The Arizona Abortion Ban Case Shows What ‘Let the States Decide’ Really Means

The Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling that reinstated a draconian 1864 near-total abortion ban reveals the disingenuous nature of the “leave-it-to-the-states” positioning of some Republicans.

In response to the state Supreme Court’s decision, Democrats spearheaded legislation to repeal that law, which was recently signed by Gov. Katie Hobbs (D). However, leaving it to the states doesn’t always have such a rosy ending—and, indeed, this is not the end of efforts in Arizona or elsewhere by special interests trying to impose their regressive worldview on us all through law. A closer look into the Arizona abortion case and court that led to the reprise of this antiquated anti-abortion law reveals that some of the same anti-abortion zealots who played a central role in overturning Roe are also playing a role in revoking Arizonians’ access to abortion healthcare.

When It Comes to Abortion Bans, ‘Life of the Mother’ Exceptions Are a Lie

This Wednesday, Idaho will attempt to defend its extreme abortion ban at the Supreme Court. Like many other abortion bans in the United States, the Idaho law contains a so-called life exception, which purports to allow an abortion when “necessary to prevent the death” of the pregnant person.

But do these exceptions actually preserve the lives of patients in practice? As Mayron Hollis, Amanda Zurawski, the family of Yeniifer Alvarez-Estrada Glick, and countless other women can attest, the answer is no. And the truth is, they’re not designed to. 

The Best and Worst States for Family Care Policies

In 2021, the Century Foundation published its first care policy report card, “Care Matters,” which graded each state on a number of supportive family policies and worker rights and protections, such as paid sick and paid family leave, pregnant worker fairness, and the domestic worker bill of rights. The 2021 report card revealed the tremendous gaps in state care policies and a fragmented and insufficient system of care workers and families in most states.

This year’s update, co-authored with Caring Across Generations, takes another look at how states are doing.

How Blocking the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Is Part of Texas’ Anti-Trans Agenda

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act’s gender-inclusive language—in notable contrast to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978—marks a crucial step towards ensuring equitable treatment and access to accommodations. Without adequate protections, Texas employers could resist making accommodations for people such as pregnant trans men by arguing that it does not apply to them on the account that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act refers specifically to “women”.

Texas has already made clear that trans and gender diverse employees will not be protected in the workplace, when a judge ruled that employers need not protect trans workers from discrimination based on dress, pronoun, and bathroom usage. The Texas legislature’s obstruction of the PWFA serves as a stark reminder of the tangled web woven by the state’s pro-business stance and its vehemently anti-trans agenda.

Now, as we navigate the treacherous terrain of a post-Dobbs landscape, the plight of transgender pregnant individuals in Texas grows increasingly dire, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive protections and support.

The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Coming for Fertility Treatments

The availability of in-vitro fertilization in Alabama may now be in question after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that embryos kept in clinic freezers are considered persons under the law, and protected by the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. It’s a shocking and jarring decision that radically extends the bounds of legal personhood, tosses any claims to originalism aside, and seems primed to make a variety of fertility treatments either extremely costly for patients, or extremely legally risky for clinicians.

IVF is, unfortunately, not safe from the anti-abortion movement. Many of the movement’s leaders have indicated that they would like to outlaw it, and while right now they have bigger fish to fry, abortion opponents have never stopped at simply (“simply”) banning abortion. They want full control over reproduction, and over women specifically. And Alabama just put us all one step closer to their ultimate goal.

My Thanks to Dobbs

The Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs has done a much better job than I ever did to raise public consciousness about the connections between abortion, pregnancy and pregnancy loss. For more than 30 years, I have tried to communicate the fact that abortion and pregnancy are not separate issues and that all people with the capacity for pregnancy—not just those seeking to end a pregnancy—would be harmed by the loss of Roe.

Dobbs however is doing a wonderful job helping people see the connections—from the state of Texas denying Kate Cox the right to end a pregnancy with a fetus that had no chance of survival, to skilled medical professionals fleeing states where they face arrest and financial ruin for providing medical care to pregnant patients.

Punish, Torture, Kill: The Reality of Pregnancy in ‘Pro-Life’ America

In Ohio, a grand jury is deciding whether to charge Brittany Watts—a woman who went to the hospital twice for care when she was miscarrying, was sent home twice, and miscarried in her bathroom. She could face jail time for “abuse of a corpse,” because fetal parts were found clogged in her toilet. Watts’ case is a chilling preview of what could come: Miscarriage criminalized in myriad ways. And now, the Fifth Circuit is holding that emergency rooms do not have to provide life-saving abortions—further ensuring that women with dangerous miscarriages will simply be sent home and left to manage on their own.

At the heart of the ‘pro-life’ movement is the idea that women are put on this earth for subservience. And so this is the plan: Force women to carry pregnancies against their will.

Welcome to the New Jane Crow

The Supreme Court of Texas notched itself into a troubling tapestry of U.S. legal history when it overturned a district court ruling that allowed Kate Cox, a 31-year-old Texas woman, to end her nonviable pregnancy. The state is committed to forcing Cox to remain pregnant, against her will and medical recommendations.

Women in Texas are living in a new Jane Crow.