Dozens of abortion bills seep into state legislatures
State lawmakers are furiously preparing for the possibility of a significant rollback of abortion rights, tabling dozens of bills in legislative sessions this year.
They are fully aware that this year is different. This summer, the Supreme Court could review Roe vs. Wade — the historic 1973 decision declaring a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy until the point of viability, usually between 22 and 24 weeks.
Republican-led states are poised to impose abortion restrictions, while Democratic-led states are trying to protect access to the procedure. The Post is keeping tabs on the dizzying number of bills making their way through state legislatures this year.
Here’s what we learned from The Post’s new abortion tracker Caroline Kitchener, Kevin Schaul and Daniela Santamarina.
- Four states are pursuing 15-week bans mirroring Mississippi law, which is at the heart of the case pending before the Supreme Court.
- Thirteen states have proposed their own version of the Texas ban, which delegates private citizens to enforce the law through civil suits. Texas has banned abortions once fetal heart activity is detected, about six weeks, and most new state proposals have similar limits.
- Six states are currently considering new “triggering laws” — abortion restrictions that would come into effect if deerprevious is overturned — including Oklahoma, which is seeking to revise an existing ban. A new law recently went into effect in Wyoming.
- Eight states are reviewing bans on medical abortion, which now accounts for more than half of abortions nationwide.
- Seventeen states focused on protect the right to abortion or strengthen existing statewide protections.
To learn more about the state’s efforts during this landmark year, The Health 202 turned to Caroline, who covers abortion for The Post.
Health 202: States are pursuing a ton of abortion bills ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Mississippi’s 15-week ban this summer. What really stood out to you this year?
Carolina: We see a lot of anti-abortion bills every session, but the stakes look really different this year. When Republican states have passed these extremely restrictive laws in the past, they have always been blocked by the courts, deemed unconstitutional as a clear violation. by Roe v. Wadewhich protects the right to abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb.
But this year, all bets are off. Texas found a way to ban abortions after six weeks. The Supreme Court could overturn deer in June. Anti-abortion lawmakers are watching all of this — and they’re excited. There is a real feeling that even the most extreme laws could actually come into effect.
Health 202: We noticed the state of Washington has a new law prohibiting the prosecution of women seeking abortions and those who assist them. What trends do you see in Democratic-led states?
Carolina: You see two big buckets of abortion legislation in Democratic-led states this year. Many Democratic states are introducing bills to further protect abortion rights within their own borders, through statutes or constitutional amendments.
Then, many Democratic lawmakers are also pushing for laws that would make it easier for patients to travel to their state for abortion care. California is really leading the way on this: lawmakers are trying to create a centralized database that includes all abortion providers and funding sources in California, geared toward out-of-state patients. They also introduced a law like the one you mentioned in Washington that would explicitly protect California vendors from lawsuits.
Health 202: You had an interesting story about a Missouri legislator who wants to prevent residents from getting abortions out of state. Do you think this will be the new trend in abortion bills?
Carolina: I think it definitely could be. Every time I talk to an anti-abortion lawmaker, I ask them what comes next: what happens next? deer falls? For most anti-abortion lawmakers I talk to, banning abortion in GOP-led states won’t be enough. They want to ban it everywhere.
After posting this story from Missouri, I started hearing from various abortion advocates and lawmakers across the country who told me they were discussing something similar. I think we will see more attempts to crack down on abortions across state lines.
White House Orders
Welcome to budget week.
President Biden will release its budget for fiscal year 2023 today. By our colleague Jeff Stein, the document will likely include increases in defense and other spending with a focus on mental health, child care and other social programs, as well as deficit reduction.
- On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is expected to appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee to defend claims related to Biden’s health.
A reminder here that Biden’s budget is a wish list. It lays out the administration’s policy priorities, but Congress holds the purse strings — and will likely reject large swaths of Biden’s proposals.
Here is what we are monitoring:
- What is the budget for mental health care? Ahead of the State of the Union address, White House officials outlined their mental health strategy which included new dollars. But a full account of the plan could come with the release of the budget.
- Which Agencies Are Getting More Pandemic-Related Dollars? There’s a dead end on Capitol Hill $15 billion in aiding novel coronaviruses, and we’ll keep an eye out for agencies that get more money to fight current and future pandemics.
- How does the budget address the policies included in Biden’s now stalled economic package? Last year, the White House budget included some of these measures, such as making new Obamacare financial assistance permanent and 400 billion dollars towards home support for the elderly and disabled.
FDA may greenlight second coronavirus recall for ages 50 and older this week
the Food and drug administration is about to authorize a second booster injection of the coronavirus vaccine for anyone aged 50 and over as of Tuesday, our colleagues Laurie McGinley and Lena H. Sun report.
- the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention it’s not expected to explicitly recommend the shot in part because the data isn’t solid, but instead releases a statement that it’s available to eligible people who want it.
Key Context: Potential permissions for a second Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern recall come amid concerns that some older Americans may need an extra layer of protection against BA.2 as the sub-variant spreads across the country.
Representatives from major health agencies met Wednesday night and agreed to set the age at 50, Laurie and Lena write. This helped address a health equity issue.
- Some CDC officials and elsewhere in the administration have said setting the bar at 60 or 65 would prevent access to second boosters by younger members of medically underserved groups, including Latinos and blacks. These groups have higher rates of underlying medical conditions at younger ages and have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
Officials Limit Antibody Therapy, Saying It’s Potentially Ineffective Against BA.2
On Friday, federal health officials suspended the distribution of a monoclonal antibody treatment for the coronavirus in places where the BA.2 omicron subvariant accounts for the majority of infections, saying it is unlikely it be effective against the last strain.
Key details: The treatment, sotrovimab, is no longer licensed in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
High-risk patients with mild to moderate cases of coronavirus in affected areas have access to bebtelovimab monoclonal antibody treatment, as well as other therapies, such as antiviral pills. During the original omicron surge, the government halted shipments of two other antibody treatments that were ineffective against omicron.
Supreme Court says Biden administration can consider vaccination status when deploying Navy SEALs
ICYMI: The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Biden administration the green light to consider the vaccination status of Navy SEALs when making deployment decisions, The Post’s Robert Barnes reports.
- Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch, and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissenting from the short unsigned order.
- Meanwhile, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion there was “no reason” to employ judicial powers “which military commanders believed would harm the military of the United States.”
- White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said she tested positive for covid-19 after returning from Biden’s trip to Europe, but is not considered close contact with the president.
- A jury found on Friday a ex-Tennessee nurse guilty criminally negligent homicide of a medication error resulting in the death of a patient in a case closely monitored by nursing organizations nationwide, the Associated Press reports.
- Ukrainian Deputy Health Minister Oleksii Yaremenko said the amount of humanitarian aid sent to Ukraine has slowed in recent days and called for more support to meet the country’s health needs, for example Reuters.
- Thema Bryant, the new head of the American Psychological Association, wants to hold a conference focusing on practical ways to deal with trauma; to help mental health professionals use song, dance and other forms of culture in their treatment; and produce a documentary highlighting psychologists of color, The Post’s Rebecca Tan writing.
Are you ready for a busy week?
Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow.