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Abortion rights roundup: September 29, 2023

The latest news impacting reproductive rights around the country.

By Rebekah Sager - September 29, 2023
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Abortion rights protesters in Madison, Wisconsin
Protesters make their way to the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda in Madison during a march supporting abortion access on Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

This series is a weekly roundup of abortion news, covering various statewide laws and bans, those who stand up to them, and the ongoing push by anti-abortion conservatives to restrict abortion care and erase bodily autonomy.

Three anti-abortion groups in Wisconsin are calling on attorneys general to criminalize abortion care.

On Monday, Sept. 14, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced it was resuming abortion care services in two of its clinics. Now, just a week and a half later, anti-abortion activists with Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Family Action, and Pro-Life Wisconsin are demanding that the state enforce a statute dating back to 1849 that makes it a felony to perform abortion care and halts providers from offering the procedure.

During a news conference at the Madison State Capitol on Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling said: “The respective DAs in Milwaukee and Madison have said that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, as well as the DAs, are apparently above the law, that the rule of law has no meaning for them. … They get to pick and choose, according to their political and personal ideological positions, what laws they will enforce.”

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm have vowed not to criminalize abortion care providers.

Less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade on June 22, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers, both Democrats, filed a lawsuit challenging the 1849 abortion law.

A year later, Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper ruled that the lawsuit could proceed. Schlipper’s ruling moved the case closer to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In it, Schlipper wrote that the 1849 law applies only to an attack on a pregnant person for the purpose of killing a fetus.

Schlipper’s ruling paved the way for Planned Parenthood to decide to resume abortion care.

Pennsylvania Democratic state representative is running for state treasurer. He’s focusing his campaign on his Republican opponent’s anti-abortion rhetoric and endorsements.

On Sept. 26, Pennsylvania state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro announced he would run for state treasurer. He’s calling his opponent, incumbent Stacy Garrity, an extremist supporter of former President Donald Trump and points out her history of supporting restrictive abortion laws.

Garrity publicly thanked the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation on Facebook for its endorsement of her candidacy in 2020 and called herself a “proud Pro-Life candidate.” She additionally announced an endorsement by the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America anti-abortion group.

“We encourage all pro-life Pennsylvanians to vote for Stacy Garrity on November 3,” the group’s vice president of government affairs, Marilyn Musgrave, wrote on Facebook.

Ohio Supreme Court justices hear arguments for and against a ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy.

On Nov. 7, Ohio voters will decide on a ballot measure that could enshrine the right to abortion care in the state’s Constitution. On Sept. 27, the Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments for and against reinstating the state’s currently paused six-week abortion ban, and its decision in the case could throw the November vote into bedlam.

The state’s six-week ban was enacted in 2019 by former Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the restrictive ban went into effect.

In October 2022, a state court judge in Cincinnati issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, pausing it while he considered a lawsuit filed by abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood affiliates. The ruling means that abortion remains legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

“We are … relieved that patients in Ohio can continue to access abortion as we work to fight this unjust and dangerous ban in court,” a coalition of leaders of organizations representing health care providers and civil rights advocates said in a statement published on the website of the ACLU of Ohio on Oct. 7.

The state’s ban does not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest, and in one case, prior to the injunction, a 10-year-old rape survivor was forced to travel to Indiana to obtain abortion care.

Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers asked the court to reverse the order that paused the abortion ban, arguing that the “state sustains irreparable harm, no way to remedy it later, every day its law is enjoined.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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