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Reproductive Rights

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One of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress is in the toughest reelection battle of his career in South Texas. Rep. Henry Cuellar is trying to win the nomination for a 10th term in a primary runoff Tuesday against challenger Jessica Cisneros. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are standing by Cuellar despite his staunch anti-abortion views. Cisneros is an immigration attorney who supports abortion rights. The runoff is a test of how much abortion rights will energize voters in the midterm elections. A leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion last month showed that the court may overturn abortion rights this summer.

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For some female incumbents running for reelection in Congress this year, holding their seats comes with a new challenge. Because of redistricting, some of those congressional districts will be tougher to win. It’s too early to know how many female representatives were hurt by the once-a-decade process because maps haven’t been finalized in several states. But in states with new district boundaries set, the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University found more than a dozen women who are running in significantly tougher territory. This comes as female representatives make up about 28% of the 435 House members.

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The conservative Catholic archbishop of San Francisco says he will no longer allow U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her support for abortion rights. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said Friday in his notification to Pelosi that he sent her a letter on April 7 expressing his concerns after she vowed to codify the Supreme Court’s Row vs. Wade decision into law after Texas approved a law banning most abortions but that she never responded. Cordileone says he told Pelosi she must either repudiate her support of abortion rights or stop speaking publicly about her Catholic faith. Otherwise he says he must declare she cannot receive Communion.

Oklahoma is only days from enacting the toughest U.S. state ban on abortion and providers are preparing to stop terminating pregnancies. Meanwhile, questions remained Friday about how the law’s limited exceptions would be enforced. The law allows abortions to save a pregnant patient’s life “in a medical emergency” and in cases of rape, sexual assault or incest that have been reported to law enforcement. It doesn’t spell out who decides what is considered a medical emergency, and the rape and incest exception won’t help victims who don’t report the crimes. Abortion providers said they are likely to be cautious and are planning to refer some patients to states like Colorado or Kansas.

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The loudest voices in the abortion debate are often characterized along a starkly religious divide, the faithful versus not. But the reality is much more nuanced, both at an Alabama abortion clinic and in the nation that surrounds it. The clinic’s staff of 11 — most of them Black, deeply faithful Christian women — have no trouble at all reconciling their work with their religion. And as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to dismantle the constitutional right to an abortion, they draw on their faith that they will somehow continue. God is on our side, they tell each other. God will keep this clinic open.

The loudest voices in the abortion debate are often characterized along a starkly religious divide, the faithful versus not. But the reality is much more nuanced, both at an Alabama abortion clinic and in the nation that surrounds it. The clinic’s staff of 11 — most of them Black, deeply faithful Christian women — have no trouble at all reconciling their work with their religion. And as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to dismantle the constitutional right to an abortion, they draw on their faith that they will somehow continue. God is on our side, they tell each other. God will keep this clinic open.

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Abortion providers in Oklahoma say they will no longer provide the service in the state after the governor signs the latest anti-abortion measure heading to his desk. The bill passed Thursday is part of an aggressive push in Republican-led states across the country to scale back abortion rights. The bill would prohibit all abortions, except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement. It now heads to Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who is expected to sign it.

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Reproductive rights advocates are planning to open new abortion clinics or expand the capacity of existing ones in states without restrictive abortion laws. This comes as a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion says justices could overturn the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Some Democratic-led states in the West and the Northeast are proposing public money for an expected influx of people traveling from other places for abortions. A clinic in Memphis, Tennessee, plans to open an abortion facility in August in the southern Illinois city of Carbondale. Illinois has easy abortion access but is surrounded by more restrictive states.

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Growing numbers of extremely premature infants are getting lifesaving treatment and surviving. Over the last half century, medical science has slowly shifted the boundary of what is known as viability ever earlier. While the concept of viability has long been associated with the abortion debate, it is a changing line that has little to do with most abortions. More than 99% of abortions occur at or before 21 weeks, according to federal statistics. It is a real concern for doctors, though, as they try to care for these children, who are highly susceptible to disabilities such as cerebral palsy, cognitive impairments, blindness and severe lung problems.

Vice President Kamala Harris will speak with abortion providers from states with some of the nation’s strictest restrictions on the procedure Thursday to thank them for their work, The White House said Harris will meet virtually meeting with medical professionals practicing in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Montana. The meeting comes weeks after the release of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting that justices are on the brink of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. Justices are expected to issue their final ruling in the next six weeks, but those states and others are already laying the groundwork to ban abortion outright.

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The federal government is warning law enforcement agencies around the nation of the increased potential for extremist violence after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion striking down the constitutional right to abortion. A memo from the Department of Homeland Security says violence could come from either side of the abortion issue or from other types of extremists seeking to exploit tensions. Separately, the Justice Department announced Wednesday that the U.S. Marshals Service has the justices of the Supreme Court under 24-hour security.

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Companies that collect data from the digital clues people leave online often know their most sensitive health information _ gleaned from web searches, health apps and location trackers. Privacy experts fear this digital trail could be used to surveil pregnancies if the U.S. Supreme Court allows abortions to be banned, as a leaked draft opinion suggests it will. Ford Foundation technology fellow Cynthia Conti-Cook says the data gives outsiders a peek into someone's soul. It's mostly used to target advertising, like baby products shown to pregnant women. But the data could become evidence in a criminal case, something that worries abortion supporters.

Companies that collect data from the digital clues people leave online often know their most sensitive health information _ gleaned from web searches, health apps and location trackers. Privacy experts fear this digital trail could be used to surveil pregnancies if the U.S. Supreme Court allows abortions to be banned, as a leaked draft opinion suggests it will. Ford Foundation technology fellow Cynthia Conti-Cook says the data gives outsiders a peek into someone’s soul. It’s mostly used to target advertising, like baby products shown to pregnant women. But the data could become evidence in a criminal case, something that worries abortion supporters.

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A newly organized group of abortion rights supporters has filed an initiative that seeks to amend the Arizona Constitution to protect the right to abortion. The initiative filed Tuesday by a group called Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom is a longshot to make the ballot. The group needs to collect more than 356,000 signatures from registered voters in a little over seven weeks. Initiative proponents often aim to collect at least an extra 30% over the minimum as a buffer. The push was prompted by a leak early this month of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that suggests the court is poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that said women have a constitutional right to get an abortion.  

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A judge has suspended Michigan’s dormant ban on abortion, saying it likely violates the state constitution. The law makes it a crime to assist in an abortion. It has been on the books since 1931. But it has had no practical effect since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. The Supreme Court could overturn that decision by summer, leaving abortion issues to each state. Judge Elizabeth Gleicher granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan. The judge says there's “no doubt” that a right to “bodily integrity” in Michigan includes a right to end a pregnancy.

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When desperate people can’t obtain abortions near home -- when they need plane tickets, bus fare, babysitters -- they reach out to groups like  the Midwest Access Coalition. The demand has become staggering. And is expected to grow exponentially if the U.S., Supreme Court guts Roe v. Wade. Already, state after state has tightened restrictions, pushing pregnant people further from home, for some hundreds of miles away.  Helpless to prevent the coming crisis, the groups' goal is to assist abortion seekers one by one, either legally by helping them travel, or illegally if that’s what it eventually comes down to. 

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When desperate people can’t obtain abortions near home -- when they need plane tickets, bus fare, babysitters -- they reach out to groups like the Midwest Access Coalition. The demand has become staggering.  And now, as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to gut Roe v. Wade, it is likely to get far worse. Already, state after state has tightened restrictions, pushing pregnant people further from home, for some hundreds of miles away. Helpless to prevent the coming crisis, the goal for the resistors is to assist abortion seekers one by one, either legally by helping them travel, or illegally if that’s what it eventually comes down to.  

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The Spanish government has approved a draft bill that widens abortion rights for teenagers and may make Spain the first country in Europe entitling workers to paid menstrual leave. The measures are part of a package of proposals that will be sent to the Spanish parliament for debate. The package includes an extension of abortion rights, scrapping the requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain parental consent before terminating a pregnancy. The government also proposes giving workers who are experiencing period pain as much time off as they need, with the state social security system — not employers — paying for sick leave.

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Starbucks says it will pay travel expenses for U.S. employees to access abortion or gender-confirmation procedures if those services aren't available within 100 miles of a worker’s home. The Seattle coffee chain says the benefit will also be available to dependents of employees enrolled in its health care coverage. Starbucks is among the most high-profile companies that have adopted a travel benefit in the wake of a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court that would abolish the nationwide right to abortion. Amazon is also covering up to $4,000 in travel and lodging expenses for employees seeking abortions or gender-confirmation procedures. 

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Abortion rights supporters are demonstrating at hundreds of marches and rallies where they're expressing their outrage that the Supreme Court appears prepared to scrap the constitutional right to abortion that has endured for nearly a half-century. And they're expressing their fear about what that could mean for women’s reproductive choices. Incensed after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly because Republican-led states are poised to enact tighter restrictions. In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered at the Washington Monument before marching to the Supreme Court, which is now surrounded by two layers of security fences.

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Republican Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz is stepping up his criticism of a far-right candidate in Pennsylvania who is gaining traction ahead of Tuesday’s primary election. Oz has generally steered clear of rival Kathy Barnette. But Oz tells The Associated Press that Barnette is out of step with the GOP and would be unable to win the general election. Oz takes issue with a 2015 tweet from Barnette in which she wrote that “Pedophilia is a Cornerstone of Islam.” Oz would be the nation’s first Muslim senator, and he calls Barnette's remark “disqualifying.” The Barnette campaign hasn't responded to a request for comment.

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Justice Clarence Thomas says that the Supreme Court has been changed by the shocking leak of a draft opinion earlier this month. That opinion suggests the court is poised to overturn the right to an abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade. The conservative Thomas joined the court in 1991 and has long called for Roe v. Wade to be overturned. He described the leak as an unthinkable breach of trust. Thomas said at a conference in Dallas that: “When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder."

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