Use quotes to search for exact phrases. Use AND/OR/NOT between keywords or phrases for more precise search results.

My Governor Supports Abortion Rights, but I Still Had to Travel Out of State for Care

In April 2020, I had a second abortion after the first one failed. Because I first sought an abortion during the height of the pandemic lockdowns, some providers weren’t open. To add to the difficulty, I was on Medicaid, which does not cover abortions under the Hyde Amendment, so I was going to have to pay $800 at Planned Parenthood to have an abortion in Michigan.

I instead bought abortion pills online from Plan C, a group that advocates for access to abortion pills, and took one, hoping it would work. Statistics told me that misoprostol would be effective on its own 85 percent to 93 percent of the time, and because I was only a few weeks along, I wasn’t concerned that it wouldn’t.

Days later, nothing had happened. I knew that pregnancy tests might display a positive result for a week or more, so when I tested positive again the next week, I brushed it off. The following week, I made an appointment at an Indiana abortion clinic, where the cost of an abortion was half that of the Michigan clinic’s. I wanted to be sure that the abortion pill alone had worked, and that I wasn’t part of the small percentage of pregnant people who experienced a failed abortion.

When the nurse inserted the wand for a vaginal scan, she couldn’t find anything. She sent the doctor in to be sure. Thirty minutes of uncomfortable pressure later, a tiny speck appeared on the screen. I was exactly six weeks pregnant, which meant that when I took the pill two weeks prior, I was about four weeks pregnant. If I had been living in a state where abortion was banned at six weeks’ gestation, I wouldn’t have been able to get abortion care after the first one failed. My life would be dramatically different than it is today.

Politicians who write six-week abortion bans do so knowing that most pregnant people do not know they are pregnant at six weeks. Being six weeks pregnant means you’re two weeks out from a missed period. These laws, especially those similar to Ohio’s “heartbeat bill,” are full abortion bans.

I live in Michigan, where we have two pro-choice politicians at the highest levels of state government: Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. Later this year, voters will head to the polls to decide whether to re-elect them. The election’s consequences are dire: If they do not win, state Republicans have vowed to ban abortion.

Last month, Whitmer asked the courts to overturn the state’s ban on abortion, a 1931 Penal Code under Chapter III that bans all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. The law makes having an abortion a felony manslaughter charge and prescribing or selling abortion “pills, powder, drugs, or combination of drugs” a misdemeanor charge. If the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, as they’re expected to do in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reversing Michigan’s ban would make abortion a protected right in the state.

Michigan is one small step closer to protecting the right to abortion in the state. On Tuesday, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the 1931 ban.

Our Midwestern neighbor, Illinois, has always been ahead of us when it comes to expanding access. Even if Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the pro-choice Democrat leading Illinois, is voted out of office, it would be difficult to ban abortion in the state.

Terry Cosgrove, CEO and President of Personal PAC, a political action committee working to elect pro-choice legislators in Illinois, explained the state’s two existing abortion laws: HB 40, which in 2017 repealed restrictions on Medicaid abortion coverage and the trigger law that would ban abortion statewide if it were no longer federally protected, and the Reproductive Health Act, which in 2019 repealed the criminalization of unwanted pregnancies. But, as Cosgrove said, “nothing is permanent, and we have the most consequential election in 50 years in Illinois” in November.

Cosgrove discussed concerns about the Illinois Supreme Court seats that are up for election in November. “They are just waiting to have the justices who will decide to put aside the right to privacy,” he said of Republican lawmakers in Illinois.

In Indiana, where I got my abortion after my first failed attempt, the situation is different. If Roe v. Wade is dismantled, there is no doubt that the state would ban abortions as quickly as possible. According to the Guttmacher Institute, state lawmakers enacted 55 abortion restrictions and bans over the last decade.

Jean DeWinter volunteers both as a storyteller for Planned Parenthood and as a patient escort for Whole Women’s Health in South Bend, Indiana, where I was treated after my failed abortion. It is 1 of 7 clinics in the Indiana, and just one of two in the northeastern part of the state.

DeWinter fears for the loss of that right in her state. When she got her abortion as a teen, she faced pushback from her family and others, who attempted to coerce her into not getting one.

“It was a complicated situation,” DeWinter said. “I advocated for myself. I did not have any help in terms of ‘adult help.’ It was done in secret behind my parents’ back.”

DeWinter noted the slim possibility that Indiana’s Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb would veto an anti-abortion ban; in March, he vetoed a transgender sports ban in the state, which has led to tension in the Indiana statehouse, where Republicans hold the majority.

If abortion is banned in Indiana, clinics would be immediately shuttered and there would be no use for her as a clinic escort. Doctors at Whole Women’s Health only come to Indiana as visiting doctors to provide abortions—so if abortion is banned in the state, there would be no reason for them to return. Like DeWinter, these doctors face harassment and threats from protesters.

“Once you’ve been called a murderer to your face, I don’t think it could get any worse than that,” DeWinter said about the harassment. If abortion is banned, those abuses with only get worse.

No clinic escorts, no doctors, no abortion. Illinois and Michigan would have to do what California and Colorado have done this year and become a “sanctuary state,” where the right to have an abortion is a state law, protecting in- and out-of-state patients. Midwesterners in states like Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky would have to travel to seek abortions in the nearby states of Illinois and Michigan.

States like Illinois and Michigan may have some safeguards to protect the right to choose in the Midwest, but for poor pregnant people, pregnant people with no support system, pregnant people who aren’t aware of how to obtain an abortion, and more, it’s simply not enough—particularly in light of the leaked draft opinion published by Politico that indicates the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Having to travel to another state for a safe and effective abortion was an experience that has forced me to advocate for pro-chocie policies and candidates, and to share my experience. But I’m not unique. Voting for pro-choice candidates and choosing to become a clinic escort are two important ways that abortion can be protected, legally and literally.

Meet the 21-Year-Old College Student Fighting Period Poverty

When 21-year-old Carrington Baker watched the Bustle documentary short How Do Homeless Women Cope With Their Periods? in March 2021, she was volunteering at a food pantry and seeing firsthand the lack of period resources for unhoused people. She decided, “This is absolutely ridiculous.”

The documentary opened the St. John’s University student’s eyes to the issue of period poverty, or the lack of access not only to menstrual products and facilities but also education for many menstruating individuals.

“I was taking for granted the fact that I was able to afford period products,” Baker said about For Women by Women, Period, the nonprofit she founded with the aim of combating period poverty. “I didn’t realize there’s so many people going without them.”

The World Bank estimates that at least 500 million people globally experience period poverty. A study published in BMC Women’s Health found that 14.2 percent of the college-aged people surveyed had experienced period poverty over the past year, and women of color were more likely to report dealing with period poverty.

People with no period protection may resort to creating their own, using materials like toilet paper, fabric, or cardboard, which can lead to short-term health risks like bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections. Period poverty can also create longer-term health risks, including depression—the study in BMC Women’s Health showed that among the study’s participants who experienced period poverty monthly, 68.1 percent reported symptoms consistent with moderate or severe depression.

People who menstruate not only struggle to afford period products, which are not exempt from sales taxes in many states, but may also lack access to safe locations, like bathrooms, in which to change or clean their menstrual products and clothing, said Caitlin Gruer, a program manager for the Gender, Adolescent Transitions, and Environment Program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Another aspect of combatting period poverty is providing education and resources to young people. Many even struggle in school due to a fear of menstrual leaks.

“Young girls have very little access to education around menstruation,” Gruer said.

After learning about period poverty, Baker decided to take action. She shared her knowledge of the issue with friends. To Baker’s surprise, many were willing to support her efforts. She decided to start For Women by Women, Period to provide period care packages and education about period poverty.

“We want to do more than just end period poverty. We want to educate young menstruators about their bodies properly.”
-Carrington Baker, founder of For Women by Women, Period

In its care packages, the organization has made it a point to include not only pads and tampons, but also underwear, pH friendly wipes, and a heating pad. They call them “Moon PACS,” short for “period and care supplies.” The name was inspired by the moon’s 27-day orbit around the Earth, similar to a menstruation cycle.

“We want to create a holistic care package that includes every possible thing you could need for your cycle,” Baker said.

For Women by Women, Period has raised a little over $6,000 in donations from friends, family, and supporters through the organization’s Donorbox. This funding is being used to create their Moon PACS and to pay for administrative expenses. The organization continues to use its Donorbox fundraising campaign and an Amazon storefront where supporters can purchase products to be donated.

Baker has said the organization struggled with outreach and was initially worried about getting people to care about menstrual inequity. But when for Women by Women, Period started tabling in Washington Square Park in New York City to showcase its work, it drew vital attention.

“It really is nice to see people wanting to support us, that don’t even necessarily understand how big of an issue period poverty is,” she said.

For Women By Women, Period has gained some traction in New York City, partially thanks to recent policies surrounding period products. In 2016, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation increasing access to menstrual products by requiring shelters, schools, and jails to provide free period products, a huge step.

Baker’s organization also works with Asiyah Women’s Center, a shelter in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood, to provide Moon PACS to its residents monthly.

“In the future, when COVID is not plaguing the world, we’ll be able to go to the shelters and deliver them, and get to know the women and get to know what they would like to see in our care packages,” Baker said.

For Women By Women, Period currently has an all-volunteer team of 20 women. Baker juggles being a full-time student and working over 20 hours a week on her organization.

“When I first started this I was like, ‘Let me hurry to get my homework done, the faster I can work on the organization stuff,’” she said.

Baker, who’s Black, has prioritized cultivating a team of people from all cultures and backgrounds.

“It’s important to acknowledge that different cultures treat periods differently,” she said.

Baker is passionate about closing the inequity gap in medical care, and in fact, plans on going to medical school to become an OB-GYN. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.”

“I noticed that the mortality rate among women of color was extremely high,” Baker said. “Hopefully I can fix that one day.”

Baker is now launching two youth programs—one in upstate New York and the other in California—to get high school students involved in For Women By Women, Period’s mission and to provide them menstruation education.

“We want to do more than just end period poverty,” Baker said. “We want to educate young menstruators about their bodies properly.”

Lawsuit Challenges Ohio’s ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn’ Status

The first major legal challenge to an abortion ban following last week’s Dobbs draft opinion leak—which indicated the Supreme Court was ready to overturn Roe v. Wade—is here, and it’s from a Midwestern state: Ohio.

Last Wednesday, the ACLU of Ohio, Democracy Forward, Ohio chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and Women Have Options Ohio filed a federal complaint against the city of Lebanon for an unconstitutional total abortion ban within city limits.

The challenge is on First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds (the latter of which we break down here), as well as calling BS on the bill’s nonsensical legal basis.

Why does that matter? Because this is also the first lawsuit filed since Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft challenging an abortion restriction that doesn’t rely on Roe v. Wade at all. Instead, it argues that the ordinance violates due process and free speech rights.

You want Roe? Have it. But we’re taking our bodies back.

Oh, Ohio. Lebanon isn’t the only city that has adopted a “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance, and the state has a history of anti-abortion “firsts,” despite being a major center for abortion access in the region.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Redistricting Commission is on the verge of being held in contempt of court after failing to draw new legislative maps to replace those that the Ohio Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional, as reported by Spectrum News 1 Ohio’s Josh Rultenberg.

The anti-choice movement is working hard to dismantle voting rights to keep pro-choice voters from electing officials who represent their views. So while abortion may be on the ballot in Ohio in November, there’s no guarantee voters will have a say in what the state does about it.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.

Abortion Is a Disability Issue

As we learned from Politico’s reporting last week, the Supreme Court is poised to strike down its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Overturning Roe will be devastating for all people, but most deeply for historically marginalized groups, including people with disabilities.

Nevertheless, when disability is invoked in discourse concerning abortion, it is typically regarding abortions based on fetal disability diagnoses. Yet by framing disability and abortion only in the context of disability-selective abortions, activists, scholars, and policymakers fail to recognize that it is actual people with disabilities—not fetuses with disability diagnoses—who are harmed by abortion restrictions.

In a forthcoming UCLA Law Review article, I write about how disabled people have both an increased need for abortion services and decreased access. Simply put, people with disabilities must be included in all efforts to protect abortion rights.

The attack on abortion rights reflects the legacy and continuation of a history in which reproduction has been weaponized to subjugate disabled people and other historically marginalized communities. As such, disabled people are acutely aware of what happens when the government gains control of our bodies. In particular, people with disabilities have faced a lengthy history of threats to bodily autonomy, including forced sterilization. Eugenics aimed to “improve” the human race by restricting procreation of those deemed undesirable—disabled people, immigrants, Black people, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, and incarcerated people. Black disabled people were especially subjected to forced sterilization.

Forced sterilization gained the blessing of the Supreme Court in the infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell decision. At 17 years old, Carrie Buck, who was deemed “feebleminded,” became pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her foster parents’ relative. To ostensibly hide the pregnancy that resulted from sexual violence, she was committed to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded, where her mother was also institutionalized. After giving birth, Buck’s daughter, Vivian, was adopted by her foster family. The institution then sought to sterilize Buck per the state’s involuntary sterilization law.

After a series of appeals, the Supreme Court upheld Virginia’s law allowing institutions to condition a patient’s release upon sterilization as constitutional. In reaching this holding, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. stated that the forced sterilization would benefit Buck’s welfare and that of society. He then proclaimed, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Following this decision, more than 30 states enacted compulsory sterilization laws. By the late 20th century, roughly 70,000 Americans, many of whom had disabilities, were forcibly sterilized.

Even today, people with disabilities continue to endure state-sanctioned reproductive oppression. For example, a National Women’s Law Center report published in January found that 30 states and the District of Columbia still have involuntary sterilization laws on their books. In these states, guardians, who are appointed by courts to make decisions on behalf of disabled people, are often the ones choosing whether a person is sterilized, even if it is against that person’s wishes. Notably, research indicates sterilization is a standard procedure for disabled people. Guardians, also known as conservators in some states, are also permitted to make decisions about contraception, as demonstrated by Britney Spears’ case.

Despite enduring a lengthy history of reproductive oppression, people with disabilities have been largely ignored from discourse about abortion rights. This exclusion is particularly problematic because overturning Roe will have devastating consequences for disabled people, who often use abortion services because they experience substantial disadvantages.

First, access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortion care, is crucial for disabled people because they are at greater risk of health disparities. According to research, people with disabilities have higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity than people without disabilities. Moreover, some disabled people take medications that must be stopped prior to pregnancy. Without abortion services, disabled people who have unintended pregnancies will be put in an impossible situation: Having to choose to suddenly end medication and risk harmful side effects, or continue medication that could harm them and their children.

Ultimately, restricting access to abortion will force pregnant people with disabilities to accept risks associated with pregnancy irrespective of their beliefs or health, placing some in considerable harm. This is both dangerous and cruel.

Second, abortion is important for people with disabilities because they experience severe economic disadvantages. According to the National Council on Disability, “people with disabilities live in poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities.” They also have considerably lower employment rates. These inequities are heightened for disabled people who are further marginalized. For example, Black people with disabilities are nearly 55 percent more likely than white people with disabilities to live in poverty. LGBTQ disabled people also experience substantial economic disadvantages.

The bodily autonomy and self-determination that disabled people have fought so hard for will be completely undermined.

In light of the dire economic circumstances experienced by people with disabilities, reducing access to abortion services will only worsen the situation. In fact, 49 percent of people who have abortions live below the poverty line, and many people seeking abortions do so because they cannot afford the costs associated with childrearing. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that some people with disabilities need abortion services because the disproportionate poverty they endure makes them unable to afford to raise children.

Even now, abortion is out of reach for many people with disabilities. Researchers estimate that the average cost of an abortion procedure at about ten weeks in the United States is just over $500, and the median cost of an abortion procedure at 20 weeks’ gestation is $1,195. Given that most abortions are paid for out of pocket, these high costs can be prohibitive for disabled people. Moreover, a 2018 study found that 27 U.S. cities are “abortion deserts”—cities where people must travel at least 100 miles to reach an abortion provider. In addition to the high costs of abortions, which many disabled people cannot afford, some are unable to travel to an abortion provider because of lack of accessible transportation, especially in areas with limited to no abortion providers.

Ultimately, abortion access is essential for people with disabilities achieving some level of economic security. Some disabled people who have abortions likely do so because of their severe economic disadvantage, and increased abortion restrictions will only worsen these inequities. If abortion rights are further restricted, some disabled people will be forced to continue pregnancies and have children against their wishes and economic means, or they will seek unsafe methods of abortion.

Third, people with disabilities have inadequate access to reproductive health services and information, such as sex education and contraception, which makes abortion all the more important. Most people who have abortions do so because having a baby would disrupt their work, education, or ability to care for others. At the same time, research suggests that disabled people have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than nondisabled people. Disabled people also encounter significant barriers to accessing contraception, leading to decreased usage. Significantly, increased access to contraception is statistically associated with a reduction in abortion rates, which means that if disabled people had greater access to contraception they could be less likely to have an abortion.

The high rates of unintended pregnancies among people with disabilities likely also results from inadequate access to sex education and other information about reproduction and pregnancy prevention. Many students with disabilities are denied even basic sex education. Finally, the increased rate of unintended pregnancies among disabled people is also likely a consequence of the inadequate reproductive health care available to them. In other words, the pervasive barriers that disabled people encounter when seeking reproductive health services and information—combined with the numerous inequities they experience—underscore the necessity of abortion rights for disabled people.

Finally, abortion access is significant for people with disabilities because they are uniquely vulnerable to sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and reproductive oppression.

People with intellectual disabilities are seven times more likely than others to experience sexual violence. Disabled people also contend with increased rates of intimate partner violence, which increases their need for abortions. People with disabilities are also at heightened risk of reproductive coercion. Thus, the high rates of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and reproductive coercion experienced by disabled people likely contribute to increased rates of unintended pregnancies, and consequently an increased need for abortions.

As the Supreme Court moves to overturn Roe, abortion rights activists must recognize the importance of abortion for people with disabilities. The bodily autonomy and self-determination that disabled people have fought so hard for will be completely undermined.

It will have devastating consequences for people with disabilities. It will bring us back to a time when the government controlled disabled people’s bodies—something we are still fighting against today. Disabled people must be intentionally and fully included in all efforts to protect abortion rights. We can no longer wait.

Louisiana Bill Would Jail Patients for Abortions

When news of the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade broke last Tuesday, protesters gathered across the country to voice their dissent—including in Louisiana. A day later, state lawmakers ignored those cries, advancing a bill that, if passed, would criminalize abortion as homicide.

Last Wednesday, Louisiana HB 813 advanced out of legislative committee and was sent to the full House for debate, “despite at least one of the representatives voting in favor acknowledging the bill is unconstitutional,” the Daily Advertiser reported.

Because fuck the Constitution, right?

The bill establishes fetal “personhood” and criminalizes all abortions as homicide “without regard to the opinions and judgments of the Supreme Court of the United States in Roe v. Wade.”

Because, apparently, fuck the highest court in the land too!

Louisiana HB 813 is not “just” an abortion ban. This is an entire revocation of pregnant people’s rights and the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes. Everything from miscarriage care to IVF will be affected—and pregnant people will have no say in any of it.

As it stands, the bill has no exceptions: Not for rape, incest, or the life of the pregnant person—no matter how old they are. But Louisiana lawmakers have already made it pretty clear they don’t care about their youth, having introduced HB 989 earlier this year, which further complicates the judicial bypass process and requires the order to expire after ten days even if it is granted.

Oh, and people of color? Black women? The people who make up about 42 percent of Louisiana’s population and 72 percent of those receiving abortions? They’ll have no say in the matter either.

With a GOP-controlled legislature and an anti-abortion Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, there’s little to stop this bill turning Louisiana into a surveillance state where pregnant people have fewer rights than fetuses.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.

Abortion Is a Muslim Issue—and It’s on Us to Fight for Access

A majority of Muslims support access to safe and legal abortion.

Yes, you read that right.

Just over half of Muslims in the United States say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. And yet for some, it may come as a surprise that Islam offers ample space for reproductive choice—debunking the oft-perceived binary of something like abortion being either halal (permitted) or haram (forbidden). Historically, Islam can and has been used as a tool of empowerment for individuals to make decisions about their own bodies—aligned with their faith values.

As Muslims, we understand that the human interpretation of Divine law is inherently imperfect. Further, religious thought is necessarily diverse and accommodates a variety of individual lived experiences. These lived experiences, and the perspectives they engender, matter just as much as religious law and ethics, especially given that each person has unique health and other needs, and Islam embodies anti-harm.

To be clear: Legislative and judicial decisions that continuously narrow reproductive and bodily autonomy, including depriving us of the right to access safe and legal abortion if we so choose, are violating what HEART believes to be our divinely granted rights—and exacerbating the disproportionate health risks that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color around the country face.

In particular, abortion is already inaccessible for too many low-income and Black and brown people of all genders in this country. By extension, and as the most ethnically diverse faith group in the country, many Muslims in need of this care are already being pushed away given persisting reproductive health and rights inequities. Further, the same people impacted by anti-choice policies (even with Roe v. Wade in place) experience unjust criminalization, incarceration, surveillance, and other inherently racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and queerphobic systems—systems that diminish our health.

As a result of this Othering and criminalization, Muslims of all backgrounds are directly impacted by patriarchal, racist, and classist legislative decisions that restrict critical access to the intersecting care, services, and resources we need, from education and jobs to food, housing, and health care.

This all comes down to control over our bodies and lives, which we see as reflected in the Islamic principle of hurma (sacred inviolability). Hurma refers to that which is unlawful to violate and has been used by various Islamic law schools to demonstrate the meaning of “bodily integrity.” When the state fails to respect this sacredness by targeting and harming our people, we can and must uplift it for ourselves.

At HEART, we center the principle of bodily autonomy through a reproductive justice framework of choice and access for all Muslims, infused with rahma (compassion), throughout our reproductive lives. This framework affirms our urging that communities must have equitable access to comprehensive and culturally sensitive services that help individuals determine informed decisions for their and their loved ones’ safety, health, and wellness. This is even more imperative given that we must uplift self-determination and access to health and safety for all, to end abuse of power and control manifested through interpersonal to systemic gendered violence.

As we continue to see a ruthless onslaught of policies that criminalize abortion throughout the country, we remain steadfast in rejecting and resisting this deadly status quo. During this turbulent political moment, all those who are most impacted by harmful power holders’ decisions should take comfort that we have always taken care of our communities—and will continue to do so.

We call on all Muslims and our friends and allies of all backgrounds to come together in the ongoing fight for reproductive justice. Here are five ways you can start taking action:

  • Support HEART’s Reproductive Justice Fund or your local abortion fund.
  • Access HEART’s resources to learn more about abortion, how to care for those impacted, and ways to navigate access. Reach out to us with additional questions or if you’re interested in hosting a discussion or workshop on this topic.
  • Consider sharing your abortion story with someone you trust, or even encouraging a loved one to do so. One opportunity to do this is through a project led by our partners at Queer Crescent. Telling your story can help destigmatize abortion for those in our community who experience feelings of shame around it. You can also be a part of disrupting and rejecting narratives that erase the impact of reproductive injustice in religious communities.
  • Understand the fight for abortion care in your state and get involved by plugging into efforts led by direct service and reproductive justice advocacy or civic engagement organizations near you—and/or by connecting virtually with leaders and organizations who are further away. In the coming months, HEART will share more information on this, specific to states with large Muslim populations.
  • Encourage Muslim organizations you are connected with to show their support for reproductive justice.

It is not too late to join this fight. If friends and family can be moved to join us in demanding reproductive justice, the time is now for us to educate and urge them to do so.

Muslims can and do take care of our health and make informed choices every day. We must continue to work collectively to address the impacts of restrictive laws and misinformed Islamophobic rhetoric about Muslim communities—and to increase our access to the resources, power, and choices we need to have self-determination and autonomy over our bodies.

What we do with our bodies isn’t a state’s decision. As Muslims, we know that choice is ours alone.

Why So-Called Personhood Laws Are the Next Big Threat After ‘Roe’ Falls

The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion confirms that the Court’s conservative supermajority is poised to bring Roe v. Wade to an end by the summer. Abortion laws will then be determined on a state-by-state basis without any federal constitutional protections.

By removing the federal constitutional protection of abortion rights, the Court will lay a pathway for anti-abortion state officials to be as extreme as they can in limiting abortion access, including equating the life of a pregnant person with that of their fetus. States like Oklahoma have already been chomping at the bit to pass just such a fetal “personhood” law.

These “personhood” bills are modeled on the “Human Life Amendment” and have been introduced into Congress and state legislatures hundreds of times since Roe became the law in 1973. The bill seeks to amend the Constitution to consider a fertilized egg to be the equivalent of a human being from the moment of conception, entitling it to full protection of the law. We are now seeing an increase in attempts to introduce such fetal “personhood” laws at the state level, with five states introducing these bills this year. Additional states have attempted to use or widen the definition of existing laws‚ such as those of homicide or child abuse, to include an embryo in their scope. The result is to place any pregnant person in an adversarial relationship with their own body and to make their health care providers law enforcement agents.

As I witnessed here in Ireland, fetal “personhood” laws have a broad scope that can cause deadly harm to anyone who becomes pregnant. The legislative jewel in the crown of the pro-life movement, fetal “personhood” was enshrined in the Irish Constitution for over three decades until voters abolished it in a national referendum in 2018.

Ireland’s abortion rate was exported to England as thousands traveled abroad each year. Meanwhile, the effect reverberated through reproductive health care at home. For example, diagnostic testing for fetal anomalies was largely unavailable during the years of Ireland’s abortion ban. The reasoning was that if knowledge of fetal anomalies could lead to a pregnant person deciding against carrying a pregnancy to term in violation of the law, why give them the information?

The result was to remove medical decision-making from patients’ hands. In vitro fertilization also existed in an unregulated Irish limbo—it was unclear what practices were legal, including how to dispose of embryos that had been created by IVF but never implanted into the uterus. (There were rumors of doctors who shot them into people’s cervices knowing they could not be implanted.) We’re now hearing reports of similar circumstances in the United States, as pregnant people in Texas are refused abortions for ectopic pregnancies and more.

Fetal “personhood” laws that ban abortion include only limited exceptions when a pregnant person’s life is at risk. However, it is often impossible for medical providers to determine when someone’s life is at risk or whether it’s “merely” their health that’s in jeopardy. But waiting for a patient’s health to decline to warrant treatment is dangerous and immoral, and the effects can be devastating.

Laws that give embryos “personhood” imperil miscarriage management with lethal results. Savita Halappanavar’s death made headlines after physicians delayed providing her with appropriate medical treatment during a septic miscarriage because they could still detect a fetal heartbeat. By the time they acted, it was too late and Halappanavar died of sepsis, bringing the tipping point to a growing cry to abolish Ireland’s anti-abortion law. Polish activists have loudly protested the similar deaths of two pregnant women, one with twins, who were denied appropriate medical treatment because of Poland’s strict abortion ban. The definition of abortion in one Oklahoma bill, which became law on Tuesday, likewise could prohibit the removal of an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage treatment.

By criminalizing abortion through fetal “personhood” laws, we turn anyone who miscarries into a criminal suspect, condemning them to our racist criminal justice system. Even as Roe’s protections remain in full force today, pregnant people being prosecuted for behavior potentially harmful during pregnancy is not uncommon. Last month, an emboldened Texas prosecutor brought murder charges against a Latina woman, Lizelle Herrera, after she came to a hospital emergency room for excessive bleeding while miscarrying a pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Brittney Poolaw, a member of the Wichita Nation, was sentenced to four years in prison for first-degree manslaughter after she informed health-care providers that she had used illegal drugs during her pregnancy and miscarried at 17 weeks. Although the direct cause of each miscarriage was unknown, the message was clear: Seek medical help for miscarriage, and you may be jailed.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion throws around the words “unborn human being” an awful lot. During oral arguments in that case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Clarence Thomas invoked a Supreme Court case from South Carolina to indicate that the end of Roe would open the door for a state to police a woman’s behavior throughout her pregnancy. According to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, in the United States approximately 1,200 women, disproportionately women of color, have been prosecuted for their behavior during pregnancy over the last 15 years. Equating the life of a fertilized egg with that of a pregnant person could force certain forms of contraception off the market and undermine in vitro fertilization and stem cell research too.

Some states already have appointed independent counsel to represent a fetus. Alabama and Texas have proposed retaining a fetal lawyer when a minor seeks a court’s permission to have an abortion. Cross state lines and your reproductive rights could plummet to a level below those that existed before Roe.

Most importantly, granting a fertilized egg legal status equal to that of a pregnant person sends a damning message about how we regard pregnant people. It allows states to ignore human rights of liberty, equality, and bodily integrity, instead centering a pregnant person’s role as one of childbearing and rearing. And since you can’t always tell if the person standing next to you may be pregnant, that cigarette or glass of wine in their hand could be construed as evidence of child endangerment.

This is not a dystopian Netflix screenplay waiting to be produced. This program has already begun. Many Americans were not even aware of Texas SB 8 until months after it was signed into law. Oklahoma’s abortion ban includes a ten-year prison sentence. The Supreme Court will set back abortion rights this year, and by doing so will open the door for state-level fetal “personhood” laws.

Let’s not be caught off-guard. We need to sound the alarm now and ensure that state legislators will value and support people who can become pregnant as full human beings—and not just for the “potential life” within them.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the tribe Brittney Poolaw is part of. She is a member of Wichita Nation.

The Supreme Court Draft Opinion Heard ‘Round the World

Last night, Politico’s Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward leaked a purported draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturns both Roe and Casey—on the heels of congressional Republicans preparing to take the Texas abortion ban nationwide.

Yes, you read that correctly. The moment we’ve been warning about is here.

Politico’s reporting of a leaked draft of the Supreme Court opinion that fully overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey—written by the ultimate civil rights troll Samuel Alito and confirmed Tuesday morning in a statement by Chief Justice John Roberts—took my breath away.

The conservative justices were deadly serious when they suggested during oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health back in December that they were open to entirely rewriting abortion rights jurisprudence. We should take them at their word, even if that word is, for the moment, a leaked draft opinion.

But there’s more. Republicans are already making plans based on that leaked draft opinion.

How do I know this? For starters, as the Washington Post reported this week, while abortion-friendly states look to shore up protections while they can, leading anti-abortion advocacy groups and their congressional buddies have been meeting behind the scenes to hash out a strategy for taking Texas’ near-total abortion ban nationwide.

Energized by the Supreme Court allowing Texas SB 8 to take effect in September and anticipating a big win in the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, some Senate Republicans are reportedly looking to advance a bill that would ban abortion nationwide as soon as fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks in pregnancy.

We need to believe Republicans when they say banning abortion nationwide will be a top priority if they take power in 2024. And we also need to remember that they have a history of changing the rules to get their way (remember Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland?), and prepare for the very real possibility that the 2024 presidential fight will be all about abortion.

Conservatives love to project their plans, and this plan to ban abortion across the country—states’ rights be damned—is one of their top priorities.

In fact, the conservative propaganda machine is already grinding out there on this strategy. Last week the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed expressly calling on the Court to overturn Roe in the Mississippi case. In a piece titled “Abortion and the Supreme Court,” the Journal’s editorial board really goes for it: “This is the moment for the Justices to return the issue to the voters.”

Here’s the key bit:

Far better for the Court to leave the thicket of abortion regulation and return the issue to the states. A political uproar would ensue, but then voters would decide on abortion policy through elections—starting in November. … In Dobbs the Court can say that such a profound moral question should be decided by the people, not by nine unelected judges.

A central piece of anti-choice propaganda is that overturning Roe would simply “send abortion back to the states” and that would be the end of that, as the Journal’s editorial board suggests. But in the span of less than a week, conservative activists have proven this is a lie by forecasting their plans for a nationwide ban that absolutely removes abortion from the states entirely.

We’ll see a lot more of this kind of presto chango nonsense from conservatives once the Court releases its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health and the fallout accelerates. Trust that I’m going to call it out every time.

This was first published in The Fallout. Subscribe to our newsletter here to get expert repro analysis sent directly to your inbox.

Kansas Is a Midwestern Abortion Haven—but State Republicans Are Forcing the Issue Again

As pregnant people are forced to travel farther and farther for reproductive care due to strict abortion restrictions like those in Texas and Oklahoma, Kansas is expecting an influx of patients just as its own lawmakers consider an abortion ban.

When Texas SB 8 first passed, Texans flocked to Oklahoma for abortion care. But after passing a total abortion ban, Oklahoma lawmakers passed another trigger law last week—in case the Supreme Court low-key overturns Roe v. Wade, but won’t say it outright.

At first, it might not appear this has much to do with Kansas (apart from the state sharing a border with Oklahoma): A 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision, which ruled that the state constitution recognizes abortion as a fundamental right, made the state something of an abortion haven in the Midwest. But that might change this year.

It’s clear that Kansas lawmakers are coming after abortion: State legislators offered up a constitutional amendment to allow abortion bans on the ballot. In August, voters will have to decide whether the Kansas Constitution protects the right to an abortion, as established in the 2019 ruling. And while the state is led by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature (see: Kentucky).

There has actually been a decrease in patients from Texas and Oklahoma seeking abortion care in Kansas, according to recent reporting by Topeka Capital-Journal and Gannett Kansas statehouse reporter Jason Tidd. But with local abortion rates rising, the GOP is turning up the rhetoric, claiming Kansas will be an “abortion destination,” Tidd reported.

Championing the “Value Them Both Amendment” (yes, that’s actually what it’s called), the anti-abortion movement is poised and ready—and it’s up to voters in Kansas to realize what’s happening before it’s too late.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.