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: reproductive rights groups’ plans to keep abortion top of mind for voters, anti-abortion rights activists go after pharmacies, and a recap of this week’s state fights.
“WHEN ABORTION IS ON THE BALLOT, REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM WINS”: Today, the New Republic highlighted abortion rights advocates' plans to keep abortion rights salient for voters over the next two years going into the 2024 elections. In the 2022 midterms, reproductive rights champions outperformed most pundits’ expectations due to voters strongly supporting abortion rights. Additionally, abortion rights groups won all six abortion-related ballot initiatives, defending reproductive freedom in Kentucky, Montana, and Kansas and codifying abortion rights in California, Michigan, and Vermont.
“When abortion is on the ballot, reproductive freedom wins,” Jenny Lawson, the vice president of organizing and engagement campaigns at Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), said.
Abortion will remain top of mind for voters as anti-abortion politicians continue introducing new and increasingly strict abortion bans and restrictions across the country.
“There is no doubt that voters care about abortion rights and that abortions will continue to be a driving issue on the campaign trail and beyond,” Lawson said.
Read more at the New Republic.
ANTI-ABORTION RIGHTS ACTIVISTS MOVE TO TARGET PHARMACIES: “WE WANT PEOPLE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE”: This week, POLITICO featured anti-abortion rights activists’ plans to begin targeting pharmacies that will fill prescriptions for the abortion pill, mifepristone, as per the FDA’s updated regulations last week. These groups are organizing pickets outside CVS and Walgreens stores – both pharmacy chains have indicated they will seek authorization to fill prescriptions for abortion pills – in at least eight cities with the intention of making people “uncomfortable” and to pressure the companies to walk back their decision to dispense abortion pills. Notably, these protests will target stores in states where abortion is legal — the only states where the FDA’s new regulations will change access.
“They’re trying to deter people from going online and getting pills and, in their minds, close gaps in their current law,” Elizabeth Nash, Principal Policy Associate at the Guttmacher Institute, said. The new FDA regulations “put a spotlight on medication abortion right as these state legislatures were coming back into session.”
As state legislatures come back into session, states like Missouri and Texas are weighing bans on mifepristone or further regulations on pharmacies providing reproductive health care services like birth control. These policies can have wide-reaching consequences beyond limiting access to medication abortion and birth control. Patients who use drugs like methotrexate and misoprostol for autoimmune disorders (like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), cancer, and other conditions have found themselves unable to access their treatments because the drugs can also be used to end a pregnancy.
Read more at POLITICO.
STATE FIGHTS ROUND UP: As we wrap up the second full week of the new year, nearly 50 anti-abortion bills have already been introduced or pre-filed in states across the country. Reproductive rights champions have also continued to step up post-Dobbs, introducing about 50 proactive bills to protect and expand abortion access.
- During their short session this week, Illinois lawmakers passed the Patient and Provider Protection Act, sending it to Gov. Pritzker’s desk. Among other positive provisions, this bill mitigates the threat of aggressive out-of-state litigation against providers of abortion and gender-affirming care, expands the range of abortion services provided by advanced practice clinicians, and creates a pathway for out-of-state medical staff to be quickly licensed for reproductive health care in Illinois. Once signed, it will be the first pro-abortion rights bill signed into law this session.
- Minnesota lawmakers continue to fast-track the Protect Reproductive Options Act (PRO Act), which would codify the fundamental right of reproductive freedom into state law. This week, the bill passed its second Senate committee and its final House committee, meaning it now heads to the full floor for a vote. Legislators have also introduced a conversion therapy ban and a bill that would provide free menstrual products in schools.
- On the first day of Michigan’s legislative session, lawmakers introduced a bill to officially repeal the state’s 1931 criminal abortion ban. In November, Michigan voters approved the Reproductive Freedom for All constitutional amendment to codify abortion rights, and the 1931 ban is unenforceable thanks to Planned Parenthood of Michigan’s state court challenge that resulted in a permanent injunction last year. Now, the legislature must finally repeal the ban to ensure abortion is permanently protected for all Michiganders.
- Since reconvening for the 2023 state legislative session, Montana lawmakers have wasted no time introducing abortion restrictions, despite voters' rejection of an anti-abortion ballot measure in November. Lawmakers have introduced bills attacking the right to privacy, a total ban on abortion, a constitutional amendment on public funding for abortion, and legislation requiring fetal death certificates, regardless of the gestational age of the pregnancy.
- Abortion bans have also been introduced in a number of states: a six-week ban in Nebraska; a total ban in North Dakota; a 15 week and near-total ban in Virginia; and a ban on telemedicine for abortion in Kansas, where voters just rejected an effort to strip abortion rights from the state constitution.
- In Utah, anti-abortion politicians have filed a resolution to amend the rules of civil procedure, to prevent litigants from securing a preliminary injunction unless they can demonstrate the case has a substantial likelihood of success–a much steeper threshold than current Utah law. The resolution specifically targets the hold on Utah’s abortion trigger ban which has been in place since June, following Planned Parenthood Advocates of Utah’s challenge to the law.
Next week, several states will be holding hearings:
- Jan 16: Montana House Judiciary Committee hearing on the fetal death certificates for non-viable pregnancies bill
- Jan 16: North Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on total abortion ban.
- Jan 17: Montana Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill barring the right to privacy for abortion