By Elisha Brown
Many teens and young adults express negative emotions about a United States without federal abortion rights, a new study found. Researchers surveyed over 600 people after Politico leaked a draft Supreme Court opinion in May 2022 before justices overturned Roe v. Wade, according to a qualitative study just published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
People aged 14-24 were asked five open-ended questions about the possibility of a post-Roe nation. Over 40% shared fear, anger or sadness about the future of abortion rights, 26% generally disagreed with changes, 12% had mixed feelings and 7% had a positive reaction, according to the study. Three percent were unsure how to feel about shifting abortion law, and the rest did not express their emotions about the issue.
Dr. Bianca Allison is the lead author of the study and a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
“There's thematic consistency across all subgroups and ages, which is pretty powerful when you think about it,” Allison said in an interview with Reproductive Rights Today. “It means our minors are just as aware and engaged in what's happening around them politically — even if they're not able to vote.”
Young people in nearly every state, save for Oregon, responded to the research questions, and views were collected from varying demographics: 15% were nonbinary, transgender or another gender; 8% were Black; 13% were Asian; and 8% were Hispanic. Nearly 40% of respondents received free or reduced school lunch, and roughly the same number of people surveyed were male or female.
Youth who took part in the study were aware of the possibility of living in a country with a patchwork of abortion restrictions over a year ago. Right now, 14 states ban most abortions, with more restrictions set to take effect in the coming months.
The study shows “adolescents need to be included in thinking about what abortion looks like in the post-Dobbs arena,” Allison said. She and her colleagues plan on publishing follow-up reports about surveys with teens after the pivotal decision and again after the midterm elections, when voters rejected restrictions in every state where abortion rights were on the ballot.
Ohio Supreme Court rejects challenge to abortion ballot petition
In a victory for reproductive rights supporters, Ohio’s high court decided Thursday not to stunt a proposed abortion rights ballot question. In March, Margaret DeBlase and John Giroux, Cincinnati Right to Life members, sued the Ohio Ballot Board and argued that the ballot petition contained multiple constitutional amendments, according to Ohio Capital Journal. The court unanimously ruled Thursday that the measure only contains a single amendment, and the board did not abuse the law by approving the petition.
Curt Hartman, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told Reproductive Rights Today his clients were “disappointed with the decision” from the high court. “In the coming weeks and months, we plan to continue to challenge the petition effort on all fronts, including, if need be, before the Ohio Supreme Court once again,” he said. Meanwhile, abortion rights advocates are in the signature-gathering process. The potential amendment aims to enshrine Ohioans’ right to make their own reproductive health decisions concerning abortion, childbirth, contraception and fertility treatment into the state constitution. It could also guarantee abortion rights up to fetal viability and beyond if the pregnant person’s life is at risk. If the petition gets enough signatures, the measure will appear on the ballot in November. Ohio will hold a special August election asking voters whether it should be harder to amend the constitution.
Mobile health clinic targets maternal health void in rural Indiana
Monticello, Indiana — a rural town with less than 6,000 residents — has a mobile health clinic that aims to reduce hospital visits and address maternal health care disparities, Indiana Capital Chronicle reports. The clinic staffs Courtney Dyer, a registered nurse specializing in obstetric services. She worked at a local hospital before the labor and delivery unit closed a decade ago. The nearest hospital delivering babies is in Lafayette, about 40 minutes from Monticello.
Dyer visits parents during pregnancy and for up to fourth months after childbirth. She teaches them how to navigate infant development, a period crucial to maternal and child health outcomes. “If we can teach her to know those habits … she can know when something has changed and potentially save her baby’s life,” the nurse told Capital Chronicle. The grant-supported program has one other employee, paramedic Nick Green. “I personally don’t think it’s the state’s responsibility to fund this permanently, but I think it’s the state’s responsibility to help grow and harbor these partnerships and relationships,” Green said.
Nebraska anti-abortion rights group condemns conservative senator
Last week, Nebraska Right to Life rescinded its endorsement of Sen. Merv Riepe, who played a key role in sinking a six-week abortion ban, Nebraska Examiner reports. Sandy Danek, the group’s executive director, said she was “caught off guard” by Riepe’s decision to mark himself “present, not voting” during debate for a bill that would have restricted abortion before most people know they’re pregnant. Riepe, a former hospital administrator, said he understands the group’s decision but had a “change of heart” after discovering through research that fetal cardiac activity begins later in pregnancy.
“Do I like abortions? Absolutely not. Do I want abortions? Absolutely not,” Riepe told the Examiner. “But I live in a real world, and I know that there have been abortions before the days of Christ.” He went on to vote for a bill that merged a slightly later ban and gender-affirming care restrictions. Republican Gov. Jim Pillen last month signed that legislation into law — abortions after 12 weeks of gestation and transition surgeries for minors are outlawed. The statute is being litigated in the courts. LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights supporters are arguing the legislation violates a constitutional rule that bills should contain only a single subject.
“A few more weeks went by and I disclosed to my doctor that I wasn’t okay. I was met with: ‘Really? We usually see postpartum depression earlier in new mothers.’ Why yes, you do. For those who are able to acknowledge what’s happened to them, or swallow their pride and speak up.” — Jordyn Wilson, contributor, CT Mirror
Nearly 80% of Louisianans said the state’s near-total abortion ban should have rape exceptions, according to an LSU survey. (Louisiana Illuminator)
Ohio legislators are moving to nix sales taxes on baby products. (News5Cleveland.com)
A bill in California aims to protect patients seeking abortions and gender-affirming care by barring law-enforcement from using reverse search warrants to track locations. (CalMatters)
A Florida collective of doulas, midwives and other birth workers is raising awareness about reproductive justice. (The 19th*)
Texas lawmakers approved legislation requiring insurers to pay for cancer patients’ fertility preservation. (Texas Monthly)
In Wyoming, a woman accused of setting fire to a reproductive health clinic pleaded not guilty. (WyoFile)
A survey found 80% of nurses faced racism from patients but less than one-quarter reported the discrimination. (STAT News)
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