Grand jury dismisses charges against Ohio woman arrested for miscarriage
JAN 11, 2024
It’s rare to be able to bring you good news, so I’m thrilled to tell you that a grand jury has declined to indict Brittany Watts, the Ohio woman charged with ‘abuse of a corpse’ for flushing her miscarriage.
Brittany’s lawyer, Traci Timko, told The New York Times that when Brittany heard the news, she began to cry:
“It’s just been an emotional roller coaster that she has been on. I’m happy Brittany is able to now begin to heal through all of this and I hope and believe that her story is going to be an impetus for change.”
Menstrual regulation—sometimes referred to as “missed period pills"—is a new front in women's battle for bodily autonomy. Here's how it works and what you need to know.
Dec 30, 2023
Cari Siestra first learned about menstrual regulation when they were working on the Myanmar-Thailand border. At the time, abortion was broadly criminalized in both countries. But if a person’s period was late, it was relatively easy to get access to pills that would induce menstruation in just a few days. In Bangladesh, where abortion is largely illegal, menstrual regulation is available up to 10 weeks after a missed period, and public health advocates routinely talk about it as a promising way to reduce maternal mortality and rates of unsafe abortion.
Menstrual regulation isn’t completely unknown in the United States. Melissa Grant, chief operations officer and cofounder of Carafem, recalls friends who would have their periods brought back through manual vacuum aspiration in the 1980s, when early pregnancy tests weren’t as common. But in recent years, it hasn’t been a widespread option, and for a while, Siestra wasn’t sure if there was a place for menstrual regulation in the US.
Mifepristone will likely remain legal but could prove much harder to access. Legal and pharmaceutical experts have said this case could have far-reaching implications on approval for medications beyond abortion drugs.
by KELCIE MOSELEY-MORRIS AND SOFIA RESNICK
DECEMBER 19, 2023
This year will end on a major cliffhanger for abortion access.
Last November, anti-abortion activists via a powerful conservative Christian law firm asked a federal court to effectively ban or widely restrict the abortion drug mifepristone. Finally on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take the case, making Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration the high court’s first abortion-related case since overturning the federal right to an abortion in June 2022.
Dec 8, 2023
Aisha Sultan, Columnist and features writer
Imagine dealing with the trauma of losing a pregnancy and facing a police investigation and criminal charges in the midst of your grief and devastation.
It seems like a dystopian nightmare. Why would a woman, already physically and emotionally wrecked, be put through this kind of cruelty by the state? It’s been happening more often than most people realize.
Seventeen months after the Supreme Court decision, clinics and patients continue to face a maze of legal restrictions that differ from state to state.
by Megan Burbank
December 6, 2023
Confusion, fear and delayed abortions for patients traveling from other states are among the lingering impacts in Washington nearly a year and a half after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
While Washington abortion providers knew they would be helping a lot of people from Idaho and elsewhere in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, the reality has been much more complicated than bringing in more providers, expanding abortion training and resources and stockpiling abortion medications, as legal battles that could further restrict abortion access.
NOVEMBER 26, 2023
By Sarah McCammon, Selena Simmons-Duffin
The Texas Supreme Court will hear a case this week brought by women who say the state's abortion laws are harming them.
SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
This week, the Texas Supreme Court will consider this question. Are the state's abortion laws harming women when they face pregnancy complications? The case posing that question was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is fiercely defending the state's current abortion laws. Here to talk about it is NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffin. Hi, Selena.
What new research into the criminalization of self-managed abortions hints about a post-Dobbs world.
KATIE HERCHENROEDER, JULIANNE MCSHANE, Mother Jones
Nov 20, 2023
In 2013, an Indiana woman showed up at an emergency room suffering from severe vaginal hemorrhaging. At first, Purvi Patel denied she had been pregnant. But, eventually, Patel told doctors she had a stillbirth. The hospital staff did not believe her. So, her doctor—a member of the anti-abortion American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists—called the cops.
As a new report shows, Patel isn’t alone: Even before the fall of Roe, women were reported by doctors to law enforcement for conducting self-managed abortions, or SMAs. While only one state, Nevada, outright criminalizes SMAs, health care workers still reported pregnant people to law enforcement all across the country. And in a post-Dobbs world, experts worry this criminalization could get worse.
Amid pending court cases and ballot initiatives, journalistic coverage of medication abortion has never been more crucial. This piece aims to help inform the narrative with scientific evidence.
by Naseem S. Miller
November 1, 2023
Access to mifepristone, a medication that’s used for the safe termination of early pregnancy, hangs in the balance while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up a case that could determine the legal future of the abortion medication.
In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that mifepristone should not be prescribed past the seventh week of pregnancy, prescribed via telemedicine, or shipped to patients through the mail. In September, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to consider a challenge to that ruling.
Justice group calls some charges in past 20 years ‘illegitimate uses of state power’ and says over 40% of cases involved people of color
Mon 30 Oct 2023
Between 2000 and 2020, 61 people, including seven minors, were criminally investigated or arrested for allegedly ending their own pregnancies or helping someone else do so, according to a Monday report from If/When/How, a reproductive justice group that helps people deal with legal cases related to pregnancy.
Only 14 of those cases arose in the seven states that had bans on “self-managed abortion” on the books between 2000 and 2020. The report found that the vast majority of those cases were charged under other kinds of laws – ones that prosecutors had made elastic enough to fit the supposed crime.
A Nebraska mother and daughter were put behind bars for self-managing an abortion, but not because of what the law says is illegal.
Oct 4, 2023
Self-managed abortion is not a crime in Nebraska, and yet a teenager in Nebraska was recently sentenced to three months in jail and two years of probation for self-managing her own abortion when she was 17 to escape parenting with an abusive partner. In September, her mom was sentenced to two years in prison for supporting her with ending her pregnancy.
I work on If/When/How’s Repro Legal Helpline, and every day I talk to people who are worried that their decision to end a pregnancy might put them or their loved ones at legal risk. Many are terrified, and all are confused. Not because their actions are necessarily illegal, but because the anti-abortion stigma that seems to be everywhere—even in ourselves—is fueling an atmosphere of mistrust and surveillance. And their fears aren’t unfounded. People have been criminalized for self-managing their own abortion for decades, often without much needed supportive public attention or outrage.