe, patient-centered, and accessible,” Dr. Kumar said. “Attacks like this on a critical and safe medication make my job and that of other compassionate healthcare providers much more difficult… This is precisely what anti-abortion lawmakers and their allies have been working toward: To decimate your bodily autonomy and eliminate your freedom to self-determination, no matter if you live in Texas or California… They have no basis in medical science; they are politically motivated attacks from people seeking to ban abortion nationwide. But no matter what, Planned Parenthood will continue to show up for the people who need us, and we will do everything we can to ensure patients can access the care they need to live their lives on their own terms.”
No decision has been made by the federal district court judge in the case yet, but the judge indicated yesterday a decision will be made as soon as possible.
Read more at Roll Call, Fox 4, and CBS. If you’re interested in a full recording of the call, please contact us at [email protected].
ANTI-LGBTQ+ POLITICIANS IN TENNESSEE TAKE AIM AT LIFE-SAVING HEALTH PROGRAMS: Yesterday, PBS Newshour examined Tennessee politicians’ attacks on the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to legislative attacks including a ban on public drag and banning gender-affirming care for trans youth, lawmakers are slashing essential HIV prevention and treatment programs. Gov. Bill Lee announced earlier this year that Tennessee would refuse millions of dollars in CDC funding for critical HIV/AIDS prevention services, such as condoms, PrEP, and testing. The move came just weeks after the state canceled a grant to Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi (PPTNM), which has led the state’s condom distribution program for more than two decades. As Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood Advocacy and Organizing Director Francie Hunt noted,
“After the Tennessee abortion ban, I think that these lawmakers had to turn their attention now to the LGBTQ community and to attack their rights. What's alarming is that they're not only trying to punish Planned Parenthood politically, but several different community organizations as well.”
Gov. Lee claims that the funding would not decrease but rather be replaced by state funding. However, the state has indicated that it would not give funding to the trusted community organizations already doing the work, including PPTNM. The state also said that it would shift its prevention priorities away from the most vulnerable communities — such as men who have sex with men, heterosexual women, injection drug users, and people of color — and toward other communities that make up just 2% of people with HIV/AIDS.
This decision is dangerous: the Memphis area has one of the highest incidence of new HIV/AIDS cases in the country.
“It kind of felt like a gut punch, to be honest. I want to say I'm shocked, but it felt like a little inhumane,” Josh Hall from OUTMemphis said. “Like, we're talking about lifesaving drugs. To turn that into a political issue just feels below human. I find myself at the intersection of a lot of these issues, just being a gay Black man living in a Southern state. So, it is becoming increasingly hard to live in a state that seems to be directly attacking me.”
“If you replace the word HIV with any other condition, if you replace it with diabetes, and you said, OK, the state of Tennessee is about to send back funding for diabetes care, testing, treatment for the population that is most at risk for having this condition, there would be so much outrage, people would say, how dare you send back funding for a health condition that we know people need additional support for?” Dr. Michelle Taylor at Shelby County Health Department told PBS.
Watch the full segment at PBS.
UTAH BILL FUNCTIONALLY ELIMINATING ABORTION ACCESS SIGNED INTO LAW BY GOVERNOR: Yesterday, Gov. Spencer Cox signed HB467 into law, a bill that will functionally eliminate access to abortion in the state, even though abortion is currently legal in Utah up until 18 weeks. The bill aims to bypass the court ruling currently blocking the state’s total ban by, among other things, amending the existing ban to restrict abortion care solely to hospitals. HB467 has led to confusion among clinics, hospitals, and patients alike as lawmakers strip Utahns’ of access to essential health care.
Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU), said in a statement: “Nothing in this bill makes abortions in Utah safer, more affordable, or more accessible for the thousands of Utahns who need this essential health care each year. It has one goal: put abortion out of reach for as many Utahns as possible no matter what their faith, family, and trusted medical providers decide is best for their safety and health.”
PPAU is currently exploring all options to preserve access to abortion in Utah ahead of HB 467 going into effect on May 3.
Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune, AP, and ABC4.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD SHOWS UP FOR ALL FAMILIES: Danika Severino Wynn, VP of Abortion Access for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, joined the White Picket Fence podcast to continue discussing the weaponization of motherhood stemming from conservative movements in the 1960s. Danika spoke about how normative ideas about motherhood and families from that time are still pervasive today, and how they affect Planned Parenthood’s work:
“I think right now, we’re in an incredibly polarized time where there are parts of our society that are still holding onto the idea that the nuclear family is the only way. We are standing up to that and trying to remind people that that is not what matters, that there are so many other things that matter about the way that people come together as families or in communities that still can be absolutely beautiful and accepted. We just continue to feel strongly that Planned Parenthood shows up for people in the way that they are needed and for their whole families, no matter what their families look like.”
This interview is part of an ongoing partnership between White Picket Fence and PPFA. Listen to the full episode here, and you can also listen to Episode 1 here.