By Elisha Brown
HB 242, sponsored by Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, defines the term “abortion trafficking” as a crime when adults help a minor get abortion care outside Idaho borders or an underage person helps a fellow minor get abortion medication. Violators would be subject to five years in prison. “This gives us the tools to go after those who would subvert a parent’s right to be able to make those decisions in conjunction with their child,” Ehardt said at a committee hearing Monday.
Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, told Kelcie her organization will challenge the bill if it becomes law. Gibron noted that even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who voted in favor of overturning the federal right to abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, would deem the latest anti-abortion bill as unconstitutional.
In his concurring opinion, Kavanaugh wrote “may State bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion? In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”
In other developments, a U.S. senator from Alabama is blocking promotions for military members to protest the Pentagon’s new reproductive rights policy. Florida Republicans are fast-tracking a six-week abortion bill, the Georgia Supreme Court may uphold the state’s ban and Rhode Island birth workers are fed up with staff shortages.
THE BEAT States Newsroom coverage
Alabama senator on military abortion policy protest: ‘We’re gonna work it out’
“We’re gonna work it out,” U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, told Senior Washington, D.C. Bureau Reporter Ashley Murray when asked about his hold on 160 military promotions to protest the Pentagon’s updated reproductive health policies. Tuberville declined to provide details on a solution but noted he had recently talked with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the phone.
During Tuesday’s Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing, Austin pointed to global conflicts, including the Russia-Ukraine war, when committee Chair Jack Reed, D-R.I., asked about the implications of the stunted nominations. “The effects are absolutely critical in terms of the impact on the force,” Austin said.
The Pentagon widened abortion access for service members in February, allowing service members to take absences of leave for “non-covered reproductive health care,” including abortions, Ashley reported. Tuberville, a first-term senator who sits on the committee, argued the updated protocol violates the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for terminating pregnancies, unless they’re the result of rape, incest or pose life-threatening risks. About 80,000 female service members are based in areas that thwart reproductive rights, particularly elective abortions, according to a September report published by RAND.
Florida GOP forwards six-week abortion bill as Georgia justices weigh ban
ICYMI: Two neighboring states saw crucial developments in abortion-related legislation and court cases Tuesday. In Florida, hundreds of supporters and opponents of a six-week abortion bill lined up to testify before the Senate Fiscal Policy committee, according to Florida Phoenix. Despite hearing five hours of testimony – Senate President Kathleen Passidomo allowed citizens unlimited speaking time – the committee voted to forward the restrictive measure to the full Senate. If the proposal becomes law, the current 15-week abortion ban in the state will be void.
And in Georgia, state Supreme Court justices appeared to be skeptical of the argument posed by representatives for the plaintiffs – Atlanta-based reproductive justice organization SisterSong – that the state’s six-week abortion ban should be eliminated because it passed before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Georgia Recorder reported. Last year, a state Superior Court judge briefly blocked the law, deeming the six-week ban unconstitutional. “Dobbs (which ended Roe) expressly says the prior precedent was wrong and – whether anybody agrees with that – it says that, and it’s the last word on it,” Justice Charlie Bethel said during the case’s oral arguments. The current abortion law also includes personhood language that allows parents to claim embryos as dependents for tax purposes.
Rhode Island birth workers, hospital staff slam chief for staff shortages
A union representing health care workers at Womens and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island announced Tuesday that 95% of union members voted no confidence in hospital President and CEO Shannon Sullivan, Rhode Island Current reported. Nearly 2,000 hospital staff, including nurses, lactation consultants and maintenance professionals, have memberships with the Service Employees International Union 1199 New England.
The union members have repeatedly brought attention to chronic staff shortages by holding informational pickets and candlelight vigils outside the hospital. We have a human problem,” Robyn Hamaker, a floating registered nurse, told the Current. “I feel like I’m a woman in 1950 getting her first job,” she said. “Every day you walk on eggshells hoping they don’t yell at you, don’t fire you, or something else.”
The hospital representatives defended Sullivan, and said management and medical staff supported her leadership. Discrimination allegations have also plagued the facility. Nancy Chandley Adams, a lactation consultant and nurse at the hospital, said she believed the housekeeping staff, many of whom are Portuguese, face racial discrimination. She also said a manager told a breastfeeding employee to go outside and pump. Womens and Infants Hospital did not respond to the Current’s requests for comment on the harassment claims.
“I was 13 weeks pregnant when I found out my baby girl wasn’t going to make it. The doctors told me she was not viable. Under Nebraska’s proposed near total abortion ban, I wouldn’t have been allowed to end my pregnancy, despite being told by doctors that we only had a 15% chance of the baby making it to term.” – Abby Waller, who had an abortion after learning her pregnancy was not viable, Nebraska Examiner
THE PULSE Reproductive rights news across the country
- The Kansas House passed a bill Wednesday that would require physicians to provide false information about reversing medication abortions. (Kansas Reflector.)
- Montana Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee walked out a hearing Tuesday after Republicans linked abortion to Satanism. (Daily Montanan.)
- Parties in the proposed Ohio abortion rights amendment lawsuit are submitting their arguments to the state Supreme Court. (Ohio Capital Journal.)
STATE BY STATE Abortion access in the U.S.
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