The Majority of Asian American and Pacific Islander Women Don’t Know Where to Access Medication Abortion
NBC News, May 31, 2023
Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women contend with major barriers to accessing reproductive health information, with almost half of respondents saying that they did not know where to access medication abortion if they needed it, a new report shows. The study, released by nonprofits National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and Ibis Reproductive Health on Tuesday, said that cultural taboos and insufficient culturally relevant care and information have contributed to the continued limited knowledge about medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States. “It’s been in the news. It’s been everywhere and what it signals to me is, we’re not doing enough to educate the public,” Isra Pananon Weeks, interim executive director of NAPAWF, said referring to the recent Supreme Court decision preserving nationwide access to an abortion pill. “It’s important to organize in-language to reach people.” Researchers found that 47% of respondents did not know where to access medication abortion. Another 40% reported having no prior knowledge about the safety of the procedure. And just more than a third of respondents said they had not heard, or didn’t know if they had heard, of medication abortion at all. Previous research shows that at 85%, Asian American and Pacific Islander women are overwhelmingly in support of women being able to make their own reproductive choices. The study, the first to look into attitudes and experiences around medication abortion for these communities, included data for a sample of 1,500 women and transgender, nonbinary or gender expansive people between 16-49, as well as in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Those born in the U.S. had a greater chance of hearing about the abortion method at 73%, while 58% of foreign-born respondents had previously heard of it. A number of participants brought up misinformation around the issue in their communities. “Some participants shared that they previously thought procedural abortions were the only available abortion method and had negative imagery associated with the procedure,” the report said.
Confusion on Abortion, Mistrust in U.S. Supreme Court Followed Dobbs Decision, Survey Finds
CNN, May 26, 2023
The US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, created a fractured abortion landscape in the United States. Nearly a year later, a new KFF survey shows that it has left widespread confusion about the legal status of abortion, along with little trust in the high court to decide cases on reproductive health. Most adults in the United States disapprove of the Supreme Court’s performance in general, the survey found, along with more than 6 of 10 who say that they don’t trust the court’s ability to decide cases related to reproductive and sexual health. In April, the Supreme Court made another significant abortion-related decision, this time protecting access to mifepristone – a drug that is approved for use in medication abortion by the US Food and Drug Administration – which has been challenged in lower courts. Nearly two-thirds of survey participants say that they have at least some confidence in the FDA’s efforts to ensure that medications are safe and effective, and most agree that it would be inappropriate for a court to overturn that authority. Awareness of mifepristone grew significantly in the past year amid the legal attention. But there’s still general uncertainty around the legal status of abortion. In the 14 states where abortion is banned, about 1 in 8 residents incorrectly believes that medication abortion is still legal there. And more than half of residents say they are unsure of the legality of abortion in their state. Amid the confusion and unease, many women are changing their approach to contraception. More than half of women under 50 say that they or someone they know has taken a precaution – such as getting a new prescription for contraception, stocking up on contraception options or delaying getting pregnant – because they were concerned about having access to an abortion, the survey found.
ACLU Sues Over Nebraska Law That Combines Restrictions on Gender-Affirming Care and Abortion
The 19th, May 31, 2023
When a six-week abortion ban failed to pass in Nebraska, Republicans added a 12-week ban into a measure on gender-affirming care. But a new lawsuit argues that such legislation violates the state constitution by combining “two distinct and unrelated subjects” into one bill. The bill, originally focused on restrictions for gender-affirming care for transgender youth, was amended to include a 12-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape and incest. That abortion ban went into effect immediately upon the bill’s signing, while limits on gender-affirming care for youth under 19 years old are set to go into effect in October. The national ACLU and the ACLU of Nebraska are suing to block enforcement of Nebraska’s law. Their lawsuit lists two plaintiffs: Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Sarah Traxler, an obstetrician and gynecologist who provides reproductive services to Planned Parenthood patients. Nebraska’s attorney general has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday morning. The ACLU is seeking immediate injunctive relief that could be granted by a judge prior to that 30-day time period. Chelsea Souder, founder and director of Nebraska Abortion Resources (NEAR), a state abortion fund, told reporters Tuesday that the new law has exacerbated challenges for Nebraskans seeking abortion services. Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, Nebraskans have been grappling with a lack of health care providers and limited appointment availability; some have been waiting three to six weeks to get care. This new law has made it worse, she said. In the first week after the bill was passed, NEAR worked with Planned Parenthood and Chicago Abortion Fund to help nine people leave the state to get reproductive care, Souder said. These were patients who had been scheduled to get abortions in Nebraska before the bill passed. The impact of the 12-week ban has been immediate, Traxler told reporters Tuesday. Nebraskans are confused about whether they can receive an abortion in the state and afraid to tell those closest to them if they are seeking an abortion, she said.
Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules New Abortion Bans Unconstitutional
The New York Times, May 31, 2023
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court said on Wednesday that two laws passed last year that ban most abortions are unconstitutional. But the ruling does not affect a law passed in 1910 which still prohibits most abortions in the state, unless they are necessary to save the life of the mother. The laws that were struck down by the court were civil laws that had relied on suits from private citizens to enforce them. Both had made exceptions for cases involving a “medical emergency.” But the justices took issue with that language in their 6-3 ruling, which suggested that the exceptions were too narrow. They maintained that a woman has a constitutional right to end a pregnancy in order to save her life, without specifying the need for a medical emergency. Why it matters: Oklahoma is among a number of Republican-led states that moved to ban abortion in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year. Legal challenges were quick to follow, and many cases ended up before state supreme courts. Those courts have become critical arbiters in deciding abortion access, and a new political front in the nation’s abortion battles. In some conservative states, courts have decided that their state constitutions protect abortion rights. The decision also highlighted legal complications around how abortion restrictions and exceptions might be interpreted in cases where a woman’s life is at risk. Doctors in other states with abortion bans said they have struggled to provide care for patients without breaking the law. “We hope that this decision provides some clarity, and that doctors can move forward,” said Rabia Muqaddam of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who was the lead lawyer for the groups challenging the law. “Now they can provide care to patients who are facing difficult health circumstances, and they can rely on their medical judgment.”
A Judge Halts South Carolina’s New Abortion Law Pending State Supreme Court Review
NPR, May 26, 2023
A judge put South Carolina’s new law banning most abortions around six weeks of pregnancy on hold Friday until the state Supreme Court can review the measure, giving providers a temporary reprieve in a region that has enacted strict limits on the procedure. Judge Clifton Newman’s ruling that put the state’s abortion law back at roughly 20 weeks came about 24 hours after Gov. Henry McMaster signed the bill into law without any notice, which had left dozens of people seeking abortions in limbo and created the potential for a legal abortion becoming illegal as a doctor performed it. “It’s extraordinarily difficult not only for the women themselves, but for their doctors — not just the doctors at Planned Parenthood — but hospitals all across the state who need to understand what to do in an emergency,” said Vicki Ringer, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood in South Carolina. The developments in South Carolina are a microcosm of what has played out across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade a year ago, allowing states to decide their abortion laws and leaving patients scrambling to find care wherever they can in situations where weeks or even days can make a huge difference. The South Carolina measure joins stiff limitations pending in North Carolina and Florida, states that had been holdouts in the South providing wider access to the procedure, threatening to further delay abortions as appointments pile up in the region. The state has seen the number of abortions climb sharply as other Southern states passed near-total bans. Before the overturn of Roe, less than 1 in 10 abortions in South Carolina were performed on people who lived out of state. Now, that figure is near 50% and the number of abortions each month has at least tripled, according to state health data.
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
Today, the @WhiteHouse released the U.S. National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action. The plan as seven pillars: prevention, support, economic security, online safety, legal assistance, crisis response, and research and data. https://t.co/lLzUfsJIwU— National Partnership (@NPWF) May 25, 2023
Note: The information contained in this publication reflects media coverage of women’s health issues and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Partnership for Women & Families.