LAW & POLICY: USA – Multiple Stories

Doctors urge US Supreme Court to include abortion as stabilizing care under federal law

Image: Outside the Supreme Court during the hearing, 24 April 2024

Doctors from across the country posted a public letter this week, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure health care professionals can perform abortions in every state when that procedure is essential “stabilizing treatment” under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

Thousands of doctors, organized by the advocacy group The Committee to Protect Health Care, signed the letter, which calls on the justices to decide in favour of the Biden administration’s interpretation — that the law protects doctors who provide abortions in emergency circumstances.

“We know firsthand how complications from pregnancy can lead very quickly to a medical crisis, requiring immediate care and treatment,” the letter states. “These patients’ complications can range from a miscarriage to heavy bleeding, from placental abruption to a stroke from severe preeclampsia — and doctors and health professionals in emergency departments must be allowed to use the full range of medical options to save these patients’ lives, including abortion,” the doctors wrote….

A letter is not the official way for experts or interested parties to weigh in with the justices when they are considering a case.

Typically, individuals or organizations file an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief before oral arguments. The publication of this letter, however, came a full month after that took place in this case and likely after the Court’s majority has begun writing the ruling. The Committee to Protect Health Care confirmed Friday that the group did not file an amicus brief (reasons unstated).

SOURCE: Minnesota Reformer, by Jennifer Shutt, 24 May 2024. Photo by Sofia Resnick/States Newsroom



House of Representatives Democratic Party Political Action Committee (PAC) launching US$100 million effort to promote abortion rights

The group hopes to capitalize on support for abortion rights, to help Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives, an issue that has motivated Democratic Party voters since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

The $100 million campaign will focus on abortion rights in swing districts across the country. Called the new Reproductive Freedom Accountability Fund, it will be the “largest independent expenditure on behalf of House Democrats”, according to a memo to donors obtained by the Washington Post. The group aims to spend the money on advertising and voter mobilisation in what it considers races where Democrats have an opportunity to pick up a seat if they focus on reproductive rights.

Earlier this year, House Democrats were also aiming to get just four more seats to win back their majority this autumn – and spend more than they ever have before to pick them up. House Majority PAC, linked to Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, is reserving $146 million in an initial round of TV advertisements and $40 million in digital advertising in nearly 60 media markets across the country.

Their advertisement strategy would be to focus on 16 districts that Joe Biden carried in 2020, now occupied by Republicans, and also the seats that Democrats have to defend, including five in districts that Donald Trump won.

The group’s leader said the campaign would also target key voting blocs – such as Hispanic, Asian-American and Black voters – as well as swing voters put off by Trump and the chaos in the House. “We need four seats to win back the majority. That’s it,” Mike Smith, president of House Majority PAC, told CNN. “It’s a very tough four seats. Every single one of those is going to be trench warfare. We’re going have to invest a lot of money, hence the $186 million, but there’s a clear path to doing it.”

SOURCE: Washington Post, by Amy B Wang, 29 May 2024; CNN, by Manu Raju, 7 April 2024.


But meanwhile, while everyone is busy throwing millions of dollars around…

The state legislature of Louisiana, with one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country already, has passed a bill that would reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol as “dangerous controlled substances”. The anti-choice Republican governor is expected to sign the bill. If he does, possession of either or both medications will carry large fines and up to 10 years in prison.

Louisiana already has a total abortion ban, with no rape or incest exceptions. But the Louisiana lawmakers are pursuing this new additional criminalisation measure because while abortion bans are very good at generating suffering for women, they are not very good at actually preventing abortions.

“The Republican legislators who have pushed the new criminalization do not pretend to actually believe that abortion drugs are habit-forming. Thomas Pressly, the state senator who introduced the bill, frankly said that his aim was to “control the rampant illegal distribution of abortion-inducing drugs”.

“But there is something to the notion that abortion access might be ‘habit-forming’. In the Roe era, after all, women began to conceive of themselves as full persons, able to exercise control over their own destinies – as adults, that is, with all the privileges and entitlements of citizenship. They formed a habit of independence, a habit of imagining themselves as people entitled to freedom, equality, self-determination and respect. It is these habits that the Republican Party is trying to break them of.”

SOURCE: Louisiana’s move to criminalize abortion pills is cruel and medically senseless. The Guardian, by Moira Donegan, 29 May 2024. [Photo of Moira Donegan to thank her for this last paragraph!]