What I Published in January

A collection of my freelance work in one place, as a treat.

What I Published in January
Me at a party after I bring up abortion. Photo by Jay Ruzesky / Unsplash

I'm out in the world, freelancing! Each month I'll share what I wrote and for whom, along with a calendar-appropriate animal photo. (The December version is here.)

Here's the tour for January 2024:

It’s Better Than Nothing. But It’s Worse Than Roe. Are We Ready for Bad Abortion Laws Pushed With Good Intentions?
A ballot proposal out of Arkansas has a very serious downside.

Weaksauce ballot measure: For Slate, I wrote about an Arkansas group trying to do something about the state's abortion ban with a ballot measure. Problem is, they're not working with reproductive rights or justice advocates and what they proposed wouldn't codify the (flawed) Roe v. Wade standard of access until fetal viability, or about 24 weeks of pregnancy, but rather enshrine abortion up to just 18 weeks. Translation: They're inviting the state to ban abortion after that point.

The group behind the effort claimed in an interview with me that they had to choose this arbitrary point in pregnancy because it polled better than the viability line and they feel a duty to undo the ban ASAP. The ballot language throws people who need later abortions under the bus and opens the door even wider for pregnancy criminalization. Ballot measures are super expensive, and there's no indication that this group—without support from players like Planned Parenthood or the ACLU—can even raise enough money to collect the necessary number of signatures to put the question on the ballot. It's a mess.

The abortion activists who say bringing back Roe is not enough
Abortion rights groups split with mainstream movement over support for former legal framework of ‘viability’

Let go of Roe: Very related to the above, I published an exclusive in The Guardian on a new group created to help the broader repro movement evolve beyond Roe and 1992's Casey. Roe overturned abortion bans, yes, but Roe and Casey also left countless people behind, including those who need later abortions and people living on low incomes. (Roe would have turned 51 on January 22; this piece went up the day before.) Members of the coalition who I interviewed stressed over and over that rebuilding Roe is bad both ethically and politically. Why re-create something that doesn't guarantee freedom and was vulnerable enough to be gutted and eventually overturned? The new coalition argues the best path forward is to truly get the government out of pregnancy: Enshrine abortion as a fundamental right that can't be limited by politicians. No abortion bans, ever. (I had such great conversations that I shared some quotes that didn't make it into the final piece.)

Planned Parenthood Affiliate in Missouri Now Supports Abortion Limit It Very Recently Opposed
Lifting Missouri’s abortion ban would be meaningful. But a ballot measure to re-enshrine a standard that Planned Parenthood warned against isn’t great.

Ballot backtrack: Also related to the above!! For Jezebel, I reported that the Planned Parenthood affiliate in Missouri is supporting a ballot measure that would codify the viability line less than a year after saying it opposed that framework. In a February 2023 memo, the affiliate said: "'Viability' is not a medical construct and has no relevance to clinical care. It is a political construct set under Roe v. Wade. We now know that the viability standard tried and failed to balance state and personal interests, and it did not work. If we mean what we say — that Roe was the floor, not the ceiling — then advocates and allies must abandon the Roe framework and allow providers and patients the freedom to make decisions about their health care plan."

There are advocates who want to advance true reproductive freedom even in conservative states, but they're apparently getting overruled. The Missouri ballot coalition also includes Abortion Action Missouri, the ACLU of Missouri, the Fairness Project, and Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. If you have more information on the choice to stick with viability in Missouri, my email is susanrinkunaswrites [at] gmail [dot] com and we can move to Signal. (No, I'm not putting my phone number on the internet.)

Would Be Great If CNN Asked the GOP Candidates About the 1873 Zombie Law That Could Ban All Abortions
The Comstock Act is a 19th-century statute that bans mailing abortion-relation items, and all a GOP president has to do is tell their cabinet to enforce it.

Media fail: In another one of several pieces I wrote for relaunched Jezebel, I explored why debate moderators and reporters with access to GOP presidential candidates keep asking the wrong questions about abortion. Tired: asking whether someone would sign a federal ban as president. Wired: Asking if they'd enforce the Comstock Act of 1873 and how.

Anti-Abortion Movement Details Its 2025 Plans and They’re Terrifying
Groups like the Heritage Foundation and National Right to Life outlined all the things a president could do without passing a single law through Congress.

Not hiding it: I broke down a big Politico story on how a Republican president could ban abortion nationwide without passing a single law. It's another piece of evidence that moderators shouldn't ignore, but probably will! (Yes, Comstock is the thrust here, but there are other horrifying proposals.)

There’s a New Contender for Most Awful Woman in Congress
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) is exhibiting levels of shamelessness you’d expect from Reps. Greene, Boebert, and Mace.

Four Horsewomen: I also laid out the recent press cycles involving a Florida Congresswoman who appears to want to be mentioned in the same breath as MTG, Lauren Boebert, and Nancy Mace.

See you next month!