Teddy Wilson is an independent journalist and Staff Reporter at Rewire. Previously he worked as a reporter and social media manager for Free Speech Radio News, and as a reporter for the Texas Independent. A native Texan and Navy veteran, he is based out of College Station, Texas.
"This bill is absurd, unconstitutional, and further proof that some North Carolina legislators remain committed to discriminating against LGBT people and their families," said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.
“This bill is ridiculously vague and could be used against anyone maliciously,” Amy Bright, executive director of New Greenville, said of a pair of bills introduced this week by North Carolina Republicans.
Since 2015, bills requiring pregnant patients be informed about “abortion reversal” have been introduced by Republican lawmakers in California, Colorado, Georgia, and North Carolina. Republican governors in Arizona, Arkansas, South Dakota, and Utah have signed similar bills into law.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said the president has “once again put the fox in charge of the hen house” by appointing someone to a government agency who opposes the agency’s mission.
“You can’t build a health-care network and a safety net and a robust family planning program if you’re trying to contract with people who have never done the work before and who have no experience doing it,” Blake Rocap, legislative counsel at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said of the state's contract with The Heidi Group.
So-called abortion reversal is "make-believe health care, because it requires doctors to give information that is not accurate,” said Mistie Tolman, Idaho legislative director and public affairs manager with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii.
“Not only is Mike Moon obsessed about outlawing abortion in Missouri ... but he is also a racist and a bigot,” said Alison Dreith, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri. “The Missouri Republican Party needs to stand against Moon's hate, yet they condone it by rapidly giving his bills hearings and attention by passing them out of the house.”
“This bill intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship by requiring doctors to become investigators and patients their suspects, and it does nothing to address the root causes of gender discrimination and bias,” said Ashley Wright, public policy manager for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
"White Republican legislators are disingenuous," said Cherisse Scott, CEO and founder of SisterReach, a reproductive justice advocacy organization. "They do not care about (people of color's) babies or our lives because our voices and lived experiences are not centered in their decision making or policy crafting."
“Rural women, women of color, low-income women will be disproportionately affected the closure of the clinic,” said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of WV FREE. “It means that getting by day-to-day for marginalized women just got harder in West Virginia.”
“Today’s ruling acknowledges that these regulations do nothing to protect public health while imposing new burdens and uncertainty on health care providers and the diverse communities they serve,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
"Any attempt to block a patient's right to safe and legal abortion will not go unchallenged," said Laura McQuade, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. "The state of Arkansas should not waste taxpayer dollars on this ideological war.
"If there are women in these highly restrictive states who want abortions but can't get them because there aren't any clinics that they can get to, and that's why abortion's going down, that's not a good thing," said Rachel Jones, senior research associate at Guttmacher and lead author of the study.
Heather Hyden, a pregnant Kentucky woman whose fetus had been diagnosed with an abnormality, testified against a 20-week abortion care ban. The measure passed easily through Kentucky's GOP-held legislature.
The bill targets the dilation and evacuation procedure commonly used for abortion care after 13 weeks of pregnancy. Health and medical professionals criticize these bans as substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors.
"Senator Sessions is not that person and presents an extreme danger to the equality, diversity and inclusiveness that the U.S. has achieved over the last decade," Bernard Simelton, president of the Alabama Conference of the NAACP, wrote in a petition opposing Sessions' nomination for attorney general.
"It's unfortunate after weeks of lawmakers promising business would be their top priority and social issues wouldn't be on the front burner that within hours of gaveling in we see two anti-abortion bills that seem to be on the fast track,” said Amber Duke, communications director of the ACLU of Kentucky.
Destiny Lopez, co-director of All* Above All, told Rewire it will be critical to expose the Trump administration's agenda to “shame and bully and punish poor women” as the organization mobilizes supporters to pressure members of Congress to stand against anti-choice measures.
"I'm disappointed for the people of North Carolina—the jobs that they may not get,” Governor-elect Roy Cooper said. “I'm disappointed that we haven't yet removed the stain from our reputation around the country and around the world."
Lawmakers in many states have passed restrictions on abortion care in recent years. Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute told Rewire that this may push legislators to either heighten the severity of those restrictions or pass even more extreme ones that erode abortion care access.
Sen. A.J. Griffin (R-Guthrie), the senate sponsor of the so-called Humanity of the Unborn Child Act (HB 2797), proposed an amendment to the law that would require the signs only be posted at facilities that provide abortion services.
“We are pleased that the court has prevented these outrageous restrictions from going into effect in Texas, where they would have created immediate and dangerous new barriers on women’s access to health care,” said David Brown, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said the Republican-backed bill is an “ideological attack” that is intended to “shame and stigmatize” pregnant people seeking abortion care.
“Kasich’s actions today will fall hardest on low-income women, women of color, and young women,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “History will not judge Gov. Kasich’s disregard for women’s health kindly.”
“North Carolina’s governor was just voted out of office because of his support for a discriminatory law that took an immediate and devastating toll on his state’s economy,” said Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans.
Anna Yocca’s case is a “first-of-its-kind prosecution” that is not supported by the language of the law or the Tennessee Constitution, said Jill Adams, executive director for the Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice.
“There is not a day at our clinics that we don’t remember Dr. Tiller and his dedication to women,” said Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of the Trust Women Foundation. “The extremist who murdered Dr. Tiller deserves the maximum sentence allowed by law.”
State Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) told Missourinet that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down parts of Texas omnibus anti-choice law HB 2 motivated her to introduce the legislation.
“They’ve never backed down from an opportunity to deny rights to certain populations,” Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro Choice Texas, said of the state's GOP legislators. “Whether that’s women, that’s immigrants, that’s the LGBT population.”
Restricting access to abortion care is expected to be a legislative priority for Kentucky's new GOP majority. The state's Republican lawmakers in recent years have introduced several anti-choice bills, only to have them blocked by the House's Democratic majority.
From a legislator who declared himself a "former fetus" to another who compared Planned Parenthood to ISIS, lawmakers instrumental in the passage of anti-choice laws will be on the ballot this Election Day.
Myron Thompson, a senior judge at the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, issued a preliminary injunction, ruling that the laws are likely to be found unconstitutional, reported Reuters.
“These key races could determine control of a legislature, potentially flip a few legislatures while also driving pro-choice turnout up and down the ballot," said James Owens, states communications director for NARAL.
"When you have so many law enforcement agencies it just opens up that possibility so many more times. We probably have the most unreported cases coming from law enforcement, and of course police shootings are just a subset of that," said Amanda Woog, project director at the Texas Justice Initiative.
“The substantial expense of successfully bringing this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court is just one consequence of Texas’ decision to defend this sham law, which denied women their basic rights and shuttered clinics that are still struggling to reopen,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. The center's attorneys “dedicated thousands of hours” to the legal fight against the unconstitutional measures of HB 2.
“This is a win for the Arkansans who rely on Planned Parenthood of the Heartland for birth control, cancer screenings, and other essential health care,” said Suzanna de Baca, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “Every person deserves access to quality, affordable health care from the provider they know and trust, and today, the court recognized that.”
"These types of extreme proposals are wildly unpopular with the public and have failed every single time they have been put before voters," Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Broadly. "It's blatantly unconstitutional and shows the true colors of abortion opponents: to punish some who need reproductive health care."
"It's more than a little sad that this is what passes for health care. They're just making it up as they go along, and it's replacing actual clinics that were providing health care," Blake Rocap of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas said.
A law supported by Mississippi's Republican legislators would prohibit the Division of Medicaid from reimbursing any entity that provides abortion care, maintains a facility where abortion services are performed, or is affiliated with an entity that provides abortion care.
“This new rule will ensure equal access to the very programs that help to prevent homelessness for persons who are routinely forced to choose between being placed in facilities against their gender identity or living on our streets.” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement.
The U.S. Department of Justice in May warned North Carolina that HB 2 violated the Civil Rights Act and Title IX. Gov. Pat McCrory then filed a lawsuit against the federal government. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch immediately filed a countersuit.
The U.S. Department of Labor released a study in 2014 showing that many of those affected by wage theft work in service-based positions in the restaurant and hotel industries and were more likely to be women, people of color, and undocumented people.
“Improving our nation’s child-care system will have a compound effect,” said Aleyamma Mathew, director of the Women’s Economic Justice Program of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “Not only on the millions of women in the workforce but on communities and the economy as a whole.”
“The Texas economy is strong but it is leaving too many people behind,” said Celia Cole, CEO of Feeding Texas. “It is unacceptable that one in six Texas families is faced with choosing between food and other needs because they can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, or lack the resources to weather a crisis.”
New York's Democratic lawmakers have attempted to pass legislation that would amend the state’s law prohibiting abortion care after 24 weeks to include an exception “when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health.”
The center will offer "abortion reversal," a concept based on a 2012 study that claimed that medication abortions, a two-pill regimen, were reversed among four of six women included in the study. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has questioned the veracity of the 2012 study.
Briana Alexander, one of the workers who joined the lawsuit, told CNN that during the year she worked at a Chipotle in Miami, she was not paid for time she was forced to work after hours. "Behind the scenes, [Chipotle] is not always what it seems," Alexander said.
"For many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to,” said Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “We may be the only place they can go in their community, or the only place that offers the screening or birth control method they need. No one should have their basic health care taken away."
Anti-choice activists claim that despite the evidence, the number of complications from abortion is higher than is being reported. States that track abortion care data have shown the procedure to be exceedingly safe.
“Healthy Texas Women funding should be going directly to medical providers who have experience providing family planning and preventive care services, not anti-abortion organizations that have never provided those services," Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement.
The Center for Reproductive Rights cited statements made by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) soliciting campaign contributions to support his efforts to “establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”
“I think this story is really a story that we’ve known for a long time which is that too many people are incarcerated,” said Amanda Woog, a postdoctoral legal fellow and Texas Justice Initiative project director. “The other story that is emerging is that a lot of folks have known for some time too, which is that too many people are incarcerated pre-conviction.”
The “A Woman’s Right to Know” pamphlet, published by the state, has not been updated since 2003. The pamphlet includes the medically dubious link between abortion care and breast cancer, among other medical inaccuracies common in anti-choice literature.
GOP-backed "personhood" laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.
Mirissa Tucker, a senior at Prairie View A&M University, told Rewire that the vigil was to give voice to Sandra Bland and other victims of racism and police brutality. “Sandy still speaks,” Tucker said. “Sandy speaks through us at the Waller County jail.”
"To the extent that similar state laws have different provisions, like those that contain transfer agreements for example, those laws will need to be litigated individually to fall," said Jessica Mason Pieklo, vice president for law and the courts at Rewire. "The good news is that the Supreme Court's decision in Whole Woman's Health provides advocates with a solid foundation to begin those next fights."
Heather Busby, executive director NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told Rewire in a phone interview that while the Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for reproductive rights, the damage to reproductive health care in Texas cannot be easily undone.
A Rewire analysis has found that while Texas data shows there has been a decline in the number of abortions in the state, data from other neighboring states suggests there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Texans traveling out of state to access abortion care since the passage of HB 2 in 2013.
HB 2797 directs the Oklahoma State Department of Health to develop materials that “provide public information through public service announcements, media and otherwise for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.”
“We are hopeful that the court will strike these laws down too, but it’s just plain irresponsible for politicians to keep forcing doctors to go court just to ensure that they can provide the care that women need,” said Andrew Beck, staff attorney with the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project.
A New Orleans activist said that the "Blue Lives Matter" bill allows law enforcement to hide “behind uniforms and badges” despite having a “long and egregious history” of committing acts of violence against communities of color.
“We have this more conservative legislature that really understands the power of using fear as a tactic to drive political wedges to further divide communities and further divide votes,” said Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. “This gives them an open door to move their agenda forward.”