Where Abortion Fights Will Play Out In 2019

This story additionally ran on NPR. This story might be republished totally free (details).

With Democrats now accountable for the U.S. House of Representatives, it’d seem that the combat over abortion rights has develop into a standoff.

After all, abortion-rights supporters inside the Democratic caucus will probably be ready to dam the type of curbs that Republicans superior over the previous two years once they had management of Congress.

But these on each side of the controversy insist that received’t be the case.

Despite the Republicans’ lack of the House, anti-abortion forces gained one in every of their most sought-after victories in a long time with the affirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Now, with a stronger chance of a 5-Four majority in favor of extra restrictions on abortion, anti-abortion teams are desperate to get take a look at instances to the excessive courtroom.

And that’s just the start.

“Our agenda is very focused on the executive branch, the coming election, and the courts,” mentioned Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List. She mentioned the brand new judges nominated to decrease federal courts by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate replicate “a legacy win.”

The Republican majority within the U.S. Senate is anticipated to proceed to fill the decrease federal courts with judges who’ve been vetted by anti-abortion teams.

Abortion-rights supporters assume they, too, could make strides in 2019.

“We expect 25 states to push policies that will expand or protect abortion access,” mentioned Dr. Leana Wen, who took over as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in November. If the landmark 1973 Supreme Court choice Roe v. Wade is finally overturned, states will determine whether or not abortion will probably be authorized, and underneath what circumstances.

Here are 4 venues the place the controversy over reproductive well being companies for girls will play out in 2019:


The Republican-controlled Congress proved unable in 2017 or 2018 to appreciate one of many anti-abortion motion’s largest targets: evicting Planned Parenthood from Medicaid, the federal-state medical insurance program for individuals who have low incomes. Abortion opponents don’t need Planned Parenthood to get federal funds as a result of, in lots of states, it features as an abortion supplier (albeit with non-federal assets).

Though Republicans have a barely bigger majority within the new Senate, that majority will nonetheless be nicely wanting the 60 votes wanted to dam any Democratic filibuster.

Because Democrats usually assist Planned Parenthood, the facility shift within the House makes the probabilities for defunding the group even slimmer, a lot to the dismay of abortion opponents.

“We’re pretty disappointed that, despite having a Republican Congress for two years, Planned Parenthood wasn’t defunded,” mentioned Kristan Hawkins of the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America. “This was one of President Trump’s promises to the pro-life community, and he should have demanded it,” she added.

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Another doubtless space of dispute would be the future of assorted anti-abortion restrictions which are routinely a part of annual spending payments. These embrace the so-called Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal abortion funding in Medicaid and different well being applications within the Department of Health and Human Services. Also disputed: restrictions on grants to worldwide teams that assist abortion rights, and limits on abortion in federal prisons and within the navy.

However, now that they’ve a considerable majority within the House, “Democrats are on stronger grounds to demand and expect clean appropriations bills,” with out a lot of these riders, mentioned Wen of Planned Parenthood. While Senate Republicans are prone to finally add these restrictions again, “they will have to go through the amendment process,” she mentioned. And that would deliver added consideration to the problems.

With management of House committees, Democrats also can set agendas, maintain hearings and name witnesses to speak about points they wish to promote.

“Even if the bills don’t come to fruition, putting these bills in the spotlight, forcing lawmakers to go on the record — that has value,” mentioned Wen.

The Trump Administration

While Congress is unlikely to agree on reproductive well being laws within the coming two years, the Trump administration continues to be pursuing an aggressive anti-abortion agenda — utilizing its energy of regulation.

A ultimate rule is anticipated any day that might reduce off a big a part of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding — not from Medicaid however from the Title X Family Planning Program. Planned Parenthood yearly supplies household planning and different well being companies that don’t contain abortion to about 40 % of this system’s Four million sufferers.

The administration proposal, unveiled last May, would successfully require Planned Parenthood to bodily separate services that carry out abortions from those who present federally funded companies, and would bar abortion referrals for girls who’ve unintended pregnancies. Planned Parenthood has mentioned it’s prone to sue over the brand new guidelines when they’re finalized. The Supreme Court upheld in 1991 a similar set of restrictions that had been by no means applied.

Abortion opponents are additionally urgent to finish federal funding for any analysis that makes use of tissue from aborted fetuses — a kind of analysis that was authorized by Congress within the early 1990s.

“It’s very important we get to a point of banning” fetal tissue analysis “and pursuing aggressively ethical alternatives,” mentioned Dannenfelser.

State Capitols

Abortion opponents having pushed by means of greater than 400 separate abortion restrictions on the state degree since 2010, based on the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights assume tank. In 2018 alone, based on Guttmacher, 15 states adopted 27 new limits on abortion and household planning.

“Absolutely some [of these are] an exercise in what they can get to go up to the Supreme Court,” mentioned Destiny Lopez, co-director of the abortion-rights group All* Above All. “Sort of ‘Let’s throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.’”

But 2018 additionally marked a turning level. It was the primary time in years that the variety of state actions supporting abortion rights outnumbered the restrictions. For instance, Massachusetts accredited a measure to repeal a pre-Roe ban on abortion that might take impact if Roe had been overturned. Washington state handed a legislation to require abortion protection in insurance coverage that provide maternity protection.

The Federal Courts

The destiny of all these insurance policies will probably be determined finally by the courts.

In reality, a number of state-level restrictions are already within the pipeline to the Supreme Court and will function a car to curtail or overturn Roe v. Wade.

Among the state legal guidelines closest to triggering such a assessment is an Indiana law banning abortion for gender choice or genetic flaws, amongst different issues. Also awaiting ultimate authorized say is an Alabama law banning the most typical second-trimester abortion methodology — dilation and evacuation.

This story additionally ran on NPR. This story might be republished totally free (details).

KHN’s protection of girls’s well being care points is supported partially by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Julie Rovner:”>, @jrovner

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