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Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

How The New Texas Abortion Law Turns The Public Into Enforcers. Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade


The strictest abortion law in the U.S. took effect on Sept. 1 in Texas. Designed to protect fetuses from the moment a heartbeat is detected, the law is seen by abortion-rights supporters as an end-run around Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide — and a possible blueprint for other states to make policy by encouraging neighbors to sue each other.

1. What Does The Texas Law Do?

It prohibits a physician from performing an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, something that generally occurs around six weeks after conception — which is before a lot of people realize they’re pregnant, according to abortion providers. More broadly, the law bars any individual from “aiding and abetting” an abortion after six weeks, which includes helping pay for it or merely trying to help a woman obtain one. The law’s only exception is for abortions that are necessary for treatment of a medical emergency. Abortions of pregnancies caused by rape or incest are among those prohibited after six weeks. So are abortions prompted by fetal health problems that make it unlikely the child will survive after birth.

2. How Is It Enforced?

The law is unusual in that it tasks private citizens, rather than the state, with enforcement. It says that “any person,” other than a government official, may file a civil lawsuit to enforce the law against anyone who performs or intends to perform a prohibited abortion, or who aids or abets one. The law provides for at least $10,000 in “statutory damages” for each abortion performed, which is payable by the abortion provider and/or anybody who aided or abetted. There is no cap on the amount of damages a court can award to a citizen who sues to enforce the law. Other provisions of the law meant to hamstring abortion providers include rules on where they might have to travel to defend themselves in the second-largest U.S. state and limits on the defenses they can present in court.

3. What Can Happen To Women Who Have Abortions After Six Weeks?

Nothing. The Texas law doesn’t hold the woman liable — just those who help her.

4. Why Is Enforcement Left To Private Citizens?

By keeping government officials out of enforcement, advocates of the law hoped to insulate it from review by federal courts. Governments are generally constrained by the U.S. Constitution, but private citizens aren’t. Texas argues that even if the new law is found to be unconstitutional, courts would lack any basis to issue an order blocking it. If the Texas law is upheld, other states might pass similar measures encouraging strategic lawsuits by residents.

5. How Many Abortions Would Become Illegal In Texas?

Most of them, judging by nationwide statistics. Only about 40% of abortions in the U.S. are performed within the first six weeks of gestation, according to the most recent data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Abortion providers who fought the law to the U.S. Supreme Court claimed it would bar care for at least 85% of Texas abortion patients and likely force many abortion clinics to close.

6. What Does The Supreme Court Say?

By a 5-4 vote, the court refused to block the law while legal challenges against it continue in lower courts. The majority said abortion providers had “raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law” but hadn’t shown they could overcome the thicket of procedural obstacles stemming from the law’s unusual delegation of enforcement powers to private parties. The law faces a number of additional challenges, including in Texas state courts.

7. What Does This Mean For Roe V. Wade?

The Supreme Court has generally prohibited restrictions on abortions until “viability” — when a fetus is capable of surviving outside of the womb. The court has suggested that takes place around 23 or 24 weeks. Already on the docket for the high court’s fall term is a challenge to a Mississippi law that would outlaw most abortions after 15 weeks. Mississippi argues that viability is “not an appropriate standard for assessing the constitutionality” of abortion laws.

Updated: 9-3-2021

Lyft Urges Companies To Defend Women Against Texas Abortion Law

Lyft Inc. will fully cover legal fees for any of its drivers sued under Texas’ new law that outlaws most abortions in the state, the company’s CEO Logan Green says in a series of tweets.

Green also urged other companies to join its efforts on the issue.

 

Updated: 9-4-2021

How The Supreme Court Texas Abortion Ruling Could Spur A Wave Of ‘Rage Giving’


Nonprofits are usually happy to receive a contribution, but ‘rage giving’ has its drawbacks.

Jill Blake has long been a pro-choice advocate and has contributed money to Planned Parenthood and other groups that support women’s reproductive rights. But when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that it wouldn’t block a Texas law prohibiting abortions after “cardiac activity” is detected — around the sixth week of pregnancy — Blake took her support to another level.

Not only did the Atlanta-based freelance writer and classic-film expert make a donation to yet another group, she also put together a social-media fundraiser, encouraging others to contribute to organizations behind the cause.

Blake said she fears the Supreme Court decision may not bode well for the pro-choice movement going forward. In turn, that has spurred her philanthropic push. “This was the ‘Oh crap’ moment,” she said.

But Blake is one of many who are opening their wallets and contributing to pro-choice groups following enactment of the Texas law. And the phenomenon of donating out of sudden anger or concern is itself becoming increasingly common — to the point that fundraising experts have adopted a term for it: rage giving.

In essence, it’s charity as a form of protest. And experts say it’s growing in popularity in an era when people’s passions and feelings, especially in connection with political or social issues, can be supercharged by social media. In turn, nonprofit groups are using social media as a way to quickly raise money when the news may prompt such giving.

Certainly, since news of the Texas law, many pro-choice and reproductive rights organizations have been directing would-be donors and volunteers as to how they can help. Among them: the Texas Equal Access Fund, which provides financial support to low-income Texans who are seeking an abortion and cannot afford it.

Maleeha Aziz, a community organizer with the Texas organization, said the group raised at least $200,000 in the roughly 36 hours after the Supreme Court ruling was announced. Just as important, she said: It has received 66 calls from those wanting to volunteer their time for the organization. On a typical day, she said, it receives only three to five such calls.

Planned Parenthood, perhaps the most prominent national organization advocating for women’s reproductive rights, said it couldn’t immediately provide any fundraising information. But it said that its affiliates in Texas are seeing higher call volume.

Pro-life groups may also be able to leverage the Supreme Court ruling to boost support. But at least one major organization, the National Right to Life Committee, said it didn’t anticipate a sudden, sizable uptick in its fundraising. “The majority of our contributions come from faithful small donors,” the group said in a statement.

The idea of giving to charity in response to a news event isn’t necessarily a recent development. Nick Black, cofounder of GoodUnited, a social fundraising platform, notes that disaster-relief and humanitarian groups have been shaped by such an approach for decades.

“They’re the godfathers of this,” he said.

But the idea of charity spurred by outrage is considered a more contemporary phenomenon. Many cite the 2016 presidential election as a defining moment in that regard: Left-leaning Americans, especially women, responded to Donald Trump’s rise by contributing to progressive groups they felt would counter any actions he might take.

A nonprofit group is usually happy to receive a contribution. Still, rage giving has its drawbacks.

Those who study philanthropy warn that a first-time donor who makes a gift in response to something in the news may only be a one-time contributor — that is, they’re not necessarily engaged beyond that moment. Traditionally, nonprofit organizations rely on donors who give on a regular basis, says Melanie Sidwell, who works with the Philanthropic Informatics Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Rage giving “is disrupting the traditional fundraising model and we’re trying to figure it out,” she said.

Texas Ban May Spur Tele-Abortions: Virtual Visits, Then Pills

Days before the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way to effectively end abortion in the state, a truck rolled through parts of west Texas bearing a billboard with a message in English and Spanish: “Missed period? There’s a pill for that.”

Behind its three-day journey through college campuses was a national non-profit called Plan C, whose mission is to increase access to abortion pills and information on how to get and use them. While Plan C says such guidance is needed more than ever in Texas now that the state has banned most abortions after six weeks, pregnant Texans soon will face another hurdle: The state is about to ban medication abortions.

“We absolutely expect to see an increase in inquiries to our website in Texas,” as well as more requests for abortion pills from other sites that sell them, said Plan C co-founder Elisa Wells.

The Texas law takes effect amid major shifts in American abortion care: Rather than a procedure, patients are increasingly choosing mifepristone and misoprostol, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its dramatic rise in telemedicine has accelerated the move toward “medication abortions” via virtual visits, so the patient never has to leave home. “The standard of care with respect to abortion care changed almost overnight because of the pandemic,” Wells said.

In recent months, a handful of services have cropped up to offer tele-abortions, including Hey Jane and Abortion on Demand, which works in 20 states. Nonprofits such as Just the Pill have also launched.

But they can’t work in Texas or states with similar laws: 19 ban telemedicine abortions, and Texas lawmakers have gone one step further and explicitly prohibited providers from mailing pills. The latter bill, passed by the legislature earlier this week, is on the desk of Governor Greg Abbott.

Texan patients seeking to avoid the new laws’ restrictions could cross state lines for clinic-based care — or simply get to a state where remote abortions are allowed.

On Friday, Logan Green, the chief executive officer of Lyft Inc., said the ride-sharing company would fully cover legal fees for any of its drivers sued under Texas’ new law. Green urged other companies to join its efforts; soon after, Uber followed with a similar promise.

Hey Jane, a startup virtual clinic, offers abortion support including remote medical visits and overnight delivery of medications. It’s racing to get up and running in New Mexico and Colorado to serve Texan patients in those states, co-founder Kiki Freedman said.

“The way telemedicine laws work, it’s based off the patient’s physical location,” she said. So patients would just need to travel to those states — ideally with help on transport, food and lodging — and once there, “talk with the provider through digital channels, get the medications and take them.”

For years, telemedicine abortion was hampered by legal issues, Freedman said, but federal regulators under the Biden administration have been supportive. And the permissions granted only for the pandemic could become permanent.

“The more hostile states are only getting more hostile,” she said, so it has long been clear that “setting up operations in adjacent states would be really important.”

Efforts in the rural Midwest could presage what happens near Texas. Just The Pill, a Minnesota nonprofit that aims to increase abortion access in rural areas, also serves patients from bordering states.

If South Dakota patients live too far from a clinic that provides abortions in Fargo or can’t wait for an appointment there, they will often cross into Minnesota, said Just The Pill medical director Julie Amaon.

They come “once to have their telehealth visit with one of our doctors (the patient must be inside state lines to comply with state laws),” she said in an email. “And then they will return two days later to pick up their medications.”

The Minnesota nonprofit has been “shocked to see requests from patients willing to fly or drive from Texas to Minnesota to access medication abortion,” she said, but Just The Pill at this point isn’t treating those patients.

It is, however, considering a plan to set up mobile clinics on the border with states that pass laws like the Texas ban, so patients would be able to see a doctor in person and get the medications in just one trip. “We want to remove as many burdens as possible for patients,” Amaon said.

Legally Shaky

Other patients may resort to alternative — and legally risky — ways to get the pills.

Plan C informs its website’s visitors about telehealth abortions but also options with potentially shakier legal foundations, including an international telehealth service called Aid Access and online pharmacies that will send abortion pills to U.S. customers from abroad.

The site includes a category of “creative options,” including setting up a mailbox in a state that allows remote abortions and giving that address to a medical provider. It also offers a legal helpline so patients can assess the risks of various options.

Other issues remain, Plan C co-founder Wells said, including out-of-pocket costs that even for telemedicine abortions can run into hundreds of dollars. And word of the new telemedicine abortion options must reach the poorest and most vulnerable patients.

Despite the jolt of the Texas ban, Wells noted that much has changed since the whisper networks that guided would-be patients in the U.S. before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

“If you have a cellphone,” she said, “you have abortion access in your pocket.”

 

Updated: 9-7-2021

Video Game CEO Ousted Over His Support of Texas Abortion Law

The head of video game publisher Tripwire Interactive LLC stepped down late Monday following severe backlash to comments he made in support of the recent Texas anti-abortion law.

John Gibson, the former CEO who co-founded Tripwire in 2005, said Saturday on Twitter that he supported the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow the Texas law to stand. The law bans abortions after six weeks and deputizes citizens to sue people who perform or aid in the procedure.

Tripwire, which publishes games such as this year’s popular medieval battler Chivalry 2, faced intense pressure from fans over the weekend including calls for boycotts. Shipwright Studios, a development partner, said it was canceling contracts with Tripwire over Gibson’s comments. Some Tripwire employees also shared criticism on their own private social media accounts.

“His comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners and much of our broader community,” the publisher said in a statement. Gibson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Several companies have been outspoken critics of the law, and some have announced measures to help support staff that could be affected by the ban.

Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. pledged to pay legal fees for drivers who are sued, while dating app companies Match Inc. and Bumble Inc. said they would launch relief funds to help employees impacted by the legislation. GoDaddy Inc., which provides web-hosting services, said it informed the group Texas Right to Life that it needs to find a new hosting provider.

Tripwire said in the statement Monday that Gibson will be replaced by fellow co-founder Alan Wilson. “Our leadership team at Tripwire are deeply sorry and are unified in our commitment to take swift action and to foster a more positive environment,” the company said.

Tripwire didn’t say whether Gibson would remain with the company or retain ownership.

Texas Abortion Law Could Cost Companies Millions As Others Cut Ties

Portland, Ore. (AP) — The city of Portland, Oregon’s plan to boycott Texas goods and services over its new abortion law could cost Texas companies millions of dollars a year, officials said Tuesday.

Heather Hafer, a spokeswoman with the Office of Management and Finance, said Portland has inked almost $35 million in contracts with Texas-based businesses over the last five years, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

She also said Portland employees have made 19 separate trips to the Lonestar State on official business since 2019, a number she said would have been significantly higher if travel hadn’t been stopped for a year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The potential financial impact information comes after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Twitter Monday called Portland boycotting Texas “a complete joke.”

“Texas’ economy is stronger than ever. We value babies and police, they don’t,” he wrote on the social media site.

The Portland City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the measure, which would halt the city from spending money with Texas businesses as well as forbid employee travel to the state. The ban would be in effect until the state either withdraws the legislation or the law gets overturned in court, according to city officials.

The new Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks — before some people know they are pregnant. The Texas’ law differs significantly from laws blocked in other states because it leaves enforcement up to private citizens through lawsuits instead of criminal prosecutors.

Texas Startup To Open Out-of-State Office, Citing Abortion Ban

The company’s chief executive officer said the state’s social policies make it difficult to recruit.

Solugen Inc., a Texas chemicals company, said it plans to open a new research and development facility outside of the state because its social policies are making it difficult to recruit employees, Axios reported Tuesday.

The Houston-based startup said it will more than double its R&D team over the next two years, with the company eyeing Massachusetts and California for the new facility, according to the Axios report. The organization employs about 115 people.

“We’ve come to the conclusion after talking to lots of candidates that they want to join Solugen but they don’t feel comfortable coming to Texas, so for us it’s become a no brainer to have R&D facilities elsewhere,” Chief Executive Officer Gaurab Chakrabarti told Axios.

Chakrabarti is among few executives speaking out against Texas’s law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Ride-sharing companies Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. announced they would cover the legal expenses of drivers sued under a provision of the law that holds anyone abetting an abortion legally liable.

Dating-app providers Match Group Inc. and Bumble Inc. announced relief funds to support those impacted by the ban. Few other corporations have so far followed.

On Saturday, Chakrabarti tweeted that the company was considering expansion opportunities outside of Texas in response to the law. “Disgusted by this abortion ban,” he said. “As the CEO of @solugen, a Texas-based company, I am ashamed of our state for this.”

Solugen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Updated: 9-8-2021

Biden Administration Prepares To Sue Texas Over Abortion Law

Lawsuit challenging restrictions limiting procedure to first six weeks of pregnancy set to be filed in coming days.

The Biden administration is preparing to sue Texas over its new law banning most abortions, people familiar with the matter said, an action that would set off a federal-state clash at a time when the future of abortion rights becomes an ever-more-pressing question before the courts.

The Justice Department could file a lawsuit as soon as Thursday, the people said, adding that the timing could be pushed back. The Biden administration has faced pressure from Democrats and abortion-rights groups to take action to stop the Texas restrictions after the Supreme Court last week allowed them to take effect.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday the Justice Department was urgently exploring all of its options, which legal experts said could include attempting to strip federal funding and trying to determine whether there are federal facilities within the state that could provide abortions. Those experts warned, however, that novel provisions in the law, which prohibits most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, could make it harder for the federal government to prevail in a lawsuit.

In writing the Texas Heartbeat Act, known as Senate Bill 8, or SB 8, lawmakers assigned enforcement to private parties giving them an incentive by authorizing damages of $10,000 or more if they successfully sued a defendant they accused of performing or aiding in an abortion. The law puts the enforcement powers in the hands of private citizens, rather than state or local officials, leaving its opponents without obvious individuals to sue.

The Justice Department is expected to pursue an argument that the Texas law illegally interferes with federal interests, one of the people said. The precise nature of those arguments couldn’t immediately be learned.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. A White House spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed the law in May, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Biden last week pledged a “whole-of-government effort” to respond to the Supreme Court’s order allowing the Texas law to stand, and said he asked the Justice Department to explore ways to challenge it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said the chamber would vote later this month on legislation to protect abortion rights by banning restrictions before fetal viability. The legislation is unlikely to pass the evenly divided Senate, where it would need 60 votes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) hasn’t announced a pending vote.

Other Democrats in Congress this week urged Mr. Garland to prosecute Texas residents who try under the new law to sue women seeking abortions.

“The Department of Justice cannot permit private individuals seeking to deprive women of the constitutional right to choose an abortion to escape scrutiny under existing federal law simply because they attempt to do so under the color of state law,” Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday in a letter to Mr. Garland.

Some abortion opponents and Republican lawmakers have hailed the law as a model for reversing the viability standard established by Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions. “The Supreme Court just let Texas’s pro-life law go into effect, saving countless innocent lives,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), who is seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate. “Why stop there? The Court should let every state set its own abortion laws by overturning Roe v Wade.”

The Justice Department has previously said only that it would be stepping up prosecutions of people who injure or intimidate abortion-clinic patients and employees under a federal law known as the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, a statute that has been described as spottily enforced in the past. Mr. Garland said Monday the department had reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal prosecutors across Texas to discuss how to enforce that law.

The Texas abortion law sets no limit on how much money those who sue to challenge abortions can recover. If they prevail, they can also demand that the losing party pay their legal bills. If they lose in court and their case is dismissed, they owe the defendant nothing.

The law permits several lawsuits to be filed by different individuals over a single abortion. Once a claimant collects damages, though, the others suing may not collect more money from the same defendant for the same violation.

In allowing the Texas law to take effect, the Supreme Court didn’t rule on the measure’s constitutionality. A new lawsuit by the Justice Department could join legal challenges on the state level that seek to give courts a better opportunity to rule on the ban’s validity.

In its next session, the Supreme Court is already slated to rule on Mississippi’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, with the state arguing for an abolition of federal abortion rights. Lower federal courts have blocked that law for violating Supreme Court precedent. A ruling in that case is expected by next summer.

Updated: 9-10-2021

Salesforce’s CEO Offers To Relocate Employees From Texas

Salesforce.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff told employees on Friday that the company will help them leave Texas if they wish in response to the state’s approval of a controversial anti-abortion law.

“If you want to move we’ll help you exit,” Benioff said in a tweet directed at “Ohana,” the Hawaiian term for family that Salesforce uses to refer to its corporate community. CNBC previously reported on the news.

Salesforce, the top maker of cloud-based customer-relations software, isn’t alone in addressing the issue. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and a Chicago development agency have urged businesses to relocate, looking to capitalize on the situation.

This week, the U.S. sued Texas to block a law that effectively bans abortions in the state after six weeks, calling it unconstitutional.

Chicago, Connecticut Attempt To Woo Texans Leery of New Laws

A Northern state and city are eager to attract Texas businesses and workers who might be uncomfortable with some of the Lone Star state’s new laws.

With a full-page “Dear Texas” ad slated for Sunday’s Dallas Morning News, Chicago promoters appeal to anyone turned off by the state’s near-total ban on abortion and further restrictions to voting.

“We believe that the values of the city you are doing business in matters more than ever before,” Michael Fassnacht, chief executive officer of World Business Chicago, the city’s public-private economic development agency, said in an emailed statement Friday.

The same day, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont took to social media to welcome businesses to the Constitution state, lauding its workforce and saying that its family-friendly policies allow more women to work. While he didn’t explicitly call out Texas, Lamont’s comments left little to the imagination.

“We don’t have oil and natural gas, but we have one of the most productive, best trained, most innovative workforces in the world,” he said.

Connecticut, which will have paid family leave starting next year, has a female labor-force participation rate of 77.4%, compared with Texas’s 69.5%.

Meanwhile, Salesforce.com Inc. said Friday it would help relocate Texas-based employees and their families if they had concerns about access to reproductive care, CNBC reported.

What may stand in the way of a mass exodus from Texas to either of these locations, though, is money. Both Connecticut and Illinois have state income taxes, resulting in a personal tax burden above 10%, as well as levies on corporate income. Texas has neither, and the personal tax burden is about 7.6%, according to the Tax Foundation.

How The Supreme Court Texas Abortion Ruling Spurred A Wave Of ‘Rage Giving’ How The Supreme Court Texas Abortion Ruling Spurred A Wave Of ‘Rage Giving’

 

Updated: 9-11-2021

Texas Upends The Republican ‘Leave Us Alone Coalition’

The state’s restrictive abortion law threatens to destroy an uneasy truce among several factions of the conservative movement.

Whether Texas’s anti-abortion law survives inevitable Supreme Court scrutiny, it may already have done irreparable damage to what was once known as the conservative movement — despite delivering a crucial part of that movement its greatest win.

The law, which bans abortions after six weeks and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers, has already helped energize a progressive pro-choice base that might otherwise have been complacent or demoralized heading into 2022. Meanwhile, the law threatens to upend a decades-long alliance among several factions of the conservative movement.

From the 1970s onward, that movement was a loose confederation of conservatives with various priorities: a strong defense (with a fervent anti-communist wing), fiscal discipline (with a fervent anti-tax wing) and traditional family values (with a fervent anti-abortion wing). But by the early ’90s, the collapse of the Soviet Union had made defense and anti-communism less prominent as issues.

So in 1996, conservative activist Grover Norquist announced a new unifying principle. The new “common political goal” for Republicans, he said, was simple: “to be left alone by the government.” The “Leave Us Alone Coalition” was a center-right alliance of conservative and libertarian groups that promoted individual freedom over government involvement.

Norquist, then as now president of Americans for Tax Reform, defined the coalition broadly, including small business owners, the self-employed, home schoolers and gun owners. Democrats, who wanted to raise taxes or increase regulations on all these groups, were part of what he called the “Takings Coalition.”

Accept that formulation or not, it essentially describes how much of the center-right has seen itself over the last quarter-century.

To be clear: The center-right coalition was not universally pro-life, with many libertarians agreeing to disagree with social conservatives on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. Nonetheless, the right was mostly unified in its support for conservative judges committed to individual freedom and limited government.

The Texas abortion law threatens to blow up this truce. In empowering anti-abortion activists to sue any party that “aids and abets” a woman seeking an abortion after six weeks, the law is an open invitation to upend the private lives of untold numbers of Texans. It’s not just abortion providers that can be sued; so can friends or relatives who might accompany a pregnant woman, or even a driver hired for the journey. So much for reducing regulations on small businesses or the self-employed.

And for conservatives who have traditionally seen trial lawyers as an adversary, this law is a kind of lawyer-enrichment program. It not only sets a floor of $10,000 in civil claims from a defendant, but it also requires a losing defendant to pay all court costs (the same does not hold if the plaintiff loses).

It’s hard to square the philosophy of “leave us alone” with a law that essentially deputizes private citizens to interfere in their neighbors’ lives. Previous anti-abortion laws have targeted abortion providers for regulation (or, yes, elimination). This one pits citizen against citizen — creating a financial incentive to pry, probe and sue.

It is ironic that the debate over Texas’s law coincides with increasing calls on the right for greater “freedom” amid a pandemic. At least members of the “Leave Us Alone Coalition” are on firmer philosophical ground when they oppose vaccine mandates or mask-wearing in schools. As it turns out, whether you deserve to be left alone depends a lot on who you are, where you live and what you’re doing.

Updated: 9-15-2021

Judge Sets Oct. 1 Hearing For Federal Bid To Block Texas Abortion Law

Justice Department seeks a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order while court considers department’s lawsuit against Texas.

A federal judge set an Oct. 1 hearing date for the Biden administration’s bid to block a Texas law designed to largely end access to abortion throughout the state.

Late Tuesday, the Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, in Austin, Texas, for an emergency order that effectively would nullify the Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, which bans abortions after about six weeks. The judge gave Texas until Sept. 29 to file its written response.

That schedule allows SB 8 to remain in effect for at least another two weeks, even though its substance conflicts with current Supreme Court precedents, which limit restrictions of abortion prior to fetal viability. But SB 8 employs an unusual procedural mechanism devised to frustrate court review, authorizing private parties to sue abortion providers rather than relying on state officials to enforce the law.

Earlier this month, a 5-4 Supreme Court said that feature tied its hands after abortion providers asked the justices to block the law. Chief Justice John Roberts and three more-liberal justices dissented, saying the law should have been placed on hold while the court examined the measure and its unique enforcement structure.

The Justice Department then sued Texas, arguing that SB 8 interfered with several federal programs as well as denying women a constitutional right the Supreme Court has recognized since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

“This relief is necessary to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas and the sovereign interest of the United States in ensuring that its states respect the terms of the national compact,” the department’s emergency motion said.

The state measure, which went into effect on Sept. 1, bars physicians from knowingly performing an abortion if there is “a detectable fetal heartbeat,” including embryonic cardiac activity that appears about six weeks into a pregnancy.

SB 8 authorizes damages of $10,000 or more to anyone who successfully sues a defendant accused of performing or aiding in an abortion.

In legal papers, the Justice Department said the procedural hurdles that might interfere with a private plaintiff’s suit weren’t applicable to the federal government.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, in announcing the Justice Department lawsuit last week, accused Texas of engaging in a scheme “to nullify the Constitution.”

The department announced last week that it would be requesting the kind of preliminary relief that it formally sought with Tuesday’s emergency motion.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton didn’t respond to a request for comment. Previously, Mr. Paxton said the Biden administration should focus on other priorities “instead of meddling in states’ sovereign rights.”

The Justice Department filing Tuesday asserted that the Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, has already all but eliminated access to abortion in the state.

“Due to the prospect of ruinous liability for clinics and providers, beginning September 1, abortion providers in Texas ceased providing abortions after six weeks, absent a medical emergency, which likely amounts to between 85 and 95% of all abortions previously provided,” the department said.

In deciding whether to issue an injunction, judges are required to balance various factors, including the likelihood of each party’s ultimate success and the harms that each side might suffer. The Justice Department argued that SB 8 harmed both individual women and various federal policies that provide abortions to federal prison inmates, service members and others, while Texas had no interest in enforcement of a law that is unconstitutional.

“The clear purpose and effect of S.B. 8 is to deny women rights guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution, while attempting to evade judicial review,’’ the government said. “Texas plainly lacks any legitimate interest in that impermissible objective, and it has no valid interest in insulating its unconstitutional laws from judicial review.”

Updated: 9-20-2021

Texas Doctor Who Performed Abortion Is Sued In Test of New Law

Arkansas man says he sued in hopes of collecting $10,000 or challenging the law; other suit is filed by Illinois man described as ‘pro choice plaintiff’

A Texas doctor who publicly said he performed an abortion was sued Monday in state court by two different plaintiffs, handing Texas the first tests of its new abortion law.

The Texas Heartbeat Act bans abortions after “cardiac activity” can be detected, usually around six weeks of gestation, and it deputizes private citizens to sue anyone they believe may have aided such a procedure and collect $10,000. It went into effect Sept. 1.

Alan Braid, a San Antonio physician, said in a Washington Post opinion essay Saturday that he had performed an abortion in defiance of the law, widely known as SB 8, earlier this month.

A former Arkansas lawyer, Oscar Stilley, who said he is on home confinement serving time after a tax-fraud conviction, filed a civil complaint against the doctor Monday in Bexar County District Court. He said he decided to sue the doctor after he read about the case early Monday morning and wanted to test the Texas law, which doesn’t require plaintiffs to be state residents.

“The doctor is going to get sued,” Mr. Stilley said. “Someone is going to get $10,000 off him. If that’s the law, I may as well get the money. If it’s not the law, let’s go to court and get it sorted out.”

Mr. Stilley said he is neither antiabortion nor in favor of abortion rights, and not affiliated with any abortion-related political groups. He said he considers the Texas statute to be an “end run” around established law and wants to see a clear ruling on whether it is legitimate.

In a separate lawsuit, Felipe N. Gomez, an Illinois resident who is described in his filing as a “pro choice plaintiff,” filed a complaint Monday morning in Bexar County. While the complaint is against Dr. Braid, it says Mr. Gomez believes the Texas law to be illegal and asks a court to strike it down. He said that he wasn’t interested in collecting any money.

“I’m against having someone tell me I have to get a shot or wear a mask and the same people who agree with me on that—the GOP—tell people what they can do with their bodies on the other hand,” Mr. Gomez said. “It’s inconsistent.”

Dr. Braid said in his essay that he understood he could face legal consequences for the abortion he performed. “I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested,” he wrote.

The doctor declined to comment further through a spokesperson with the Center for Reproductive Rights, a national abortion-rights group representing him in his capacity as a plaintiff in a pending federal lawsuit against SB 8.

Legal scholars say Dr. Braid and abortion-rights advocates representing him could potentially try to turn a lawsuit against the doctor to their advantage.

Dr. Braid could try to sue an SB 8 claimant, contending that such people are acting as government agents under color of state law and subject to federal civil-rights laws that could protect abortion providers, according to Michael Masinter, a professor of law emeritus at Nova Southeastern University in Florida and an expert on civil procedure and civil-rights litigation. The professor said he was skeptical that such a lawsuit could succeed.

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, hasn’t sued Dr. Braid or any other abortion provider. He said the group is wary of bringing a lawsuit against Dr. Braid without more certitude that the abortion the doctor performed was unlawful under SB 8.

“We want to make sure it’s someone who violated the law and is worth the time to go into a lawsuit,” Mr. Seago said.

Dr. Braid didn’t explicitly say himself that he tested for a fetal heartbeat as required by law or that he carried out the procedure after detecting cardiac activity, as the law prohibits.

Updated: 9-21-2021

Texas Abortion Law Faces Pushback From Some Companies

Lyft, Box, Stitch Fix among dozens of companies to sign statement; some large Texas employers declined to sign.

Dozens of businesses are going public with their opposition to a new Texas law that bars abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, a move that follows weeks of debate inside companies about how to respond.

Employers including ride-sharing service Lyft Inc., cloud-storage company Box Inc., online fashion retailer Stitch Fix Inc. and investment group Trillium Asset Management LLC signed a statement set to be released Tuesday that says “restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our workers and customers.”

Some companies declined to participate. They included Starbucks Corp. and Microsoft Corp. , according to people familiar with the matter. A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to comment. A Starbucks spokesman didn’t immediately comment.

The statement doesn’t call for any specific action. Its organizers say it is intended, in part, to show other states considering new abortion laws that they can cause economic harm, such as by hindering employers’ ability to recruit workers from out of state. Many of the signatories aren’t based in Texas, though a number of them have operations or employees in the state.

For some companies, the statement represents their first public comments on the Texas abortion law. Many employers have been largely silent since it went into effect earlier this month. Some worried about taking a stand on the issue, fearing potential blowback from customers or employees, executives said. Others, like the Greater Houston Partnership, a business group, waded into polarizing debates on voting access earlier this year that divided their members, and haven’t taken a position on the Texas Heartbeat Act, also known as SB 8.

The law, passed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, says a physician can’t knowingly perform an abortion if there is “detectable fetal heartbeat.” It also creates a new enforcement structure that allows private citizens to bring a civil lawsuit against abortion providers and to collect at least $10,000 in damages plus legal costs per abortion challenged successfully.

Gov. Abbott has said in recent weeks that businesses aren’t turned off by the state’s policies.

Salesforce.com Inc., which has an office in Dallas, offered to relocate employees in Texas who are concerned about access to reproductive healthcare in the state. In a tweet, CEO Marc Benioff wrote, “Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice,” using the Hawaiian word for family. CNBC earlier reported on the policy. A Salesforce spokeswoman declined to comment.

Shar Dubey, CEO of Dallas-based online-dating company Match Group Inc., sent a note to employees in which she expressed her opposition to the law. Ms. Dubey also created a fund for those affected by the law, as did Austin-based online dating company Bumble Inc. Bumble signed the letter. Match didn’t.

Tuesday’s corporate statement frames the debate in largely economic terms. It says that the abortion restriction “impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out.”

A coalition called Don’t Ban Equality organized the statement, which was signed by more than 50 companies. Other signatories include Yelp Inc., the customer-service platform Zendesk Inc. and enterprise software company Atlassian Corp.

“Laws like these are just bad for the business climate of the state,” said Jen Stark, senior director of corporate strategy for the Tara Health Foundation, which helped organize the statement.

In recent years, companies have faced pressure to respond to social issues related to the environment, racial justice and LGBT rights. Progressive activists have frequently used companies’ past statements on such issues to push them to further engage on the topics, while CEOs have also faced calls from their own employees to make their views known. Some employees and customers also don’t want companies taking positions on these issues.

Dell Technologies Inc. CEO Michael Dell, in an email viewed by The Wall Street Journal, told Texas-based employees earlier this month that the company was reviewing recent legislation in the state. “There is a lot happening in Texas right now. We’re all feeling it,” Mr. Dell wrote, adding, “There’s much we still don’t know about how all of these laws will ultimately play out.”

Yelp, which employs more than 100 people in Texas but doesn’t have an office in the state, plans to announce that the company’s foundation will double match employee contributions in October to groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood that are fighting the Texas law and similar legislation elsewhere.

Some employers that signed on to Tuesday’s letter said they generally tried to avoid introducing politics into the workplace but felt drawn to support the statement. At Spot Insurance Inc., an Austin insurance technology startup, Maria Goy, a co-founder and chief operating officer, sent a text to the company’s CEO, saying she felt the company should sign the letter. He agreed.

Other CEOs said they signed the statement because they worried Texas’s law would make it harder to attract people to their organizations. Trevor Best, the Houston-based CEO of Syzygy Plasmonics Inc., which focuses on developing technologies for the energy industry, said his 40-person company routinely recruits engineers and Ph.D. candidates from other states.

“I’m trying to get them to move to Texas, and they see this, and they have to think about their families and their daughters, and is this where they want to grow their family?” Mr. Best said. “It’s challenging.”

Updated: 9-22-2021

Texas Abortion Law Prompts Women To Seek Out-of-State Clinics

Louisiana, Oklahoma facilities report influx of patients from Texas looking for abortions and other services.

Women’s health clinics in Louisiana, Oklahoma and beyond are reporting an influx of out-of-state patients from Texas looking for abortions and other services, weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas’s restrictive abortion law to take effect.

Some clinics in neighboring states said they are overwhelmed with out-of-state patients. They are adding hours to try to handle the backlog, administrators said. In Texas, meanwhile, clinics are turning most of their patients away and losing their staff.

The migration out of state follows the enactment of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which became effective Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court turned away a legal challenge.

The law bans abortions after “cardiac activity” can be detected, usually around six weeks of gestation, and it deputizes private citizens to sue anyone they believe may have aided such a procedure and collect $10,000. On Monday, a Texas doctor who publicly said he performed an abortion was sued in state court by two different plaintiffs, handing Texas the first tests of the law.

In Shreveport, La., about 200 miles east of Dallas, staff members at Hope Medical Group for Women are booked more than three weeks out and have begun adding some evening hours to get patients in for appointments as quickly as possible, said administrator Kathaleen Pittman.

“Because of the delay, they’re going to be farther along,” Ms. Pittman said of the effect of the new Texas law. Most patients she sees report their reason for terminating a pregnancy is financial, she said, and many are struggling with the cost of travel to Louisiana and taking time off work for the two required appointments.

In Tulsa, Okla., at least 70% of patients at Tulsa Women’s Clinic are now from Texas, said executive administrator Andrea Gallegos. Some are coming from as far as the Rio Grande Valley, a 12-hour drive away. The clinic has tripled its number of daily appointments to about 35 and added some Saturday hours, Ms. Gallegos said.

The average Texas woman of childbearing age is 17 miles from an abortion clinic in-state, but 247 miles from one out-of-state, according to an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group supportive of abortion rights.

Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, a group that is supportive of the Texas law, said the state has increased funding by $20 million to assist women who carry pregnancies to term. “Texas has vast resources to help a woman so that no woman seeks an abortion in Texas or out of state because she has no alternatives,” he said.

Mr. Pojman said at least 20 of the state’s 23 licensed abortion providers are operating, but his organization doesn’t know how many abortions are being performed.

Clinics in Texas report that many staff members have quit since the law took effect, saying they are worried about the possibility of being sued, even if they complied fully with the new law. “My staff are scared to come to work. I usually have eight. I have two or three today,” said Linda Shafer, administrator of Aaron Women’s Clinic in Houston.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in North, Central and South Texas, said the clinics are now denying abortions to an estimated 80% of patients they have seen since the new law went into effect, turning them away after an ultrasound. The most the clinics can do at that point is share with patients a few websites listing other options, Ms. Miller said. “They’re leaving the clinic without a plan,” she said of patients.

Abortion providers and care advocates said that more women are turning to self-administered methods, like using abortion pills ordered online. Ms. Miller said most of Texas’s abortion clinics are small, independent clinics that may be forced to close permanently if the law remains in place.

One of the areas most affected is the Rio Grande Valley, the Texas region farthest from any other state and hemmed in by Mexico to the south and immigration checkpoints to the north. That prevents anyone in the country illegally from traveling for an abortion, said Lucy Felix, a Brownsville-based outreach coordinator for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “For our undocumented immigrant communities, forced pregnancy is now the law of the state,” she said.

In addition to the suits filed Monday, the U.S. Justice Department has sued Texas seeking to block the law, with a hearing set for Oct. 1.

 

How The Texas Abortion Law Is Driving Up Financial Costs For Women

Women unable to get abortions because of new restrictions are traveling almost 250 miles out of state, taking on extra expenses.

When Misti Carter heard about a Texas law that all but banned abortion in the state, she realized there was something she needed to do: take a pregnancy test.

When the result was positive, the closest out-of-state abortion provider she could find was 500 miles away in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. So Carter, 40, who paints houses for a living, borrowed money from her mom, booked a $300 package deal for a flight, rental car and hotel, and flew from San Antonio.

She went by herself. “I couldn’t afford to bring somebody,” she said.

In the weeks since Texas Senate Bill 8 became law, women seeking an abortion have taken on extra costs — such as paying for travel, arranging for child care or missing work — to get an abortion out of state. Their experiences demonstrate what it will be like for Texans seeking abortions for the foreseeable future, as the nascent fight over the measure’s constitutionality is only just beginning to unfold.

The law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detectable in an embryo, typically four weeks after conception, which is often before many women know they’re even pregnant. It also criminalizes “aiding and abetting” an abortion, which has prompted some providers to shut down services rather than risk being sued.

As a result, many women have stopped seeking abortions, providers say. Others have made the journey over state lines to end their pregnancies — if they can afford to do so.

Cutting off abortion in Texas means women in the state would now need to drive an average of 247 miles (about 400 kilometers) to get to a clinic, up from 17 miles previously, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies abortion policy and demographics.

It would take seven hours working a minimum-wage job in Texas to pay for gas to cover the round trip, the group said. It estimated in 2014 that most women who seek an abortion in the U.S. are in their 20s and below the poverty line.

“Having to drive out-of-state and plan your work around that is a huge financial burden for families,” said Delma Catalina Limones, communications manager with Avow, a Texas abortion-rights organization.

As for Carter, she paid $550, after a $150 rebate, for an abortion pill at the Women’s Reproductive Clinic in Santa Teresa. While there, she learned that the birth-control pill she was on could be less effective if she took it even a few hours late.

Along with the cost of the abortion pill and travel, she also had to take two days off work, which meant she lost out on $300, and her boyfriend lost $250 from missing work to drive her to the airport. In total, that’s more than $1,400.

Franz Theard, director of the Women’s Reproductive Clinic, said he was expecting more women from east Texas in the coming weeks. Soon after the bill was passed, he saw two women who drove 12 hours from Houston to get to his clinic.

Another patient drove 811 miles to Theard’s clinic from her home in the Rio Grande Valley. She tried to book an appointment for an abortion at a clinic in McAllen, Texas, but was told she couldn’t receive the procedure — which would’ve been fully funded by donations from pro-choice advocates. The woman, who requested that her name not be used out of fear of backlash from proponents of the new law, was seven weeks and one day pregnant at the time.

So she and her boyfriend spent $150 on gas and $90 on a hotel, where they got five hours of sleep after driving all day. Once at the clinic, the abortion cost her $700, she said. In addition, the 31-year-old gave up a shift worth $300 at her job at Chick-fil-A and scrambled to find childcare for her two kids, ages 8 and 10.

The total of $1,240 came out of her savings, she said. She considered keeping the baby but said she couldn’t afford to raise another child.

Economists this week filed a brief in a Mississippi abortion case arguing that the full legalization of abortion in the U.S. had “broad downstream social and economic effects, including on women’s educational attainment and job opportunities.” The brief cited studies that show how being denied an abortion “has significant deleterious financial consequences.” Another brief detailed the additional costs of raising a child, the difficulty finding or keeping a job while pregnant as well as the medical costs incurred for actually giving birth.

Meanwhile, the price of abortions alone can be between $300 and $1,500, according to a report from Bloomberg Law, with the cost varying due to factors like how far along the pregnancy is and which procedure will be used. Due to the new restrictions in Texas, nonprofits that help women get abortions plan to spend more to help Texans pay for their trips out of state.

Some women may be too scared to ask for help.

“The law criminalizes anyone aiding and abetting an abortion,” Limones said. “It isolates pregnant women who are afraid to reach out.”

Getting an abortion in Texas was already pricey for some, because it’s illegal for standard health-insurance plans to cover the procedure in most instances. And Texas isn’t one of the 16 states that allows state Medicaid funding for abortions.

Women who aren’t able to get a desired abortion can face enormous costs, both financially and psychologically. Women who gave birth after being denied abortions were more likely to be in poverty for four years, according to a 2018 study from the American Public Health Association. The women were also more likely to receive public assistance and less likely to be employed full time.

Theard is considering making the procedure free for women coming from Texas and opening the clinic on weekends to help women who can’t afford to take a day off.

“There’s only so much we can do,” he said.

Updated:9-29-2021

Texas Tells Judge U.S. Lacks Power To Sue Over Abortion Law

Congress never empowered the U.S. Justice Department to file lawsuits to “enforce a constitutional right to abortion,” despite many chances to do so, lawyers for Texas told a judge weighing whether to temporarily block a new state law strictly limiting the procedure.

U.S. prosecutors have long had only limited authority to sue over abortion rights, including under a narrow 1994 law that bars the use of violence or threats to block access to reproductive care, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a filing Wednesday in federal court in Austin.

“If the Department of Justice wants to expand its authority, it should direct its requests to Congress, not this court,” Paxton, a Republican, said in the filing.

Texas argues that purported lack of authority is one reason to deny the Justice Department’s request for a temporary injunction that would put the law on hold while the government sues to overturn the ban. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman will hear arguments Friday on the U.S. request.

The state law, which took effect Sept. 1, prohibits abortions in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy — before most women know they’re pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. It also outsources enforcement to private citizens, empowering them to sue medical professionals suspected of violating the ban and to seek bounties of at least $10,000 per illegal procedure.

The Biden administration argues a temporary injunction is warranted because the law is already putting women in Texas at risk and forcing them to leave the state to seek care — if they can afford to. Attorney General Merrick Garland said last month that the law is “clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

Texas argues the Justice Department is wrong to claim that a temporary injunction would reverse a “chilling effect” on Texas abortion providers, which have stopped offering procedures after six weeks to avoid being sued.

“In light of the strong possibility that any preliminary injunction would eventually be stayed or reversed, allowing heartbeat suits in state court to proceed, abortion providers would still face the prospect of future liability,” Paxton said in the filing.

Texas also took aim at the Justice Department’s request for an injunction that would apply to hypothetical private citizens who might sue over illegal abortions and the state-court judges who would hear such cases.

“The court cannot decide that absent third parties are subject to an injunction without letting them be heard,” Paxton said.

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Texas lawmakers argue abortions shouldn’t be allowed after a fetal heartbeat is detected, framing the issue as a right to life for the unborn.

Separately, Planned Parenthood on Wednesday asked the Texas Supreme Court to intervene in a lawsuit the group filed over the new law, after the state’s multidistrict litigation panel stepped in and stayed all lawsuits in state court challenging the abortion ban. Planned Parenthood had an Oct. 13 hearing set in its case against Texas Right to Life, which has plans to sue under the new state law.

“We’re urging the Texas Supreme Court to step in and move this critical case along so we can restore access to abortion across the state,” Helene Krasnoff, a vice president with Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.

The case is United States v. Texas, 1:21-cv-00796, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin).

Updated: 10-1-2021

Texas Judge Presses State On ‘Unusual’ Design Of Abortion Law

A federal judge weighing whether to temporarily halt a Texas law limiting abortions said it appears to have been crafted to avoid lawsuits against the state.

“I think that’s what this whole statute was designed to do — to find a proxy for the state that would insulate the state from this sort of judicial oversight that ordinarily would exist,” U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin said Friday during a hearing on Zoom.

Pitman didn’t immediately rule on the U.S. Justice Department request to put the law on hold while the case proceeds. The judge said it was “very unusual” to assign enforcement power of the law to citizens who sue to collect $10,000 bounties for each illegal procedure.

Texas argued during the hearing that the department’s suit should be thrown out because the state doesn’t enforce the ban and therefore can’t be sued. The U.S. says Texas can be sued because any private citizens enforcing the ban are merely proxies for the state.

“What do you do with the argument that really the whole idea of the statute was to put a private citizen in the shoes of the state?” Pitman asked Will Thompson, a lawyer for Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

“We would respectfully disagree with that characterization,” Thompson told the judge, an Obama appointee. “We don’t think that the private plaintiffs are put in the shoes of the state. These kinds of laws are not as unusual as opposing counsel suggests.”

The law, which took effect Sept. 1, bans the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they’re pregnant. It prohibits abortions in Texas after fetal cardiac activity is detected and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. It also allows private citizens to sue doctors and others suspected of violating the ban, and profit off the litigation.

During the hearing, Justice Department lawyer Brian Netter said the law was designed to “outflank the federal government” by attempting to prevent a legal challenge over the constitutionality of the ban. He called the state’s actions “aggressive and terrifying.”

Netter also said the case could have an impact far beyond reproductive rights.

“The precedent established by this case will dictate whether the set of rights guaranteed by our national compact are reliable or can be manipulated into oblivion by subversive state action,” Netter said.

The ban is an “open threat to the rule of law,” he said. Although this case is about abortion, “it’s not hard to imagine other laws,” written in a similar way, designed to create a chilling effect on other constitutional rights, such as the freedom of speech, Netter said.

Thompson said the ban wasn’t about vigilante justice, that it’s not unusual for a state law to allow enforcement by private citizens and that no injunction could be issued against a state employee.

The state has also argued that the Justice Department doesn’t have the authority to sue to protect a constitutional right to abortion in the first place. While the Constitution’s 14th Amendment has been interpreted as guaranteeing access to abortion, only Congress can empower the Justice Department to sue to enforce such a right by creating a “cause of action,” Thompson said.

Congress “hasn’t provided one for this specific type of case,” Thompson said, adding that the Justice Department’s claim that it has always had a right to bring these lawsuits “can’t be right.”

The case is U.S. v. Texas, 21-cv-00796, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

Updated: 10-2-2021

Women’s March Targets Supreme Court, With Abortion On Line

The first Women’s March of the Biden administration headed straight for the steps of the Supreme Court on Saturday, part of nationwide protests that drew thousands to Washington to demand continued access to abortion in a year when conservative lawmakers and judges have put it in jeopardy.

Demonstrators filled the streets surrounding the court, shouting “My body, my choice” and cheering loudly to the beat of drums.

Before heading out on the march, they rallied in a square near the White House, waving signs that said “Mind your own uterus,” “I love someone who had an abortion” and “Abortion is a personal choice, not a legal debate,” among other messages. Some wore T-shirts reading simply “1973,” a reference to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal for generations of American women.

Elaine Baijal, a 19-year-old student at American University, said her mother told her of coming to a march for legal abortion with her own mother in the 1970s. “It’s sad that we still have to fight for our right 40 years later. But it’s a tradition I want to continue,” Baijal said of the march.

Organizers say the Washington march was among hundreds of abortion-themed protests held around the country Saturday. The demonstrations took place two days before the start of a new term for the Supreme Court that will decide the future of abortion rights in the United States, after appointments of justices by President Donald Trump strengthened conservative control of the high court.

“Shame, shame, shame!” marchers chanted while walking past the Trump International Hotel on their way to the Supreme Court. Some booed and waved their fists at the Trump landmark.

The day before the march, the Biden administration urged a federal judge to block the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which has banned most abortions in Texas since early September. It’s one of a series of cases that will give the nation’s divided high court occasion to uphold or overrule Roe v. Wade.

The Texas law motivated many of the demonstrators and speakers.

“We’re going to keep giving it to Texas,” Marsha Jones of the Afiya Center for Black women’s health care in Dallas, pledged to the Washington crowd. “You can no longer tell us what to do with our bodies!”

Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood nationally, told of women forced to drive many hours across state lines — sometimes multiple state lines — to end pregnancies in the weeks since the Texas law went into effect.

“The moment is dark … but that is why we are here,” Johnson told the crowd packed into Freedom Square and surrounding streets. With the upcoming Supreme Court term, “No matter where you are, this fight is at your doorstep right now.”

In Springfield, Illinois, several hundred people rallied on the Old State Capitol square. Prominent among them were the Illinois Handmaids, wearing red robes and white bonnets reminiscent of the subjugated women of Margaret Atwood’s novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” and carrying signs that said, “Mind Your Own Uterus” and “Mother By Choice.”

Brigid Leahy, senior director of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said just two days after the Texas restrictions took effect, Planned Parenthood saw the first women from Texas traveling to Illinois for the procedure, with more following since.

“They are trying to figure out paying for airfare or gas or a train ticket, they may need hotel and meals,” Leahy said. “They have to figure out time off of work, and they have to figure out child care. This can be a real struggle.”

With a sign reading “Not this again” attached to a clothes hanger, Gretchen Snow of Bloomington, Illinois, said, “Women need to be safe and they need to not have to worry about how much money they have to be safe.”

On the West Coast, thousands marched through downtown Los Angeles to a rally in front of City Hall. Protesters chanted “Abortion on demand and without apology: only revolution can make women free!”

Kayla Selsi said she was carrying the same sign she has held in three past Women’s Marches. It stated, “If only my vagina could shoot bullets, it will be less regulated.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t retire this sign,” Selsi said. “Women’s rights are being taken away, and it’s highly affecting women of lower class.”

“I feel safer in California as a woman, but Texas is obviously going in one direction and it scares me that other states could go the same way,” she said.

In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke at rallies in Seneca Falls and then Albany. “I’m sick and tired of having to fight over abortion rights,” she said. “It’s settled law in the nation and you are not taking that right away from us, not now not ever.”

Addressing demonstrators at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Democratic state Rep. Melody Hernandez said abortion foes emboldened by the recent developments in Texas and at the Supreme Court would not prevail.

“An overwhelming majority of Arizonans, of Americans, support everything we are standing here for today,” Hernandez said. “And don’t let anyone fool you — we are the majority. We are made … of people from all walks of life, ethnicity, party, nationality.”

At an unrelated event in Maine, Republican Sen. Susan Collins called the Texas law “extreme, inhumane and unconstitutional” and said she’s working to make Roe v. Wade the “law of the land.”

She said she’s working with two Democrats and another Republican, and they’re “vetting” the language of their bill. Collins declined to identify her colleagues, but said the legislation will be introduced soon.

An opponent of women’s access to abortion called this year’s march theme “macabre.”

“What about equal rights for unborn women?” tweeted Jeanne Mancini, president of an anti-abortion group called March for Life.

The Women’s March has become a regular event — although interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic — since millions of women turned out in the United States and around the world the day after the January 2017 inauguration of Trump. Trump endorsed punishing women for getting abortions and made appointment of conservative judges a mission of his presidency.

With the sun beating down in Washington on Saturday, Ramsay Teviotdale of Arlington, Virginia — who when asked her age said she was “old enough to remember when abortion wasn’t legal” — was one of the few wearing the hand-knitted pink wool caps that distinguished the 2017 Women’s March.

Without Trump as a central figure for women of varied political beliefs to rally against, and with the pandemic still going strong, organizers talked of hundreds of thousands of participants nationally Saturday, not the millions of 2017.

Teviotdale said this does not lessen the urgency of the moment. “This Texas thing — no way can it stand. It’s the thin edge of the wedge,” she said.

Security in the capital was much lighter than for a political rally a few weeks ago in support of Trump supporters jailed in the Jan. 6 insurrection. No fence was placed around the U.S. Capitol, with the Capitol Police chief saying there was nothing to suggest Saturday’s rally would be violent.

Associated Press writers John O’Connor in Springfield, Illinois; David Sharp in Bath, Maine; and Daisy Nguyen in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Updated: 10-3-2021

Texas Aims To Crack Down On Abortion Pills Sent By Mail

Orders have surged after a restrictive new abortion law went into effect; pill providers, often offshore, say they won’t stop.

Texas is aiming to stop the use of abortion drugs prescribed remotely and delivered by mail, a practice that ticked up during the pandemic and has surged since the state passed a restrictive new abortion law.

Such medication, which is FDA-approved for in-person physician distribution, accounts for at least half of all early-term abortions in the U.S.

A new bill that takes effect in December will make it a felony punishable by jail in Texas to provide abortion pills through mail or other delivery. It is one of several recent measures to limit abortion access in the state. The Texas Heartbeat Act, which went into effect Sept. 1, bans abortions in Texas after “cardiac activity” can be detected, at about six weeks of gestation, before many women know they are pregnant.

Together, the new laws make it increasingly difficult for a woman to terminate a pregnancy after six weeks. Under the Heartbeat Act, doctors can be civilly prosecuted for providing the abortion pills after a heartbeat is detected. And anyone who mails such pills to a woman in Texas can now be prosecuted for a felony and face jail time under the bill that takes effect in December.

Abortion pills, which have been available for more than two decades when prescribed in-person by a physician, are also available via telehealth in some states, and via direct order of unapproved off-brand pills from online providers, mostly based in Europe or Asia. A major provider and a site that connects people to providers said they won’t stop shipping to Texas after the new law takes effect.

Providers of medicinal abortion resources said they saw a surge of interest and orders when the heartbeat bill went into effect, in Texas and nationwide. Plan C, a website that directs women to providers of abortion drugs, saw its web traffic soar 2,357% the first week of September, with 30% of those visits from Texas, said co-founder Francine Coeytaux.

One of those clicks came from Angela Vega, a 31-year-old marketing director in the Austin area. Ms. Vega, who has struggled with infertility and has a 9-month-old son conceived via in vitro fertilization, said she is unlikely to get pregnant accidentally. But her alarm over the heartbeat bill made her determined to have the medications on hand for herself and her friends, just in case.

“I realized the government is not going to protect women and our healthcare, so it’s up to me,” she said.

Ms. Vega ordered three packs of mifepristone and misoprostol, the drugs taken in combination to end an early-stage pregnancy. She ordered from different companies, with prices ranging from $150 to over $200 and delivery times from a few days to two weeks. The expiration dates indicate they are good until the end of 2022, she said. She has let her close friends know she has the medications and plans to post on Instagram telling others how to order them, she said.

The Food and Drug Administration in 2000 approved mifepristone, under the brand name Mifeprex, to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks in conjunction with ulcer medication misoprostol. When taken together, the drugs are 99% effective and have a 0.4% risk of major complications, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health research nonprofit.

In 2018, the most recent year data are available, the medicinal regimen accounted for 50% of all abortions in the U.S. carried out in the first nine weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The FDA’s authorization requires that the first of the three doses be dispensed at a doctor’s office. The agency suspended that requirement during the Covid-19 pandemic. The FDA said it is currently not enforcing it and reviewing whether it should remain in place.

Texas state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., who wrote the law banning sending the pills through the mail, said the FDA should be enforcing its prior rules that the medication must be dispensed in a doctor’s office. He said he is concerned women may take the drugs later in their pregnancies than is safe.

For Mr. Lucio, a Democrat who broke with his party to support the legislation, the law is an effort to reduce abortions in the state. “This is a moral, faith-based vote and my view as a Catholic is that life starts at conception,” he said.

The pause of the FDA rules in 2020 provided new opportunities for Aid Access, an Austria-based health organization that previously sued the FDA after being reprimanded for mailing unapproved off-brand mifepristone and misoprostol to patients in the U.S.

Aid Access now has U.S. providers licensed to prescribe Mifeprex in 18 states, said Christie Pitney, a California-based nurse and midwife who works with the organization. The regimen costs $150, far less than most clinical abortions, and can be discounted based on need.

For states where it doesn’t have licensed providers, or where mailing the drugs is illegal, Aid Access prescribes them via Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, its Netherlands-based founder, and ships them from a pharmacy in India, Ms. Pitney said. That won’t change, she said.

The Texas medicinal abortion law targets those who provide the pills, not the women who take them. Providers and officials agreed it would be functionally infeasible for the state to extradite someone from a foreign country to face charges for violating it.

Aid Access recently started providing its medications to people like Ms. Vega, who aren’t pregnant but would like to have the drugs in case, because of demand after the Texas heartbeat law, Ms. Pitney said.

Abigail Aiken, a University of Texas professor who tracks Aid Access data, said she is still in the process of analyzing the increase in orders since Sept. 1. The group has seen jumps in the past, such as in the spring of 2020, when Texas temporarily shut abortion clinics as a pandemic measure and orders from Texas doubled, Ms. Aiken said.

Along with Texas, states including Arkansas, Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma also passed laws this year banning sending abortion pills through the mail, yet Aid Access and other organizations have continued to do so.

In Arizona, Miranda McDougall was shocked to find out she was pregnant, five years after doctors told her a medical condition had left her infertile. The 24-year-old, who works at a medical clinic and is completing a second bachelor’s degree, isn’t ready for children, she said. She lives more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic, which told her it was booked weeks out with patients from Texas, she said.

Mrs. McDougall began looking online for a telehealth option and found Aid Access. The pills she ordered arrived Friday, she said. “I’m able to have my own abortion, at home, with the support of my husband, which is so important,” she said.

Just before the Texas heartbeat bill went into effect, the Plan C website launched a promotional West Texas road trip. Since then, the boom in interest for the pills has come not only from states with restrictive abortion laws, but also those where abortion resources are readily available. Ms. Coeytaux thinks the political fights are making more people aware of medicinal abortion options.

“Ironically, [the Texas laws] are helping us spread the word,” she said. “You can shut down clinics, but how do you shut down little pills that can be put in the mail?”

Updated: 10-6-2021

Federal Judge Blocks Texas Abortion Law

Judge grants Justice Department request for preliminary injunction against six-week abortion ban.

A federal judge late Wednesday blocked enforcement of a Texas ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a legal blow against a novel law that has severely limited the procedure statewide.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law, saying the state had pursued “an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.”

His order came in a case brought by the Justice Department, which sued Texas last month after abortion-rights advocates were unable to obtain a court order against the Texas restrictions.

The law, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, has been in effect for a month. It bars physicians from knowingly performing an abortion if there is detectable embryonic cardiac activity.

Texas lawmakers designed the measure so that it would be difficult to challenge in court by barring state officials from enforcing the law. Instead, the law delegates enforcement to private parties and authorizes civil damages of $10,000 or more to anyone who successfully sues a defendant accused of performing or aiding in such an abortion.

“From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” Judge Pitman, an Obama appointee, said in a 113-page decision. “That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

The ruling is likely to spark a new chapter of fast-track legal proceedings that could land back at the Supreme Court in the coming weeks. A divided high court on Sept. 1 declined an emergency request by abortion providers to block the law. The court’s majority said there were procedural reasons it couldn’t intervene.

Judge Pitman chose not to delay the effective date of his injunction to give Texas time to seek an immediate stay from an appeals court, meaning state abortion providers have at least a short time window to resume offering abortions to a broad range of patients if they choose to do so.

Attorney General Merrick Garland called the decision “a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law.”

“It is the foremost responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend the Constitution,” Mr. Garland said. “We will continue to protect constitutional rights against all who would seek to undermine them.”

The Texas attorney general’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but it filed a notice of appeal shortly after the decision was released. The matter will next go to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans. In earlier litigation brought by abortion providers, that court previously allowed the law to take effect.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder of Whole Woman’s Health, said the organization’s four abortion clinics would immediately resume procedures up to 18 weeks of pregnancy. After the law went into effect, the clinics were having to turn away some 80% of patients seeking abortions, Ms. Miller said previously. Wednesday evening, she called the judge’s ruling amazing.

“It’s the justice we’ve been seeking for weeks,” Ms. Miller said.

Kimberlyn Schwartz, the spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, said the organization wasn’t surprised by the ruling and called the injunction unprecedented.

“We expect a fair shake at the Fifth Court of Appeals,” Ms. Schwartz said. “The legacy of Roe v. Wade is you have these judges that will bend over to cater to the abortion industry.”

During the month since the law has been in effect, women in Texas have been traveling to other states to seek abortions, prompting a spike in patients at clinics in nearby states.

The Texas measure is in clear conflict with current Supreme Court precedent protecting abortion rights, but a key question in litigation has been whether a plaintiff could clear early procedural hurdles to get a judge to address the substance of the state restrictions.

The Justice Department alleged the Texas ban violates the constitutional command that federal law is supreme to state law, as well as the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process of law, the basis for the Supreme Court’s recognition of a constitutional right to an abortion.

It also argued the state measure was pre-empted by federal law because it prohibited certain abortions “that federal agencies are charged with facilitating, funding, or reimbursing,” including through healthcare programs that cover the procedure in cases of rape or incest. The Texas law includes no exceptions for such cases.

The state argued the Justice Department lawsuit was improper and said it wasn’t possible for the judge to issue a workable injunction because there was no person the court could validly prohibit from enforcing the law.

Judge Pitman rejected those arguments and found that the Justice Department had a valid basis for suing Texas because the state law prevented federal officials from carrying out their obligations. He also said the federal government could sue to prevent probable violations of citizens’ constitutional rights. Texas, he added, couldn’t use the law’s unusual design to avoid federal judicial review.

The judge directed his injunction against the state and any individuals acting on its behalf. It will remain in place while litigation in the case continues unless a higher court steps in to stay it.

Updated: 10-7-2021

Phones Don’t Stop Ringing As Abortions Resume At Texas Providers

At least one Texas abortion provider has resumed performing the procedure after a judge put a temporary hold on a restrictive new state law, despite the financial risk if the ban is ultimately upheld.

Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas and isn’t new to high-profile litigation, provided abortions Thursday at some locations for patients whose pregnancies exceeded the six-week limit of the law, Chief Executive Officer Amy Hagstrom Miller said. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Austin paved the way for the procedures by granting a Justice Department request for an injunction, after the law had effectively halted abortions since going into effect Sept. 1.

“The phones are really busy,” Hagstrom Miller told reporters during a press conference, adding that some other clinics she didn’t identified had also resumed procedures. “There’s actually hope from the patients and the staff. But there’s a little desperation in that hope because people know that opportunity could be short-lived.”

Even with the injunction in place, the financial risk to abortion providers is significant. Under the new law, known as S.B. 8, anyone in the country can sue anyone suspected of performing or aiding an illegal abortion in Texas. And the lawsuits, which offer bounties of at least $10,000 per procedure, can be filed retroactively up to four years later. It could be months or even years before the fate of the law is known, and the U.S. Supreme Court may have the final say.

“That’s part of why you don’t see every clinic reopening today,” Hagstrom Miller said. “They can sue us for every abortion we perform in the interim. That gives some people pause.”

Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, has already challenged the ruling at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which leans conservative. If the injunction is stayed, any abortions past six weeks of pregnancy that are conducted in the meantime could result in litigation. And even if the injunction is upheld, the law could still survive the challenge years later.

“We are confident that the appellate courts will agree that every child with a heartbeat should have a chance at life,” Renae Eze, a spokesman for Governor Greg Abbott, said in an emailed statement.

“We believe the abortion industry is taking a significant risk of future liability if they decide to continue their violent business as usual,” Kim Schwartz, of Texas Right to Life, said in an email. “We intend to ensure the law is fully enforced when this case is settled.” The group says it helped draft the law.

Molly Duane, a lawyer from the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Whole Woman’s Health, acknowledged the ongoing risk, but said cases like this can take years to be resolved.

“Providers and patients cannot wait,” Duane said during Thursday’s press conference. “They are relying on the assurances they got today.”

The center decided to offer abortions because “the hurdles to operating these clinics in Texas have become mountains,” Hagstrom Miller said. “If S.B. 8 stays in force long enough the damage will be done even if the law is struck down.”

The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — before many women know they’re pregnant. And crucially, S.B. 8 also strips abortion providers of protection for procedures they perform when the law is blocked by a court order that is later overturned.

That would seem to blunt the effectiveness of the temporary injunction U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued Wednesday. Paxton has previously said he believes any injunction will be stayed.

Determining Risk

“Each provider will need to make their own determination of whether to provide in the face of the threat that they could be sued for serving their patients retroactively,” Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said Thursday.

Hagstrom Miller’s clinics in Texas have already taken a serious financial hit, she said in an earlier interview. Three weeks into the ban, Hagstrom Miller said patient visits had dropped to 20% of normal and that some staff had already left for more secure jobs.

“The staff is starting to get edgy and worried” about how long the clinics can survive without the bulk of their income stream, she said in a Sept. 21 interview. “We don’t have income without seeing patients, so this is a back-door way of closing clinics.”

Of Texas’s 20 remaining abortion clinics, 14 aren’t affiliated with organizations like Planned Parenthood and don’t enjoy the financial support such ties can offer, Hagstrom Miller said.

‘Questionable Legality’

The judge touched on the retroactivity issue in his ruling when he rejected Texas’s argument that the ongoing risk to abortion providers justified denying the injunction. He also expressed doubt that this aspect of the law was legal.

“The state claims it is unlikely providers will be willing to resume abortion procedures upon an injunction, given that the retroactivity provision in S.B. 8 — of questionable legality itself — extends future liability to abortions facilitated during the operation of any preliminary injunction,” Pitman said. “There is no reason to assume providers will be so deterred.”

The Justice Department argued an injunction was warranted because Texas women were being forced to drive hundreds or thousands of miles to get constitutionally protected reproductive care in other states — if they had the time and money to do so. In his ruling, Pitman said the federal government was likely to win the case, calling the law “contrived.”

The case is U.S. v. Texas, 21-cv-00796, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

Updated: 10-8-2021

Texas Abortion Law Again In Effect After Appeals Court Temporarily Pauses Injunction Against State

A federal judge’s earlier ruling overcame a ban designed to thwart courts.

Texas’ restrictive abortion law is again in effect, at least temporarily, after a federal appeals court on Friday night paused a recent ruling that blocked the state from banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a brief order that put the ruling on hold while it considers an emergency motion by Texas to keep the abortion restrictions in place during ongoing litigation.

For a five-week stretch, abortion was almost abolished in the country’s second-most populous state—the result of a law called the Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, that had defied constitutional protections under Roe v. Wade and eluded judicial review.

That changed briefly when U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin on Wednesday granted an injunction that halted the law at the request of the U.S. Justice Department.

The Texas attorney general’s office, in a motion filed Friday with the Fifth Circuit, urged the appeals court to intervene and “vindicate Texas’s sovereign interest in preventing a single federal district court from superintending every Texas court.”

Judge Pitman’s ruling—filling more than 100 pages—included English doctrine predating the Constitution, obscure exceptions to state sovereign immunity and legal concepts familiar to child-custody cases. It all led to an exercise of federal power over a state-court system: an order forbidding the public from suing violators of SB 8 and prohibiting the Texas judiciary from taking cases under the law.

Within hours of the decision, some abortion clinics in Texas resumed normal operations after closing their doors to most patients since Sept. 1, when SB 8 took effect. Clouding the victory for the abortion-rights movement was the possibility that Judge Pitman’s decision could be undone by the conservative-leaning benches above him: the Fifth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Friday’s action from the appeals court underscored that threat, and legal scholars say parts of his opinion are vulnerable to reversal.

“It’s not so clear this ruling will survive,” said Jonathan R. Siegel, a professor at George Washington University Law School, pointing to what he called “technical barriers” to the Justice Department’s lawsuit that the judge found creative ways to overcome.

The law’s authors have said it was designed to fend off such challenges. Unlike other abortion bans enacted and struck down elsewhere, SB 8 gave the state government no enforcement role. Instead, it deputizes the public, empowering anyone in the country to file lawsuits against clinics and their insurers or anyone helping a patient get an abortion.

The law’s private enforcement scheme choked off the normal avenues that clinics have for challenging pre-viability abortion bans. The threat of damages and protracted litigation in state court proceedings compelled clinics to comply.

That was the status quo until Judge Pitman, a former federal prosecutor appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2014, granted the Biden administration’s request for a preliminary injunction.

A small part of Judge Pitman’s opinion dealt with Roe or subsequent Supreme Court rulings affirming the constitutional right to an abortion. “There can be no question that S.B. 8 operates as a ban on pre-viability abortions in contravention of Roe v. Wade,” he wrote.

The heart of the decision dealt with the federal government’s right to sue, the authority of the court to hear the lawsuit and who can be ordered to do what. Much of the sprawling legal discussion in the ruling centers around the federal government’s role as plaintiff.

Among the sharpest points of disagreement between Texas and the Justice Department has to do with the concept of standing, the constitutional requirement that, among other things, a plaintiff show that it has—or is about to—suffer some concrete harm caused by the defendant.

The judge said the law exposes federal agencies and employees to legal liability for assisting abortions, noting Federal Bureau of Prisons regulations that authorize prison medics to arrange for elective abortions requested by inmates.

The judge took a step further. He wrote that the U.S. position also rests on the legal concept that recognizes the government’s role as guardian of the populace. It is the doctrine referred to in law as parens patriae (Latin for “parent of the people”), a term more often invoked in the context of juvenile court when the state assumes custody over a neglected child. The doctrine enables states to sue private defendants accused of harming or violating the rights of the general public.

Texas argued that the doctrine is reserved for lawsuits brought by states, not the federal government. Judge Pitman disagreed, writing that the U.S. government is the “ultimate parens patriae of every American citizen.”

The decision has raised concerns that the federal government could begin suing states with more frequency, but Judge Pitman said this was an exceptional case.

“The judge goes out of his way to say that the relief being ordered is not going to open the floodgates,” said Cornell University constitutional law professor Michael Dorf.

The judge also tackled the question of what exactly is the cause of action entitling the U.S. to sue, again rejecting Texas’ arguments. This part of the court’s analysis could draw the most scrutiny in appeals, according to Prof. Siegel.

The right to seek redress in court is limited. The usual basis is either a statute or common law, such as negligence suits. From time to time, courts have exercised their powers to grant so-called equitable relief—remedies the law doesn’t specifically authorize—to prevent state officials from acting unconstitutionally.

The question for the court: Could the judge use that power here because there was no other practical legal pathway to stop SB 8 and restore the right to abortion in Texas? Judge Pitman decided he had that power.

“Had this Court not acted on its sound authority to provide relief to the United States, any number of states could enact legislation that deprives citizens of their constitutional rights, with no legal remedy to challenge that deprivation, without the concern that a federal court would enter an injunction,” he wrote.

The only way to stop enforcement of the law is to stop people from bringing suits and to stop judges from hearing them. The Supreme Court has held that judges are immune from suits for damages but may be sued for injunctive relief. Cited in the litigation is a 1948 Supreme Court case that barred Missouri courts from enforcing racially restrictive housing covenants that excluded Blacks from occupying housing they had purchased.

Texas, in court papers, argued that the Supreme Court has never permitted “the federal government to generally challenge alleged constitutional violations.”

Updated: 10-10-2021

What The Front Line Of The U.S. Abortion Fight In Kentucky Looks Like Now

From a new Texas law to the gantlet outside a Kentucky clinic, abortion rights are under attack in the U.S. The Supreme Court may have the final word.

A woman seeking to end a pregnancy in Kentucky after 14 weeks has one choice: She enters a brick building on the edge of downtown Louisville after running a gantlet of abortion opponents determined to change her mind.

Patients coming to the EMW Women’s Surgical Center on a recent Tuesday navigated as many as 10 protesters, including a preacher with a microphone, a man and boy holding “abortion is murder” signs and a woman who tried to redirect people to the anti-abortion pregnancy center next door.

“These abortionists are serial killers!” one called out as a young woman opened the clinic’s glass front door. “They don’t care about you, baby!”

The clinic is now part of a U.S. Supreme Court term that could gut the constitutional right to abortion and allow sweeping new restrictions in much of the country. It’s also a place where the passions of the abortion fight play out on a near-daily basis, as women exercise what at least for now is their legal right and opponents do whatever they can to intervene.

“Patients can come in with elevated blood pressure, elevated pulse,” said Ernest Marshall, the clinic’s owner and one of three doctors who founded it 40 years ago. “We don’t know whether they have cardiovascular disease or they’re just scared to death from the protesters.”

The justices hear arguments Tuesday in a case stemming from EMW’s challenge to a Kentucky law that would outlaw the most common abortion technique after the 15th week of pregnancy. At issue is whether Kentucky’s attorney general can take over defense of the law at a late stage in the litigation.

The case is a prelude to a bigger clash in December, when the conservative-majority court will consider a Mississippi bid to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The high court also could be asked again to intervene in a fight over a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

The abortion issue has divided Americans for decades, helping to swing elections and becoming an unofficial litmus test for high court nominees. Most Americans support a legal right to abortion, though many back restrictions, too. Studies show that limits on access are a crucial economic issue, particularly for the low-income women and racial minorities who absorb the brunt of the impact when access to abortion is restricted.

U.S. states in recent years have tried to scale back abortion rights with hundreds of new laws. At the same time, nations that have long barred the procedure, including Mexico and Ireland, have gone in the other direction, decriminalizing or at least liberalizing a woman’s right to end her pregnancy.

EMW is one of only two Kentucky abortion clinics, both in Louisville, and the only one where a patient can get a procedure after 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Protesters gather five days a week in the early morning hours — praying and placing signs outside the one-story building, which is just steps away from the city’s downtown hotels and office towers.

The abortion opponents on Tuesday included Carolyn Whalen, a regular outside the clinic who was part of a group of Catholics praying the Rosary.

“I just believe a baby is a baby when it is conceived. It’s a human life,” said Whalen, 83. She was there trying to speak up for the baby because “it can’t speak for itself.”

Nearby, a handful of volunteer escorts gathered as well, easy to spot in their bright orange vests. Other escorts set up outside the parking garage behind the clinic, ready to direct patients to the entrance and offer help to any who might want it.

As soon as the clinic opened at 8 a.m., patients began arriving, some alone and some with a companion or two.

A woman with a black T-shirt saying “Cheer Mama” parked in the garage and walked around to the front with an escort by her side. Another woman came from the same direction with a hoodie pulled over her head, making a beeline for the glass doors as the protesters tried to speak with her.

Others were dropped off in front of the building, where they could take advantage of the new 10-foot (3-meter) “safety zone” created by a city ordinance this year. By law, people aren’t supposed to linger within the zone, which is demarcated by two yellow stripes, though abortion-rights advocates say adherence to the rule has been mixed.

“Sir, stand up for that child!” someone shouted at a man who accompanied a woman.

Hunter Norwick, a part-time pastor at Reformation Church of Shelbyville, 30 miles to the east of Louisville, spent much of the morning using a microphone to preach toward the clinic, quoting the Bible and calling on the people inside not to “sacrifice your child to Satan.”

“We’re trying to warn them because we do love these people,” said Norwick, 30, in an interview.

Few if any women seemed to heed him. By 9:30 a.m., 13 patients had gone inside, according to Donna Durning, who’s been coming to the clinic for 27 years and uses a hand counter to tally people who appear to be patients.

One woman did stop, spending 20 minutes telling a handful of protesters about her daughter-in-law, who was 21 weeks pregnant and had just entered the clinic. The woman, a nurse who asked to be identified only as Leesa, said her daughter-in-law learned six days earlier that the fetus had a rare genetic disorder known as bilateral renal agenesis, which meant the child had no kidneys and, according to doctors, no chance of surviving.

“This baby is very much wanted, but when this baby is born, this baby will die,” Leesa told the group, at times with tears in her eyes. “If she had to carry this baby to term, all she’s going to do is grieve herself to death.”

The protesters weren’t convinced; one said that God “can reverse this curse.”

But they listened and even said a prayer with Leesa, offering a moment of understanding amid the discord.

Courtney Bennett, who had an abortion at EMW last year after learning her baby had congenital anomalies, said that after seeing the crowd out front, she and her partner abandoned their plan for him to walk her to the clinic door.

“Here you are, at least for us on one of the hardest days ever, and you’re having to figure out how to walk through a sea of sharks,” said Bennett, who was 42 at the time. “But ultimately I made the decision and said, ‘Just pull up front, I don’t want you to walk me in,’ because I did not want him to have to then walk back through everyone.”

The Roe decision marked a watershed moment for American women by providing a nationwide guarantee at a time when most states sharply restricted abortion. It survived a major challenge in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, when the court reaffirmed Roe while modifying its legal standard. Casey said states can’t impose significant restrictions until the fetus becomes viable — that is, capable of living outside the womb — a point that occurs some time after the 20th week of pregnancy, as measured by the woman’s last menstrual period.

In the half-century since Roe, greater abortion access alone has caused a 2-percentage point increase in women’s participation in the workforce, according to a 2019 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a non-profit, non-partisan Washington think tank that champions equality issues for women. The impact on Black women has been especially pronounced, with workforce participation up by 7 percentage points and college graduation growing by almost 10%, the report found.

Politics have changed the court since then. With the help of some church leaders, Republicans galvanized U.S. voters around the fight against abortion. Donald Trump won the presidency after saying he’d nominate only justices who would oppose abortion and rewarded his supporters by appointing three people who so far have voted against abortion rights. The court now has a 6-3 conservative majority.

Democrats use support of abortion rights as a yardstick for judicial candidates as well, but last confirmed a Supreme Court nominee in 2010. Democrats are already seeking to motivate voters by pointing to the Supreme Court’s refusal to block this year’s restrictive Texas law from taking effect, with the Biden administration fighting the measure in the courts.

Kentucky’s law would affect 10 to 15% of the more than 3,000 abortions EMW performs each year. Approved overwhelming in 2018 by the Kentucky General Assembly, it’s one of a dozen anti-abortion measures the state has enacted in the last four years.

The law, which bars abortion if it “dismembers the living unborn child,” is aimed at dilation and evacuation, or D&E, a procedure that involves removing the fetus in a way that typically causes the tissue to separate. The measure applies after the 13th week of pregnancy and makes an exception for medical emergency.

“If this dilation and evacuation procedure is to occur, we want there to be humanity and compassion shown to that child, meaning that that child doesn’t feel the pain of being dismembered,” Attorney General Daniel Cameron said at a press conference last week. “It’s a gruesome thing to talk about, but it is a reality.”

In court papers, Cameron argues that providers could use one of three techniques to cause fetal death before performing the abortion. But abortion-rights advocates says those methods aren’t feasible and would add needless risk.

“To add a second surgical procedure with this complication and risk makes no sense,” said Marshall, the EMW doctor and owner. “They want you to do two surgical procedurals to a patient when you only need to do one surgical procedure that’s proven to be safe.”

Medical associations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association told a federal appeals court that D&E is the safest second-trimester abortion procedure and “results in fewer medical complications and involves the administration of fewer drugs than alternative procedures.”

The brief also said the measure was based on the misguided notion that the fetus can feel pain at that stage of pregnancy. “The clearly established medical consensus is that fetal pain perception is not possible before at least 24 weeks,” the medical associations said.

EMW says it stops performing abortions at 21 weeks, 6 days, as required by Kentucky law.

For the Supreme Court, the issue is whether Cameron can take over the state’s defense of the law.

“The precise question before the court in EMW is a narrow procedural one,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who’ll argue on behalf of EMW on Tuesday. But the case “is a critical part of the fight to oppose attempts by anti-abortion politicians to push abortion care out of reach and erode reproductive freedom in this country.”

Cameron sought to intervene after an appointee of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear decided to drop the matter after the state lost an appeals court decision. A federal appeals court barred Cameron from getting involved.

“A court of appeals cannot close the courthouse doors when a state seeks only to hand off the defense of state law from one official to another without otherwise delaying the matter,” Cameron argued in a filing in the case, known as Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, 20-601.

Should the Supreme Court let Cameron intervene, the fate of Kentucky’s law could hinge on the Mississippi case, which centers on the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The high court is scheduled to decide that case by late June.

Kentucky is also among about a dozen states with trigger bans that would take effect — and make abortion largely illegal — if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Updated: 10-15-2021

Justice Department Will Ask Supreme Court To Halt Texas Abortion Law

The Justice Department said it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to lift Texas’s ban on abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, setting up a showdown likely to determine whether the law stays in effect through the end of the year.

A federal appeals court Thursday night let the law stay in effect as the case goes forward, even though a trial judge ruled the measure was unconstitutional. The Justice Department will ask the Supreme Court to set aside the appeals court order, department spokesman Anthony Coley said Friday.

The Justice Department says the law blatantly violates Supreme Court precedents that protect abortion rights and unconstitutionally seeks to avoid judicial review with a novel provision that puts enforcement in the hands of private parties.

The Supreme Court has already refused to block the law once, when it rejected abortion providers on Sept. 1 with a 5-4 decision that largely shut down the procedure in the second-most populous U.S. state. The law is easily the country’s most restrictive abortion ban currently in effect.

The high court’s earlier order came with only a paragraph of explanation. The majority said the challengers had “raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law” but hadn’t shown they could overcome procedural obstacles stemming from the unusual enforcement mechanism.

The Justice Department request adds a new layer to a Supreme Court term already set to be a historic one for abortion rights. The court in December will hear arguments on a Mississippi appeal that aims to slash abortion rights nationwide and even asks the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide.

Judicial Power

The Texas law, known as Senate Bill 8, bars abortion after a fetal cardiac activity can be detected and puts clinics that violate it at risk of being shut down. The measure lets private parties sue a clinic or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion — and collect a minimum of $10,000 in damages per procedure — but doesn’t authorize government officials to sue alleged violators.

The provision left it unclear how, if at all, a court could stop the law. Normally, judges faced with an unconstitutional law can issue an order directed at the government officials who have enforcement powers.

In its Sept. 1 order, the Supreme Court said that “federal courts enjoy the power to enjoin individuals tasked with enforcing laws, not the laws themselves.”

In temporarily blocking the law on Oct. 6, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman said he could issue an order binding the state as a whole, as well as the judges and clerks who would handle any private enforcement suits.

Ruling otherwise would mean that “any number of states could enact legislation that deprives citizens of their constitutional rights, with no legal remedy to challenge that deprivation, without the concern that a federal court would enter an injunction,” Pitman wrote.

Pitman also concluded the Justice Department had legal standing to challenge the law, in part because of the impact on federal agencies that arrange for abortions in Texas, including the Bureau of Prisons and the Defense Department.

 

Updated: 10-18-2021

DOJ Asks Supreme Court To Block Texas Abortion Law

Government’s emergency appeal forces high court to confront Texas ban on most abortions for second time in a matter of weeks.

The Justice Department on Monday filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court that seeks to block Texas’ ban on most abortions, returning the issue to the justices after they previously declined to intervene against the new state law.

The department’s high-court filing said the Texas measure, which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, is in open defiance of Supreme Court rulings that have protected abortion rights for a half-century. “Texas has, in short, successfully nullified this court’s decisions within its borders,” the department wrote.

Texas has engaged in a novel effort to shield its law from judicial review. The department said that if that tactic succeeds, there is nothing to stop other states from mounting similar efforts to write laws that deny other constitutional rights the Supreme Court has previously protected, such as the right to own a handgun in the home.

“If Texas is right, states are free to use similar schemes to nullify other precedents or suspend other constitutional rights,” the department wrote.

The Justice Department asked the court to block the law while lower-court litigation continues. It also suggested the justices could go ahead and give full consideration to the case, with detailed written briefing and oral arguments, even though lower courts aren’t finished.

The Supreme Court already is scheduled to hear a major abortion-rights case from Mississippi on Dec. 1. It is conceivable the court could add the Texas case to the mix.

Hours after the Justice Department filing, the high court said it would expedite consideration of a separate pending request by abortion providers to hear their challenge to the Texas law before a lower-court judgment is final. The move raised the possibility that the Supreme Court could hear both Texas cases during its current term by taking them from lower-court dockets now.

The Texas attorney general’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state law, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, or SB 8, has been in effect since Sept. 1, and is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. Physicians can’t perform the procedure if they know there is “a detectable fetal heartbeat,” which the law defines as including cardiac activity in the embryo in the early weeks of pregnancy. The law doesn’t contain exceptions for rape or incest.

Texas wrote its law in a manner designed to make it difficult to challenge in court. It did so by preventing state officials from having any direct role in enforcing the law. Instead, SB 8 empowers private parties to file civil lawsuits alleging violations. A plaintiff who wins in court can collect at least $10,000 from someone found to have performed—or aided—a banned abortion.

Abortion providers filed a lawsuit challenging the law before it went into effect, but were unable to obtain a court order blocking the law, in large part because of difficulties in determining who was a proper defendant, given that the Texas officials in charge of enforcing laws are barred from doing so with SB 8.

The Supreme Court cited that issue on Sept. 1, when it declined an emergency request by the providers to block the law. The Justice Department followed with its own lawsuit and argues its case is different, in part because it says it has authority to sue Texas directly to protect the federal government’s sovereign interests.

An Austin, Texas, federal judge originally sided with the department on Oct. 6 and issued a preliminary injunction against the Texas law. But the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week postponed the effect of that ruling and said SB 8 could remain in effect for now.

The Justice Department’s application Monday was directed to Justice Samuel Alito, who oversees emergency matters out of the Fifth Circuit. He will almost surely refer the matter to the full court for consideration.

Justice Alito ordered Texas to respond to the department’s filing by Thursday at noon.

Updated: 11-1-2021

Supreme Court Questions Texas Abortion Law

Justices voice concern about state’s efforts to shield its stringent restrictions on abortions from judicial scrutiny.

Supreme Court justices asked skeptical questions Monday about a novel Texas ban on many abortions, voicing concern about the state’s efforts to shield its stringent restrictions from judicial scrutiny.

During nearly three hours of oral arguments, justices across the ideological spectrum explored how they might allow abortion-rights advocates to challenge the law in federal court—with some expressing concern that other states could follow the model of the Texas law to target religious expression, access to guns or other rights defined by the court.

The Supreme Court’s focus Monday wasn’t directly on abortion rights, but rather the anomaly of the law, known as SB 8 or the Texas Heartbeat Act: State officials aren’t allowed to enforce it, a feature designed to thwart legal challenges. Under Supreme Court precedents, abortion-rights plaintiffs would sue such officials and ask a judge to block them from enforcing the law.

Texas instead limited enforcement to private parties, who are offered financial incentives to sue abortion providers and other people who aid abortions. A successful plaintiff is entitled to at least $10,000 in damages. That structure was intended to force providers to break the law and then be sued before they can raise challenges to SB 8’s constitutionality.

The law took effect two months ago and is the toughest in the nation, banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, far earlier than current Supreme Court precedent allows. It bars doctors from knowingly performing an abortion if there is a “detectable fetal heartbeat,” which the law defines to include early cardiac activity in the embryo, and doesn’t contain exceptions for rape or incest.

Justice Elena Kagan said the purpose of Texas’s law was to get around Supreme Court precedents on abortion and evade the “even broader principle that states are not to nullify federal constitutional rights.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, citing Justice Kagan’s comments, questioned whether Texas was exploiting a loophole that the court ought to close. He also cited a brief in support of the abortion clinics that was filed by Second Amendment advocates who warned that other states could follow Texas and effectively nullify other constitutional rights, such as protections for gun ownership.

Lawyer Marc Hearron, representing abortion providers, said SB 8 created a chilling effect on abortion rights because it subjects providers to the threat of an unending barrage of lawsuits, which wouldn’t recede even if clinics successfully defended themselves in early cases in the state courts.

Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone argued the providers’ lawsuit was improper and said the plaintiffs have no basis for getting into federal court right now. Texas was entitled to channel challenges to its own state courts, he said, where more than a dozen “pre-enforcement” suits currently are pending.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the court’s newest member and a potentially pivotal vote, made early comments that questioned the propriety of SB 8. The state law, she said, may not allow abortion providers to make a full defense in state court if they get sued, for instance by limiting the application of Supreme Court precedents that prevent imposition of “undue burdens” on women’s access to abortion before fetal viability.

Justice Samuel Alito, another member of the court’s conservative wing, voiced resistance to the abortion providers’ challenge. He suggested that traditional legal rules under the Texas Constitution already could effectively restrict a wave of private lawsuits by individuals under SB 8, no matter that the new law encourages them. That is because plaintiffs may have no legitimate basis to claim they were harmed by an abortion clinic performing the procedure, he said.

That is because plaintiffs normally must demonstrate they have been harmed to file suit.

Justice Clarence Thomas asked what harm any third party could claim from someone else’s abortion.

“One example could be akin to the injury suffered in the tort of outrage, where an individual becomes aware of a noncompliant abortion and they suffer the sort of same extreme emotional harm,” Mr. Stone said. That’s “where a person witnesses something they essentially find to be so extreme and outrageous it causes them extreme moral or psychological harm.”

Abortion providers had sued to stop the law before it went into effect, but the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the lawsuit faced procedural problems in suing state officials. Then on Sept. 1, the day the law took force, a 5-4 Supreme Court declined to intervene right away, with the court’s most conservative justices forming a majority that cited reasons similar to those of the appeals court.

The Justice Department then filed its own lawsuit against Texas, arguing that courts could validly block the state—and private citizens acting on its behalf—from enforcing SB 8. A federal trial judge in Austin agreed, but the Fifth Circuit put that ruling on hold.

Alongside the Supreme Court’s concerns about the Texas law, its members also expressed reservations about the department’s lawsuit against the state that sought to block anyone, including state court judges, from taking actions related to SB 8.

“Are you aware of a precedent that permits an injunction against all persons in the country, the world, the cosmos?” Justice Neil Gorsuch asked.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, in her first argument since her Senate confirmation last week, responded that the department’s proposed injunction “doesn’t do that either.”

“In the history of the United States, no state has done what Texas has done here,” she added.

The litigation is moving at a speed hardly ever reached at the high court, which prefers a slow and steady pace. Just 10 days ago, the justices said they would step in to address thorny legal questions raised by the law, which has sent Texas women seeking abortions after six weeks of pregnancy scrambling for procedures in nearby states.

The Texas battle is one of two significant abortion tests in the next month for a Supreme Court that has grown more conservative since the arrival of three Trump appointees. On Dec. 1, the court will consider a Mississippi law that seeks to ban abortion after 15 weeks, a case that provides a direct opportunity to revisit the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and later rulings that established and maintained a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion before fetal viability.

Mississippi and its allies have asked the court to eliminate the federal right to abortion altogether and leave the procedure’s legality to the discretion of state legislatures. Should that happen, the SB 8 controversy could become little more than a footnote, because Texas and several other states have passed legislation that would immediately outlaw nearly all abortions should Roe be overruled. SB 8 itself observes that Texas never repealed the abortion ban that was set aside in Roe, a case that stemmed from a Texas woman’s unsuccessful effort to end her unwanted pregnancy.

Given the Supreme Court’s expedited consideration of the Texas law, a ruling could come more quickly than under the court’s usual timeline, where a decision would typically be several months away.

Updated: 11-3-2021

Texas Abortion Law Gives A Glimpse Into A Post-Roe World

State provides window into what antiabortion advocates hope, and abortion-rights proponents fear, could spread nationwide.

Over nine weeks, a new Texas law effectively banning abortion after six weeks has transformed the state’s abortion climate.

The number of abortions performed in clinics has dropped. Some women have carried out their own abortions, such as one woman who took drugs she purchased from overseas. Others, including a 13-year-old assault victim, have fled Texas to other states, where clinics say they are overwhelmed by Texas demand.

“What we’ve seen in Texas is a glimpse of a post-Roe world, an insight into what an abortion-free state is going to look like,” said John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, which helped push for the law’s passage.

The Texas Heartbeat Act, also known as SB8, prohibits abortions after “cardiac activity” can be detected, which for most pregnancies happens at around two weeks after a woman has missed her period. It was designed to avoid being overturned under the precedent of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that established the constitutional right to an abortion up to the viability of the fetus, by outsourcing its enforcement to private individuals. The law, which legislatures in other states have said they would emulate if it survives legal challenges, allows anyone to sue someone suspected of aiding in an abortion for at least $10,000.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the federal government and abortion providers can challenge the law, with several justices voicing skepticism over the state’s efforts to shield its stringent restrictions from judicial scrutiny.

A potentially more far-reaching legal challenge will reach the Court early next month, when the justices will consider a Mississippi law that seeks to ban abortion after 15 weeks. That case will give the court a direct opportunity to revisit Roe v. Wade and later rulings that established and maintained a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion before fetal viability. Texas and several other states have passed laws that would immediately outlaw nearly all abortions should Roe and later rulings be overturned.

The effect of SB8 in Texas provides a window into what antiabortion advocates hope, and abortion-rights proponents fear, could spread nationwide if either SB8 or the Mississippi law is upheld.

“Patients are already living in a world where Roe v. Wade doesn’t exist,” said Molly Duane, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

In September, procedures performed at Texas abortion clinics fell by half, according to a University of Texas study released last Friday. Pregnancy centers designed to steer women away from abortions have seen a boom in calls, Mr. Seago said. Clinics have faced increased protests and threats and are facing possible closure due to curtailed business, providers said.

One has been housing 13 of its staff members temporarily in New Mexico to perform procedures on Texas patients at a sister clinic there. Patients have sought other options.

One 40-year-old woman in North Texas was already past the SB8 deadline when she was surprised to discover she was pregnant in late September. Fearful that neither her body nor her finances could handle a third child, the woman, who is a mother and grandmother, turned to the internet.

“I was so desperate that…I was researching the clothes hanger,” the woman said. Instead, she found Aid Access, an organization that prescribes abortion pills via a doctor based in Europe. She was unable to pay the full $125 for the medication, so the organization discounted it, she said.

Medication prescribed to end a pregnancy is approved by the Food and Drug Administration up to 10 weeks of gestation, and a pause during the pandemic on a requirement that it be dispensed in-person by a doctor has allowed it to be prescribed remotely in some states.

In Texas, such medication is still subject to the six-week ban, as well as another recent law that bans sending it through the mail, although that is hard to track. Several organizations provide unapproved off-brand forms of the medication through pharmacies in Europe and Asia.

SB8 provides an exception for a medical emergency, which Texas law defines as a condition that places a pregnant woman in danger of death. Doctors in the state are interpreting that differently. In September, call-takers at the National Abortion Federation’s hotline heard from a woman in the Rio Grande Valley who was denied care for an ectopic pregnancy, a nonviable pregnancy that can quickly rupture and become fatal.

“We typically don’t have long conversations with people who have ectopic pregnancies, it’s just ‘You need to go to the hospital right now,’ ” said Rachel Lachenauer, director of patient experience for the hotline. “In this case, the patient was repeatedly calling us back because the hospital was telling her ‘We don’t know if we can help you.’ ”

The organization provided financial assistance for the woman to drive more than 12 hours to New Mexico for care, Ms. Lachenauer said.

Other doctors in Texas, who are still treating ectopic pregnancies, called the example shocking but not a surprise. Some doctors said SB8, which protects those filing lawsuits from having to pay court costs even if they lose, gives incentive for frivolous lawsuits.

Some said they were questioning whether to treat patients with complications from miscarriages, because the procedure can look similar to an abortion. Others have sent patients out of state to abort fetuses with abnormalities that meant the child wouldn’t survive.

‘You are scared to discuss, even in the confidentiality of an exam room, her options.’
— John Thoppil, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

John Thoppil, president of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said doctors who have never performed an abortion are now limiting care discussions with their patients, afraid they could be misinterpreted or falsely accused of aiding in an abortion.

He said he felt that way with a patient who recently came to see him with a rare, high-risk pregnancy, despite having an IUD. “You are scared to discuss, even in the confidentiality of an exam room, her options,” Dr. Thoppil said.

Mr. Seago, who championed the bill, said doctors are misunderstanding the law. Though SB8 is vague, abortion is defined in other chapters of Texas law to exclude miscarriages and ectopic treatment. In two months of the law being in effect, only three lawsuits have been filed, all against a doctor who publicly stated he had performed an illegal abortion, Mr. Seago said.

Overall, abortion providers have complied with SB8, both providers and opponents of abortion said. In some cases, women eligible for an abortion at their first appointment have been turned away 24 hours later—after a mandatory state waiting period—when a second ultrasound has shown cardiac activity, providers said in interviews and court filings.

Updated: 11-30-2021

Supreme Court To Review Mississippi’s 15-Week Abortion Ban

State wants Roe v. Wade overruled and women’s right to end unwanted pregnancies abolished.

Mississippi will ask the Supreme Court at Wednesday arguments to overrule Roe v. Wade and eliminate the constitutional right women have held since 1973 to end unwanted pregnancies.

The case provides the first direct test of former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign prediction that if he got the opportunity to make two or three appointments to the Supreme Court, Roe “automatically” would be overruled. Three Trump appointees—two of whom succeeded justices who voted to affirm abortion rights—now sit on the court.

Separately, a decision is pending on a Texas law passed in May that bans abortion after about six weeks. The court heard arguments on Nov. 1 after having voted 5-4 in September to allow the law to take effect. The majority cited the law’s provision that private parties rather than state officials enforce the law through civil litigation, a procedural device Texas lawmakers included to stymie judicial review.

The court may find a way through the Mississippi case without overruling Roe. Apart from any affirmation of lower courts that found the measure unconstitutional, it could uphold the Mississippi law by further restricting abortion rights without abolishing them altogether.

The Mississippi law, which was immediately blocked by a federal judge, forbids women more than 15 weeks pregnant from obtaining abortions. The state’s only provider, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, sued to strike down the ban. The clinic doesn’t perform the procedure after 16 weeks and, according to court records, the law would halt about 100 of more than 2,000 abortions performed annually in Mississippi.

A report this month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that roughly 95% of abortions take place by 15 weeks of gestation. Nearly 44% are now performed through the administration of medications in the early weeks of pregnancy instead of surgery, the CDC report found.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in New Orleans, affirmed a district judge who found the Mississippi Gestational Age Act unconstitutional.

“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote for the Fifth Circuit. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.”

Fetal viability, or the ability to live outside the womb, arises at about 24 weeks. The majority in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in an effort to find middle ground, pared back but didn’t eliminate abortion rights and laid out the undue-burden standard. Because the Gestational Age Act would outlaw only a fraction of the Jackson clinic’s caseload, the state argued it couldn’t be considered an undue burden.

Mississippi’s law was initially designed as a more incremental attack on abortion, in a different epoch of Supreme Court history. When the state Gestational Age Act was adopted in March 2018, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg sat on the court, where legal views all but foreclosed the chance of finding five justices ready to significantly limit abortion rights.

Justice Kennedy had retired but Justice Ginsburg remained active in June 2020, when Mississippi appealed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling. In its initial brief, the state argued that the Supreme Court wouldn’t have to overrule Roe to decide in its favor, but simply to reconcile what it argued were conflicting strands of precedent regarding viability as the constitutional limit for banning abortion.

The legal calculation changed when Justice Ginsburg died in September 2020, affording Mr. Trump the opportunity to fill the vacancy with Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Then-Judge Barrett didn’t declare her position on abortion rights during confirmation hearings in October 2020, but Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) called it “the first time in American history that we’ve nominated a woman who’s unashamedly pro-life and embraces her faith without apology.”

Democrats didn’t disagree. “Judge Barrett has a long record of opposing abortion and reproductive rights,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, then a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After the court agreed in May to hear Mississippi’s appeal, the state brought on a new lawyer, former Trump Justice Department official Scott Stewart, who raised a bold new claim: “Roe and Casey are egregiously wrong,” he said, and should be overruled.

In addition to asserting that the court erred in recognizing abortion rights in 1973, Mississippi also argues that rationales for maintaining Roe, including the autonomy women gain through greater control of their reproductive lives, have lost urgency.

“Today, adoption is accessible and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life, contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability,” Mississippi’s brief says.

The Jackson clinic, in its response brief, says Mississippi is recycling arguments that courts have long rejected, including in the 1992 Casey decision.

“Unless the Court is to be perceived as representing nothing more than the preferences of its current membership, it is critical that judicial protection hold firm absent the most dramatic and unexpected changes in law or fact,” says the clinic, which is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

If the court does overturn Roe, however, Mississippi’s 15-week ban effectively will become irrelevant. The state is one of at least 21 with abortion bans that predate 1973 or statutes that immediately will outlaw the procedure should the Supreme Court conclude the Constitution provides women no right to end unwanted pregnancies.

Updated: 12-1-2021

Sotomayor Says Abortion Case Imperils LGBTQ Rights

Supreme Court justices asked whether a ruling in favor of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban could call into question other seemingly settled constitutional rights, from the use of contraception, to the criminalization of sodomy, to the more recently recognized right to same-sex marriage.

A majority of the justices signaled at argument Wednesday that they will curtail or even overturn the court’s landmark rulings governing the right to an abortion, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, even though they’ve been the law of the land for decades.

The Supreme Court has recognized other implicit rights including several under the “right to privacy,” which itself isn’t explicitly in the text of the Constitution.

If the court does an about-face on abortion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned the high court could face similar challenges to other rights grounded in the same principles.

Privacy Zones

In the 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, the court said that the Constitution creates “zones of privacy” even though such a right isn’t explicit in the text. Those zones exist within the “penumbras” of the specific rights in the Bill of Rights, the court said.

Sotomayor noted on Wednesday some of the rights the court has “discerned” from the Constitution.

Along with abortion, the court has “recognized them in terms of the religion parents will teach their children. We’ve recognized it in their ability to educate at home if they choose,” Sotomayor said. “We have recognized that sense of privacy in people’s choices about whether to use contraception or not. We’ve recognized it in their right to choose who they’re going to marry.”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, who defended the state’s abortion law, whether a decision in his favor would affect the cases cited by Sotomayor.

Stewart said cases involving contraception, same-sex marriage and sodomy wouldn’t be called into question because they involve “clear rules that have engendered strong reliance interests and that have not produced negative consequences or all the many other negative stare decisis considerations we pointed out.”

That reasoning didn’t satisfy Sotomayor, who said, “I just think you’re dissimulating when you say that any ruling here wouldn’t have an effect on those.”

Distinctions

Sharon McGowen of the LGBT group Lambda Legal told Bloomberg Law that cases like Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 law that struck down laws prohibiting sodomy, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 case upholding same-sex marriage, “were built on the foundation of Roe and Casey and the court’s other reproductive rights cases.” So the idea that the Supreme Court could gut abortion rights is “cause for serious concern,” she said.

In an interview, David Cortman, of the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom, said two things in particular distinguish abortion from those other privacy rights: the right to life and the states’ interest in protecting a child.

Cortman, whose group urged the justices to allow states to ban same-sex marriages, said those other rights may be just as wrong as the right to an abortion. But the fundamental interest in life that’s at issue in abortion means those other rights are probably not in any real danger of being overturned.

He noted that Justice Brett Kavanaugh even mentioned some of those rights when speaking about cases where the court has overturned unpopular rulings, suggesting there is little appetite on the court to reconsider them.

“If you think about some of the most important cases, the most consequential cases in this Court’s history, there’s a string of them where the cases overruled precedent,” Kavanaugh said, citing Lawrence v. Texas, the case saying states can’t ban same-sex conduct, and Obergefell v. Hodges, regarding same-sex marriage.

‘Stark Departure’

Groups opposed to overruling Roe warned in briefs in advance of the argument that doing so could open the door to undermining other precedents.

Regardless of what the court has done in the past, backtracking on abortion now would represent a “sea change” in how the court approaches precedent, a group of LGBT groups told the justices.

They note that “even when the Court has reconsidered its constitutional rulings, it rarely—if ever—overrules precedent to take away previously recognized individual rights,” like they’d be doing here.

So overruling “Roe and Casey would represent a stark departure” for the court, the groups said, opening up other individual rights to attack.

Groups “against LGBT equality are eager to leverage this case” to undermine those victories, McGowan said.

McGowan said she doesn’t know of any states passing laws trying to copy the tactics of abortion opponents, including passing laws in order to convince a friendly Supreme Court to undo earlier cases. But she said other states could try to do so if those tactics are successful here.

Updated: 12-8-2021

California May Pay Expenses For Women Seeking Abortions From Other States

Democratic leaders want to make California a ‘sanctuary’ if Roe v Wade is overturned or curtailed.

California political leaders are looking for ways to provide financial and logistical support to women who come to the state seeking abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned or severely curtailed, including possibly paying for gas, lodging, and child care, as well as compensating providers for services rendered to low-income patients.

The proposals are some of the 45 recommendations put forth in a report by a group of abortion providers and advocates with input and support from leaders of the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. It comes as the state prepares for a possible influx of people from areas that could pass abortion restrictions if the Supreme Court limits or ends the constitutional right to abortion.

Abortions rights supporters and opponents have said they believe such a move is possible in a current case involving a Mississippi law banning abortions for women more than 15 weeks pregnant.

Democratic state Senate leader Toni Atkins, one of the most powerful leaders in Sacramento, released a statement alongside the report saying she and her colleagues would work with the group to “ensure Californians and people from every state can get the reproductive health services they need in a safe and timely way.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Associated Press in a recent interview that some of the report’s details will be reflected in his January budget proposal. In a statement, Mr. Newsom said he takes the group’s recommendations seriously.

“We’ll be a sanctuary,” the Democrat told the AP, adding that he’s aware more women may travel to California seeking abortions. “We are looking at ways to support that inevitability and looking at ways to expand our protections.”

Neither he nor legislative leaders have said which specific proposals they plan to take up when the state Legislature reconvenes in January.

The group was formed in September, soon after Texas enacted a law effectively outlawing abortions after six weeks. Its report was prepared with input from legislative leaders and members of the Newsom administration.

A report released in October by the Guttmacher Institute estimated that the number of people who might drive to California to seek abortions could increase to 1.4 million from 46,000 if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The majority would come from neighboring Arizona, the research group that supports abortion rights said.

Jodi Hicks, the president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said she expects to see a legislative package addressing some of the group’s recommendations soon after the Legislature reconvenes in January.

California is regarded as one of the least restrictive states when it comes to abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and some state money already goes toward groups that assist people seeking abortions who travel from out of state.

Updated: 12-9-2021

Overturning Roe Would Place U.S. On Par With China And North Korea On Women’s Rights

The country that once led the way on gender equality now moves in the opposite direction.

When the U.S. Supreme Court first legalized abortion in 1973, the country was a global leader on reproductive rights. The women’s liberation movement and a growing outcry over deaths from unsafe procedures led a handful of countries, including the U.S., to liberalize their laws or legalize the procedure for the first time.

The U.K. had passed its Abortion Act in 1967, which at the time allowed women to terminate pregnancies up to 28 weeks. In 1972, East Germany made abortion free, up to 12 weeks. Then came the U.S. with its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to an abortion.

Canada wouldn’t decriminalize the procedure for another 15 years.

Now the U.S. is on the verge of rolling back reproductive rights, while countries around the world are moving in the opposite direction. On Dec. 1, during arguments about the constitutionality of a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court signaled they were ready to weaken protections established under Roe.

If the court overturns precedent completely, legal abortion would disappear in at least a dozen U.S. states. Many others would allow it only in the first few weeks of pregnancy or in rare circumstances.

It’s a stark reversal for women’s rights, particularly compared with much of the rest of the world. “Although we think of America as one of the most liberal places, where people have the most rights, we’re seeing it become one of the most restrictive countries when it comes to abortion access,” says Christian Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women.

In the past 25 years more than 50 countries have increased legal access to abortion, including places with significant Catholic populations and cultures. Just last year, Argentina became the largest country in Latin America to allow women to terminate pregnancies, up to 14 weeks into their term.

An estimated 38,000 women were hospitalized each year from botched procedures. Thailand began allowing first-trimester abortions this year. Months later, Mexico decriminalized the procedure—a move Amnesty International called “an important advancement in human rights.”

“Countries are realizing that women’s equality and full participation in society are at stake,” says Risa Kaufman, director of U.S. human rights at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Studies have found that women who carry unwanted pregnancies are more likely to live in poverty years later. When it comes to gender equality, the U.S. has already begun to slip behind other wealthy countries.

In a 2021 gender gap ranking by the World Economic Forum based on factors including economic participation, health, and political empowerment, the U.S. came in 30th, behind Canada, the U.K., and Germany, down from 17th a decade ago. It’s the only rich nation without paid maternity leave, and it has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries.

Partly because the U.S. has less social support than peer nations, its female labor force participation rate has plummeted during the pandemic to levels not seen in decades.

About two dozen countries, including Egypt, Iraq, and the Philippines, ban abortion under any and all circumstances, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. In some cases, women and doctors can face prison sentences, steep fines—or, in Iran—death.

The U.S. is unlikely to go that far. Without Roe, the future of abortion will depend on geography. About a dozen U.S. states, including California and New York, have laws that specifically protect the right to an abortion.

Clinics there will continue to operate as usual. But many states in the South and Midwest have anti-abortion laws on the books and ready to go into effect as soon as Roe is overturned.

They’d make the procedure illegal in most or all cases, penalizing providers with fines or jail time. Some 40 million Americans living in those states would join the 700 million women of reproductive age living in places without access to safe and legal abortion worldwide.

During the Supreme Court arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts suggested current U.S. law is more in line with China and North Korea because of its use of the fetal viability standard, which the court has said allows for abortions up until about 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In fact, as noted by Julie Rikelman, the lawyer challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, many European nations, and Canada and New Zealand, permit abortions up to similar limits.

Great Britain allows abortion up to 24 weeks if a pregnant person says it will harm her physical or mental health, while Germany permits it until 22 weeks if the mother deems it medically necessary. These places, and others with universal health care, also cover the costs.

The U.S. bans federal Medicaid funds from covering abortion, and almost a dozen states disallow or heavily restrict private insurers from covering the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Sixteen states allow their own Medicaid funds to be used for abortions.

The viability test is what’s keeping many U.S. states from enacting laws with relatively small windows for seeking abortions. (Texas recently found a legal loophole and has a six-week ban in place that’s being challenged in court.)

All six of the Republican-appointed justices signaled that they were ready to uphold Mississippi’s law and at the very least do away with the viability standard. “If it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?” the chief justice asked. Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett suggested they might go further and overturn Roe.

If the U.S. were to do either of those things, it would be more like China, but not in the way Roberts suggested. “Very few” countries have regressed on abortion rights, according to a brief filed to the high court by a group of international legal scholars.

A rollback of abortion laws would put the U.S. on par with Poland, “whose quality of democratic governance … continue[s] to deteriorate,” and Nicaragua, an authoritarian state characterized by “significant human rights issues” they write. China is also moving in that direction.

A few months ago the Chinese government released guidelines saying it would seek to limit “non-medical abortions” in a bid to reverse the disastrous effects of its one-child policy. China’s birthrates have been falling for years, reaching lows not seen since the 1950s.

Thus far, the state’s attempts to get women to have more kids, including relaxing per-family quotas to three children and offering cash incentives to couples, haven’t worked. The government hasn’t said how it would get women to carry pregnancies they don’t want, but experts say a crackdown on abortions from a country that used to force women to have them as a means of population control is inevitable.

“It’s disheartening to hear that the U.S. wants to advocate or comment about other countries and how they treat their women, but yet here we are trying to control a person’s decision about their own reproductive care and access,” says NOW’s Nunes. “We have to think deeper about how we’re looking as a country.”

 

Updated: 12-16-2021

FDA Allows Women To Get Abortion Pill By Mail

The decision lifted a restriction requiring women to go to a medical office or hospital to pick up the mifepristone pills.

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

The Biden administration on Thursday relaxed restrictions around an abortion pill that had prevented women from getting the medication without first making in-person visits to pick up the prescriptions at medical offices.

The Food and Drug Administration decision to allow patients to get the drug mifepristone, sold under the brand name Mifeprex and sometimes known as RU-486, without a visit to a hospital or doctor will help pave the way for the drug to be available for ordering online and delivery by mail, according to groups that support abortion access.

The FDA said in a document posted on its website that it was ending a requirement restricting where mifepristone could be dispensed to certain healthcare settings, such as clinics, medical offices and hospitals.

The agency said it also was adding a requirement that pharmacies that dispense the medication be certified.

Organizations that support abortion rights applauded the action, which follows a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the in-person requirement.

“This decision follows the science, something we could only hope for from our nation’s regulatory body on medications,” said Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and chief executive of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “And the science shows that medication abortion care is safe to administer via telehealth.”

Other groups, including organizations that oppose abortion, said the FDA decision ignored data that mifepristone leads to more emergency room visits.

“Today’s FDA decision ignores several sets of much more substantial data which confirms the abortion pill is a significant public health threat, and the real-world data suggests that threat is growing,” said Dr. James Studnicki, vice president of data analytics at Charlotte Lozier Institute, a group that opposes abortion.

The New York Times earlier reported the FDA action.

Mifepristone, used up to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, works by halting the supply of hormones that maintain the interior of the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic.

During the Trump administration, the FDA responded to the pandemic by relaxing certain requirements for drugs, and encouraged telemedicine, to help prevent transmission. However, the FDA didn’t relax the restrictions requiring in-person pick up for the drug mifepristone.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an organization of women’s healthcare physicians, and other groups sued the FDA over its exclusion of mifepristone.

The Supreme Court in January, however, agreed with the Trump administration on excluding the drug.

In May, the FDA said it would review the restrictions around the medication, which is used in abortions and miscarriages.

Updated: 2-17-2022

The Abortion Pill Is Safer Than Tylenol And Almost Impossible To Get

Share The Abortion Pill’s Exile in Obscurity: (Podcast)

Mifepristone could—but probably won’t—revolutionize a post-Roe world.

Mifepristone may be the least marketed pharmaceutical product in the U.S. There aren’t any ads for it on TV. Most doctors can’t prescribe it. Pharmacists don’t know much about it, since it doesn’t sit on the shelves at CVS or Walgreens.

It would be reasonable to assume this is all because mifepristone is exceptionally dangerous. But it sends fewer people to the ER than Tylenol or Viagra. It’s also highly effective when used as intended: to induce an abortion.

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone 21 years ago, it was known as RU-486 and hailed as the most important advance in reproductive health since the birth control pill. Time magazine had called it “The Pill That Changes Everything.”

It was supposed to provide an attractive alternative to surgical procedures, which can involve sedation, a visit to a health-care facility, and obviously a great deal of medical expertise.

At the time, the abortion battleground was, by and large, women’s health clinics. The pill, in theory, could allow women to bypass clinics, and throngs of protesters, almost entirely.

Yet in the two decades since FDA approval, mifepristone has failed to reach liftoff. If anything, it’s receded from view. A labyrinth of regulatory restrictions has kept it intentionally out of reach. Most abortions in the U.S. are still done by surgical procedure, even though the majority of people ending their pregnancy do so early enough to take the pill instead.

Almost 80% of adults, including two-thirds of women, don’t even know medication abortion exists, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Jessica Nouhavandi, a pharmacist and the co-founder of online drug-delivery service Honeybee Health, was surprised to learn her friends were among them. At the beginning of the pandemic, she decided she wanted to sell the pill through her site.

When she mentioned it in a group text with friends, not one of the 10 college-educated, thirtysomething women had ever heard of an abortion pill. Even among her colleagues, she sees how this could happen.

“In pharmacy school you don’t really learn about medication abortion,” she says. Her training didn’t entirely ignore the drug involved; there was just very little emphasis on what it was used for. “Basically, we learn about the meds but don’t talk too much about medication abortion.”

Nouhavandi felt driven to do something about it, though it wasn’t clear much could be done. For as long as the abortion pill has been on the market, the FDA has required it to be given at a doctor’s office. That’s not the only quirk specific to mifepristone, either.

Prescribers have to get certified to dispense the pill and then counsel patients on the risks of taking it. They then have to get them to sign a form reiterating the facts that were just told to their faces.

These rules may sound largely procedural, but they’re logistical headaches that don’t apply even to some highly addictive drugs.

Without them, a general practitioner could prescribe the pill via telemedicine and have it sent to their patients by mail. This would be particularly useful for the almost 9 out of 10 American women who live in counties without an abortion clinic.

For years, activists, health-care professionals, and medical researchers have been building a case that the abortion pill should be treated like other medications that come with similarly few medical concerns.

With the U.S. on the precipice of a new era of restricted abortion access—the Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit that could overturn Roe v. Wade this year—their cause is more urgent than ever.

The FDA last year reviewed its restrictions on mifepristone, but ultimately decided to keep all but one in place. Women no longer have to pick up the pill at a doctor’s office.

That was a “huge win,” says Nouhavandi, but that the FDA left all of the other idiosyncratic hoops in place is “hugely disappointing.”

Plus the agency added another: Pharmacies such as hers have to get certified to distribute the drug—a rule that only applies to 40 FDA-approved drugs, out of more than 19,000. There’s no certification process in place yet; creating one could take months.

So far, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. isn’t seeking certification; CVS Health Corp. wouldn’t comment on whether it plans to do so. “I don’t think the fight is anywhere near over,” Nouhavandi says.

The story of the abortion pill is a revolution in fits and starts. RU-486 was first developed four decades ago by the French pharmaceutical company Roussel Uclaf. It works by blocking progesterone, a hormone that helps grow the uterine lining, where an embryo would typically implant.

Early research found the drug, also known as mifepristone, was 80% effective at inducing an abortion. When combined with misoprostol, a drug that causes a uterus to contract, which helps expel a fetus, it works more than 95% of the time in early pregnancies.

In 1988, France became the first Western country to approve the pill for abortions. Within a month, anti-abortion protesters successfully pressured Roussel Uclaf to halt its distribution. The French health minister, Claude Évin, intervened and put it back on the market.

“I could not permit the abortion debate to deprive women of a product that represents medical progress,” he said at the time. “From the moment government approval for the drug was granted, RU-486 became the moral property of women, not just the property of a drug company.”

But it was very much the property of a drug company—one that anti-abortion activists continued to relentlessly target. The National Right To Life organization, a U.S. anti-abortion nonprofit, wrote to the French ambassador threatening a global boycott of Roussel Uclaf and its parent company’s products.

Roussel Uclaf, in turn, never marketed the pill to Americans. As the drug had made its way to China, Sweden, and Great Britain, neither the drugmaker nor the Republican administrations in charge in Washington had any will to bring it to the U.S.

Then an eight-year political window opened. Bill Clinton, who’d campaigned on making the abortion pill a reality for Americans, came into office. In one of his first moves, he asked for a review on an import ban on the pill.

Over his two terms, the Population Council, a reproductive-health nonprofit that had secured the rights to market the drug from Roussel Uclaf, undertook clinical trials needed to get FDA approval and enlisted a drugmaker, Danco Laboratories, to produce the pills.

Danco’s origin story, and almost everything else about it, is intentionally vague. According to a Washington Post article from 2000, the “secretive and obscure” company was formed in the Cayman Islands in 1995. Danco makes no other medicine besides the abortion pill and keeps a low profile to this day. It lists no street address or phone number. It just uses a P.O. box.

When the FDA gave its regulatory blessing to the pill in September 2000, at the tail end of Clinton’s second term, the agency’s commissioner at the time said the decision was purely scientific, not political. And yet the FDA put substantial and extraordinary restrictions on the pill.

Later on, they became part of what’s known as a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS, a program meant to “ensure the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.”

Among the rules: Doctors had to date the pregnancy, which in many cases meant having the patient undergo an ultrasound.

Patients had to acknowledge that a surgical abortion might still be required to fully end the pregnancy if the drugs didn’t work, and the prescriber had to confirm that option was available.

The physician had to sign a statement saying the parties had read the instructions for how to take the medicine and knew how to follow them. Women had to take the pill at their provider’s office and then come back for a final checkup. For those not keeping track: That could be three separate trips to the doctor just to take the pill.

A spokesperson for Danco said at the time that the FDA directives were more onerous than what the company had expected given the safety profile of the drug. “It was a mix of medical caution and political naiveté that manifested itself in hypervigilance,” says Beverly Winikoff, president of Gynuity Health Projects, who worked for the Population Council on the pill’s approval.

Winikoff says that fear of a political backlash had a heavy hand in guiding the FDA’s decision-making process. There was such palpable worry about violence from anti-abortion activists during the approval process that the agency didn’t disclose where it was holding its data-review meeting. Winikoff was told to go to a hotel, where she was picked up by a bus that took her to a secret location.

“I think there was just a heightened fear about the credibility of the agency, about their own jobs as professionals, about being pilloried in the press,” she said of how the FDA handled the review process. “It was astounding to me that the regulatory mechanisms were so divorced from women’s lives.”

“They reinforced the misconception that the pills are somehow dangerous and need this layer of protection, which they don’t”

Over the past two decades, researchers and medical bodies have built a growing and compelling case that many, if not all, of the regulations are medically unnecessary. A 2013 paper reviewing abortion data for 45,000 women showed just 0.3% of patients who took the pill ended up hospitalized.

The study’s authors concluded that abortion by pill is “highly effective and safe.” Even Jane Henney, who was leading the FDA at the time of mifepristone’s approval, came out in 2019 to argue against the REMS in a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece that she co-wrote.

Nearly two decades of use and additional research “clearly demonstrate that mifepristone is extremely safe and effective,” the authors wrote.

“We believe that the distribution restrictions may no longer be appropriate.” Yet even in the face of this data, regulatory oversight hasn’t meaningfully changed.

The FDA told Bloomberg Businessweek that after conducting a comprehensive review of published literature and data provided to the agency, it concluded that it was safe to remove the in-person dispensing requirement, “provided all the other requirements of the REMS are met, and pharmacy certification is added.”

“They reinforced the misconception that the pills are somehow dangerous and need this layer of protection, which they don’t,” says Elisa Wells, who co-founded Plan C, a site that helps women get abortion pills. “It’s just a real disappointment that after 20 years’ worth of data that we have about the safety of the pills that the FDA didn’t remove all the restrictions and allow the pills to be available the way that so many other drugs are: through pharmacies without any special requirements.”

Wells has seen firsthand how much easier things could be. While consulting on a research project in Ethiopia in 2014, she watched a colleague walk into a pharmacy with no prescription and leave 10 minutes later holding a packet with the abortion pill and instructions on how to use it. The box, bearing the name “Safe-T Kit,” was no bigger than a deck of cards and cost the equivalent of $7.

“We’re standing there on the streets of this little town,” Wells says. “We looked at each other and said, ‘How is it available in Ethiopia, which is one of the most resource-poor countries in the world in respect to health care, but in the U.S. it’s restricted beyond reach?’ ”

In the U.S., getting the pill can require maneuvering comically complex situations. Graham Chelius, a family medicine doctor on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which has no abortion clinic, had to send his patients to Oahu—a 40-minute flight each way, costing $150 round trip, at least—just to pick up mifepristone from a certified provider.

“There’s no other medicine that I provide that I have to have in the clinic that you just can’t write a prescription for and have it shipped,” Chelius says.

In 2017 he and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the FDA to get the agency to remove the laundry list of obligations that come with prescribing or receiving mifepristone.

The case argues that the government’s rules place an undue burden on a patient’s right to an abortion and violate the right to privacy under the Fifth Amendment.

“There is no reason why these restrictions should or have improved the safety of abortions,” he says. “For certain, women have been harmed by these restrictions.”

It was in the back-and-forth over Chelius’s suit that the FDA finally decided the pill could be distributed by mail. But he and the ACLU want the other constraints removed, too, and have yet to drop their case. “We urge the FDA to further eliminate unjustified and unscientific barriers to care,” says Julia Kaye, the lead ACLU attorney on the case.

The FDA “clearly could’ve gone farther,” says Daniel Grossman, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California at San Francisco.

Grossman has spent years churning out research on the safety of the abortion pill and sees things like the patient agreement form and the requirement that providers get a special certification to prescribe the pill as redundant to the very practice of medicine.

Doctors already take responsibility for evaluating patients’ eligibility for medications; the extra paperwork doesn’t confer any added safety benefit, he says. “The pieces that are left of the REMS seem almost silly.”

Last fall, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court signaled in oral arguments that they’re open to eroding abortion protections. The court could entirely overturn Roe v. Wade, which would leave it up to states to set their own abortion laws. Many have bans ready to go if that happens.

Or it could allow for earlier limits to abortion; right now states can’t prohibit abortions up until the “point of viability,” which the Supreme Court has said is around 23 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The court could also keep the status quo.

Even in that case, treating mifepristone like any other drug would make abortions much easier to get, particularly for people who live far from clinics.

Since 2015 more than 100 independent clinics have closed across the country, according to the Abortion Care Network, largely because of laws that make it excessively expensive or legally impossible for them to operate.

The farther a woman lives from a clinic, the more likely she is to seek out mifepristone—even with the FDA’s hurdles. A 2021 study looking at about 57,000 abortions in almost 80% of the country’s counties showed that a 47-mile increase in distance to the nearest clinic was associated with a 41% increase in the use of telemedicine and medication abortion.

Conservative lawmakers know the power of this pill: Nineteen states have banned using telemedicine to get a prescription for it by requiring a clinician to be physically present when the drug is being given, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group. And more mifepristone-specific laws keep coming.

A new Texas law threatens anyone who prescribes the abortion pill through telehealth and mails it with jail time and a fine of up to $10,000. Georgia is attempting to ban sending it by mail, too. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order that required three trips to the doctor for a medication abortion.

“The Biden administration is working right now to make it easier to end the life of an unborn child via telemedicine abortion,” she tweeted in September. “That is not going to happen in South Dakota.” (A judge put an injunction on the rule, for now.)

If the U.S. enters a post-Roe world, legal abortion would likely disappear in almost half of the states, unless there’s a way to get mifepristone into those places.

That raises a question University of Pittsburgh School of Law assistant professor Greer Donley is exploring right now: Can states ban the shipment of mifepristone if the FDA explicitly says it’s allowed?

A Massachusetts case may provide some answers. When the FDA approved the powerful, long-acting opioid Zohydro in 2013, the governor tried to ban the sale of the drug in his state. The drug’s maker sued, and a U.S. district judge ruled that the state did not have the authority to overstep the FDA.

Donley thinks this could provide the framework for a legal argument against state bans on mail-order abortion pills. If it works, it could also mean the pill remains available in places that ban abortion altogether.

“This idea that the states can’t do something that frustrates the purpose of federal law, that’s the strongest way to go at mifepristone,” Donley says. There’s no guarantee it’ll work, but she thinks it’s worth a shot.

“The anti-abortion movement has been trying these pretty outlandish strategies on so many different fronts for decades, and a lot of times they fail, but sometimes they don’t. And now we are where we are,” she says. “It’s time to get creative.”

Updated: 2-25-2022

Texas At-Home Abortion Pill Requests Spiked Following New Limits

The number of Texans requesting abortion pills by mail jumped by more than 12-fold in the week after the state’s restrictive rules on abortions went into effect, a new study showed.

Self-managed abortion medication requests from Texas to Aid Access, an Austrian-based nonprofit that ships pills to end pregnancies, spiked in the week ending Sept. 8 to about 138 daily from an average of 11 before the new law went into effect, according to a study published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The requests fell from that peak but remained at almost three times the prior average through the end of the year.

The study provides yet another dataset detailing the impacts of Texas’s near total ban on abortions. The Texas law, which went into effect on Sept. 1, bans almost all abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy.

Not only have more Texans been looking to pill deliveries by mail, but they have also been going to neighboring states. Planned Parenthood said this week that its clinics in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado and Missouri saw a nearly 800% increase in abortion patients from Texas from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, compared with the year before.

In September, the first full month after the Texas law went into effect, abortions in Texas were down 51% from the same span a year earlier, according to data from the state Health and Human Services Commission.

Updated: 5-5-2022

The Abortion Pill Is The Next Battleground If Roe Is Reversed

Mifepristone now accounts for 54% of all pregnancy terminations in the U.S., despite efforts by many states to restrict access.

For decades the fight to end abortion in America has been waged over Roe v. Wade. With the Supreme Court poised to overturn the landmark decision that legalized a woman’s right to choose, the fight to stop abortion is going to become a fight about a pill.

Mifepristone, originally known as RU-486, was approved in the U.S. in 2000 after being on the market overseas for more than a decade. When used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, it’s more than 95% effective in terminating a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks. Data overwhelmingly show it’s safe.

Yet, as I wrote in a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story earlier this year, it’s regulated like almost no other drug in the U.S. The federal government has one set of restrictions on how the pill is used, and state governments have additional, often more onerous rules.

It’s been a cat-and-mouse game for years now. Those opposed to abortion have tried to use laws and regulations to prevent the pill from becoming the answer for women who can’t get access to a clinic.

Some two-thirds of U.S. states stipulate that the pill must be prescribed by doctors, a requirement that is more stringent than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s rules, which also allow certified nurse practitioners to do so.

In December, a new law went into effect in Texas that introduced penalties of jail time and a fine of as much as $10,000 for anyone who prescribes the abortion pill via telehealth. Texas is also one of seven states that have attempted to keep the drug from being mailed directly to women; three succeeded, but four such bans were blocked by courts.

Despite these efforts—and mifepristone’s being perhaps the least marketed pharmaceutical product in the U.S.—what’s known as “medication abortion” has been steadily gaining ground. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, the pill now accounts for 54% of all abortions in the country, up from 39% in 2017 and 24% in 2011.

“At the moment the anti-abortion movement is realizing its decades-long goal of overturning Roe, it’s totally lost control of how abortion is accessed,” says Greer Donley, an assistant law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. “Abortion pills are a huge threat to the anti-abortion movement.”

To get around some of the restrictions states have imposed, services have cropped up that mail abortion pills to a woman’s home or a location of her choosing.

The website Aid Access offers an online consultation for anyone dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, after which the pills are sent from an overseas manufacturer.

Rebecca Gomperts, the Dutch physician who launched Aid Access in 2018, says her organization’s help desk was “really flooded” following the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion showing the majority of justices were on track to overturn Roe v. Wade. “People are really, really anxious and scared,” she says.

There have been attempts to crack down on Aid Access already. During the Trump administration, the organization received a warning letter from the FDA saying it was causing the “introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded and unapproved new drugs” in violation of several codes of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which it disregarded.

Gomperts says hasn’t heard from the agency since Biden took office.

Even so, services like hers that distribute abortion pills can’t singlehandedly compensate for a world without abortion access.

There are women who need to terminate their pregnancy later than 10 weeks, those who discover they’re pregnant too late, and those who discover a problem in a pregnancy that requires a termination later than that.

For a small percentage of patients, the abortion pill simply doesn’t work, requiring a follow-up with a surgical abortion.

“Abortion pills are not a solution to this problem of a complete dismantling of people’s basic human rights,” says Daniel Grossman, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California at San Francisco. “It is perhaps a mitigation strategy for the harm this may cause, but it’s not a solution.”

In fact, overturning Roe may have a chilling effect on even the most robust efforts to expand access to abortion by use of the pill.

“We’ve seen prosecutors go after people who are miscarrying or who have self-managed an abortion using, for instance, statutes prohibiting the practice of medicine without a license or child abuse statutes,” says Julia Kaye, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who has been spearheading litigation against the FDA pushing for the removal of restrictions on the abortion pill.

In December 2021 the FDA decided to allow the pill to be sent by mail in response to the ACLU’s lawsuit. But the agency added other requirements, such as requiring pharmacies that ship the pill apply for special certification, making it only a partial win.

Groups seeking to preserve women’s access to medicinal abortion have been exploring legal pathways to do away with state bans and other restrictions on the pill.

One potential avenue would be to challenge state laws by arguing that federal law preempts them, because the state regulations conflict with those issued by the FDA.

There is one case that could be considered a precedent for this. When the Massachusetts governor tried to ban the powerful, long-acting opioid Zohydro in 2013, the drugmaker sued. A U.S. district court ruled in April 2014 that the state couldn’t overstep the FDA’s authority in regulating a drug.

GenBioPro Inc., which makes the generic version of the abortion pill, invoked the same argument in its lawsuit against Mississippi’s health department.

The drug company sued in October 2020, arguing that the state’s additional requirements on the pill “improperly displaced the FDA’s judgment” and “upset the balance that the FDA struck between risk mitigation and ensuring access to a safe and effective medication.” That case has slowly been working its way through the courts.

If the experience in Texas is any guide, demand for the abortion pill will surge if Roe is overturned. Since the state enacted a law last year that placed a number of new restrictions on abortion, including banning it as early as six weeks, “requests for medication abortion have skyrocketed,” says Elizabeth Nash, state policy analyst at Guttmacher.

Research by Abigail Aiken, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, published in JAMA Network, showed that in the last three months of 2021, after the Texas law passed, there were an average of 29.5 requests per day to Aid Access for abortion pills, 174% more than before the law took effect. States that didn’t have such laws didn’t see such increases.

“We might be seeing it on a much larger scale,” Nash says.

 

Updated: 5-5-2022

Rubio Targets Citi, Amazon With Bill On Abortion-Travel Benefits

* Apple Also Has Plans To Reimburse Abortion Travel Costs
* Rubio Calls Out Disney For Paying Childrens’ Transgender Care

Senator Marco Rubio is sending a message to Amazon Inc., The Walt Disney Co., Citigroup Inc. and other U.S. companies that have vowed to pay travel costs for their employees to access abortion services or gender-affirming care for their children: Republicans want to make it more expensive.

The Florida Republican, a potential contender for the GOP nomination in 2024, is proposing legislation that would prevent companies from writing off these costs for their employees and their families. The tax code generally allows companies to deduct their business costs, including employee health coverage and other benefits.

Rubio’s bill illustrates the GOP’s split with corporate America, which has grown since former President Donald Trump’s presidency over concerns about his rhetoric about racism and democracy, as well as disagreements over trade and immigration policies.

Rubio, who was a favorite of corporate donors during his 2016 presidential bid, has recently called corporations “the instrument of anti-American ideologies,” a view echoed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, another potential GOP presidential contender.

“Our tax code should be pro-family and promote a culture of life,” Rubio said in a statement. “Instead, too often our corporations find loopholes to subsidize the murder of unborn babies or horrific ‘medical’ treatments on kids. My bill would make sure this does not happen.”

The legislation has no chance of becoming law while Democrats control any of the levers of power in Washington, meaning it would be blocked at least until the end of President Joe Biden’s term in January 2025.

But the bill reveals a glimpse of Republican messaging and legislation the party would consider if it gains a majority in either the House or Senate after November’s midterm elections.

Rubio said his bill is a direct response to corporations who have said they’ll pay for employees to travel to access abortion services, and follows a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. Those companies include Amazon, Apple Inc. and Citigroup.

Thirteen states, including Texas, Tennessee and Missouri, have laws that would immediately ban abortion if the Supreme Court reverses the 1973 decision affirming the right to an abortion.

Rubio’s bill also adds more heat to an ongoing feud with Disney, which has more than 77,000 employees in his state, over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which restricts educators from talking about LGBTQ issues.

Disney publicly opposed the legislation and says the company will help their employees and their children access gender-affirming care, such as puberty blockers and top surgery, if they seek it.

In an opinion piece published by Newsweek, Rubio pointed to abortion, gender-affirming treatments, and “leftist indoctrination in public schools” as three issues affecting kids in the U.S.

Medical experts agree that affirming a child’s gender can be lifesaving.

“Every major medical association supports gender-affirming care for transgender youth as evidence-based, safe and lifesaving, and abortion is still legal throughout the United States,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive officer of LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD. “It is unconscionable to threaten companies who are doing the right thing and supporting their employees and their families against state-sponsored discrimination.”

A survey released Wednesday by the LGBTQ mental health advocacy organization The Trevor Project found that transgender and nonbinary youth reported higher rates of attempting suicide in the past year if their homes or schools were not gender-affirming.

LGBTQ youth “are seeing people in positions of power talking about kids as if they don’t deserve love and or respect, as if they are political pawns,” said Amit Paley, the CEO of The Trevor Project. “That’s really damaging, and that’s terrifying for young people who, for most cases, just want to be themselves.”

Local lawmakers have recently ramped up efforts to ban books from public school libraries. An April report from PEN America found that 33% of the over 1,100 titles that had been challenged between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 centered on LGBTQ protagonists or themes.

Updated: 5-6-2022

The FDA Should Scrap Needless Restrictions On Abortion Pills

Allowing mifepristone to be prescribed by telehealth was a step in the right direction, but other rules should be lifted, too.

The Food and Drug Administration recently made it easier for people to get ahold of mifepristone — part of a combination of pills that can be taken at home to induce abortion — by allowing it to be prescribed without an in-person doctor visit and sent through the mail.

But in clearing one obstacle to accessing medication abortion, the FDA put up new ones, including required certification for prescribers and dispensers. These rules aren’t guided by science and should be dropped. The pills are perfectly safe without them.

Eliminating the last barriers to medication abortion is a change that was overdue before the U.S. Supreme Court positioned itself to overturn Roe v Wade. It’s made more urgent by the prospect that many states may soon ban abortion.

A medication abortion typically involves first taking mifepristone to cause the uterine lining to detach, and then misoprostol to clear the contents of the uterus.

Although the pills can be used to terminate a pregnancy only during the first 10 weeks, that time frame encompasses most abortions in the U.S. In 2019, almost 80% of abortions occurred during the first nine weeks of gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and medication abortions accounted for 42% of those.

The FDA’s approval of mifepristone in 2000 was viewed by women’s health advocates as an important step toward expanding access to abortion, which previously had been limited to surgical options.

But to get the drug, women were required to see a health-care provider in person, and for many years they could take it only within the first seven weeks of a pregnancy, restrictions that limited its uptake.

This past December, the FDA lifted the in-person requirement, making permanent a Covid-era change that made the pills available via telehealth and by mail.

But as it permanently allowed mifepristone to be prescribed remotely, the FDA also created a new requirement that physicians and pharmacies be certified to prescribe and dispense the drug. It also instituted a new rule that patients must sign an agreement that they understand the drugs’ risks.

These barriers are unnecessary and could limit availability of medication abortion. They imply that the regimen is dangerous, when in fact its safety is supported by decades of data.

To be sure, some of that data come from patients using mifepristone in more restricted settings, under doctor observation. But two new studies provide strong evidence that mifepristone is safe when treated as any other medicine.

One of those studies was done during the early months of the pandemic, when health-care facilities were trying to limit the amount of time patients spent in clinics.

That opened the door to offering medication abortions both in-person and via telehealth without the typical screens such as a pregnancy test, ultrasound and lab work.

Tracking roughly 3,800 patients at 14 clinics, a team at the University of California at San Francisco found that it was safe to rely on patients’ medical history and a consultation alone.

These results demonstrate the value of telehealth and also underscore something that women’s health experts have long known: The earlier in a pregnancy an abortion is done, the fewer the side effects or complications, says Ushma Upadhyay, who led the UCSF study.

Another recent study looked at what happens when all guardrails are permanently removed from mifepristone access — when the drug is treated as any other prescription medication. This research was done in Canada, which in 2017 became the only country in the world to lift all restrictions on the use of abortion pills.

Canada’s single-payer health-care system allowed researchers at the University of British Columbia to track 300,000 abortions done in Ontario from January 2012 through March 2020.

Easier access to the drugs led many more people to use them, it turned out. Before they were widely available, the pills accounted for just 2% of all abortions, but by the end of 2019 that share had risen to 32%. The overall numbers of abortions remained fairly steady.

There was no increase in health issues following medication abortions after access was widened, “which is to say that those remained exceedingly rare, and abortions continued to be very safe across Ontario,” says Laura Schummers, the researcher who led the study.

In a post-Roe world, this body of evidence supporting the safety of medication abortion will be increasingly relevant.

If abortion is made illegal in a large swath of the country, abortion pills could become many women’s best option. Even more women will rely on out-of-state providers and pharmacies for prescriptions, whether via telehealth (when still legal in their state) or by driving to a neighboring state.

But the existing certification process could limit the number of providers willing to prescribe and dispense mifepristone, leaving heavy demand for the few who are willing to get certified.

That could in turn increase the number of people whose best option is a “self-managed” abortion — done at home using pills bought online from overseas pharmacists. The data might support the safety of that approach from a health perspective, but there will still be legal risks.

Women seeking abortions will need to have the wherewithal and resources to find the drugs and pay for them while minimizing the electronic footprint of their searches. (My Bloomberg Opinion colleague Parmy Olson’s take on the privacy concerns of accessing pills online is worth a read.)

The FDA should not add to the difficulty. It already has all the evidence it needs to change the rules so that mifepristone is treated as any other prescription medicine. It should break down those last barriers.

Updated: 5-13-2022

Abortion-Pill Providers Prepare To Reach Patients In Restrictive States

As Roe v. Wade decision looms, telemedicine groups in the U.S. and abroad experience a surge in patients.

Providers of abortion pills in the U.S. and abroad are preparing for a surge of patients from states that are expected to restrict access if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

As many as 26 states are expected to ban or restrict access to abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as a draft opinion leaked this month suggested it may. Abortion-rights advocates expect patients in states where abortion is restricted to look elsewhere, despite potential legal and safety risks.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers said they are expanding clinical operations in states where abortion is expected to remain legal. “Those who have enough privilege and resources to travel, they’ll do that,” said Meera Shah, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in New York.

After Texas passed legislation last year banning abortion after about six weeks, neighboring states reported a rush of patients. Many people sought medication abortions through telemedicine providers as well.

Minneapolis-based telemedicine provider Just the Pill served 900 patients in the first four months of this year following the passage of the Texas law, compared with 1,300 in all of 2021, said Julie Amaon, Just the Pill’s medical director. Now Just the Pill is expanding to handle more requests from patients if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“We’ve been crazy busy,” Dr. Amaon said.

Medication abortion accounts for the majority of U.S. abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a policy group that supports abortion rights and tracks abortion statistics. Abortion pills are prescription-only in the U.S. Two medications—mifepristone and misoprostol—are typically used in a medication abortion regimen.

Misoprostol can be used alone if mifepristone is unavailable. Patients can legally obtain the drugs at clinics or through U.S.-based telemedicine providers like Just the Pill, Hey Jane and Choix.

Until the Covid-19 pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration required patients to collect mifepristone from a clinic. The restriction was lifted last year. More than 30 states, however, require a clinician to see a patient in person before prescribing mifepristone. States including Texas and Indiana have partial bans on abortion pills.

Patients in states with restrictions have sometimes found workarounds, providers said. Dr. Amaon said Just the Pill patients in South Dakota have traveled to neighboring Wyoming for telemedicine consultations and to collect abortion pills from P.O. boxes or courier drop boxes.

Wyoming is among the 13 states with laws that would effectively ban abortion immediately were Roe v. Wade overturned. “We will serve in these states right up until the day we can’t,” Dr. Amaon said.

Abortion-rights advocates said U.S.-based clinics and telemedicine providers might not be able to meet the needs of all patients seeking abortions, particularly those who can’t travel for care. U.S.-based telemedicine providers could be prosecuted for providing abortion consultations or sending abortion pills to patients in states where abortion is restricted, legal experts said.

Lawmakers in some states that support abortion rights are considering laws to protect providers from prosecution. Connecticut recently passed a bill including a clause that would prevent abortion providers from being extradited to other states.

Patients in many states where abortion is restricted are expected to have to leave their state to receive telemedicine care from a U.S. provider and to pick up abortion pills, abortion-rights advocates said. Alternatively, they said, patients could procure abortion pills from providers overseas.

“What we’ve already seen is an incredible surge in requests,” said Rebecca Gomperts, a physician and founder of Aid Access, a nonprofit telemedicine abortion provider based in Austria.

Aid Access patients receive a telemedicine consultation and a prescription for abortion pills that are shipped to the U.S. from India. The pills are identical in composition to FDA-approved mifepristone and misoprostol, Dr. Gomperts said.

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

Abortion pills from Aid Access and other overseas pharmacies are typically shipped in unmarked packaging, making them hard for law enforcement to detect, abortion-rights advocates said.

Still, legal risks for patients remain, said Jill E. Adams, executive director of If/When/How, a reproductive-rights advocacy group.

Her organization has represented clients facing charges related to self-managed abortion, including some who have obtained pills from Aid Access and online pharmacies based internationally. Ms. Adams said that clients haven’t been charged specifically for obtaining abortion pills but the procurement of the drugs has been used as evidence against them.

FDA rules generally don’t allow the importation of prescription drugs or distribution of drugs that it hasn’t approved. The FDA in 2019 sent a warning letter to Aid Access for distributing drugs the agency hadn’t approved in the U.S. Aid Access said in a letter of response that the FDA was limiting constitutionally protected access to medical abortions.

The FDA didn’t pursue further action. Dr. Gomperts said she doesn’t intend to curtail Aid Access’s work if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The FDA said the sale of unapproved mifepristone for abortion bypasses important safeguards designed to protect patients’ health. Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated, counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients or contain different ingredients altogether, the agency said.

Information on abortion pills sold by online pharmacies based overseas is limited. Plan C, an abortion-pill advocacy group, said it regularly evaluates the online pharmacies listed on its site by buying and conducting lab tests on their products.

A 2017 study funded by Gynuity Health Projects, a nonprofit research group focused on abortion and other reproductive-health services, evaluated the chemical composition of mifepristone and misoprostol pills from 18 online pharmacies based outside the U.S.

The mifepristone pills all contained about 200 milligrams of the active ingredient. The misoprostol pills, labeled as containing 200 micrograms, contained levels ranging from 34 micrograms to over 200 micrograms of misoprostol.

A regimen of 200 milligrams of mifepristone and 400 or more micrograms of misoprostol is typically used to terminate pregnancies under 10 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“Most people are able to safely and effectively manage their abortions using mifepristone and misoprostol when they acquire these medications from reliable sources,” said Nisha Verma, a fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Evidence also indicates that people can safely carry out a medication abortion without direct doctor supervision when they have access to accurate information, reliable medications and support if a rare complication arises.”

If States Can Ban Abortion, How About Abortion Pills?

In a Q&A, law professor Greer Donley makes the case for broad access to medication abortion, no matter the fate of Roe v. Wade.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a right to reproductive choice, abortion could soon be nearly impossible to obtain — even outlawed — in half of the country.

The best way to preserve reproductive rights would be to codify abortion rights into law. But Wednesday’s failed vote in the US Senate demonstrated that is politically unrealistic for now.

There might be a way to ensure women’s legal access to abortion isn’t entirely shut off, however, by focusing on federal authority for regulating all drugs. That authority includes medication abortion, a two-pill regimen that can be used during the first 10 weeks of a pregnancy, obtained through a telehealth visit and a prescription delivered in the mail.

The question is, can states block the use of abortion pills — even though they are fully approved by the US Food and Drug Administration?

For a review of the legal landscape and the somewhat complex answer to that question, I spoke with Greer Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, an expert on reproductive health care and the law, particularly abortion and contraception. Here is a lightly edited transcript of our discussion:

Lisa Jarvis: Given the pending Court decision, health and legal experts have come to view medication abortion as the next front in the battle over reproductive rights. Why is that?

Greer Donley: One thing that’s really important to realize about the pre-Roe and the post-Roe era is that the nature of abortion has radically changed. Before Roe, and really until about 2000, abortion was usually a procedure done in an office. But in 2000, the FDA approved a medical regimen, two drugs [mifepristone and misoprostol] that were able to end the pregnancy without any sort of a procedure.

For a long time, FDA imposed pretty onerous regulations on [mifepristone]. But with the telehealth revolution that happened during Covid-19, FDA loosened its rules and allowed abortion by telehealth and abortion by mail. This has radically changed how many people are accessing abortion in this country.

It is not uncommon for people in most states to access abortion without ever having to go to an abortion clinic, and without ever having to stand in the physical presence of a provider.

Historically, [states] were able to control and stop abortion by threatening to put doctors in jail or take away their medical license if they offered abortions. But what happens when a pregnant person no longer needs a doctor? State abortion bans are going to be somewhat ineffective at dealing with the many Americans who can access abortion without ever needing to go to a clinic.

LJ: A patchwork of rules currently exists around medication abortion, with 19 states already putting tougher restrictions on how mifepristone can be prescribed. If those states ban abortion entirely, what does that mean for access to medication abortion?

GD: People have been accessing medication abortion outside of the legal health-care system in this country since 2017. Aid Access is an international organization where pregnant people can meet with a doctor in Europe. And that doctor will call the prescription into an international pharmacy that will ship the drugs to their house. That’s often not legal according to state laws, but people are accessing abortion. And it will probably happen again in states that ban abortion entirely.

LJ: Are there specific things that the FDA can do now to ease access to medication abortion?

GD: Yes. One of the most frustrating pieces of rhetoric I’ve seen in the last week is that [President Joe] Biden can’t do anything to improve abortion access. That’s not true. One of the easiest things the Biden administration can do is to remove the mifepristone REMS [Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, a set of special prescribing rules] in its entirety. In December, the FDA removed one part, the in-person dispensing requirement.

But other parts are still in effect. Probably the most important one is the certified provider requirement. This requirement forces doctors to opt into a system where they prescribe mifepristone. The only people who have opted into prescribing this drug are abortion providers, and this has really isolated abortion care outside of traditional health-care facilities.

In a different world, a pregnant person could go in to their GP or their regular OB and say, “I’m pregnant, I don’t want to be.” That doctor could prescribe the medication, they could walk to CVS, pick up the prescription and have an abortion in their house.

These drugs are incredibly safe, incredibly well studied, very effective. There’s really no reason the FDA doesn’t allow that to occur. This would help blue states — which are going to have this huge influx of patients coming to them from the South and Midwest — scale up.

LJ: If Roe is overturned, many states will put in place even tougher laws around mifepristone. Already some have banned telehealth for abortion, and others hope to make it illegal to possess the drug. This is an FDA-approved drug. Are there precedents for states making their own rules around what drugs can and cannot be sold?

GD: One of the next legal battles will concern the concept of preemption. Historically, state abortion regulations were challenged through the Roe and Casey decisions. But if those are overturned, it forces us to think of novel arguments to poke holes in state abortion bans. One way to do that is the idea of preemption.

Preemption essentially states that when there is a conflict between federal law and state law, federal law should trump it. A federal agency, the FDA, regulates medication abortion. Not only did it approve mifepristone and find the drug to be safe and effective for its intended use, but it is one of the most highly regulated drugs. States that are regulating the drug beyond that might be in conflict with the FDA.

Massachusetts decided to contradict the FDA and ban the opioid [Zohydro in 2014]. The [US District Court] of Massachusetts invalidated the state’s attempt, saying that action was preempted.

This provides some persuasive authority to suggest that a state cannot ban an FDA-approved drug. The state laws that have been introduced to explicitly ban mifepristone or misoprostol are types of bans that could be challenged under that theory.

LJ: It sounds like if FDA got rid of the guardrails it has put on mifepristone, it would make it harder to make this preemption argument?

GD: Yes, it does. It’s a weird balance. The REMS is medically unnecessary, but the fact that it’s there certainly helps the preemption argument. The most ideal situation is for the FDA to maintain the REMS, but release the parts of it that are particularly onerous — the certified provider and the new certified pharmacy requirements — and keep the patient agreement form. Then, theoretically, it would expand access as extensively as it can while also supporting a preemption argument.

LJ: If Roe is overturned, are there specific cases you might expect to see that test these legal theories?

GD: It’s a matter of the right plaintiffs coming forward. GenBioPro, the manufacturer of the generic form of mifepristone, has already lodged a preemption challenge that was based on state in-person dispensing requirements. Pharmaceutical companies might be willing to take up this argument in a post-Roe world as well. But you could also imagine if there were good plaintiffs to bring this lawsuit, traditional [reproductive justice] organizations might also support those efforts.

LJ: Given that the FDA regulates all our drugs, could this outcome complicate health-care access beyond reproductive health?

GD: If a court were to say a state could ban certain drugs, the implications for the pharmaceutical industry are huge. Going to get a [new drug application] with the FDA is not some puny process, right? It takes hundreds of millions of dollars and sometimes decades of research. Companies endure those costs and time because they think it’s going to lead to a nationwide license to sell a product. If all of a sudden states can ban products, you can imagine companies being pretty upset. Now, they may not get involved in these lawsuits because they would say this is just related to abortion; it’s unlikely that other drugs will be politicized. But certainly with Zohydro, they were thinking that through.

LJ: Any last thoughts on the FDA and these challenges to medication abortion?

Updated: 5-18-2022

Mastercard To Cover Employees’ Travel For Out-of-State Abortions

Mastercard Inc. said it would help pay for workers to travel to access abortions if pregnancy terminations aren’t available in their home state.

“We will continue to offer employees access to the same health care, including family planning and reproductive benefits, that is available today wherever they live,” the credit-card company said in a memo to staff Wednesday. “In the US, this includes a variety of services — from fertility treatments to surrogacy and adoption services, pregnancy prevention including vasectomy coverage and access to contraception, and pregnancy termination.”

With the move, Mastercard is joining companies including Citigroup Inc., Apple Inc. and Match Group Inc. in promising to cover employees’ travel costs incurred to access abortion.

While a Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade “is not yet final, we recognize that this is a significant moment and one in which there might be a lot of questions,” Purchase, New York-based Mastercard said in the memo.

Mastercard has long paid for workers to travel to access other health services, including organ transplants and other specialty surgeries, according to the memo. The new abortion travel policy goes into effect June 1, according to the memo.

Updated: 5-20-2022

The Knot Worldwide Joins Companies Covering Travel For Abortion

The Knot Worldwide, best known for its wedding-planning website The Knot, will reimburse employees who need to travel to obtain abortion care.

Chief Executive Officer Timothy Chi announced the policy in a LinkedIn post Friday, saying the changes come in light of Roe v. Wade’s precarious standing as a legal precedent.

The company is extending its parental leave policy to as many as 20 weeks of paid leave and will begin covering travel costs incurred by employees who need to travel more than a “reasonable distance” to seek reproductive healthcare, including abortion.

The Knot Worldwide employs 1,900 people in 16 countries, a spokesperson for the company said. Its holdings include its namesake wedding marketplace, The Knot, as well as a pregnancy-focused imprint called The Bump. They also operate the Spanish-language site Bodas, which serves parts of Europe as well as Latin America.

“As a company employing thousands and serving millions of women globally, we pride ourselves on helping people around the world celebrate life’s greatest moments, but that’s only possible when everyone is empowered to make the choices that are right for them,” Chi said in the post.

He said the company will also begin petitioning senators in states where they have offices, including Texas, Nebraska and New York, and advocate against bans and restrictions.

He added that the abortion-access battle is “a complex issue that will not be resolved in a few weeks or a couple of months,” and that the company is “in the process of identifying partners that will enable us to have a meaningful impact on the lives of women.”

The change in policy follows the path of Apple Inc., Bumble Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other companies that are covering travel costs for employees who need to travel 100 miles or more, or even to another state to obtain health services.

Updated: 5-24-2022

T-Mobile US Expands Benefits To Workers Traveling For Abortions

T-Mobile US Inc. expanded employee benefits to cover travel costs for abortions if the procedures aren’t available locally.

In response to the potential decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, Chief Executive Officer Mike Sievert sent a memo to employees to address concerns.

“Our medical plans have also long included travel and lodging coverage for procedures that may be difficult to receive locally, and this benefit has been recently expanded with UnitedHealthCare and Premera, to ensure it includes a full range of your health care needs,” Sievert wrote in the memo.

Other companies including Mastercard Inc., Citigroup Inc., Apple Inc. and Match Group Inc. have promised to cover travel costs for employees who need access to abortions.

 

Updated: 5-31-2022

Travel Aid For Out-of-State Abortions Is Already Drying Up

Oklahoma’s ban sends Texans on longer, more expensive trips to receive care.

For months, thousands of people in surrounding states have traveled to Oklahoma to seek abortion care — that is, if they were able to get an appointment and could afford to travel.

Now that local lawmakers have passed the harshest anti-abortion law in the country, they will likely have to travel even farther to receive care. Many won’t be able to afford the journey.

Before Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed the near-total abortion ban, funds to get out-of-state patients to Oklahoma clinics already weren’t enough to meet demand: One nonprofit operator said a fund specifically meant to support those in the state often ran out of money about halfway through the month.

About 5,000 people got an abortion in Oklahoma in 2019, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

While abortion funds have seen mounting support from states and individuals in the wake of the leaked Supreme Court decision draft that could overturn Roe v. Wade, the money may not be enough to cover the rising costs for people who have to travel farther to get the procedure they need as states like Oklahoma ban nearly all access to abortion care.

Democratic-led states have pledged millions of dollar toward clinics and nonprofits in an effort to preserve abortion access, but the systems in place may still struggle to help everyone. According to the National Network of Abortion Funds, its 90 partner organizations could only support 26% of the requests they received in 2019.

“Most of the abortions that we are funding that normally used to cost $500, are costing $1,000,” Sylvia Ghazaria, the executive director of non-profit Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project, said. The organization disbursed just under $540,000 in funds to help 2,560 patients last year, and Ghazarian expects payments top $1 million this year.

California lawmakers have pledged $125 million to expand existing abortion access frameworks within the state, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul has promised $35 million. Kari White, the lead researcher with the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, warned that such fixes help, but may not make ends meet for everyone.

“The funding that these other states are offering will not cover the cost of lost wages or child care that people will have if they have to travel even longer distances for care,” she said. “Relieving part of the financial burden in some ways will provide support, but we can still expect financial, logistical and emotional impacts” as a result of widening abortion deserts.”

In September, Texas implemented a ban on abortions after the detection of fetal cardiac activity, or about six weeks’ gestation. The move pushed people to travel elsewhere for the procedure, and 45% those who left the state for an abortion between September and December headed to Oklahoma, according to a report from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

That migration came to a screeching halt after Oklahoma implemented a similar six-week ban earlier this month, clinic workers said.

Closest States

Should Roe be overturned, Kansas, New Mexico, and Colorado would be the closest states for many people living in Texas and Oklahoma. But getting there will be just one part of the battle.

There is a 24-hour waiting period in Kansas, as well as a law that mandates a provider be present when someone takes at least one of the abortion pills, which typically are administered in a two-step regimen.

Residents are also expected to vote on an amendment that would decide if the state’s constitution protects the right to abortion in August. And 90% of New Mexico’s residents don’t live in a county with an abortion clinic, so a further influx of visitors may overrun the seven facilities currently offering care.

The result is a system that may not be able to sustain the 36 million child-bearing people of reproductive age whose access to care would be threatened if Roe is overturned.

“I wish people had paid attention to Oklahoma for years, but they didn’t,” said Susan Braselton, a board member at the state-specific Roe Fund and the clinic escort coordinator at Tulsa Women’s Clinic, an abortion provider that is currently barred from providing services under the new law. “So here we are fighting this battle. It’s not unwinnable. It is logical. We just have to keep doing this.”

A total of 15 anti-abortion bills have been introduced by Oklahoma lawmakers during the 2022 session, part of a broader effort by legislators at the state level to build on the record-setting number of restrictions passed in 2021. The bills also build on earlier restrictions, such as a mandate that someone wait 72 hours between an initial consult and their abortion service.

“Care was not necessarily accessible when you had to wait 72 hours and sit through mandatory information from the state, but it was much more doable,” than in Arkansas and Missouri, said Emily Wales, the president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which operates two reproductive health-care centers in Oklahoma.

The 72-hour rule in those states mandate that both appointments be in person, whereas Oklahoma’s prior rule allowed for a virtual consult.

And as burdensome as abortion restrictions can be, they often don’t deter people from wanting one, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Instead, they potentially make the process more expensive, both from a procedural perspective as well as regarding related costs such as time off work, a hotel room or child care for a patient’s family.

The average cost of any abortion procedure in 2020 was over $550, according to a study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco published in April.

Planned Parenthood’s Wales also cautions against looking to the recent wave of companies pledging reimbursements should employees need to move as a solution.

“If you work a low wage job, if you’re on shift work, there are very few companies in that sector that are going to do this,” she said, adding that while such efforts are “an amazing commitment,” they will primarily benefit full-time workers.

Several big employers like Citigroup Inc., Yelp Inc., and Uber Technologies Inc. have pledged to pay the travel expenses if their employees can’t access abortion care in their home states.

“If you are in a position of privilege and you have access to resources and paid leave, you will likely be able to get out of a state that limits abortion care,” Wales said. “If you are not in those categories, you won’t.”

More Employers Should Cover Abortion Travel Costs

Consumers aren’t likely to punish companies for ensuring all employees can get reproductive health care.

The list of big companies that have said they will help cover employees’ abortion-related travel costs is growing. It now includes Amazon, Yelp, Levi-Strauss, Microsoft, Apple and Citigroup, among others. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are reportedly considering joining the crowd, and Bank of America is as well.

They should. Other employers should, too.

Twenty-six states are expected to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, as seems likely when the Supreme Court issues its final opinion.

Losing access to abortion could have huge repercussions for the workforce by compelling women to have more children than they want or start families sooner than they planned.

Women make up half the workforce, although their disproportionate share of child-care responsibilities already makes them more likely than men to hold part-time jobs. Repealing Roe could exacerbate those circumstances; most women seeking abortions cite economic or employment reasons.

Overturning Roe would turn some major cities, where many large employers are based, into abortion deserts. 2 That means employers with significant presences in cities like Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Cincinnati have choices to make about how they will extend their health care coverage to support female employees.

(Walmart, Kroger, Target, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Procter & Gamble and Wells Fargo either didn’t respond to requests for comment or declined to share their policies, but I will update this column if they respond.)

Whether they like it or not, employers are right in the middle of one of the most controversial issues of American politics. Indeed, Walmart, Lowe’s and TJX are already facing proxy votes from activist shareholders on the issue.

For companies struggling with what to do, there are ways they can support access to abortion in line with their existing health care policies and practices. A few guidelines to keep in mind:

Frame It As Health Care (Because It Is)

Abortion is health care, and employers are by far the biggest purveyors of health insurance in the US. A company policy that will cover travel costs for a visit to a far-flung specialist should also cover abortion if the patient-employee is unable to access it locally.

That’s how Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser explained it to shareholders: “We’ve covered reproductive health-care benefits for over 20 years, and our practice has also been to make sure our employees have the same health coverage no matter where in the US they live.”

That echoes the language that Yelp used to describe its stance: “As a remote-first company with a distributed workforce, this new benefit allows our US employees and their dependents to have equitable access to reproductive care, regardless of where they live.”

One of the worst things employers can do at this moment is suggest that they aren’t taking the issue seriously, as a Sony executive discovered on Thursday.

Protect Employee Privacy

The good news is that because so many large companies are already in the business of providing access to health care, many will have thought through how to protect employee privacy.

After all, employees get antidepressants, colonoscopies and gallbladder surgeries through employer-provided insurance without worrying the boss will find out.

It shouldn’t be any different for abortion. Yelp, for example, is using its insurance provider to extend abortion travel coverage to employees and their dependents.

Companies where this approach wouldn’t work, however, could follow the example of Match, the Dallas-based parent of Tinder.

As Bloomberg News’ Kelsey Butler reported, Texas-based Match employees can contact Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, which will then arrange their travel and lodging, which is paid for by a fund established by Match CEO Shar Dubey.

Because everything is handled through a third party, employee privacy should be assured.

Don’t Worry About The Reaction Of Anti-Roe Customers Or Clients

Mike Toffel, a Harvard Business School professor who has spent years tracking CEO activism, said there is little evidence that anti-Roe consumers would punish a company for extending its health benefits in this way. I asked Toffel whether, for example, a shopper would hesitate before picking up a new pair of Levi’s.

It was unlikely, he said, unless there were picketers at the door of the store. Even in a polarized country, politics aren’t on most consumers’ minds when they shop. Moreover, customers and the public often have short memories.

Employees are a different matter. Workers tend to remember when an employer had their back. That’s what Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan emphasized in an interview with CBS: “With all things like this, we look at what our team needs from us. I could have a personal point of view, but that’s not what we do.”

Ignore The Inevitable Political Grandstanding

Politicians looking to capture media attention are likely to raise a fuss. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, has introduced a bill that would bar companies from writing off abortion costs the way they can account for other business expenses, including employee benefits.

A Texas state legislator has sent irate letters to Citigroup. Republicans in the US House of Representatives threatened to cancel the bank’s government contracts.

This might alarm CEOs who are just trying to run their businesses, but in today’s fraught political landscape, it is difficult for companies to avoid taking flak from one side or another.

Plus, enough businesses have made public their plans to support abortion access that any firm sticking its head above the parapet now is hardly likely to become a major target. It takes guts to go first; it shouldn’t take quite as much courage to go 20th.

Covering an employee’s medical travel costs is a fairly mild step compared with, say, calling on Congress to enshrine abortion access into law or threatening to leave states that ban abortion.

The situation is somewhat akin to when Disney began offering health benefits to gay employees’ domestic partners, said Toffel. That was a far cry from calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Employers no doubt would prefer to focus on the many other issues facing them at the moment: inflation, supply-chain woes, staffing shortages and the rest of it. But we don’t always get to pick our fights; sometimes they pick us.

Updated: 6-24-2022

Can Companies Still Cover Abortion Travel Costs?

After the repeal of Roe v. Wade, and trigger laws banning abortion in 13 states, the legality of covering employees’ costs traveling out of state will come into question.

With Roe v. Wade no longer the law of the land, women seeking abortions will soon start traveling. Could a state punish an employer for covering their costs? The issue is likely to arise: A number of major corporations have come forward with offers to pay the expenses of employees who leave the state to end their pregnancies, and some state legislators are threatening to punish them.

In a recent column, I explained why I’m skeptical about both the wisdom and constitutionality of state laws that would criminalize obtaining an abortion outside the state. (Based on his separate concurrence, Justice Brett Kavanaugh agrees.) But if the travel is paid for by an in-state actor — such as an employer — the case might come out differently.

States obviously have the authority to define and punish crimes that occur within their borders. Once upon a time, the state’s territory largely marked the bounds of its criminal law.

A state could often punish an act in another state that resulted in harm within its own borders, but the reverse wasn’t always true. Consider, for example, an 1894 case involving a defendant who, while standing entirely within North Carolina, fired a shot that killed a man who was standing entirely in Tennessee.

The court ruled that the defendant could be punished only in Tennessee, because the simple act of firing a gun was not illegal in North Carolina; only the result was, and the result took place on the other side of the border.

Within a year, North Carolina revised its criminal law so that anyone else doing the same thing could be punished. Nowadays, states claim a broad jurisdiction to punish acts within their borders that facilitate crimes outside their borders.

Consider a non-custodial parent who legally takes the children out of the state and then doesn’t bring them back.

Although the crime is being committed outside the borders, just about every court to consider the matter has agreed that the state where the children live can prosecute.

The issue also arises in other situations where the defendant has crossed the border. Here’s the California Supreme Court, writing in a sexual abuse case from 2005: “California has territorial jurisdiction over an offense if the defendant, with the requisite intent, does a preparatory act in California that is more than a de minimis act toward the eventual completion of the offense.”

The law in most states is similar. Yet although it’s hard to imagine that simply exiting the state could reasonably be deemed a “more than de minimis act,” paying someone’s expenses to cross the border might well be.

If a state can forbid abortions, it can probably forbid significant acts facilitating abortions, just as it can with any other crime.

True, as I noted in my previous column, the Supreme Court has been uneasy at the idea of allowing a state to punish a corporation for an act the corporation does elsewhere.

Here, however, the act — paying the employee’s expenses, thus facilitating the abortion — would be done, or at least arranged, within the state. Thus the state might well have jurisdiction.

I’m not predicting that the courts would necessarily uphold a law forbidding corporations doing business within its borders to reimburse travel expenses of employees who obtain abortions elsewhere. But one shouldn’t regard the possibility as farfetched.

That’s not to suggest that such a law would be wise. Even the most ardently anti-abortion legislator might think twice about laws that could encourage employers to leave the state.

Moreover, even if the legislature welcomes the chance to tangle with Starbucks or Amazon, practical problems of enforcement abound.

Let’s suppose that the state does indeed ban corporations from paying the expenses of employees who travel to end their pregnancies, and the ban is indeed upheld by the courts.

How exactly would the state know whether the corporations were breaking the law? One can imagine regulatory agencies or legislative committees demanding financial records to show exactly which employees had left the state at the company’s expense and why, or perhaps a certification of some sort (on pain of perjury) that no corporate funds had been expended for the forbidden purpose.

We’d likely see a bizarre tangling of ideological lines, as liberals lined up in defense of corporate autonomy from legal control.

Still, in a post-Roe world, the state might prevail. So perhaps instead the company could find a clever workaround. Rather than pay for trips to secure abortions, the company might instead offer early pregnancy leave that happens to include paid travel.

If that device seems too transparent, the company might instead adopt a policy of paying a couple of times a year for any employee to travel to any nearby state for up to, say, two weeks. In an era of remote work, this possibility might be less absurd than it sounds. And if the employee happens to obtain an abortion while traveling, nobody would need to know.

 

Updated: 6-24-2022

DOJ Will Protect Right To Get Abortion Out-of-State, Attorney General Garland Says

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Supreme Court dealt “a devastating blow to reproductive freedom” by overturning Roe v. Wade but said the Justice Department will protect the right to seek abortions across state lines.

“We recognize that traveling to obtain reproductive care may not be feasible in many circumstances,” Garland said in a statement. “But under bedrock constitutional principles, women who reside in states that have banned access to comprehensive reproductive care must remain free to seek that care in states where it is legal.”

The attorney general said the Justice Department will protect both individuals seeking abortions out-of-state and those who provide them. He also said people had a First Amendment right to inform and counsel each other about reproductive care across state lines.

A number of states have suggested their laws banning abortions will also target out-of-state providers, including those who ship abortion pills like Mifepristone. Garland noted that the Food and Drug Administration has approved Mifepristone, and said states could not ban it based on disagreement with the FDA’s judgment.

“The Constitution continues to restrict states’ authority to ban reproductive services provided outside their borders,” Garland said.

Though he said the “Justice Department strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision” and urged Congress to codify abortion rights, the attorney general also said any protests should remain peaceful.

“Peacefully expressing a view is protected by the First Amendment,” Garland said. “But we must be clear that violence and threats of violence are not. The Justice Department will not tolerate such acts.”

Justice Kavanaugh Says States May Not Bar Travel To Obtain An Abortion

* Key Justice Says In Concurrence He Wouldn’t Uphold Travel Bans
* Supreme Court Justice Also Opposes Retroactive Punishment

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who emerged Friday as the Supreme Court’s pivotal vote on abortion, said states outlawing the procedure may not bar residents from traveling to other states to terminate their pregnancies.

“May a state bar a resident of that state from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion?” he wrote in a concurring opinion. “In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel.”

Kavanaugh also said he didn’t believe a state could constitutionally impose liability or punishment for an abortion that took place before the court’s ruling Friday. He said that practice would violate either the Constitution’s due process clause or the ex post facto clause, which bars retroactive punishment.

He said those types of abortion-related legal questions “are not especially difficult as a constitutional matter.”

Kavanaugh’s vote is key because he joined with other conservative justices in the 5-4 ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established abortion as a nationwide right. Without him, the court wouldn’t have a majority to uphold a law outlawing travel or one imposing retroactive punishment.

Dissenting Justices Say Women’s Rights Have Been Stripped, Others Now Under Threat

* Liberal Justices Say Court Makes Women Second-Class Citizens
* Contraception, Gay Marriage Now At Risk, Dissenters Say

The US Supreme Court’s decision to wipe out the constitutional right to abortion sparked a blistering dissent by three liberal justices who said the conservative majority had eroded women’s rights and may soon target rights to contraception and gay marriage.

By overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the majority stripped away the rights of women from the “very moment of fertilization,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote. “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”

They added, “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.” By forcing women to give birth, “a State can thus transform what, when freely undertaken, is a wonder into what, when forced, may be a nightmare,” the dissenters wrote.

The liberal justices argued that the ruling gives states free rein to curtail abortion at any stage whether it be after “ten weeks, or five or three or one-or again, from the moment of fertilization.” They warned that states could prevent women from having abortions even if they face death or physical harm.

Women who can’t afford to travel to states where abortion is legal will be hurt the most, the dissenters said.

The joint dissent blasted the majority for focusing so heavily on laws put in place at a time when women weren’t allowed to vote.

“When the majority says that we must read our foundational charter as viewed at the time of ratification (except that we may also check it against the Dark Ages), it consigns women to second-class citizenship,” the dissenters wrote. The drafters of the original Constitution “did not perceive women as equals, and did not recognize women’s rights,” the liberal justices wrote.

The conservative majority’s “cavalier approach to overturning this Court’s precedents” signals it will target more freedoms established by the court, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan said.

“And no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work,” the dissenters wrote. The right recognized by Roe and related cases “does not stand alone,” they said. “To the contrary, the Court has linked it for decades to other settled freedoms involving bodily integrity, familial relationships, and procreation.”

The right to terminate a pregnancy arose from the right to purchase and use contraception, which led more recently to the rights of same-sex intimacy and marriage, the dissenters wrote.

“They are all part of the same constitutional fabric, protecting autonomous decisionmaking over the most personal of life decisions,” the liberal justices said.

Overturning Roe Is Just The Start Of The Shocks

Millions of women lost health-care rights overnight. A host of other rights, and what’s left of American democracy, are endangered now.

We all knew it was coming. And yet the Supreme Court’s decision today to overturn Roe v. Wade, stripping women of a 50-year-old right to safe abortion, still managed to shock.

Maybe some of us still thought the draft of Justice Samuel Alito’s decision, leaked last month, was just a trial balloon that would never be seen again after burrowing itself deep in the earth.

Surely the institutionalist Chief Justice John Roberts would protect the court’s legitimacy by keeping it on the right side of overwhelming public opinion (he tried, but failed). And didn’t the conservative justices tell us Roe was established precedent? Some of us even believed them.

But maybe the shock arose simply from the extreme nature of the ultimate decision, which Noah Feldman writes threatens not only women’s rights but any rights established by the court since the late 19th century. Contraception? Miranda rights? Same-sex marriage? Racial integration? All are endangered now.

For the moment, of course, the people most in danger are millions of vulnerable women in 22 states, many of whom had health-care access taken away overnight.

No longer in peril is the Supreme Court’s legitimacy, because that has now been torched to the ground, Noah writes: “It is no exaggeration to say the Dobbs decision is an act of institutional suicide for the Supreme Court. The legitimacy of the modern court depends on its capacity to protect the vulnerable.”

The response of President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders was … less than inspiring. Speaker Nancy Pelosi read a poem. House Democrats sang a song. Biden did a little better, urging people to vote in November, saying only with more Dems in Congress could they codify Roe’s protections into law.

But people voted for Democrats in seven of the past eight presidential elections and still ended up with an activist conservative court. Half of today’s majority was appointed by a president who lost the popular vote twice.

Bloomberg’s editorial board writes supporters of women’s rights must vote but go further than that, taking the fight to the statehouses where their futures are being decided.

Roe’s end has inspired angry reactions from such unlikely allies as Boris Johnson and Dave Portnoy. Even corporate America, which has been conspicuously silent since the Alito leak, is offering to help employees get abortions if needed.

Stephen Carter warns they might also want to get some lawyers, because abortion opponents will take them to court to stop them. After the shock will come the many, many aftershocks. They will test the strength of whatever is left of our democracy.

California To Redouble Efforts As Safe Haven For Abortions

* Newsom Signs Bill Protecting Care For Out-Of-State Residents
* State Is Seeking To Codify Abortion Right In Constitution

California Governor Gavin Newsom and other top officials vowed that the most-populous state will be an abortion sanctuary and will lead other liberal areas seeking to protect reproductive rights in the wake of the US Supreme Court ruling dismantling Roe v. Wade.

State lawmakers are quickly advancing bills to expand abortion access, including a measure to let voters to decide in November whether to enshrine the right to the procedure in California’s constitution.

Newsom, a Democrat up for re-election in the liberal bastion in November, signed a bill on Friday that would protect out-of-state abortion seekers from civil actions in their home states, as well as local providers.

“I want folks to know all around the rest of the country and many parts of the globe, that I hope we’re an antidote to your fear, to your anxiety, perhaps to the cynicism that many of you are feeling about the fate and future of not only our state but the world we’re living in,” Newsom said.

The governor appeared in a Friday briefing with his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senate President pro tempore Toni Atkins, reproductive rights advocates and state legislators to express outrage, sorrow and resolve after the highest court struck down the 1973 decision that established abortion rights.

Newsom has proposed a $125 million package to bolster abortion access in his state. The money would go to providing care for uninsured people, improving infrastructure for reproductive health facilities and giving grants for outreach and education.

He also has proposed that companies that move to California from areas with restrictive laws on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights would have a stronger chance of winning tax credits aimed at increasing employment and capital investment.

Other states’ “inhumane laws will not cross California’s borders,” Atkins said. “We are here to further rights, not take them away. You are welcome here.”

In addition, Newsom and the governors of liberal-leaning West Coast states of Oregon and Washington said they signed a commitment to defend access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, and to protect patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to their states.

Newsom has the support of public opinion. A poll released in April by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 76% of likely voters in the state don’t want Roe overturned.

Some 26 states are expected to implement laws that effectively ban abortion access, according to the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit abortion-rights advocacy group.

That could result in a nearly 3,000% increase of out-of-state women seeking the procedure in California. In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton declared on Friday that abortion is now illegal there, making it the biggest state to prohibit abortion after the ruling.

“We have the resources, and we’re going to fight,” Assemblymember Cristina Garcia said during an earlier Friday briefing. “We will do all we can to ensure that California is a beacon of hope.”

Cities Offer Funds, Legal Protection To Create Abortion Havens

In Orange and San Bernardino counties alone, the number of out-of-state women seeking abortions in Planned Parenthood health centers would jump by 500% to roughly 100 to 120 a month, estimated Nicole Ramirez, Planned Parenthood’s senior vice president of communications for those areas. She said most of the current patients are traveling from Texas, Nevada and Arizona.

“Because of this anticipated influx, we’ve hired more providers, we’ve increased our abortion availability to ensure that we aren’t having issues with out-of-state patients or with Californians being able to get good care,” Ramirez said. “We’re also looking to open another health center in San Bernardino County to accommodate folks driving in from Arizona.”

Crowds of protesters were gathering in cities across the country after Friday’s decision, including at the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, where Democratic Congresswoman and Los Angeles mayoral candidate Karen Bass appeared with other political leaders.

Bass, and her opponent in the mayoral race, Rick Caruso, condemned the court’s decision, both saying they’d fight to protect reproductive rights in California’s biggest city.

“I’m deeply furious. It’s a gut punch,” Annie Day, an organizer for the Los Angeles chapter of abortion rights group Rise Up 4 Abortion, said by phone. “We’re going into the streets to fight for legal abortion on demand.” The group is organizing daily protests in Los Angeles, starting Friday at the US courthouse.

“We’re calling mass, sustained non-violent protests,” said Day. “People should drop out of their jobs, cancel whatever they’re doing and go into the streets.”

Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Eliminates Constitutional Right To Abortion

The court upholds law from Mississippi that bans abortion after 15 weeks, opens door to widespread prohibitions on the procedure.

The Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion, overruling the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and leaving the question of abortion’s legality to the states.

The court’s decision upheld a law from Mississippi that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, roughly two months earlier than what has been allowed under Supreme Court precedent dating back to Roe.

In doing so, the court’s conservative majority said the Roe decision was egregiously wrong in recognizing a constitutional right to an abortion, an error the court perpetuated in the decades since.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court.

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” he wrote in his opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The ruling, one of the most consequential in modern memory, marked a rare instance in which the court reversed itself to eliminate a constitutional right that it had previously recognized.

The court voted 6-3 to side with Mississippi, but 5-4 on the broader question of whether to overrule Roe.

The majority’s decision in Roe was grounded in its view that in 1868, when the 14th Amendment was adopted, abortion was widely restricted throughout the U.S.

Therefore, Justice Alito wrote, the right to end an unwanted pregnancy couldn’t be derived from the amendment’s provisions protecting individual liberty and equality from infringement by state governments.

“A right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973,” when Roe was decided, Justice Alito wrote.

“In interpreting what is meant by the 14th Amendment’s reference to ‘liberty,’ we must guard against the natural human tendency to confuse what that Amendment protects with our own ardent views about the liberty that Americans should enjoy,” he said.

The court rejected arguments that respect for precedent, a legal principle called stare decisis, should protect Roe from reconsideration a half-century after it was argued.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined the Alito opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts, in a concurring opinion, agreed that the Mississippi law should stand, but didn’t support rescinding the right to an abortion altogether.

“Both the Court’s opinion and the dissent display a relentless freedom from doubt on the legal issue that I cannot share,” the chief justice wrote. Allowing states to ban abortion before fetal viability without deciding whether to overrule Roe was a more prudent and responsible course, he argued.

The court’s decision to overrule Roe and a 1992 case reaffirming abortion rights, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “is a serious jolt to the legal system—regardless of how you view those cases. A narrower decision rejecting the misguided viability line would be markedly less unsettling, and nothing more is needed to decide this case.”

The court’s three liberals, signaling profound disagreement, jointly authored a dissent. They accused the majority of discarding the balance precedents struck between a woman’s interest and that of the state in protecting “potential life.”

“Today, the Court discards that balance. It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of,” Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote. “After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had.”

President Biden, speaking from the White House, said the ruling marked a “sad day for the court and the country.”

“This decision is a culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court in my view.”

The president said the decision’s rationale put in question precedents affirming other rights related to personal privacy that stemmed from the same legal theories that led to Roe. Those rights ranged from access to contraception, which the court recognized in 1965, to same-sex marriage, afforded under a 2015 decision.

In that he had agreement from Justice Thomas, who wrote separately to urge his colleagues to overrule such precedents “at the earliest opportunity.”

Those cases rely in part on 14th Amendment provisions that protect individual liberty from state interference without due process. Justice Thomas wrote that the court erred by relying on the due-process clause as a source of specific rights.

While Justice Alito’s opinion, along with a concurrence from Justice Brett Kavanaugh, discounted such concerns, the dissenters saw Justice Thomas as more candid.

“According to the majority, no liberty interest is present— because (and only because) the law offered no protection to the woman’s choice in the 19th century,” they wrote. “But here is the rub. The law also did not then (and would not for ages) protect a wealth of other things,” they wrote, including the right “to marry across racial lines,” “to not be sterilized without consent,” “to contraceptive use,” to “same-sex intimacy and marriage.”

“If the majority is right in its legal analysis, all those decisions were wrong,” they wrote. It was no surprise that the Constitution was blind to reproduction, they wrote. “The ‘people’ did not ratify the 14th Amendment. Men did.”

Although the case before the court involved a 15-week ban, the overruling of Roe gives states broad latitude to regulate or prohibit abortion as they see fit.

Many conservative-leaning states are poised to tighten access further, while some liberal ones have established permissive abortion regimes under state law. The decision could become a major issue in this year’s elections, as state and federal lawmakers look to position themselves in a post-Roe world.

Almost half the states have laws in place or at the ready to curtail or outlaw abortion, while others have laws that would preserve its legality. Questions on whether and how to limit abortions are expected to continue roiling state legislative debates.

The decision is a defining moment for a Supreme Court that is more conservative than it has been in many decades, a shift in legal thinking made possible after President Donald Trump placed three justices on the court. Two of them succeeded justices who voted to affirm abortion rights.

In anticipation of the ruling, several states have passed laws limiting or banning the procedure, and 13 states have so-called trigger laws on their books that called for prohibiting abortion if Roe were overruled.

Clinics in conservative states have been preparing for possible closure, while facilities in more liberal areas have been getting ready for a potentially heavy influx of patients from other states.

The ruling follows a highly unusual leak last month of an early draft opinion in the case that suggested the court was preparing to overrule Roe and withdraw federal protections for abortion rights.

Justice Alito’s majority decision was very similar to the leaked draft version, with some changes to address arguments raised in the dissenting and concurring opinions.

The Supreme Court has been investigating the leak at a time of strained relationships among members of the court. Justice Thomas in a recent speech suggested trust among members of the court had been lost.

And when the court heard oral arguments in the Dobbs case in December, Justice Sotomayor questioned whether the court could “survive the stench” created by perceptions “that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts.”

The court’s Roe decision in 1973, written by Nixon appointee Justice Harry Blackmun, reflected a line of legal thinking that the Constitution barred political majorities from imposing their moral judgments on the intimate choices of individuals.

The Roe court grounded the right to an abortion in the 14th Amendment’s guarantee that states can’t deprive individuals of life and liberty without due process of law. The ruling built off a constitutionally recognized right to privacy, which came when the court struck down state restrictions on contraceptives.

The court does on occasion overrule its past decisions—notably, for instance in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended racial segregation in public schools—but justices for years have dueled over when it is appropriate to do so.

Most of those debates have taken place in cases that had nothing to do with abortion, but the future of Roe has loomed over the discussions.

 

Updated: 6-25-2022

Olivia Rodrigo Sings ‘Fuck You’ To Supreme Court Justices At Glastonbury

 

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

Lily Allen joins singer onstage to perform 2009 single following Roe v. Wade repeal: “Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh. We hate you!”

Olivia Rodrigo condemned the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and dedicated a cover of Lily Allen’s “Fuck You” to five of the Justices responsible for the repeal during the singer’s Glastonbury set Saturday.

“I’m devastated and terrified. So many women and so many girls are going to die because of this,” Rodrigo told the thousands of festivalgoers at the famed U.K. fest.

“I wanted to dedicate this next song to the five members of the Supreme Court who have showed us that at the end of the day, they truly don’t give a shit about freedom. This song goes out to the justices: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh. We hate you!”

“This next song” was a surprise rendition of Lily Allen’s 2009 song “Fuck You, a track originally inspired by ultra-conservative political parties leading both the U.S. and the U.K. at the time. Allen herself joined Rodrigo onstage for the performance, giving the aforementioned Justices the middle finger before launching into the track.

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

Billie Eilish also addressed the repeal before performing “Your Power” during her headlining set Friday at Glastonbury.

“The song we’re about to do is, I think, one of the favorites that we’ve written and it’s about the concept of power and how we need to always remember how not to abuse it,” she said. “And today is a really, really dark day for women in the US. I’m just going to say that as I cannot bear to think about it any longer in this moment.”

 

Criminalizing Abortion Will Hurt Black Women Most

The effects of racism mean that Black women tend to get worse perinatal care and are more likely to be prosecuted for miscarriage.

Losing Roe Will Exacerbate The Problem

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the states will be free to criminalize abortion at any point in pregnancy. To get a sense of how the ruling will affect women’s health, as well as the particular risks Black women face, I spoke with Joia Crear-Perry, a physician and founder of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, and Monica McLemore, an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Sarah Green Carmichael: In light of this ruling, what do you expect the impact to be on women’s health, and on Black women’s health specifically?

Monica McLemore: Criminalization will mean that some physicians and organizations are going to get spooked and stop offering care, which may limit access for other reproductive care — things like sexually transmitted infections, infertility care and a whole variety of other things.

The places that will continue to provide abortion services are going to be so overrun that we’re going to be looking at long waiting periods for appointments. And that’s not just on the abortion side. It’s also on the pregnancy continuation side.

Joia Crear-Perry: There will also be an economic impact, and not just on the people forced to be pregnant. Think about all the people who’ve been working in restaurants, delivering food, driving Ubers — if they have no control over their own bodies when it comes to reproduction, then that impacts those businesses. It impacts any employer who has an employee who cannot control their own body. Not that Black women shouldn’t be centered or that our issues aren’t important, but this impacts everyone.

SGC: Say more about the effect on other reproductive health services. I feel like there is an assumption that you can just draw a neat little box around an elective abortion and excise it. Why doesn’t that work?

MM: People assume that the people who provide abortion care are distinct from the people who provide pregnancy care and distinct from the people who provide sexually transmitted infection care. But they’re all connected, just like the people who have abortions and pregnancies and carry babies to term are not different patients — they are just at different points in their lives.

SGC: The laws that would make abortion a crime sometimes have exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother or very severe health outcomes. Why doesn’t that suffice to protect women’s health in practice?

MM: It means you only are entitled to bodily autonomy after somebody else violates it. But you have a human right to bodily autonomy. The way I’ve explained this to students is this: There’s a reason you have to sign an organ-donor card when you get your driver’s license. That’s because nobody can take your organs without your consent, even after you’re dead. You have bodily autonomy in life and death. That’s irrefutable. And as long as that’s true, then that means forced pregnancy is incongruent with human rights principles.

SGC: Are there other misconceptions about abortion access you wish the broader American public understood?

JCP: What I really wish people would remember is that what we call private insurance is really employer-sponsored insurance. That means your employer can choose if they want to cover abortion services. We already have so many layers of people controlling access to a basic health-care function. In other high-income nations, abortion is free, covered by public insurance.

When [Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that posed the challenge to Roe] was being argued, Chief Justice [John] Roberts stated that other nations that allow abortion have a first-trimester cut-off, but that’s a cut-off for abortion being free; if you take longer than 12 weeks to decide you want an abortion, then maybe then you have to pay something. What we’re talking about in the US is just having access to it, period.

SGC: There have already been more than 1,300 prosecutions for miscarriages in the US, and women of color are disproportionately targeted in those. Do you expect those numbers to increase if abortion becomes a crime?

MM: We already know that Black people are over-criminalized in the US. Criminalization of abortion may mean more health-care workers or Child Protective Services calling the police on people they suspect of self-managing an abortion, even if it’s actually a miscarriage. But these are people who have experienced a loss. Criminalization isn’t the way to deal with grieving people.

SGC: One of the biggest reasons that people seek abortions is because they feel like they can’t afford to have another child — I say “another” because most people who seek abortions already have at least one child. What is the role of economic and social policy in reducing the number of abortions?

JCP: All of these things are tied together, from the child tax credit to paid leave. It’s really about creating the infrastructure so that families can thrive. The states that are most likely to severely restrict abortion are the same states that have the absolutely worst rates of infant mortality and maternal mortality. And it’s the same states that didn’t expand Medicaid, don’t have paid leave, and don’t protect equal pay. In the US, we have some of the worst health outcomes in the developed world. And that’s not a coincidence.

SGC: The US also has very high rates of maternal mortality in general, compared with other wealthy nations. And Black women are three times as likely to die from childbirth or related complications as White women. Do you think the repeal of Roe will see more Black women dying in childbirth?

MM: The health system we have in the US isn’t functioning well for Black and brown communities. But it’s a more nuanced discussion; there are a whole lot of other things that can go wrong than just death. When we talk about maternal mortality, we aren’t even talking about the 50,000 near misses, [the women of all races who had] serious pregnancy-related complications, like a hemorrhage, an infection, a C-section wound coming apart. We’re not talking about people like Serena Williams and Beyonce who live, but had trauma. Black women are less likely to be believed by their health-care providers, and they are undertreated and under-diagnosed.

JCP: And I like to remind folks that we can’t have the worst outcomes in the industrialized world just because Black women are dying. White women are also dying who wouldn’t have died if they lived in any other industrialized nation.

SGC: Some skeptics say that US maternal mortality rates just look higher than other countries because the US measures it over a year instead of six weeks post-birth.

JCP: That’s gaslighting. The World Health Organization sets the international standard for collecting data six weeks after birth. What the Centers for Disease Control does, in addition to collecting the international standard, is track the data up to a year because we know that people can die months after having a baby — people like Erica Garner, who died from heart failure from pregnancy cardiomyopathy four months after giving birth. The United States is trying to push the WHO to extend it to a year because six weeks was always made up — you need a year. But even looking at just six weeks, we are still the worst.

SGC: What would help address some of those disparities?

MM: We’re never going to see improved health outcomes or achieve health equity if we don’t have a robust social safety net. If we were serious about having reverence for the propagation of our species, we would treat childbearing families accordingly. But now we have Black moms going back to drive for Lyft and Uber 10 days after a C-section — the last thing they should be doing with an abdominal wound — because they need to generate revenue in our economy. But that’s the reality of not having paid family leave. That’s the reality of not having postpartum health coverage. That’s the reality of limitations of employer-sponsored health insurance.

SGC: What would you like to see happen next?

JCP: I’d like to see more people acting up. And I’d like to see us change the narrative; I’d like our country to move forward and not try to pit states rights against human rights. Finally, I’d like to see more people talking about how this affects men, too.

There are plenty of men who have an abortion story, who have been able to climb the corporate ladder because they had access to abortion and birth control.

MM: There are great bills that address many of the shortcomings we’ve been talking about that are languishing in Congress. Take the Momnibus Bill. Smart people have thought about where we can choose policies differently. Things don’t have to be like they are now; we can make a different decision. We’re at a precipice, and that requires courage.

Updated: 6-27-2022

These US Companies Will Cover Travel Costs For Employees Who Need An Abortion

After the Supreme Court ruled on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, corporate giants from a range of industries pledged to provide support and financial assistance for employees — and, in some cases, their dependents — seeking abortions in states that outlaw the procedure.

The court’s decision to roll back the nearly 50-year-old landmark ruling, which protected the federal, constitutional right to an abortion, is expected to transform the landscape of reproductive health in America, leaving abortion policy up to individual states and paving the way for numerous states to pass new abortion restrictions. As of Friday afternoon, state officials in at least seven states said that new abortion bans can now be enforced.

Millions of people seeking abortions could soon be forced to travel across state lines to access the procedure, adding to the cost of an already often expensive healthcare service. For many, employers’ benefit packages may be the only way they can afford an abortion.

In response, corporations, some with headquarters or offices in Republican-controlled states, are taking action. Companies such as Citigroup (C), Salesforce (CRM) and Match Group (MTCH) first promised financial support to employees seeking abortions in affected states after a draft version of the opinion leaked in May.

Many more followed suit on Friday. Some, including Bumble and Lyft, also previously said they would donate to organizations that support women’s rights, such as Planned Parenthood and Fund Texas Choice.

Corporate America is increasingly being drawn from the political sidelines on the abortion issue in response to pressure from investors, customers and employees. Companies are also struggling to attract and retain talent, and worry about the impact these states’ anti-abortion laws could have on their workers.

Here are some of the prominent companies offering expanded assistance to staff in states curtailing abortion care.

Microsoft

Microsoft (MSFT) extended its financial support for “critical healthcare,” including abortions and gender-affirming care, to include coverage for travel expenses for such services, after the draft opinion overturning Roe was first leaked.

Apple

The company’s existing benefits package allows employees to travel out of state for medical care if it is unavailable in their home state, according to an Apple (AAPL) spokesperson.

Meta

The tech giant intends to offer travel expense reimbursement “to the extent permitted by law” for employees seeking out-of-state health care and reproductive services, according to a spokesperson. “We are in the process of assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved,” the Meta (FB) spokesperson said in a statement.

Yelp

Yelp’s existing healthcare plan for US employees pays for women, family members and partners to travel out of states with strict abortion laws, such as Texas and Oklahoma, which ban abortions after 6 weeks.

“This ruling puts women’s health in jeopardy, denies them their human rights, and threatens to dismantle the progress we’ve made toward gender equality in the workplaces since Roe,” Jeremy Stoppelman, co-founder of Yelp (YELP), said in a statement Friday.

“Business leaders must step up to support the health and safety of their employees by speaking out against the wave of abortion bans that will be triggered as a result of this decision, and call on Congress to codify Roe into law.”

Disney

Disney (DIS) employees who are unable to access medical care in one location will be given affordable coverage to access the same care in another location, according to a company spokesperson. The benefit covers family planning and pregnancy-related decisions.

Uber

Uber’s US insurance plans already cover reproductive health benefits, including abortion and travel expenses to access healthcare. The rideshare company will also reimburse any drivers sued under state law for providing transportation to a clinic through the app, according to an Uber (UBER) spokesperson.

Netflix

The streaming company offers travel reimbursement coverage for US full-time employees and their dependents who need to travel for healthcare treatments including abortions and gender-affirming care, a Netflix (NFLX) spokesperson told CNN. The company provides a lifetime allowance of $10,000 per employees (or their dependents) per service.

Bumble

Bumble (BMBL), a female-driven dating app, said Friday that it will support its employees’ ability to access “the healthcare services they need,” including abortion care. A Bumble spokesperson added that the company will donate to the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“Abortion is healthcare, and healthcare is a human right. We are deeply troubled by the Supreme Court decision,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Match Group

Dating app company Match Group (MTCH) in October established a partnership with Planned Parenthood Los Angeles to provide abortion access for its Texas employees and their dependents.

The company is currently considering expanding that benefit to all its US staff, including remote employees in states with trigger laws that may soon ban abortions, according to a Match spokesperson. Match healthcare plans also help to cover travel and lodging costs for employees who need to travel to receive care, the spokesperson said.

Box.com

Box.com will cover employee travel and medical expenses incurred by employees while seeking reproductive services.

Levi Strauss

The denim company said through The Levi Strauss Foundation that it is providing grants to the Center for Reproductive Rights, Afiya Center and ARC-Southeast which provides direct assistance to women and communities in need of care. The company previously said that under its benefits plan, employees can be reimbursed for travel expenses for services not available in their home state, including abortion. Part-time staff and others who aren’t included in the company’s benefits plan are also eligible for reimbursement, it said.

Comcast-NBC Universal

Comcast (CCZ) has an existing healthcare travel benefit for all employees that covers up to $4,000 per trip, up to three trips per year, with a maximum coverage cap of $10,000 per year. The amount paid out depends on the type of health care procedure, but abortion care is covered, according to the company.

Warner Bros Discovery

Warner Brothers Discovery, which owns CNN, on Friday expanded healthcare benefits options to include expenses for employees and their covered family members who need to travel to access abortions and other reproductive care, according to a company spokesperson.

Condé Nast

The media company said Friday it will reimburse travel and lodging for employees who need abortion, infertility or gender-reaffirming services and cannot obtain them locally. CEO Roger Lynch said in an internal memo the Supreme Court decision was a “crushing blow to reproductive rights” and said the most powerful way the company can respond is through its content and journalism.

JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan (JPM) on Friday said that its health care benefits have long covered abortion care. And starting in July, abortion will be included in the company’s health care travel benefit that covers services that can only be obtained far from home, according to spokesperson Joseph Evangelisti.

Nike

The sportswear company said in a statement that it covers travel and lodging expenses in situations where healthcare services are not available close to home, according to a statement Nike (NKE) released Friday.

“No matter where our teammates are on their family planning journey — from contraception and abortion coverage, to pregnancy and family-building support through fertility, surrogacy and adoption benefits — we are here to support their decisions,” the statement reads.

Starbucks

The coffee company is providing employees enrolled in its healthcare plan a medical travel benefit to access an abortion, according to a public letter to employees by Sara Kelly, Starbucks (SBUX) acting executive vice president of partner resources.

“We all need to process this in our own way, and as you do, here is what I want you to know: no matter where you live, or what you believe, we will always ensure you have access to quality healthcare,” Kelly said in the letter.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

For employees who live in a state that restricts abortion access, Dick’s will provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where care is legally available, the company said in a statement Friday. The benefit will be provided to any employee, spouse or dependent enrolled in its medical plan, along with one support person.

Kroger

The grocer’s healthcare package includes travel benefits of up to $4,000 to facilitate access for reproductive healthcare services, including abortion and fertility treatments, according to a Kroger (KR) spokesperson.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines said in a statement that it has always provided travel reimbursements for “certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live.”

“Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change that,” it said.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs (FADXX) on Friday extended its healthcare travel reimbursement policies to include all medical procedures, treatments and evaluations, including abortion services, in areas where a provider is not available near to where its employees live, a benefit that will be effective July 1, according to an internal memo obtained by CNN.

Zillow

Zillow (Z) said in a statement Friday that its health benefits cover a wide range of reproductive health services, including abortions. The company said that as of June 1, its health plan has been updated to include a reimbursement of up to $7,500 “each time significant travel is necessary to access health care, including reproductive services.”

HP

The technology company said in a statement that its existing healthcare plan covers a “wide range of reproductive health services,” including abortion and related travel costs.

HPE

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which spun off from HP several years ago and moved its headquarters earlier this year from Silicon Valley to Texas, offers a medical plan that covers out of state care, including abortions and related travel expenses, according to a company spokesperson.

“Restricting a woman’s ability and choices in obtaining health care is inequitable and harmful to the advancement of women,” HPE CEO Antonio Neri said on Twitter Saturday.

Acccenture

Accenture’s existing healthcare plan includes “a full range of reproductive healthcare benefits” and travel assistance for “covered medial services” that are not located within 100 miles of an employee’s residence, a company spokesperson told CNN.

Chobani

The yogurt company updated its healthcare policy for employees in May, following the leak of the draft opinion on Roe, to cover transportation and lodging expenses for any employee or dependent (as well as one caregiver) who needs to travel to receive specialized healthcare, including abortions.

The policy also includes reimbursement for childcare costs incurred from the travel, according to a memo Chobani COO Kevin Burns sent to employees in May, which was shared with CNN.

 

Jefferies Will Cover Travel Costs For Out-Of-State Abortions, Donate $1 Million To Charity

Jefferies Financial Group Inc. will cover travel costs for workers seeking an abortion outside of states that have banned or restricted the procedure.

“Jefferies will, of course, join other businesses around the U.S. that will cover any employee-partner’s costs should she decide to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy and be forced to do so in a state other than the one in which she lives,” Chief Executive Officer Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman said in a statement Monday.

The two executives also said they will personally donate a combined $1 million to charities that promote women’s rights.

Wells Fargo & Co. said Monday in an internal memo that it will also expand its travel benefit to include “reimbursement of transportation and lodging costs for legal abortion-related services” starting July 1.

Wells Fargo and New York-based Jefferies joins major US banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. in agreeing to pay travel costs.

The US Supreme Court on Friday overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, wiping out the constitutional right to abortion in a ruling that’s likely to render the procedure largely illegal in half the country.

Updated: 6-28-2022

P&G Expands Medical Travel Coverage Following Abortion Ruling

Procter & Gamble Co. will expand travel support for employees’ medical care, including abortions, following the US Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Cincinnati-based maker of Bounty paper towels and Pampers diapers said that beginning Jan. 1, its US health-care plans will include support for travel expenses incurred for covered care when providers aren’t available within a 50-mile radius.

Currently, the benefit is limited to specific conditions, such as some organ transplants, P&G said Tuesday in a statement.

“A range of external factors are increasingly affecting access to healthcare in the US,” the company said, citing last week’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. P&G will “monitor policy and legal developments” to ensure its plans comply with applicable laws.

The company joins a growing list of major corporations adding and expanding benefits after the Supreme Court decision eliminated the constitutional right to abortion that had stood for half a century. The procedure is poised to become largely illegal in more than half of US states, including Ohio.

CVS, Walmart And Rite Aid Limit Purchases Of Plan B Pills After Surge In Demand

Retailers’ websites show the emergency contraceptive in short supply after Supreme Court’s abortion decision.

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

Some of the nation’s biggest retailers are rationing over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills as demand spikes following the Supreme Court ruling overturning a constitutional right to abortion.

CVS Health Corp., Walmart Inc. and Rite Aid Corp. were limiting purchases of the pills, which were in short supply or out of stock on major retailer websites. CVS and Rite Aid were limiting purchases to three, while Walmart was limiting orders to 10.

A CVS spokesman said that the company has implemented temporary purchase limits to ensure equitable access and that it has ample supply of the pills in stores and online.

A Walmart spokeswoman said the company limits purchases on many items and that limits can change as demand fluctuates. Rite Aid said it was limiting purchases of the pills both online and in stores due to increased demand.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., which also had a purchase limit on its website, said that the restriction was an error and that it would soon be corrected. A spokesman said the company is investigating the situation.

The pills are often referred to and sold under the Plan B brand without a prescription. Also called morning-after pills, they are designed to be taken up to three days after unprotected sex. The medication mainly works by preventing ovulation and, failing that, may stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.

Plan B pills are different from medication abortion, also known as plan C, which requires a prescription and involves the administration of different pills to terminate a pregnancy.

In the U.S., medication abortion has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. Two medications—mifepristone and misoprostol—are typically used in a medication abortion regimen.

Several companies make versions of Plan B that range in cost from $10 to more than $50. On Monday, the cheapest option available from major retailers’ websites was a pill for $35.

There are three types of emergency contraceptive pills: progestin-only pills like levonorgestrel (sold under the brand name Plan B, among others), ulipristal (brand name Ella) and combined emergency contraception pills that consist of ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel. The latter two types require prescriptions.

Plan B One-Step, the top-selling emergency contraceptive, is owned by a pair of private-equity firms, Kelso & Co. and Juggernaut Capital Partners. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. sold the brand in 2017 to the investors as part of a move to shed its women’s health business. Representatives from the firms didn’t respond to requests for comment.

In the days following Friday’s court decision, social media filled with comments either encouraging or dissuading people to stock up on the contraceptive. Some users posted that they were buying as many as possible; others argued against stockpiling for fear it would cut off access to people with an immediate need.

Planned Parenthood on Monday advised against stockpiling emergency contraceptives as they have limited shelf life and because hoarding supplies could limit access for women who have an immediate need.

 

Updated: 6-29-2022

Online Healthcare Companies Increase Advertising For Morning-After Pill

Direct-to-consumer, female-focused healthcare brands shift marketing plans to place emergency contraception offerings front-and-center.

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

Companies that sell sexual health products and medicines over the internet are shifting their marketing strategies to highlight the availability of mail-order emergency contraception, commonly known as morning-after pills.

Some are also using their emergency birth control advertising to protest government moves against reproductive rights, including the Supreme Court’s elimination of the constitutional right to an abortion when it overturned Roe v. Wade.

Hey Favor Inc., a direct-to-consumer provider of birth control including emergency contraception, pregnancy tests and skin-care products, has lately directed much of its marketing budget into advocacy campaigns promoting abortion rights.

Its newest out-of-home ads, which began running two weeks ago in anticipation of the high court ruling, argue that the end of the federal constitutional right to abortion foreshadows future limits on contraception.

“They are coming for your abortion,” says one ad from the company, which does business as Favor. “Your birth control is next.”

The campaign is Favor’s first since it rebranded in May from the Pill Club. While the company in that guise did advertise its emergency contraception, its marketing had focused more on ads for contraceptive prescriptions.

Unlike pills that are taken to induce an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy, morning-after pills temporarily stop the ovaries from releasing an egg in the days following unprotected sex, thereby preventing fertilization. They are legal in every state.

The new, more-political campaigns advertising direct-to-consumer emergency contraception are rolling out as companies including CVS Health Corp. and Walmart Inc. begin rationing the pills amid a surge in demand. Some online providers are encouraging customers to stock up for later emergencies.

Favor is letting customers purchase up to 10 courses of emergency contraception per order and make additional reorders without limit.

“Given the timing of the [Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] ruling, which we expected shortly following our rebrand, we felt strongly that our first advertising campaign out of the gate should educate patients, women and people who menstruate about what was at stake, how to access care, and how to prepare for a post-Roe world, without bias,” said Lauren Scrima, head of brand marketing at Favor.

Female-focused healthcare brands such as Get Stix Inc., which does business as Stix, and Nurx, which in February merged with healthcare company Thirty Madison Inc., have funneled their marketing budgets into campaigns designed to explain how emergency birth control works, spotlight its availability online and dispel misconceptions that it is a form of early abortion.

Stix, which also sells pregnancy tests, supplements and medication for reproductive health, has reallocated its digital marketing budget to advertise Restart, its own morning-after pill released on June 21, said co-founder and co-Chief Executive Jamie Norwood.

The company last week launched its first out-of-home campaign, posting ads for Restart alongside reproductive-rights messaging on billboards within 5 miles of crisis pregnancy centers in states that readied abortion bans for the moment Roe v. Wade was overturned via so-called trigger laws. Such centers often aim to dissuade visitors from having abortions.

Previous Stix campaigns did not touch upon abortion rights, Ms. Norwood said. “We focused more on the value propositions of our individual products and left politics out,” she said.

Stix also hired PR agency Jennifer Bett Communications to spread the word about Restart, as well as customers’ ability to stock up on the morning-after pill due to its shelf life of up to 20 months, particularly in the 13 states that had trigger laws in place, Ms. Norwood said.

The company processed 10 times more orders of Restart on Monday than it did last Friday, Ms. Norwood said. Just over 72% of purchases made on Monday included more than one dose, she said.

Late on Tuesday after this article was published, Stix began limiting pills to two per order, after previously letting customers place orders without limit.

Nurx, which offers treatments for skin-care and depression as well as birth control, saw requests for emergency contraception quadruple after a draft of the Roe v. Wade ruling was leaked in May, according to Kelly Gardiner, vice president of communications at parent Thirty Madison.

“We expect to see numbers even higher now that the Supreme Court has officially handed down their ruling and folks make long-term plans for how to support their healthcare decisions,” Ms. Gardiner said.

The company is limiting customers to five pills per order to manage demand and ensure equitable access, she said.

Nurx has shifted its marketing plan to focus on education around emergency contraception, publishing guides to how it works, creating a flowchart to help customers understand when and whether they need to take it, and investing in paid search and social-media advertising to target those with questions around unprotected sex and pregnancy.

Before the Roe v. Wade leak, the company more evenly marketed all its products and services, including at-home test kits and the HIV-prevention pill known as PrEP, Ms. Gardiner said.

The company also lowered the price of its morning-after pill, called New Day, to $14.99 from $20, Ms. Gardiner said.

“We really wanted to make it more affordable for folks who need to stock up,” she said.

Updated: 6-29-2022

Companies Covering Abortion Travel Costs For Employees Now Include Target, Yahoo And P&G

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, a growing list of companies will reimburse workers traveling for reproductive care outside of their home states.

The Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, and many companies are offering to help their employees find reproductive care outside of their home states — which may yet be impacted the court’s ruling.

Yahoo, Target Corp. and Procter & Gamble are among the latest companies offering to reimburse their employees for travel costs when workers seek reproductive care in other states, including abortion and gender-affirming procedures.

The benefit is available to any employee who cannot access these services within 100 miles of where they live, and also applies to the workers’ dependents.

Several other companies, including Disney, Netflix , Condé Nast, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Starbucks, Tesla, Citigroup, Yelp, Lyft, Levi Strauss and Amazon, have also previously announced that they would cover travel expenses for workers with limited access to safe abortion procedures in their home states.

And banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. have also extended their travel benefits to employees seeking abortions in other states after the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

But some Republicans have called out companies for reimbursing workers who travel for reproductive care, including abortion. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proposed legislation that would prohibit employers from deducting expenses related to their employees’ abortion travel costs, or gender-affirming care for young children of their employees.

In May, a leaked draft opinion first revealed that the Supreme Court may look to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in 1973. And this spurred questions about what would happen next, including which states would “trigger” a ban on abortion once the ruling was overturned.

In fact, “Can you travel to another state for an abortion?” was a breakout Google search in the day following the leaked Roe v. Wade draft opinion, which means the search term spiked by more than 5,000%.

And roughly one in three voters (31%) said that an abortion ban would make a state a “less desirable” place to live, according to a new Suffolk University and USA Today poll.

Amazon

Prior to the Supreme Court leak, Amazon told staff that the company will cover travel expenses for all non-life-threatening medical treatments, including abortions. The e-commerce giant, which is the second-largest private employer in the U.S. behind Walmart, said it will reimburse up to $4,000 per year for such expenses.

The new benefit is effective retroactively to Jan. 1, and applies when the procedure is unavailable within 100 miles of the employee’s home, and virtual care is not possible. It is open to U.S. employees (including warehouse and office workers) or covered dependents enrolled in Premera or Aetna health plans.

Citigroup

Citigroup also began covering travel expenses earlier this year for U.S. employees forced to go out of state for abortions. About 8,500 of the banking giant’s 65,000 U.S. employees are in Texas, which has banned abortions in the state after about six weeks of pregnancy.

“In response to changes in reproductive health care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” the company said in an April filing.

Condé Nast

According to a statement memo from Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch, which was released the day that SCOTUS announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the media giant will reimburse travel and lodging expenses for employees who seek abortions and infertility or gender-reaffirming services.

Lynch said the ruling from the Supreme Court was a “crushing blow to reproductive rights,” the Condé Nast-owned magazine Vanity Fair reported. And the company will offer “enhancements to our U.S. health benefits to assist covered employees and their covered dependents in obtaining access to reproductive care regardless of where they reside.”

Disney

After the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, Disney said it would cover travel costs for employees for “family planning,” including out-of-state abortions. Disney employs about 195,000 people, including an estimated 80,000 in Florida — where a bill banning abortions after 15 weeks is set to go into effect in July.

“We recognize the impact of the ruling and that we remain committed to providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care for all our employees, cast members and their families, including family planning and reproductive care, no matter where they live,” a Disney spokesperson told CBS the same day as the Supreme Court ruling was released.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. said it would reimburse employees up to $4,000 for abortion-related travel expenditures, the company said in a statement that was in response to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. And the coverage will extend to spouses and dependents enrolled in the company’s medical plan, along with one support person.

“We are making this decision so our teammates can access the same health care options, regardless of where they live, and choose what is best for them,” Ed Stack, the company’s executive chairman, and CEO Lauren Hobart said.

DoorDash

DoorDash had said that it will begin covering travel expenses for abortion procedures after the Supreme Court document was first leaked.

“It’s paramount that all DoorDash employees and their dependents covered on our health plans have access to safe, timely healthcare. This is one of our guiding principles as an employer,” a DoorDash spokesperson told MarketWatch. “Because safe abortion procedures may become severely limited in more states, DoorDash will cover certain travel-related expenses for employees who face new barriers to access and need to travel out of state for abortion-related care.”

Google

Google parent company Alphabet said that it offers travel cost coverage for employees who seek abortions out of state, a company spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. The coverage, which Google began offering within the past year, applies to only full-time employees.

Levi Strauss

Clothing-maker Levi Strauss announced in May that the company will also cover travel costs for medical procedures that cannot be performed in the state their employees live in, which includes abortion.

The company says employees are “eligible for reimbursement for healthcare-related travel expenses for services not available in their home state, including those related to reproductive health care and abortion.”

Levi Strauss also noted that its employees are particularly impacted by the issue of reproductive rights, as 58% of the company’s global workforce is female. “Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees,” the company added in its announcement. “That means protecting reproductive rights.”

Mastercard

According to a Mastercard company memo seen by Reuters, the financial services company will cover costs associated with travel and lodging for employees seeking abortions in states they don’t live in.

Such coverage includes “family planning and reproductive benefits, from fertility treatments to surrogacy and adoption services, pregnancy prevention including vasectomy coverage and access to contraception and pregnancy termination,” a Mastercard spokesperson told Bloomberg.

Meta Platforms

Facebook parent company Meta Platforms said it will cover up to $4,000 worth of travel costs for employees seeking abortions., Reuters reported on June 24.

There are more details to come, as Meta is still “assessing how best to do so given the legal complexities involved,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

Microsoft

Microsoft said it will “continue to do everything we can under the law to protect our employees’ rights and support employees” in accessing critical healthcare. Those protections include services like abortion and gender-affirming care in the U.S., a Microsoft official told Reuters.

“This support is being extended to include travel expense assistance for these and other medical services where access to care is limited in availability in an employee’s home geographic region,” the statement continued.

Netflix

Netflix Inc. offers travel reimbursement for full-time employees in the United States, as well as their dependents, who need to travel for health procedures including and gender-affirming care and abortions a company spokesperson informed CNN. The company provides a lifetime allowance of $10,000 for employees or their dependents per service.

Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, said it would similarly assist employees who need to travel for abortion-related healthcare. Ohio is one of the states with an abortion ban that triggered after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

P&G’s policy will reimburse employees for travel expenses for qualified medical care if it is not available within 50 miles of the employee’s residence. And abortion is considered a qualified medical procedure, the company told the Wall Street Journal.

“This is an important issue to many people, and we recognize their broad range of views,” a P&G spokesperson told WSJ. “As we have for many years, P&G supports our employees in having access to a wide range of healthcare options so they can determine what’s best for them and their families.”

PayPal

Financial services company PayPal announced in May it would “support” employees who are impacted by abortion-related bans or restrictions depending on the state they live in.

“We communicated directly with Texas employees about our commitment to providing equitable health care benefits,” Kausik Rajgopal, the executive vice president at PayPal, told employees in a May 9 memo viewed by CBS News.

PayPal will “extend this support to any state where legislation following the court’s decision leads to diminished healthcare access with respect to reproductive health,” Rajgopal said.

Starbucks

Starbucks added a worker healthcare benefit that offers to reimburse the travel cost for employees enrolled in its program who seek an abortion or gender-affirming procedure, but who cannot access these services within 100 miles of where they live. This also applies to the workers’ dependents.

“Regardless of what the Supreme Court ends up deciding, we will always ensure our partners have access to quality healthcare,” wrote Sara Kelly, acting executive vice president of partner resources, in a letter posted to the Starbucks site. “Whatever healthcare choice you believe is right for you and your family, you deserve access to those services and the benefits that Starbucks provides.”

Target

Beginning in July, Target will cover travel expenses that employees could take on when looking for healthcare including reproductive services, mental health care and cardiac care outside of their community, a Target spokesperson told MarketWatch.

“For years, our healthcare benefits have included some financial support for travel, when team members needed select healthcare procedures that weren’t available where they live,” the representative said. But the company began re-evaluating its benefits a few months ago, and “this effort became even more relevant as we learned about the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion, given that it would impact access to healthcare in some states.”

Tesla

The “People and Culture” portion of Tesla’s newly released 2021 Impact Report noted that the company wants its benefits to exceed the standards of the manufacturing industry.

And that includes an expanded “Safety Net” program and health insurance offering that covers travel and lodging support for Tesla employees “who may need to seek healthcare services that are unavailable in their home state.”

While CEO Elon Musk did not immediately comment, he tweeted in September that he believes “government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

Yahoo

The Apollo Global Management-owned Yahoo said it will also help employees with healthcare-related travel costs in the wake of Roe’s reversal.

“Yahoo told its employees in May that the company would offer up to $5,000 reimbursement toward travel and lodgings for anyone that has to travel more than 100 miles to access medical procedures,” a company representative told MarketWatch.

Yelp

Yelp the crowd-sourced reviews platform, will cover travel expenses for both employees and their dependents who need to go out-of-state for abortions. Yelp has 4,000 employees, including 200 workers in Texas.

Yelp employees can submit the receipts for their travel expenses directly to their health insurance company, so “no one else at Yelp is ever going to know who is accessing this, or how or when, and it will be a reimbursement that comes through the insurance provider directly,” Yelp’s chief diversity officer, Miriam Warren, said in April.

“We’ve long been a strong advocate for equality in the workplace, and believe that gender equality cannot be achieved if women’s healthcare rights are restricted,” Warren also said in a statement at the time.

Other Ways Companies Are Supporting Abortion Access

Ride-sharing service Lyft announced in April that it will pay any legal fees for its drivers if they are sued for bringing women to clinics to receive abortions, which came as a result of the strict anti-abortion bills in Oklahoma and Texas.

The Oklahoma bill, for example, would allow a person to sue another individual who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”

“This law is incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company,” Lyft wrote in a blog post.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of competitor Uber, tweeted that his company would support its drivers in the same way.

In 2021, Texas-based dating-app company Bumble, which prides itself on being women-founded and women-led, created a relief fund supporting the reproductive rights of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek abortions in the state.

And Match.com’s CEO Shar Dubey (not the company itself) also created a fund to help Match employees in Texas to seek abortions outside the state at around the same time.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff also said in 2021 that the company would cover relocation costs for its Texas employees impacted by the state’s restrictive abortion laws.

“If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family,” a Salesforce company memo stated.

 

Update: 7-1-2022

What Are Abortion Pills And How Widely Are They Used?

Medication abortion accounts for more than half of procedures nationwide.

The Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the question of abortion access to individual states.

Trigger laws, bans on abortion designed to take effect after a Supreme Court decision, already took effect in several states including Alabama, Missouri and South Dakota. Some states including Louisiana, Utah, Kentucky and Florida have been able to stave off trigger laws with temporary blocks from judges.

In these states especially, physicians and public-health experts are anticipating a surge in demand for the pill-based procedure known as medication abortion, which accounts for more than half of abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute, a policy group that supports abortion rights and tracks abortion statistics.

Access wouldn’t be straightforward, however, and there could be potential legal ramifications for patients and healthcare providers.

What Is Medication Abortion?

Medication abortion, also known as medical abortion or plan C, involves the administration of so-called abortion pills to terminate a pregnancy. Patients obtain the pills from a prescribing clinician or from online pharmacies and can take the medications in a clinical setting or at home.

In the U.S., medication abortion has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Though their efficacy decreases as gestational age increases, abortion pills can be safe and effective beyond the 10-week mark, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In countries including the U.K., abortion pills are used to terminate pregnancies of up to 24 weeks. For later-term abortions, the pills are administered in clinical settings.

Two medications—mifepristone and misoprostol—are typically used in a medication abortion regimen. A single dose of mifepristone is followed by a course or several courses—depending on the number of weeks of pregnancy—of misoprostol pills.

The regimen is safe and highly effective, reproductive health experts say, with efficacy rates of 95% if administered at 10 weeks of pregnancy or earlier.

Ultimate Resource On Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

A misoprostol-only regimen is sometimes used if mifepristone isn’t available, though it has a lower rate of efficacy. Misoprostol is available as a generic drug and under the brand name Cytotec, which is manufactured by Pfizer Inc.

In the U.S., mifepristone is sold under the brand name Mifeprex, manufactured by Danco Laboratories, a pharmaceutical distributor based in New York, and Korlym, made by Silicon Valley-based Corcept Therapeutics.

Korlym isn’t prescribed or marketed for abortion in the U.S. and is approved by the FDA only for the treatment of Cushing’s syndrome, a hormonal disorder. A generic version of the drug, also known as RU-486, was approved by the FDA in 2019 and is distributed by GenBioPro Inc., a Nevada-based pharmaceutical company.

Costs for a medication abortion vary by state and aren’t always covered by insurance. The regimen can cost up to $750, according to Planned Parenthood. U.S. telehealth providers including Hey Jane, Just the Pill and Choix charge $350 or less for a medication abortion, including pills and a medical consultation.

How Common Is The Use Of Abortion Pills, Or Medication Abortion?

Medication abortion accounted for 54% of abortions in the U.S. in 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Since 2000, when the FDA approved mifepristone, a steadily increasing proportion of patients have chosen medication abortions. Some 37% of U.S. abortions were medication abortions in 2017, up from 14% in 2005.

How Do Abortion Pills Work?

Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which is needed to sustain a pregnancy. Misoprostol causes uterine contractions and bleeding. Physicians say the experience is similar to a miscarriage, and typically involves several hours of heavy bleeding and cramping.

The combination of mifepristone and misoprostol is very effective at terminating a pregnancy of up to 10 or 11 weeks. In rare cases where an abortion isn’t completed, an additional dose of misoprostol can be taken. While extremely unlikely, an in-clinic procedure may be necessary if multiple rounds of misoprostol are ineffective.

How Is Medication Abortion Different From The Morning-After Pill?

While medication abortion terminates pregnancy, the morning-after pill, or emergency contraception, helps to prevent pregnancy by suppressing ovulation and curbing implantation.

There are three types of emergency contraception pills: progestin-only pills like levonorgestrel (sold under the brand name Plan B, among others), ulipristal (brand named Ella) and combined emergency contraception pills that consist of ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel.

Are Abortion Pills Safe?

Yes. Studies have shown the two-medication abortion regimen to be safer than widely used drugs including acetaminophen, penicillin and Viagra. Major complications have been reported in less than 0.4% of patients, according to a 2013 scientific review of the efficacy and safety of the two-medication regimen.

Common side effects of the regimen include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and dizziness. The symptoms are typically short-lived and usually abate after a day or two.

The additional risk to patients taking abortion pills at home is minimal so long as the medication is acquired from reliable sources, said Nisha Verma, an obstetrician-gynecologist and ACOG fellow.

“However, it is important that people taking medications at home have access to safe, nonjudgmental, and supportive care within the formal medical system if they need it at any point,” Dr. Verma said. “People who do have questions or concerns before, during or after a self-managed abortion should be able to safely and confidently get the care that they need.”

Following a medication abortion, patients experiencing prolonged fever, severe cramping that doesn’t resolve with over-the-counter painkillers, or have continued symptoms of pregnancy should seek medical care.

According to ACOG, there are a small minority of patients for whom medication abortion isn’t recommended, including those with ectopic pregnancy and chronic adrenal failure.

In cases of ectopic pregnancy, a medical emergency in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, patients can either be treated with a medication called methotrexate or undergo surgery. For other at-risk patients, in-clinic procedures would be the only abortion option available.

Do You Need A Prescription?

In the U.S., abortion pills require a prescription from a healthcare provider. Until recently, the FDA required patients to pick up mifepristone in person from a clinical setting. The agency lifted that restriction in April 2021 and allowed abortion pills to be sent by mail.

But more than 30 states require a clinician to be physically present with a patient before prescribing mifepristone.

Some states have partial bans of medication abortion: In Indiana, medication abortion is banned starting at 10 weeks of pregnancy. In Texas, it is banned from seven weeks.

Patients can buy abortion pills without a prescription from online pharmacies based overseas. International health providers including Aid Access connect U.S. patients to physicians in Europe and mail them abortion pills from outside the country.

The FDA has said that the online sale of abortion pills that aren’t regulated by the agency is a violation of U.S. law.

“Healthcare providers based internationally may feel more insulated” from potential legal ramifications in the U.S., said Julia Kaye, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

The safety of these imported medications is also not guaranteed. Plan C, an abortion-pill advocacy group, has a pill-finding guide on its website, organized by state. For each provider listed, Plan C highlights any potential legal or safety risks.

How Does Overturning Roe V. Wade Affect Access To Abortion Pills?

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based advocacy organization, 25 states will likely ban or severely restrict access to in-clinic abortion procedures and medication abortions as a result of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Patients in those states would need to go to greater lengths to obtain abortion pills, such as traveling to another state or using an online pharmacy or international health provider.

Those options may be inaccessible to many people, said Meera Shah, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in New York.

“Most people don’t have the time or the funds,” Dr. Shah said. “A lot of people are going to be turning to the internet, and some may be forced into a pregnancy that they did not intend on continuing.”

Many states had already moved to restrict medication abortions before outright bans went into place following the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 24.

Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill criminalizing mail-order abortion pills, while South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill restricting medication abortions via telemedicine that goes into effect July 1. Louisiana’s ban on mail-order abortion pills starts Aug. 1.

There could also be heightened legal risks. Since 2000, at least 60 people have been prosecuted in the U.S. for obtaining a medication abortion or helping someone do so, according to Plan C.

If abortion becomes illegal in swaths of the country, many more patients and health providers could be charged for seeking abortions, including using mail-order services for abortion pills.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland have both said they would defend access to abortion pills.

Would Overturning Roe V. Wade Affect Birth Control?

While Roe v. Wade doesn’t specifically apply to contraceptives, reproductive rights advocates and legal experts say its overturning could have spillover effects on other rights that have been codified in law, including same-sex marriage and interracial marriage, as well as access to birth control.

Justice Samuel Alito had asserted in the leaked draft opinion that the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade concerned the constitutionality of abortion “and no other right.”

But some legal scholars say the move could be interpreted more broadly as a challenge to the right to privacy, which forms the basis of several other laws including a right to contraception access.

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that internet searches for abortion medication reached 350,000 during the week of May 1 to May 8, the period following the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft ruling. The searches were found to be more common in states with restrictive reproductive rights.

National retailers including CVS Health Corp., Walmart Inc. and Rite Aid Corp. have seen demand spike for emergency contraception following the Supreme Court’s decision.

The three retailers have begun limiting the purchase of the morning-after pill, which is often referred to and sold under the Plan B brand without a prescription.

Are States That Support Abortion Rights Thinking Of Expanding Access To Abortion Pills?

Lawmakers in some states, including New York, California and Connecticut, are drawing up legislation that would widen access to medication and in-clinic abortions.

Measures that are being considered include protecting physicians from prosecution for prescribing abortion pills to out-of-state patients. Some states are working to increase their capacity to provide abortions.

Are Healthcare Providers Already Seeing A Surge In Demand For Medication Abortion?

Yes. Several providers have reported a marked increase in demand. “We’re absolutely seeing a huge increase in requests,” said Christie Pitney, Plan C’s provider coordinator and chief executive officer of Forward Midwifery. Some patients are requesting an advanced provision of abortion pills to have on hand in case of a future pregnancy, Ms. Pitney said.

 

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Federal Reserve’s Wire & ACH Systems Go Down, Visa & Mastercard Raise Fees, Meanwhile, Bitcoin Works Just Fine

Dubai’s IBC Group Pledges 100,000 Bitcoin ($4.8 Billion) 20% Of All Bitcoin, Largest So Far

Bitcoin’s Value Is All In The Eye Of The ‘Bithodler’

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$56.3K Bitcoin Price And $1Trillion Market Cap Signal BTC Is Here To Stay

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Motley Fool Adding $5M In Bitcoin To Its ‘10X Portfolio’ — Has A $500K Price Target

German Cannabis Company Hedges With Bitcoin In Case Euro Crashes

Bitcoin: What To Know Before Investing

China’s Cryptocurrency Stocks Left Behind In Bitcoin Frenzy

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Bitcoin Jumps To $50,000 As Record-Breaking Rally Accelerates

Bitcoin’s Volatility Should Burn Investors. It Hasn’t

Bitcoin’s Latest Record Run Is Less Volatile Than The 2017 Boom

Blockchain As A Replacement To The MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration System)

The Ultimate Resource On “PriFi” Or Private Finance

Deutsche Bank To Offer Bitcoin Custody Services

BeanCoin Currency Casts Lifeline To Closed New Orleans Bars

Bitcoin Could Enter ‘Supercycle’ As Fed Balance Sheet Hits New Record High

Crypto Mogul Bets On ‘Meme Investing’ With Millions In GameStop

Iran’s Central Banks Acquires Bitcoin Even Though Lagarde Says Central Banks Will Not Hold Bitcoin

Bitcoin To Come To America’s Oldest Bank, BNY Mellon

Tesla’s Bitcoin-Equals-Cash View Isn’t Shared By All Crypto Owners

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Apple Should Launch Own Crypto Exchange, RBC Analyst Says

Bitcoin Hits $43K All-Time High As Tesla Invests $1.5 Billion In BTC

Bitcoin Bounces Off Top of Recent Price Range

Top Fiat Currencies By Market Capitalization VS Bitcoin

Bitcoin Eyes $50K Less Than A Month After BTC Price Broke Its 2017 All-Time High

Investors Piling Into Overvalued Crypto Funds Risk A Painful Exit

Parents Should Be Aware Of Their Children’s Crypto Tax Liabilities

Miami Mayor Says City Employees Should Be Able To Take Their Salaries In Bitcoin

Bitcoiners Get Last Laugh As IBM’s “Blockchain Not Bitcoin” Effort Goes Belly-up

Bitcoin Accounts Offer 3-12% Rates In A Low-Interest World

Analyst Says Bitcoin Price Sell-Off May Occur As Chinese New Year Approaches

Why The Crypto World Needs To Build An Amazon Of Its Own

Tor Project’s Crypto Donations Increased 23% In 2020

Social Trading Platform eToro Ended 2020 With $600M In Revenue

Bitcoin Billionaire Set To Run For California Governor

GameStop Investing Craze ‘Proof of Concept’ For Bitcoin Success

Bitcoin Entrepreneurs Install Mining Rigs In Cars. Will Trucks And Tractor Trailers Be Next?

Harvard, Yale, Brown Endowments Have Been Buying Bitcoin For At Least A Year

Bitcoin Return To $40,000 In Doubt As Flows To Key Fund Slow

Ultimate Resource For Leading Non-Profits Focused On Policy Issues Facing Cryptocurrencies

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To Understand Bitcoin, Just Think of It As A Faith-Based Asset

Cryptos Won’t Work As Actual Currencies, UBS Economist Says

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Access Denied: Banks Seem Prone To Cryptophobia Despite Growing Adoption

Pro Traders Buy The Dip As Bulls Address A Trifecta Of FUD News Announcements

Andreas Antonopoulos And Others Debunk Bitcoin Double-Spend FUD

New Bitcoin Investors Explain Why They’re Buying At Record Prices

When Crypto And Traditional Investors Forget Fundamentals, The Market Is Broken

First Hyperledger-based Cryptocurrency Explodes 486% Overnight On Bittrex BTC Listing

Bitcoin Steady As Analysts Say Getting Back To $40,000 Is Key

Coinbase, MEVP Invest In Crypto-Asset Startup Rain

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Secure Bitcoin Self-Custody: Balancing Safety And Ease Of Use

Voyager Crypto App Review

UBS (A Totally Corrupt And Criminal Bank) Warns Clients Crypto Prices Can Actually Go To Zero

Bitcoin Swings Undermine CFO Case For Converting Cash To Crypto

CoinLab Cuts Deal With Mt. Gox Trustee Over Bitcoin Claims

Bitcoin Slides Under $35K Despite Biden Unveiling $1.9 Trillion Stimulus

Bitcoin Refuses To ‘Die’ As BTC Price Hits $40K Just Three Days After Crash

Ex-Ripple CTO Can’t Remember Password To Access $240M In Bitcoin

Financial Advisers Are Betting On Bitcoin As A Hedge

ECB President Christine Lagarde (French Convict) Says, Bitcoin Enables “Funny Business.”

German Police Shut Down Darknet Marketplace That Traded Bitcoin

Bitcoin Miner That’s Risen 1,400% Says More Regulation Is Needed

Bitcoin Rebounds While Leaving Everyone In Dark On True Worth

UK Treasury Calls For Feedback On Approach To Cryptocurrency And Stablecoin Regulation

What Crypto Users Need Know About Changes At The SEC

Where Does This 28% Bitcoin Price Drop Rank In History? Not Even In The Top 5

Seven Times That US Regulators Stepped Into Crypto In 2020

Retail Has Arrived As Paypal Clears $242M In Crypto Sales Nearly Double The Previous Record

Bitcoin’s Slide Dents Price Momentum That Dwarfed Everything

Does Bitcoin Boom Mean ‘Better Gold’ Or Bigger Bubble?

Bitcoin Whales Are Profiting As ‘Weak Hands’ Sell BTC After Price Correction

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The Case For And Against Investing In Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s Wild Weekends Turn Efficient Market Theory Inside Out

Mega-Bullish News For Bitcoin As Elon Musk Says, “Pay Me In Bitcoin” And Biden Says, “Ignore Budget Deficits”!

Bitcoin Price Briefly Surpasses Market Cap Of Tencent

Broker Touts Exotic Bitcoin Bet To Squeeze Income From Crypto

Broker Touts Exotic Bitcoin Bet To Squeeze Income From Crypto

Tesla’s Crypto-Friendly CEO Is Now The Richest Man In The World

Crypto Market Cap Breaks $1 Trillion Following Jaw-Dropping Rally

Gamblers Could Use Bitcoin At Slot Machines With New Patent

Crypto Users Donate $400K To Julian Assange Defense As Mexico Proposes Asylum

Grayscale Ethereum Trust Fell 22% Despite Rally In Holdings

Bitcoin’s Bulls Should Fear Its Other Scarcity Problem

Ether Follows Bitcoin To Record High Amid Dizzying Crypto Rally

Retail Investors Are Largely Uninvolved As Bitcoin Price Chases $40K

Bitcoin Breaches $34,000 As Rally Extends Into New Year

Social Media Interest In Bitcoin Hits All-Time High

Bitcoin Price Quickly Climbs To $31K, Liquidating $100M Of Shorts

How Massive Bitcoin Buyer Activity On Coinbase Propelled BTC Price Past $32K

FinCEN Wants US Citizens To Disclose Offshore Crypto Holdings of $10K+

Governments Will Start To Hodl Bitcoin In 2021

Crypto-Linked Stocks Extend Rally That Produced 400% Gains

‘Bitcoin Liquidity Crisis’ — BTC Is Becoming Harder To Buy On Exchanges, Data Shows

Bitcoin Looks To Gain Traction In Payments

BTC Market Cap Now Over Half A Trillion Dollars. Major Weekly Candle Closed!!

Elon Musk And Satoshi Nakamoto Making Millionaires At Record Pace

Binance Enables SegWit Support For Bitcoin Deposits As Adoption Grows

Santoshi Nakamoto Delivers $24.5K Christmas Gift With Another New All-Time High

Bitcoin’s Rally Has Already Outlasted 2017’s Epic Run

Gifting Crypto To Loved Ones This Holiday? Educate Them First

Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Files With SEC To Launch Bitcoin Fund

Samsung Integrates Bitcoin Wallets And Exchange Into Galaxy Phones

HTC Smartphone Will Run A Full Bitcoin Node (#GotBitcoin?)

HTC’s New 5G Router Can Host A Full Bitcoin Node

Bitcoin Miners Are Heating Homes Free of Charge

Bitcoin Miners Will Someday Be Incorporated Into Household Appliances

Musk Inquires About Moving ‘Large Transactions’ To Bitcoin

How To Invest In Bitcoin: It Can Be Easy, But Watch Out For Fees

Megan Thee Stallion Gives Away $1 Million In Bitcoin

CoinFLEX Sets Up Short-Term Lending Facility For Crypto Traders

Wall Street Quants Pounce On Crytpo Industry And Some Are Not Sure What To Make Of It

Bitcoin Shortage As Wall Street FOMO Turns BTC Whales Into ‘Plankton’

Bitcoin Tops $22,000 And Strategists Say Rally Has Further To Go

Why Bitcoin Is Overpriced by More Than 50%

Kraken Exchange Will Integrate Bitcoin’s Lightning Network In 2021

New To Bitcoin? Stay Safe And Avoid These Common Scams

Andreas M. Antonopoulos And Simon Dixon Say Don’t Buy Bitcoin!

Famous Former Bitcoin Critics Who Conceded In 2020

Jim Cramer Bought Bitcoin While ‘Off Nicely From The Top’ In $17,000S

The Wealthy Are Jumping Into Bitcoin As Stigma Around Crypto Fades

WordPress Adds Official Ethereum Ad Plugin

France Moves To Ban Anonymous Crypto Accounts To Prevent Money Laundering

10 Predictions For 2021: China, Bitcoin, Taxes, Stablecoins And More

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US Gov Is Bitcoin’s Last Remaining Adversary, Says Messari Founder

$1,200 US Stimulus Check Is Now Worth Almost $4,000 If Invested In Bitcoin

German Bank Launches Crypto Fund Covering Portfolio Of Digital Assets

World Governments Agree On Importance Of Crypto Regulation At G-7 Meeting

Why Some Investors Get Bitcoin So Wrong, And What That Says About Its Strengths

It’s Not About Data Ownership, It’s About Data Control, EFF Director Says

‘It Will Send BTC’ — On-Chain Analyst Says Bitcoin Hodlers Are Only Getting Stronger

Bitcoin Arrives On Wall Street: S&P Dow Jones Launching Crypto Indexes In 2021

Audio Streaming Giant Spotify Is Looking Into Crypto Payments

BlackRock (Assets Under Management $7.4 Trillion) CEO: Bitcoin Has Caught Our Attention

Bitcoin Moves $500K Around The Globe Every Second, Says Samson Mow

Pomp Talks Shark Tank’s Kevin O’leary Into Buying ‘A Little More’ Bitcoin

Bitcoin Is The Tulipmania That Refuses To Die

Ultimate Resource On Ethereum 2.0

Biden Should Integrate Bitcoin Into Us Financial System, Says Niall Ferguson

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Bitcoin Price Sets New Record High Above $19,783

You Call That A Record? Bitcoin’s November Gains Are 3x Stock Market’s

Bitcoin Fights Back With Power, Speed and Millions of Users

Guggenheim Fund ($295 Billion Assets Under Management) Reserves Right To Put Up To 10% In Bitcoin Trust!

Exchanges Outdo Auctions For Governments Cashing In Criminal Crypto, Says Exec

Coinbase CEO: Trump Administration May ‘Rush Out’ Burdensome Crypto Wallet Rules

Bitcoin Plunges Along With Other Coins Providing For A Major Black Friday Sale Opportunity

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‘Bitcoin Tuesday’ To Become One Of The Largest-Ever Crypto Donation Events

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Bitcoin Trades Again Near Record, Driven By New Group Of Buyers

Friendliest Of Them All? These Could Be The Best Countries For Crypto

Bitcoin Price Doubles Since The Halving, With Just 3.4M Bitcoin Left For Buyers

First Company-Sponsored Bitcoin Retirement Plans Launched In US

Poker Players Are Enhancing Winnings By Cashing Out In Bitcoin

Crypto-Friendly Brooks Gets Nod To Serve 5-Year Term Leading Bank Regulator

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The Dark Future Where Payments Are Politicized And Bitcoin Wins

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US Company Now Lets Travelers Pay For Passports With Bitcoin

Billionaire Hedge Fund Investor Stanley Druckenmiller Says He Owns Bitcoin In CNBC Interview

China’s UnionPay And Korea’s Danal To Launch Crypto-Supporting Digital Card #GotBitcoin

Bitcoin Is Back Trading Near Three-Year Highs

Bitcoin Transaction Fees Rise To 28-Month High As Hashrate Drops Amid Price Rally

Market Is Proving Bitcoin Is ‘Ultimate Safe Haven’ — Anthony Pompliano

3 Reasons Why Bitcoin Price Suddenly Dropping Below $13,000 Isn’t Bearish

Bitcoin Resurgence Leaves Institutional Acceptance Unanswered

Bitcoin’s Rivalry With Gold Plus Millennial Interest Gives It ‘Considerable’ Upside Potential: JPMorgan

WordPress Content Can Now Be Timestamped On Ethereum

PayPal To Offer Crypto Payments Starting In 2021 (A-Z) (#GotBitcoin?)

As Bitcoin Approaches $13,000 It Breaks Correlation With Equities

Crypto M&A Surges Past 2019 Total As Rest of World Eclipses U.S. (#GotBitcoin?)

How HBCUs Are Prepping Black Students For Blockchain Careers

Why Every US Congressman Just Got Sent Some ‘American’ Bitcoin

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Caitlin Long On Bitcoin, Blockchain And Rehypothecation (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Drops To $10,446.83 As CFTC Charges BitMex With Illegally Operating Derivatives Exchange

BitcoinACKs Lets You Track Bitcoin Development And Pay Coders For Their Work

One Of Hal Finney’s Lost Contributions To Bitcoin Core To Be ‘Resurrected’ (#GotBitcoin?)

Cross-chain Money Markets, Latest Attempt To Bring Liquidity To DeFi

Memes Mean Mad Money. Those Silly Defi Memes, They’re Really Important (#GotBitcoin?)

Bennie Overton’s Story About Our Corrupt U.S. Judicial, Global Financial Monetary System And Bitcoin

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Mad Money’s Jim Cramer Will Invest 1% Of Net Worth In Bitcoin Says, “Gold Is Dangerous”

State-by-state Licensing For Crypto And Payments Firms In The Us Just Got Much Easier (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin (BTC) Ranks As World 6Th Largest Currency

Pomp Claims He Convinced Jim Cramer To Buy Bitcoin

Traditional Investors View Bitcoin As If It Were A Technology Stock

Mastercard Releases Platform Enabling Central Banks To Test Digital Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)

Being Black On Wall Street. Top Black Executives Speak Out About Racism (#GotBitcoin?)

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Right-Winger Tucker Carlson Causes Grayscale Investments To Pull Bitcoin Ads

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Cross Chain Is Here: NEO, ONT, Cosmos And NEAR Launch Interoperability Protocols (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Trading Products Enter The Mainstream With A Number Of Inherent Advantages (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Goes Mainstream With TV, Newspaper Ads (#GotBitcoin?)

A Guarded Generation: How Millennials View Money And Investing (#GotBitcoin?)

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Walmart Adds Crypto Cashback Through Shopping Loyalty Platform StormX (#GotBitcoin?)

Congressman Tom Emmer To Lead First-Ever Crypto Town Hall (#GotBitcoin?)

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The Assets That Matter Most In Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)

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Bitcoin Community Highlights Double-Standard Applied Deutsche Bank Epstein Scandal

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An Israeli Blockchain Startup Claims It’s Invented An ‘Undo’ Button For BTC Transactions

After Years of Resistance, BitPay Adopts SegWit For Cheaper Bitcoin Transactions

US Appeals Court Allows Warrantless Search of Blockchain, Exchange Data

Central Bank Rate Cuts Mean ‘World Has Gone Zimbabwe’

This Researcher Says Bitcoin’s Elliptic Curve Could Have A Secret Backdoor

China Discovers 4% Of Its Reserves Or 83 Tons Of It’s Gold Bars Are Fake (#GotBitcoin?)

Former Legg Mason Star Bill Miller And Bloomberg Are Optimistic About Bitcoin’s Future

Yield Chasers Are Yield Farming In Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)

Australia Post Office Now Lets Customers Buy Bitcoin At Over 3,500 Outlets

Anomaly On Bitcoin Sidechain Results In Brief Security Lapse

SEC And DOJ Charges Lobbying Kingpin Jack Abramoff And Associate For Money Laundering

Veteran Commodities Trader Chris Hehmeyer Goes All In On Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)

Activists Document Police Misconduct Using Decentralized Protocol (#GotBitcoin?)

Supposedly, PayPal, Venmo To Roll Out Crypto Buying And Selling (#GotBitcoin?)

Industry Leaders Launch PayID, The Universal ID For Payments (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Quant Fund Debuts With $23M In Assets, $2.3B In Trades (#GotBitcoin?)

The Queens Politician Who Wants To Give New Yorkers Their Own Crypto

Why Does The SEC Want To Run Bitcoin And Ethereum Nodes?

Trump Orders Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin To Destroy Bitcoin Just Like They Destroyed The Traditional Economy

US Drug Agency Failed To Properly Supervise Agent Who Stole $700,000 In Bitcoin In 2015

Layer 2 Will Make Bitcoin As Easy To Use As The Dollar, Says Kraken CEO

Bootstrapping Mobile Mesh Networks With Bitcoin Lightning

Nevermind Coinbase — Big Brother Is Already Watching Your Coins (#GotBitcoin?)

BitPay’s Prepaid Mastercard Launches In US to Make Crypto Accessible (#GotBitcoin?)

Germany’s Deutsche Borse Exchange To List New Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Product

‘Bitcoin Billionaires’ Movie To Tell Winklevoss Bros’ Crypto Story

US Pentagon Created A War Game To Fight The Establishment With BTC (#GotBitcoin?)

JPMorgan Provides Banking Services To Crypto Exchanges Coinbase And Gemini (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Advocates Cry Foul As US Fed Buying ETFs For The First Time

Final Block Mined Before Halving Contained Reminder of BTC’s Origins (#GotBitcoin?)

Meet Brian Klein, Crypto’s Own ‘High-Stakes’ Trial Attorney (#GotBitcoin?)

3 Reasons For The Bitcoin Price ‘Halving Dump’ From $10K To $8.1K

Bitcoin Outlives And Outlasts Naysayers And First Website That Declared It Dead Back In 2010

Hedge Fund Pioneer Turns Bullish On Bitcoin Amid ‘Unprecedented’ Monetary Inflation

Antonopoulos: Chainalysis Is Helping World’s Worst Dictators & Regimes (#GotBitcoin?)

Survey Shows Many BTC Holders Use Hardware Wallet, Have Backup Keys (#GotBitcoin?)

Iran Ditches The Rial Amid Hyperinflation As Localbitcoins Seem To Trade Near $35K

Buffett ‘Killed His Reputation’ by Being Stupid About BTC, Says Max Keiser (#GotBitcoin?)

Meltem Demirors: “Bitcoin Is Not A F*Cking Systemic Hedge If You Hold Your Bitcoin At A Financial Institution”

Blockfolio Quietly Patches Years-Old Security Hole That Exposed Source Code (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Won As Store of Value In Coronavirus Crisis — Hedge Fund CEO

Decentralized VPN Gaining Steam At 100,000 Users Worldwide (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Exchange Offers Credit Lines so Institutions Can Trade Now, Pay Later (#GotBitcoin?)

Zoom Develops A Cryptocurrency Paywall To Reward Creators Video Conferencing Sessions (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Startup Purse.io And Major Bitcoin Cash Partner To Shut Down After 6-Year Run

Open Interest In CME Bitcoin Futures Rises 70% As Institutions Return To Market

Square’s Users Can Route Stimulus Payments To BTC-Friendly Cash App

$1.1 Billion BTC Transaction For Only $0.68 Demonstrates Bitcoin’s Advantage Over Banks

Bitcoin Could Become Like ‘Prison Cigarettes’ Amid Deepening Financial Crisis

Bitcoin Holds Value As US Debt Reaches An Unfathomable $24 Trillion

How To Get Money (Crypto-currency) To People In An Emergency, Fast

US Intelligence To Study What Would Happen If U.S. Dollar Lost Its Status As World’s Reserve Currency (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Miner Manufacturers Mark Down Prices Ahead of Halving

Privacy-Oriented Browsers Gain Traction (#GotBitcoin?)

‘Breakthrough’ As Lightning Uses Web’s Forgotten Payment Code (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Starts Quarter With Price Down Just 10% YTD vs U.S. Stock’s Worst Quarter Since 2008

Bitcoin Enthusiasts, Liberal Lawmakers Cheer A Fed-Backed Digital Dollar

Crypto-Friendly Bank Revolut Launches In The US (#GotBitcoin?)

The CFTC Just Defined What ‘Actual Delivery’ of Crypto Should Look Like (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto CEO Compares US Dollar To Onecoin Scam As Fed Keeps Printing (#GotBitcoin?)

Stuck In Quarantine? Become A Blockchain Expert With These Online Courses (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin, Not Governments Will Save the World After Crisis, Tim Draper Says

Crypto Analyst Accused of Photoshopping Trade Screenshots (#GotBitcoin?)

QE4 Begins: Fed Cuts Rates, Buys $700B In Bonds; Bitcoin Rallies 7.7%

Mike Novogratz And Andreas Antonopoulos On The Bitcoin Crash

Amid Market Downturn, Number of People Owning 1 BTC Hits New Record (#GotBitcoin?)

Fatburger And Others Feed $30 Million Into Ethereum For New Bond Offering (#GotBitcoin?)

Pornhub Will Integrate PumaPay Recurring Subscription Crypto Payments (#GotBitcoin?)

Intel SGX Vulnerability Discovered, Cryptocurrency Keys Threatened

Bitcoin’s Plunge Due To Manipulation, Traditional Markets Falling or PlusToken Dumping?

Countries That First Outlawed Crypto But Then Embraced It (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Maintains Gains As Global Equities Slide, US Yield Hits Record Lows

HTC’s New 5G Router Can Host A Full Bitcoin Node

India Supreme Court Lifts RBI Ban On Banks Servicing Crypto Firms (#GotBitcoin?)

Analyst Claims 98% of Mining Rigs Fail to Verify Transactions (#GotBitcoin?)

Blockchain Storage Offers Security, Data Transparency And immutability. Get Over it!

Black Americans & Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)

Coinbase Wallet Now Allows To Send Crypto Through Usernames (#GotBitcoin)

New ‘Simpsons’ Episode Features Jim Parsons Giving A Crypto Explainer For The Masses (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto-currency Founder Met With Warren Buffett For Charity Lunch (#GotBitcoin?)

Witches Love Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s Potential To Benefit The African And African-American Community

Coinbase Becomes Direct Visa Card Issuer With Principal Membership

Bitcoin Achieves Major Milestone With Half A Billion Transactions Confirmed

Jill Carlson, Meltem Demirors Back $3.3M Round For Non-Custodial Settlement Protocol Arwen

Crypto Companies Adopt Features Similar To Banks (Only Better) To Drive Growth (#GotBitcoin?)

Top Graphics Cards That Will Turn A Crypto Mining Profit (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Usage Among Merchants Is Up, According To Data From Coinbase And BitPay

Top 10 Books Recommended by Crypto (#Bitcoin) Thought Leaders

Twitter Adds Bitcoin Emoji, Jack Dorsey Suggests Unicode Does The Same

Bitcoiners Are Now Into Fasting. Read This Article To Find Out Why

You Can Now Donate Bitcoin Or Fiat To Show Your Support For All Of Our Valuable Content

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Crypto-Friendly Silvergate Bank Goes Public On New York Stock Exchange (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Best Q1 Since 2013 To ‘Escalate’ If $9.5K Is Broken

Billionaire Investor Tim Draper: If You’re a Millennial, Buy Bitcoin

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If You Missed Out On Investing In Amazon, Bitcoin Might Be A Second Chance For You (#GotBitcoin?)

2020 And Beyond: Bitcoin’s Potential Protocol (Privacy And Scalability) Upgrades (#GotBitcoin?)

US Deficit Will Be At Least 6 Times Bitcoin Market Cap — Every Year (#GotBitcoin?)

Central Banks Warm To Issuing Digital Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)

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H.R.5635 – Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act of 2020 ($200.00 Limit) 116th Congress (2019-2020)

Adam Back On Satoshi Emails, Privacy Concerns And Bitcoin’s Early Days

The Prospect of Using Bitcoin To Build A New International Monetary System Is Getting Real

How To Raise Funds For Australia Wildfire Relief Efforts (Using Bitcoin And/Or Fiat )

Former Regulator Known As ‘Crypto Dad’ To Launch Digital-Dollar Think Tank (#GotBitcoin?)

Currency ‘Cold War’ Takes Center Stage At Pre-Davos Crypto Confab (#GotBitcoin?)

A Blockchain-Secured Home Security Camera Won Innovation Awards At CES 2020 Las Vegas

Bitcoin’s Had A Sensational 11 Years (#GotBitcoin?)

Sergey Nazarov And The Creation Of A Decentralized Network Of Oracles

Google Suspends MetaMask From Its Play App Store, Citing “Deceptive Services”

Christmas Shopping: Where To Buy With Crypto This Festive Season

At 8,990,000% Gains, Bitcoin Dwarfs All Other Investments This Decade

Coinbase CEO Armstrong Wins Patent For Tech Allowing Users To Email Bitcoin

Bitcoin Has Got Society To Think About The Nature Of Money

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Dissidents And Activists Have A Lot To Gain From Bitcoin, If Only They Knew It (#GotBitcoin?)

At A Refugee Camp In Iraq, A 16-Year-Old Syrian Is Teaching Crypto Basics

Bitclub Scheme Busted In The US, Promising High Returns From Mining

Bitcoin Advertised On French National TV

Germany: New Proposed Law Would Legalize Banks Holding Bitcoin

How To Earn And Spend Bitcoin On Black Friday 2019

The Ultimate List of Bitcoin Developments And Accomplishments

Charities Put A Bitcoin Twist On Giving Tuesday

Family Offices Finally Accept The Benefits of Investing In Bitcoin

An Army Of Bitcoin Devs Is Battle-Testing Upgrades To Privacy And Scaling

Bitcoin ‘Carry Trade’ Can Net Annual Gains With Little Risk, Says PlanB

Max Keiser: Bitcoin’s ‘Self-Settlement’ Is A Revolution Against Dollar

Blockchain Can And Will Replace The IRS

China Seizes The Blockchain Opportunity. How Should The US Respond? (#GotBitcoin?)

Jack Dorsey: You Can Buy A Fraction Of Berkshire Stock Or ‘Stack Sats’

Bitcoin Price Skyrockets $500 In Minutes As Bakkt BTC Contracts Hit Highs

Bitcoin’s Irreversibility Challenges International Private Law: Legal Scholar

Bitcoin Has Already Reached 40% Of Average Fiat Currency Lifespan

Yes, Even Bitcoin HODLers Can Lose Money In The Long-Term: Here’s How (#GotBitcoin?)

Unicef To Accept Donations In Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Former Prosecutor Asked To “Shut Down Bitcoin” And Is Now Face Of Crypto VC Investing (#GotBitcoin?)

Switzerland’s ‘Crypto Valley’ Is Bringing Blockchain To Zurich

Next Bitcoin Halving May Not Lead To Bull Market, Says Bitmain CEO

Tim Draper Bets On Unstoppable Domain’s .Crypto Domain Registry To Replace Wallet Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Developer Amir Taaki, “We Can Crash National Economies” (#GotBitcoin?)

Veteran Crypto And Stocks Trader Shares 6 Ways To Invest And Get Rich

Have I Missed The Boat? – Best Ways To Purchase Cryptocurrency

Is Chainlink Blazing A Trail Independent Of Bitcoin?

Nearly $10 Billion In BTC Is Held In Wallets Of 8 Crypto Exchanges (#GotBitcoin?)

SEC Enters Settlement Talks With Alleged Fraudulent Firm Veritaseum (#GotBitcoin?)

Blockstream’s Samson Mow: Bitcoin’s Block Size Already ‘Too Big’

Attorneys Seek Bank Of Ireland Execs’ Testimony Against OneCoin Scammer (#GotBitcoin?)

OpenLibra Plans To Launch Permissionless Fork Of Facebook’s Stablecoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Tiny $217 Options Trade On Bitcoin Blockchain Could Be Wall Street’s Death Knell (#GotBitcoin?)

Class Action Accuses Tether And Bitfinex Of Market Manipulation (#GotBitcoin?)

Sharia Goldbugs: How ISIS Created A Currency For World Domination (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Eyes Demand As Hong Kong Protestors Announce Bank Run (#GotBitcoin?)

How To Securely Transfer Crypto To Your Heirs

‘Gold-Backed’ Crypto Token Promoter Karatbars Investigated By Florida Regulators (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto News From The Spanish-Speaking World (#GotBitcoin?)

Financial Services Giant Morningstar To Offer Ratings For Crypto Assets (#GotBitcoin?)

‘Gold-Backed’ Crypto Token Promoter Karatbars Investigated By Florida Regulators (#GotBitcoin?)

The Original Sins Of Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)

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Israeli Startup That Allows Offline Crypto Transactions Secures $4M (#GotBitcoin?)

[PSA] Non-genuine Trezor One Devices Spotted (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Stronger Than Ever But No One Seems To Care: Google Trends (#GotBitcoin?)

First-Ever SEC-Qualified Token Offering In US Raises $23 Million (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Prove A Whole Blockchain With One Math Problem – Really

Crypto Mining Supply Fails To Meet Market Demand In Q2: TokenInsight

$2 Billion Lost In Mt. Gox Bitcoin Hack Can Be Recovered, Lawyer Claims (#GotBitcoin?)

Fed Chair Says Agency Monitoring Crypto But Not Developing Its Own (#GotBitcoin?)

Wesley Snipes Is Launching A Tokenized $25 Million Movie Fund (#GotBitcoin?)

Mystery 94K BTC Transaction Becomes Richest Non-Exchange Address (#GotBitcoin?)

A Crypto Fix For A Broken International Monetary System (#GotBitcoin?)

Four Out Of Five Top Bitcoin QR Code Generators Are Scams: Report (#GotBitcoin?)

Waves Platform And The Abyss To Jointly Launch Blockchain-Based Games Marketplace (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitmain Ramps Up Power And Efficiency With New Bitcoin Mining Machine (#GotBitcoin?)

Ledger Live Now Supports Over 1,250 Ethereum-Based ERC-20 Tokens (#GotBitcoin?)

Miss Finland: Bitcoin’s Risk Keeps Most Women Away From Cryptocurrency (#GotBitcoin?)

Artist Akon Loves BTC And Says, “It’s Controlled By The People” (#GotBitcoin?)

Ledger Live Now Supports Over 1,250 Ethereum-Based ERC-20 Tokens (#GotBitcoin?)

Co-Founder Of LinkedIn Presents Crypto Rap Video: Hamilton Vs. Satoshi (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Insurance Market To Grow, Lloyd’s Of London And Aon To Lead (#GotBitcoin?)

No ‘AltSeason’ Until Bitcoin Breaks $20K, Says Hedge Fund Manager (#GotBitcoin?)

NSA Working To Develop Quantum-Resistant Cryptocurrency: Report (#GotBitcoin?)

Custody Provider Legacy Trust Launches Crypto Pension Plan (#GotBitcoin?)

Vaneck, SolidX To Offer Limited Bitcoin ETF For Institutions Via Exemption (#GotBitcoin?)

Russell Okung: From NFL Superstar To Bitcoin Educator In 2 Years (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Miners Made $14 Billion To Date Securing The Network (#GotBitcoin?)

Why Does Amazon Want To Hire Blockchain Experts For Its Ads Division?

Argentina’s Economy Is In A Technical Default (#GotBitcoin?)

Blockchain-Based Fractional Ownership Used To Sell High-End Art (#GotBitcoin?)

Portugal Tax Authority: Bitcoin Trading And Payments Are Tax-Free (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin ‘Failed Safe Haven Test’ After 7% Drop, Peter Schiff Gloats (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Dev Reveals Multisig UI Teaser For Hardware Wallets, Full Nodes (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Price: $10K Holds For Now As 50% Of CME Futures Set To Expire (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Realized Market Cap Hits $100 Billion For The First Time (#GotBitcoin?)

Stablecoins Begin To Look Beyond The Dollar (#GotBitcoin?)

Bank Of England Governor: Libra-Like Currency Could Replace US Dollar (#GotBitcoin?)

Binance Reveals ‘Venus’ — Its Own Project To Rival Facebook’s Libra (#GotBitcoin?)

The Real Benefits Of Blockchain Are Here. They’re Being Ignored (#GotBitcoin?)

CommBank Develops Blockchain Market To Boost Biodiversity (#GotBitcoin?)

SEC Approves Blockchain Tech Startup Securitize To Record Stock Transfers (#GotBitcoin?)

SegWit Creator Introduces New Language For Bitcoin Smart Contracts (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Earn Bitcoin Rewards For Postmates Purchases (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Price ‘Will Struggle’ In Big Financial Crisis, Says Investor (#GotBitcoin?)

Fidelity Charitable Received Over $100M In Crypto Donations Since 2015 (#GotBitcoin?)

Would Blockchain Better Protect User Data Than FaceApp? Experts Answer (#GotBitcoin?)

Just The Existence Of Bitcoin Impacts Monetary Policy (#GotBitcoin?)

What Are The Biggest Alleged Crypto Heists And How Much Was Stolen? (#GotBitcoin?)

IRS To Cryptocurrency Owners: Come Clean, Or Else!

Coinbase Accidentally Saves Unencrypted Passwords Of 3,420 Customers (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Is A ‘Chaos Hedge, Or Schmuck Insurance‘ (#GotBitcoin?)

Bakkt Announces September 23 Launch Of Futures And Custody

Coinbase CEO: Institutions Depositing $200-400M Into Crypto Per Week (#GotBitcoin?)

Researchers Find Monero Mining Malware That Hides From Task Manager (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Dusting Attack Affects Nearly 300,000 Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)

A Case For Bitcoin As Recession Hedge In A Diversified Investment Portfolio (#GotBitcoin?)

SEC Guidance Gives Ammo To Lawsuit Claiming XRP Is Unregistered Security (#GotBitcoin?)

15 Countries To Develop Crypto Transaction Tracking System: Report (#GotBitcoin?)

US Department Of Commerce Offering 6-Figure Salary To Crypto Expert (#GotBitcoin?)

Mastercard Is Building A Team To Develop Crypto, Wallet Projects (#GotBitcoin?)

Canadian Bitcoin Educator Scams The Scammer And Donates Proceeds (#GotBitcoin?)

Amazon Wants To Build A Blockchain For Ads, New Job Listing Shows (#GotBitcoin?)

Shield Bitcoin Wallets From Theft Via Time Delay (#GotBitcoin?)

Blockstream Launches Bitcoin Mining Farm With Fidelity As Early Customer (#GotBitcoin?)

Commerzbank Tests Blockchain Machine To Machine Payments With Daimler (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Historical Returns Look Very Attractive As Online Banks Lower Payouts On Savings Accounts (#GotBitcoin?)

Man Takes Bitcoin Miner Seller To Tribunal Over Electricity Bill And Wins (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Computing Power Sets Record As Over 100K New Miners Go Online (#GotBitcoin?)

Walmart Coin And Libra Perform Major Public Relations For Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Judge Says Buying Bitcoin Via Credit Card Not Necessarily A Cash Advance (#GotBitcoin?)

Poll: If You’re A Stockowner Or Crypto-Currency Holder. What Will You Do When The Recession Comes?

1 In 5 Crypto Holders Are Women, New Report Reveals (#GotBitcoin?)

Beating Bakkt, Ledgerx Is First To Launch ‘Physical’ Bitcoin Futures In Us (#GotBitcoin?)

Facebook Warns Investors That Libra Stablecoin May Never Launch (#GotBitcoin?)

Government Money Printing Is ‘Rocket Fuel’ For Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin-Friendly Square Cash App Stock Price Up 56% In 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

Safeway Shoppers Can Now Get Bitcoin Back As Change At 894 US Stores (#GotBitcoin?)

TD Ameritrade CEO: There’s ‘Heightened Interest Again’ With Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Venezuela Sets New Bitcoin Volume Record Thanks To 10,000,000% Inflation (#GotBitcoin?)

Newegg Adds Bitcoin Payment Option To 73 More Countries (#GotBitcoin?)

China’s Schizophrenic Relationship With Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

More Companies Build Products Around Crypto Hardware Wallets (#GotBitcoin?)

Bakkt Is Scheduled To Start Testing Its Bitcoin Futures Contracts Today (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Network Now 8 Times More Powerful Than It Was At $20K Price (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Exchange BitMEX Under Investigation By CFTC: Bloomberg (#GotBitcoin?)

“Bitcoin An ‘Unstoppable Force,” Says US Congressman At Crypto Hearing (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Network Is Moving $3 Billion Daily, Up 210% Since April (#GotBitcoin?)

Cryptocurrency Startups Get Partial Green Light From Washington

Fundstrat’s Tom Lee: Bitcoin Pullback Is Healthy, Fewer Searches Аre Good (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Lightning Nodes Are Snatching Funds From Bad Actors (#GotBitcoin?)

The Provident Bank Now Offers Deposit Services For Crypto-Related Entities (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Could Help Stop News Censorship From Space (#GotBitcoin?)

US Sanctions On Iran Crypto Mining — Inevitable Or Impossible? (#GotBitcoin?)

US Lawmaker Reintroduces ‘Safe Harbor’ Crypto Tax Bill In Congress (#GotBitcoin?)

EU Central Bank Won’t Add Bitcoin To Reserves — Says It’s Not A Currency (#GotBitcoin?)

The Miami Dolphins Now Accept Bitcoin And Litecoin Crypt-Currency Payments (#GotBitcoin?)

Trump Bashes Bitcoin And Alt-Right Is Mad As Hell (#GotBitcoin?)

Goldman Sachs Ramps Up Development Of New Secret Crypto Project (#GotBitcoin?)

Blockchain And AI Bond, Explained (#GotBitcoin?)

Grayscale Bitcoin Trust Outperformed Indexes In First Half Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

XRP Is The Worst Performing Major Crypto Of 2019 (GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Back Near $12K As BTC Shorters Lose $44 Million In One Morning (#GotBitcoin?)

As Deutsche Bank Axes 18K Jobs, Bitcoin Offers A ‘Plan ฿”: VanEck Exec (#GotBitcoin?)

Argentina Drives Global LocalBitcoins Volume To Highest Since November (#GotBitcoin?)

‘I Would Buy’ Bitcoin If Growth Continues — Investment Legend Mobius (#GotBitcoin?)

Lawmakers Push For New Bitcoin Rules (#GotBitcoin?)

Facebook’s Libra Is Bad For African Americans (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Firm Charity Announces Alliance To Support Feminine Health (#GotBitcoin?)

Canadian Startup Wants To Upgrade Millions Of ATMs To Sell Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Trump Says US ‘Should Match’ China’s Money Printing Game (#GotBitcoin?)

Casa Launches Lightning Node Mobile App For Bitcoin Newbies (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Rally Fuels Market In Crypto Derivatives (#GotBitcoin?)

World’s First Zero-Fiat ‘Bitcoin Bond’ Now Available On Bloomberg Terminal (#GotBitcoin?)

Buying Bitcoin Has Been Profitable 98.2% Of The Days Since Creation (#GotBitcoin?)

Another Crypto Exchange Receives License For Crypto Futures

From ‘Ponzi’ To ‘We’re Working On It’ — BIS Chief Reverses Stance On Crypto (#GotBitcoin?)

These Are The Cities Googling ‘Bitcoin’ As Interest Hits 17-Month High (#GotBitcoin?)

Venezuelan Explains How Bitcoin Saves His Family (#GotBitcoin?)

Quantum Computing Vs. Blockchain: Impact On Cryptography

This Fund Is Riding Bitcoin To Top (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Surge Leaves Smaller Digital Currencies In The Dust (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Exchange Hits $1 Trillion In Trading Volume (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Breaks $200 Billion Market Cap For The First Time In 17 Months (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Make State Tax Payments In Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Religious Organizations Make Ideal Places To Mine Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Goldman Sacs And JP Morgan Chase Finally Concede To Crypto-Currencies (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Heading For Fifth Month Of Gains Despite Price Correction (#GotBitcoin?)

Breez Reveals Lightning-Powered Bitcoin Payments App For IPhone (#GotBitcoin?)

Big Four Auditing Firm PwC Releases Cryptocurrency Auditing Software (#GotBitcoin?)

Amazon-Owned Twitch Quietly Brings Back Bitcoin Payments (#GotBitcoin?)

JPMorgan Will Pilot ‘JPM Coin’ Stablecoin By End Of 2019: Report (#GotBitcoin?)

Is There A Big Short In Bitcoin? (#GotBitcoin?)

Coinbase Hit With Outage As Bitcoin Price Drops $1.8K In 15 Minutes

Samourai Wallet Releases Privacy-Enhancing CoinJoin Feature (#GotBitcoin?)

There Are Now More Than 5,000 Bitcoin ATMs Around The World (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Get Bitcoin Rewards When Booking At Hotels.Com (#GotBitcoin?)

North America’s Largest Solar Bitcoin Mining Farm Coming To California (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin On Track For Best Second Quarter Price Gain On Record (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Hash Rate Climbs To New Record High Boosting Network Security (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Exceeds 1Million Active Addresses While Coinbase Custodies $1.3B In Assets

Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin’s Lightning Comes To Apple Smartwatches With New App (#GotBitcoin?)

E-Trade To Offer Crypto Trading (#GotBitcoin)

US Rapper Lil Pump Starts Accepting Bitcoin Via Lightning Network On Merchandise Store (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitfinex Used Tether Reserves To Mask Missing $850 Million, Probe Finds (#GotBitcoin?)

21-Year-Old Jailed For 10 Years After Stealing $7.5M In Crypto By Hacking Cell Phones (#GotBitcoin?)

You Can Now Shop With Bitcoin On Amazon Using Lightning (#GotBitcoin?)

Afghanistan, Tunisia To Issue Sovereign Bonds In Bitcoin, Bright Future Ahead (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Faithful Say Blockchain Can Remake Securities Market Machinery (#GotBitcoin?)

Disney In Talks To Acquire The Owner Of Crypto Exchanges Bitstamp And Korbit (#GotBitcoin?)

Crypto Exchange Gemini Rolls Out Native Wallet Support For SegWit Bitcoin Addresses (#GotBitcoin?)

Binance Delists Bitcoin SV, CEO Calls Craig Wright A ‘Fraud’ (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Outperforms Nasdaq 100, S&P 500, Grows Whopping 37% In 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

Bitcoin Passes A Milestone 400 Million Transactions (#GotBitcoin?)

Future Returns: Why Investors May Want To Consider Bitcoin Now (#GotBitcoin?)

Next Bitcoin Core Release To Finally Connect Hardware Wallets To Full Nodes (#GotBitcoin?)

Major Crypto-Currency Exchanges Use Lloyd’s Of London, A Registered Insurance Broker (#GotBitcoin?)

How Bitcoin Can Prevent Fraud And Chargebacks (#GotBitcoin?)

Why Bitcoin’s Price Suddenly Surged Back $5K (#GotBitcoin?)

Zebpay Becomes First Exchange To Add Lightning Payments For All Users (#GotBitcoin?)

Coinbase’s New Customer Incentive: Interest Payments, With A Crypto Twist (#GotBitcoin?)

The Best Bitcoin Debit (Cashback) Cards Of 2019 (#GotBitcoin?)

Real Estate Brokerages Now Accepting Bitcoin (#GotBitcoin?)

Ernst & Young Introduces Tax Tool For Reporting Cryptocurrencies (#GotBitcoin?)

How Will Bitcoin Behave During A Recession? (#GotBitcoin?)

Investors Run Out of Options As Bitcoin, Stocks, Bonds, Oil Cave To Recession Fears (#GotBitcoin?)

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