Consider this from NPR: NPR

Anti-abortion activists who describe themselves as “abolitionists” demonstrate outside a fertility clinic in North Carolina in April 2024.

Sarah McCammon/NPR

hide caption

toggle caption

Sarah McCammon/NPR

Anti-abortion activists who describe themselves as “abolitionists” demonstrate outside a fertility clinic in North Carolina in April 2024.

Sarah McCammon/NPR

Two years ago next month, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wadethe historic decision guaranteeing a federal right to abortion.

It was an outcome decades in the making – but for abortion opponents, the fight is unfinished. They are now considering banning mifepristone, a drug commonly used in medical abortions. Opponents of abortion rights have filed several lawsuits, including one awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court.

Abortion medications have made the procedure more accessible. Since June 2022, the number of abortions performed in the United States has actually increased: on average, there have been about 4,000 more abortions per month in 2023 compared to 2022, according to the Society of Family’s WeCount project Planning.

One factor driving this increase is the increase in telehealth abortion – where patients receive abortion medications through the mail after seeing a clinician. Telehealth abortions now account for 19% of all abortions in the United States, according to Wecount.

“It’s affordable. It’s convenient and it feels more private,” says Jillian Barovic, a midwife and one of the co-founders of Juniper Midwifery, which offers medication abortions via telehealth in six abortion-prone states. legal.

You are reading the Consider This newsletter, which presents major news every day. Subscribe here to receive it in your inbox and listen to more from the Consider this podcast.

Efforts to further restrict abortion rights

As abortions continue despite state bans, activists are pushing for additional restrictions, including criminalizing patients who seek abortions and banning procedures like IVF.

T. Russell Hunter leads a group that opposes all abortions, without exception – they call themselves “abortion abolitionists.” He accuses major anti-abortion groups of being too willing to accept progressive restrictions inconsistent with their message.

“You can’t say, ‘Life begins at conception…but we’re going to allow abortion in the first five weeks,'” Hunter says. “If life begins at conception and you believe that human life must be protected, well, you are logically stuck.”

Hunter, who lives in Oklahoma, opposes IVF and believes embryos should have legal rights. He argues that patients seeking abortions and anyone who helps them should be charged with murder.

Kristine Harhoef lives in Texas and has been involved in anti-abortion activism for over a decade. She is frustrated that even where abortion is banned, patients still have access to abortion medications. She spoke with lawmakers in Texas and neighboring states, trying to promote legislation that would treat abortion the same as homicide.

“And the punishment could range from nothing at all, if she was truly innocent, truly forced into this abortion,” she said, “to a fine or community service, or even, yes, a prison sentence.” and perhaps even the death penalty.

What this could all mean for Republicans in November

The issue of abortion rights could be a difficult issue for Republicans to navigate.

Several recent polls by Pew and the Public Religion Research Institute confirm that a clear majority of voters believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

And while abortion abolitionists take aim at IVF, Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, express support for the procedure. After an Alabama Supreme Court ruling ruled that embryos should be legally considered children, Republicans rushed to pass a law intended to protect IVF providers.

Activists like Harhoef, who support the death penalty for abortion patients, remain in the minority among abortion opponents. But they have made progress in state legislatures, including a bill that was introduced in the Louisiana House in 2022.

Rachel Bitecofer, a Democratic political strategist, says the line between the mainstream anti-abortion movement and abortion abolitionists is quite thin.

“(Republicans) have been targeting these people for 25 or 30 years now with ever-increasing hyperbolic rhetoric about abortion and defining any type of abortion as an act of murder,” Bitecofer said.

“So if you accept that abortion is murder, then it makes sense that you have pretty strict demands to end it at all costs,” she added.

On today’s episode of Consider This, NPR national political correspondent Sarah McCammon takes a look at the abortion abolitionist movement. Click the play button at the top of the page to hear the full story.

This episode was produced by Karen Zamora and Brianna Scott. It was edited by Megan Pratz and Courtney Dorning. Elissa Nadworny contributed reporting. Our executive producer is Sami Yenigun.