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Abortion rights roundup: September 1, 2023

The latest news impacting reproductive rights around the country.

By Rebekah Sager - September 01, 2023
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Glenn Youngkin
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks during a news conference, April 27, 2023, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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.

Wisconsin Legislature could force Justice Janet Protasiewicz to recuse herself from cases on gerrymandering and abortion.

According to the Wisconsin Law Journal, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz could soon be prohibited from hearing cases.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has threatened to impeach the Democratic-backed Protasiewicz since before she was sworn in, demanding that she recuse herself from hearing two redistricting lawsuits that claim the state’s legislative maps are unconstitutional and favorable to Republicans.

Once the impeachment process begins, even if a vote has not been taken, a justice is unable to serve, creating a situation in which the court would go from a 4-3 liberal majority with Protasiewicz to a de facto even split of three conservatives and three liberals.

“These are power hungry people who do not want to lose control of the executive or judicial branches. They will do whatever they want because they have a gerrymandered map,” Lester Pines, an attorney based in Madison, told the Wisconsin Law Journal.

According to the Wisconsin Constitution, “The assembly shall have the power of impeaching all civil officers of this state for corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors; but a majority of all the members elected shall concur in an impeachment.”

Marquette University School of Law professor Chad M. Oldfather told the Wisconsin Law Journal: “If a majority of members of the assembly vote in favor of an impeachment, it moves to the state senate for trial, which requires a 2/3 vote to convict. The (recent) election of Dan Knodl to the state Senate gives the Republicans a 2/3 majority in the state senate, and thus creates the possibility of the use of the impeachment power in a partisan way.”

The Associated Press reported that on Aug. 29, lawyers in the two separate redistricting suits filed arguments with the court objecting to the demand for the justice to recuse herself from the cases.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls for a repeal of restrictions on laws limiting access to abortion care.

During a “What’s Next” address on Aug. 30, Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her new Reproductive Health Act, a package of bills that will “repeal outdated, politically motivated restrictions on abortion and other reproductive health care.”

Even though abortion care is legal in Michigan until 24-26 weeks of pregnancy, state laws do impose some restrictions: Patients are required to wait 24 hours after counseling before they can have an abortion procedure. Private health insurance may not cover the costs of abortion care except in very narrow circumstances. Abortion care is not covered by Medicaid. Minors are required to have parental consent. Only a licensed physician can provide abortion care.

The new act is intended to eliminate laws that criminalize abortion; repeal waiting periods and other medically unnecessary hurdles that make it harder for patients to get abortions and for doctors to treat their patients; and ensure everyone has access to abortion, regardless of where they live or work or what type of insurance they have.

Missouri Republican political operative files petitions for abortion exceptions in cases of rape and incest.

The Missouri Independent reports that a veteran GOP political operative has filed several abortion rights initiative petitions in the state.

Jamie Corley filed six petitions with the office of Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft containing proposals for amendments that would add abortion exceptions for rape, incest, and fatal fetal abnormalities to the state Constitution.

Three of the proposed amendments would allow abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“The state shall not deny or interfere with the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion through a gestational age of twelve weeks,” one proposed amendment reads.

Current Missouri law only allows for abortion in cases in which the patient’s life is in danger.

“The current abortion law makes it dangerous to be a mom in Missouri, burdens taxpayers with litigation costs, puts law enforcement in a position to punish crime victims rather than protect them, and gives the government —not parents— decision-making power over how to care for their child if she is impregnated because of rape,” Corley said in a statement on her recently founded Missouri Women and Family Research Fund website. “The abortion law in Missouri is too radical and cannot stand.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and his campaign push the false notion that there is public consensus in favor of a 15-week abortion ban.

NBC News is reporting that Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is focused on a political strategy that he and his team are hoping will rope in conservative voters. At the center of it is a 15-week abortion ban in the state, which at least one Republican state senator claims is a consensus that voters support.

“It’s compassionate, and it’s consensus,” state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant told NBC. “Fifteen weeks gives ample opportunity.”

According to a 50-state survey conducted in 2022 by the Public Religion Research Institute, 71% of Virginians say abortion should remain legal in most or all cases.

Virginia is the last Southern state without a restrictive abortion ban. In late June 2022, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Youngkin said he would sign “any bill … to protect life,” and in February 2023, he joined anti-abortion groups in the Virginia March for Life, held outside the state Capitol in Richmond.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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