Join us for a deep-dive into reproductive health, rights, and justice issues like abortion, birth control, sex education, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and more. New episodes debut every other Tuesday, giving you an insider’s perspective on what is happening and what you can do to fight back.
How are States Prepping for the Fall of Roe?
30:25In the 2022 state legislative session, over 500 abortion restrictions were introduced, with many extreme and restrictive anti-abortion bills passing. Rachel Sussman, Vice President of State Policy and Advocacy at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, talks to us about what the recent Supreme Court leak that threatens Roe v. Wade means for multiple states in the South and Midwest United States. Many states have gotten a head start on introducing harmful anti-abortion legislation. In fact, Oklahoma and Idaho have enacted copycats of Texas’s S.8.—a bill that bans abortion after only six weeks of pregnancy and allows for private citizens to enforce the law against each other through legal action. Oklahoma’s law is officially in effect (PPFA has asked for a stay on the law and is waiting on the decision), while the Idaho law has been stopped at the state court level. Florida, Kentucky, and Arizona have all enacted 15-week abortion bans which will go into effect with the upholding of the case at the center of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In addition, Louisiana is contemplating a law that would allow patients to be charged with homicide (which comes with the death penalty in the state) if they receive an abortion. The bill could also criminalize emergency contraception, invitro fertilization, and birth control. (Since we recorded Louisiana lawmakers have taken a step back from this bill for now.) There are 26 states that are positioned to ban abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, mostly throughout the Midwest and the South. This will leave entire regions of the country geographically stranded when it comes to access to abortion care. Abortion providers, clinics, and funds in states that will continue to provide abortion care will undoubtedly experience extreme logistical and structural challenges while attempting to absorb the patients traveling from out-of-state. Still, there are several states that are working to support and protect abortion in direct opposition to the Supreme Court’s leaked decision. New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, and Connecticut have all voted to expand the type of medical practitioners who can provide abortions (such as nurse practitioners). Meanwhile, Oregon, California, and Connecticut are discussing usage of state dollars to directly support patients in accessing care. LinksPPFA on TwitterPPFA on FacebookBansoff.orgKeepourclinics.orgNational Network of Abortion FundsTake ActionFind advocacy opportunities at bansoff.org and follow PPFA on Twitter and Facebook.If you are in a state that is hostile to abortion, find groups that are actively protesting and join. If you are in a state that is protecting abortion access, urge your state governors, legislatures, and attorneys general to act to expand policies and services.As more people wonder where, in fact, they can access an abortion, amplify abortionfinder.org. This website lists clinics and providers across the country offering care.Donate to independent abortion providers, abortion funds! Finally, if you are comfortable, share your story. Whether at the dinner table or on Twitter, your voice is important. Support the show
Emergency Podcast: SCOTUS Looks Ready to Completely Overturn Roe
53:39On May 2nd, 2022, a Politico article was released that contained a leaked copy of the Supreme Court’s draft decision of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case that would most likely have been released formally in June or July of this year. The leaked decision, penned by Justice Samuel Alito, overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that guaranteed the constitutionality of abortion in the U.S. Caroline Reilly, Reporting Fellow with Rewire News Group, sits down to talk with us about the recent leaked draft and what this decision means for the future of abortion in America. The leaked draft ultimately upholds Mississippi’s 15-week ban at the heart of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, overturns Roe v. Wade, and overturns Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which ruled that patients cannot face “undue burden” when attempting to access an abortion. Technically and currently, abortion is still legal in all 50 states. This draft is not a ruling, but a window into what the Supreme Court is possibly planning to decide regarding the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. If the Supreme Court indeed rules in line with the leaked draft, it will mean abortion will be illegal in half of the country. 26 states are likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned. Those states and others will also likely take the opportunity to pass additional legislation that severely restrict or ban abortion care. This will lead to broad swaths of the country where abortion is inaccessible, and smatterings of states where abortion is accessible— leading to overwhelmed reproductive healthcare infrastructure in the states that do offer abortion care. As the U.S. faces these unprecedented attacks, we must remember that abortion is healthcare, abortion is freedom, and abortion is autonomy, and that the majority of Americans support upholding Roe. The fight to ensure access to basic, timely, and critical reproductive healthcare will continue. LinksCaroline Reilly on TwitterCaroline Reilly on RewireRewire News Group on TwitterRewire News Group on Facebook Center for Reproductive Rights “If Roe Fell” mapTake Action Items Follow Caroline Reilly on Twitter and Rewire News Group on Facebook and Twitter! If you can, donate to Rewire News Group, which is one of the only publications based in sexual and reproductive health and rights. If you have money and time, donate it to abortion funds, independent clinics, and smaller organizations that help to ensure abortion care such as the Abortion Care Network, Jane’s Due Process, and The Repro Legal Defense Fund. Normalize and de-stigmatize abortion in conversations with friends and family. Shout Your Abortion has many resources on self-managed abortion and accessing medication abortion. Support the show
Papua New Guinea: Providing Reproductive Health Care in a Highly Stigmatized Environment
42:50Note: We recorded this episode prior to the leaked document showing the Supreme Courts intent to overturn the right to abortion. While unfortunately we don’t talk about it in the episode we will be recording an emergency episode soon to talk about what happened. Women and girls in the Pacific region face a variety of barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. Geographic isolation, lack of bodily autonomy, and some of the world’s highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence contribute to high maternal mortality, low contraceptive prevalence and pervasive gender inequality. Myths and misconceptions around sex, reproduction and gender norms are rife, creating stigma and further impacting access to SRHR services. Kelly Durrant, External Relations Director at MSI Asia Pacific, speaks to us about addressing some of these challenges. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the largest country in the pacific and the third largest island nation globally, home to approximately 9 million people—85% of which live in rural locations. Even before the pandemic, the country battled high rates of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal and child mortality, and inadequate primary healthcare in rural areas. MSI Asia Pacific has worked in Papua New Guinea since 2006, and is the largest – and in many provinces, the only – SRHR provider in the country. Teams of MSI-trained healthcare workers, community mobilizers and educators travel by plane, boat, or jeep to reach remote communities that are often inaccessible by road. In many cases, these outreach visits are the only way that these communities can access high-quality information, counselling and services to meet their sexual and reproductive healthcare needs and chose if and when to have children. Limited exposure to sexual and reproductive health education in tandem with social expectations related to the role of women in society means providers in the country must work to bust myths and address stigma related to contraception. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated poor health outcomes. The country also has some of the worst rates of gender-based violence globally, with some statistics estimating that 2 out of 3 women in PNG have experienced gender-based violence, rates of which have been worsened by the pandemic. MSI Asia Pacific works at a government level, community level, and individual level, to advocate for policy change, increase education, confront bias, and better deliver care. Involving faith leaders and men and boys in sexual and reproductive health education (balanced carefully with women and girl’s autonomy to make their own reproductive decisions) de-stigmatizes services. LinksMSI Asia Pacific MSI Asia Pacific on TwitterMSI Asia Pacific on FacebookMSI Asia Pacific on InstagramMSI Asia Pacific DonationsSupport the show
How Intimate Partner Violence is a Reproductive Justice Issue: A Personal Conversation
39:13Trigger Warning: In this episode we talk about intimate partner violence. If you need help or to talk to someone you can call or chat the National Domestic Violence Hotline at https://www.thehotline.org/ 1-800-799-SAFE or the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) at https://www.rainn.org/ 1-800-656-HOPE. Intimate partner violence (IPV), or abuse or aggression in intimate or romantic relationships, takes many forms, including physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, financial violence, and psychological aggression. Monica Edwards, Federal Policy Manager at Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity (URGE), talks to us about the ways in which IPV and reproductive health, rights, and justice intersect, and the communities most impacted by IPV. SisterSong’s definition of reproductive justice is “human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” Forms of IPV that are directly connected to reproductive health and reproductive justice include tampering with contraception, contraceptive coercion, and “stealthing,” (the removal of a condom during sexual intercourse without a partner’s consent), among other forms. Those seeking abortion care may be unable to do so because they are in an IPV situation, and research from the Turnaway Study has shown that those who cannot access an abortion are more likely to stay with abusive partners. Those who are experiencing violence—intimate partner violence, police violence, violence from the state, etc.—are not living in safe and sustainable communities, and therefore cannot fulfill their reproductive justice. It is important to note that IPV directly impacts different communities in different ways. A recent study has found that homicide is the leading cause of maternal mortality for pregnant people in the United States. Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) experience IPV disproportionately. Young people—whether teens or young adults—can experience IPV or what’s known as “teen dating violence,” and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 1 in 12 teens experience dating violence and 1 in 12 teens experienced sexual dating violence. How do we address these issues that demand immediate attention? Having open, honest, and intersectional conversations that uplift and center the experiences of communities that are consistently oppressed. This rule is as true for intimate partner violence as it is for reproductive health and abortion and contraception access. LinksURGE on TwitterURGE on FacebookMore information on IPV and BIPOC and pregnant peopleRape, Abuse, and Incest National NetworkThe National Domestic Violence Hotline Take ActionGet involved with organizations and advocates in your community that are working on intersectional intimate partner violence—whether that’s through volunteering or donating.Support the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)
BMHW22: The Current Status of Black Maternal Health in the U.S.
30:56It’s officially Black Maternal Health Week 2022! Dr. Jamila Taylor, Director of Healthcare Reform and Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation, sits down to talk with us about the current status of Black maternal health in the U.S., as well as what access to abortion, pregnancy and delivery care, and COVID-19 services look like for Black pregnant people and other people of color in this country. Even though the United States spends more per capita on health care than any other country, the maternal mortality rate is steadily worsening. Just last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing that Black women are three times more likely to die from maternal health issues and maternal morbidity than white women. These rates have steadily increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social and structural inequality as well as racism in the healthcare system continue to contribute to the poor health outcomes of Black women. Racism in healthcare can result in physical and mental health impacts, weathering (wear and tear on the body), and increased likelihood of experiencing complications during the pregnancy and birthing process. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the ways in which marginalized communities continue to be further marginalized when it comes to healthcare access. The pandemic’s restrictions on those allowed inside hospitals and clinics impacted Black birthing people’s abilities to bring along companions into medical settings, like a friend, family member, or doula to serve as an additional patient advocate. Already, the U.S. is experiencing a maternal mortality and morbidity crisis, but tacking on extreme attacks to abortion care will worsen health outcomes. A possible overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court in June will leave the United States woefully unprepared for a worsening maternal mortality crisis, exacerbated by a lack of access to abortion care for millions. States that are most likely to pass the most draconian abortion restrictions are the states with the highest maternal mortality rates, mostly concentrated in the American south. The Momnibus package, which has been led by Congresswoman Lauren Underwood and Congresswoman Alma Adams, is a package of 12 bills that address almost every dimension of the Black maternal health crisis. This package of legislation addresses a variety of intersectional Black maternal health concerns, including the social determinants of health, vaccinations, climate, housing, insurance coverage and more. Passage of the Momnibus would make a momentous difference in addressing the U.S. Black maternal health crisis. LinksThe Century Foundation on TwitterThe Century Foundation on FacebookThe Maternal Health Crisis Facing Black WomenInformation on the MomnibusInformation on the Build Back Better ActSupport the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)
The Relentless Assault on Transgender Health and Rights
41:37Across the country, measures are being introduced to restrict gender-affirming healthcare, ban LGBTQ+ books, and prevent trans girls and women from participating in sports. Katelyn Burns, the first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in U.S. history, freelance journalist, MSNBC columnist, and co-host of podcast Cancel Me Daddy, sits down to talk with us about recent and increasing attacks on the health and rights of transgender people across the U.S. Conservatives around the country have stepped up their attacks on trans rights with the attacks falling into a couple of different buckets. Conservative lawmakers are working to ban books about LGBTQ+ orientations and identities in schools and libraries. Florida has recently passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which explicitly bans classroom discussion about LGBTQ+ issues, further empowers parents to sue school districts, and requires schools to disclose to parents when their child receives mental health services. At the same time, more than a dozen states have passed legislation that limit transgender girls competing in school sports. A total of 15 states this year have enacted or are considering laws that would limit or ban gender-affirming care—including puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy—for transgender youth. In Texas, the most recent law attacking gender-affirming care has arranged for the state’s Department of Family and Child Services to class provision of gender-affirming care to someone under 18 as child abuse. Even with all of these attacks on trans rights it’s not all terrible news, on the Transgender Day of Visibility, the White House unveiled a host of meaningful policy rollouts, including having an “X” as one’s gender marker on one’s U.S. passport, working with airlines and the TSA on deprioritizing gender altogether when it comes to air travel, and the replacement of gender binary airport security scanners. LinksKatelyn Burns on TwitterCancel Me DaddyHuman Rights Campaign rally information White House Release on Transgender Day of VisibilityThe massive Republican push to ban trans athletes, explainedCritics accuse trans swimming star Lia Thomas of having an unfair advantage. The data tells a different storyFlorida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill would erase families like mineGreg Abbott's death wish for trans kids is on full displayThe Latest Transphobic Laws are a Natural Evolution from Abortion Bans The GOP’s attack on trans kids’ health care, explainedSupport the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)
Faith and Repro: What Does Judaism say About Reproductive Rights and LGBTQ+ Rights
49:13From abortion, to birth control, to LGBTQ+ issues, the Jewish faith informs many advocates, leaders, and believer’s work on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Rabbi Danya Ruttenburg, Scholar in Residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, sits down with us to talk about the ways Judaism and reproductive health and rights intersect. Judaism teaches that abortion is permitted and is often required if the life of the pregnant person is threatened. Some stories in Jewish texts make it explicitly clear that, if the head has not emerged from the body, the life of the pregnant person takes precedent. Other stories in ancient texts describe the permitted use of medication abortion. In Jewish communities, these are the stories that inform conversations relating to conception, personhood, and the question of when life begins. In the more patriarchal communities in Judaism, many practitioners approach Rabbis for permission to use birth control and continue to tie birth control usage to marriage status. Still, while Judaism has threads of pro-natalism and patriarchy within it, contraception is a much less hot-button topic than in Catholicism. In fact, when it comes to birth control, many methods are described in the Talmud. These methods include the mokh (an absorbent, wool insert) as well as the kos shel ikkarin (an herbal mix made up of roots). Many scholars argue that mentions of LGBTQ+ issues in Jewish writings are consistently up to interpretation. Still, Jewish texts mention upwards of six or seven different sex and gender identities, and instead of rejecting, banishing, or ignoring, Judaism seeks to find ways to welcome gender nonconforming or gender non-binary people. LinksNational Council of Jewish Women on TwitterNational Council of Jewish Women on FacebookRabbi Danya Ruttenburg’s Twitter ThreadTranstorah.org Take ActionFollow the National Council of Jewish Women on Facebook and Twitter! To learn more about the ways LGBTQ+ issues and Judaism intersect, find transtorah.org here. If you are a faith leader, take the initative to listen to LGBTQ+ and repro voices.Support the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)
SB8 Made it Even Harder for Young People to Get an Abortion in Texas
38:26Young people face all the same barriers that adults face in accessing abortion care, but in states like Texas, youth also face a parental consent law. Rosann Mariappuram, Executive Director of Jane’s Due Process, sits down to talk with us about this extra barrier to care, and what it looks like after the passage of the six-week abortion ban, SB8. While also having to navigate the labyrinth of general, state-based abortion restrictions (such as mandatory ultrasounds, 24-hour waiting periods, a lack of abortion clinics in the state, and taking time off work and school), those under 18 in Texas must also receive parental or guardian consent when accessing abortion care. For many young people this can be an especially difficult challenge. If consent cannot be obtained, young people must go through a judicial bypass, or speaking with a judge to obtain a court order to receive an abortion. Judicial bypass processes often involve extremely invasive questions meant to gauge young people’s “intelligence or emotional stability.” Judges ask questions about the pregnancy, family life, grades, and other personal concerns. Texas’s passage of the six-week abortion ban, SB8, has complicated the judicial bypass process. The process, which already required two to three weeks of careful legal counseling, is forcing Jane’s Due Process staff to work under a tighter schedule. Still, this legislation has left many teens unattended in their need for abortion care; in fact, during the first month of SB8’s passage, abortion care in the state dropped by 50%, and 70-90% for young people. Sex education is not required in the state of Texas, but if sex education is taught, the current curriculum does not necessitate the sharing of information on contraception and abortion, nor does the curriculum require LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Texas also has some of the worst maternal mortality rates in the U.S., especially for Black women. New research has shown that, while Black women make up only 11% of Texas births, they make up 30% of maternal deaths. With no inclusive and supportive sex education and an extremely troubling maternal mortality status, Texas does not prove a hospitable state for exercising one’s reproductive health. Abortion is incredibly difficult to access, especially after the passage of the six-week ban. Many patients are being forced to travel outside of the state and spend considerable amounts of money on transportation methods and overnight accommodations, while abortion funds and clinics are continuing to face increasing barriers to providing care, emotional and mental stress, and legal repercussions. Take ActionFollow Jane’s Due Process on Facebook and Twitter here and stay up-to-date on their important work. Show love to abortion funds! You can find the abortion fund nearest you here. There’s many ways to help, including donating, volunteering, and fundraising! Get involved in state and local politics. Discuss sex education, abortion access, and contraception access with state representatives, city council members, and school board members. Voting is incredibly important to protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights—vote in every election you can.Support the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)
Everyone Loves Someone Who Had an Abortion: Abortion Storytellers Part 2
1:05:27“We believe that everyone who has abortions deserves unconditional love and support. We believe that people who have abortions deserve to be in every space where decisions are being made. To borrow from the disability justice movement, there should be nothing about us without us. We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.” -We Testify. For this incredibly special part two of our storytellers podcast series, tune in to hear the abortion stories of Kelsea McLain, Jack Qu’emi, and Veronika—abortion storytellers from We Testify. Links We TestifySign up to receive We Testify newslettersWe Testify on TwitterWe Testify on FacebookGraphic artist Sage M Coffey Passing the Women’s Health Protection Act Would Be Magical Take Action Follow We Testify on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date on their essential work. You can also sign up to receive We Testify newsletters here. You can also to get involved with We Testify, find more abortion stories, or share your abortion story. Love the episode art? Find more of graphic artist Sage M. Coffey’s work here! The Senate will be voting on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) on February 28th. Call your Senators and tell them to support passing WHPA!! You can call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121Support the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)
Everyone Loves Someone Who Had an Abortion: Abortion Storytellers Part 1
1:14:12“We believe that everyone who has abortions deserves unconditional love and support. We believe that people who have abortions deserve to be in every space where decisions are being made. To borrow from the disability justice movement, there should be nothing about us without us. We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.” -We Testify. For this incredibly special part one of our storytellers podcast series, tune in to hear the abortion stories of Anna, Sarah Lopez, Nick, and Stephanie Gomez—abortion storytellers from We Testify. Links We TestifySign up to receive We Testify newslettersWe Testify on TwitterWe Testify on FacebookGraphic artist Sage M Coffey Take Action Follow We Testify on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date on their essential work. You can also sign up to receive We Testify newsletters here. You can also to get involved with We Testify, find more abortion stories, or share your abortion story. Love the episode art? Find more of graphic artist Sage M. Coffey’s work here!Support the show (https://www.reprosfightback.com/take-action#donate)