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Trump Administration Official Talked About Forcing “Abortion Reversal” for Undocumented Minor

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Welcome to The Week in Reproductive Justice, a weekly recap of all news related to the hot-button issue of what lawmakers are allowing women to do with their bodies!

Tuesday evening saw President Trump give his first State of the Union address, and unsurprisingly, his speech lacked references to women’s and LGBTQIA rights. It was surprising only if you expected the president to list his administration’s multiple attacks on choice—such as the repeal of the contraceptive mandate—his Justice Department’s obstruction of undocumented minors’ abortion access, and his Health and Human Services’ department’s mandate authorizing doctors to discriminate against LGBTQ people and women seeking abortions.

Over the past year, this administration has accomplished nothing to improve the lives of marginalized Americans and has significantly impacted policy and the dialogue around reproductive rights for the worse.

But nevertheless, the fight persists, not only on the federal level, but on every level of government.

California state Senate passes campus abortion bill

After moving from committee to committee, SB 320, a bill that would require public California colleges to offer medication abortion services, passed the Senate this week, and now awaits a crucial vote from the state Assembly. If passed, by Jan. 2022, female students on college campuses would be able to access abortion on campus, up to 10 weeks into their pregnancy. The bill was first introduced by Sen. Connie Levya last February to address the needs of female students attending schools far away from abortion clinics, or strapped with substantial economic burdens and academic commitments making a trip off campus for the procedure almost impossible.

If the state legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown make SB 320 the law, California would be starting a crucial precedent for college women across the country.

U.S. Senate votes down 20-week abortion ban

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced the Senate would vote on a bill passed by the House last year that would ban abortion at or after 20 weeks. The ban would disproportionately harm women with health struggles or fetal abnormalities, and sends the false message that late-term abortion is common, when about 90 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester. Fortunately enough, it failed to garner enough votes.

Despite the Senate’s Republican majority, a policy proposal as blatantly unconstitutional, dangerous, and destined to be challenged in court as a 20-week ban on abortion never had a strong chance. The decision to hold a vote on the bill, nonetheless, was largely a political move to give Republicans like Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz extra fodder for their usual talking points and scare stories about Democrats and abortion, and typically enough, cast Republican politicians as martyrs fighting for “the unborn.”

Trump administration talked about “abortion reversal” for undocumented minor

Since October, cases of undocumented, sometimes underage women seeking abortions have been widely reported on—notably due to efforts from the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the Justice Department to block access for immigrants seeking the procedure. The terrible justification used for opposing abortion access for detained immigrants that non-citizens lacked human rights, pretty much falling in line with the Trump administration’s regard for undocumented people as subhuman.

According to a Wednesday report by VICE, the story of undocumented women and abortion is more convoluted, even, than this: ORR head Scott Lloyd, a fervent abortion rights opponent, talked to his staff about the possibility of an “abortion reversal” for one immigrant teen who terminated her pregnancy through medication abortion.

Considering how the anti-abortion movement in its entirety centers around a scientifically inaccurate false equivalence between fertilized eggs and living children, it’s no surprise that the movement has been pedaling the myth of abortion reversal since medication abortion became more widely used. Medication abortion, which is effective within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, involves taking a mifepristone pill, followed by a misoprostol pill 24–48 hours later. Abortion opponents are consistently pushing the myth that, after taking mifepristone, women can take progesterone to reverse the effects of taking the mifepristone. Some states have been working to make it illegal for doctors to tell women they have this option; the idea of abortion reversal is not only inaccurate, but is also manipulative and damaging as it tells women they should regret their decision to terminate a pregnancy.

In a deposition as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, Lloyd admitted to discussing the possibility of abortion reversal for an undocumented teen in order “to save the life of the baby.” The extremity of the situation and all that’s wrong with this should, frankly, speak for itself. But in case it doesn’t, bear in mind that Lloyd is equating an embryo or fetus (depending on whether the abortion took place after nine weeks) to a baby, and discussed the possibility of disrupting an immigrant woman’s bodily decision with a forced, pseudoscience practice.

Unintended pregnancy rates in Washington, DC could soon take a dive

On Wednesday, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill into law allowing women to buy up to a year’s supply of birth control pills by prescription from their local pharmacist. Another part of the law allows women to obtain birth control without visiting their doctor, similar to laws in states like California, Oregon, and New Mexico.

But as more and more states pass laws allowing birth control without visits with a doctor, what makes Washington’s Defending Access to Women’s Health Care Services Amendment Act so important is that it allows women to obtain a year’s supply of birth control without the need for refills and multiple trips. University of California, San Francisco researchers have found that in California, women with 12-month supplies can result in up to 30 percent fewer unintended pregnancies than women who have to refill prescriptions every 30 or 90 days.

The law is crucial if not only because of how it simplifies women’s lives and limits the barriers placed on women’s access to a critically important medical resource, but also because of its effectiveness.

Tune in next week to see what lawmakers will try next in their never-ending mission to derail reproductive justice!

(image: Avivi Aharon / Shutterstock.com)

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