Newsletter: Bans on Gender-Affirming Care, Abortion

This week saw some big shifts in the LGBTQ and abortion rights landscapes, as several states moved forward with — or repealed — bans on access to care.

On Thursday, the South Carolina Senate advanced a bill that would bar medical professionals from prescribing puberty blockers or hormone therapy or performing gender-affirming surgeries on patients under 18.

  • Opponents of the bill had testified that such surgeries weren’t happening in the state, and that hormone treatments only came after extensive medical consultation.
  • The bill would also prevent patients from using Medicaid to pay for gender-affirming care, and would require school officials to notify parents if their child wanted to use a different name or pronouns at school.
  • The South Carolina House passed its version of the bill in January. If a final version is approved by the governor, it will make South Carolina the 25th state to restrict or ban access to gender-affirming care for minors. 

American Oversight has been investigating these attacks on gender-affirming care and has filed public records requests seeking more information about the proposed bans in multiple states, including South Carolina.

  • In March, we sent requests to the offices of the South Carolina governor and attorney general, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Health and Environmental Control, and the state Board of Medical Examiners, seeking the release of information and communications about the ban.
  • Read more about our investigation here.

States on opposite ends of the country also saw major changes in abortion access. Florida’s new six-week abortion ban went into effect on Wednesday, severely restricting access to reproductive health care.

Over in Arizona, Gov. Katie Hobbs signed a bill this week to repeal the state’s ban on most abortions, a law from 1864 that had been restored in early April by the state’s Supreme Court and provided no exceptions unless the mother’s life was in danger.

  • Hobbs denounced the outdated ban for having been “passed by 27 men before Arizona was even a state, at a time when America was at war over the right to own slaves, a time before women could even vote.”
  • The repeal will go into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends — usually in June or July. Once it is officially repealed, a 2022 law banning abortion after 15 weeks will go into effect.
  • We’ve filed dozens of public records requests investigating new abortion restrictions in states across the country. Read more about our investigation here.

Meanwhile, conservative attorneys general in more than a dozen states are challenging new federal rules requiring that workers have time off and other accommodations for abortion care. Here are some recent stories about abortion rights in states across the country:

  • State houses: the next battle for abortion rights (Washington Post)
  • Who drives the furthest to get an abortion (Axios)
  • Tears and despair at Florida abortion clinic in final hours before ban (Washington Post)
  • Amarillo council may reconsider abortion travel ban after residents gather 10,000 signatures (Texas Tribune)
  • Kansas Legislature overrides governor on abortion survey bill, abortion coercion legislation (Kansas Reflector)
  • South Dakota abortion rights groups collect enough signatures to advance ballot measure (NBC News)
  • Senate bill would classify abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances in Louisiana (New Orleans Public Radio)
  • Anti-abortion groups say more aggressive approach necessary to stop Missouri amendment (Missouri Independent)

On the Records

Trump’s Renewed Loyalty Tests
Axios recently reported that Donald Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are working to ensure that members of a potential second Trump administration would be sufficiently loyal to the former president. The brothers would vet potential staffers to ensure they aligned with Trump’s ideology. 

  • When he was president, Trump’s efforts to rid the federal government of anyone perceived to be insufficiently loyal to him ranged from the accountability-avoidant firings of inspectors general to the authoritarian purging of career officials.
  • A Trump appointee at the State Department was investigated for allegedly vetting State employees for “disloyalty.” We obtained emails they wrote that provide compelling examples of this behavior. 

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Echoing 2020, Trump won’t commit to accepting 2024 election results (Washington Post)
  • Inside the far-right plan to use civil rights law to disrupt the 2024 election (Los Angeles Times)
  • As Trump airs his election doubts, many supporters say they won’t accept a Biden win in 2024 (NBC News)
  • With lawsuits and recount petitions rising, some Texas elections seem to go on forever (Texas Tribune/Votebeat)
  • Workers at far-right site Gateway Pundit feared credibility issues, filing shows (Guardian)
  • How a few secret donors are fueling the new right-wing infrastructure (Mother Jones)
  • Michigan AG executes search warrants on Google and X in ongoing 2020 fake electors probe (CNN)
  • Latino voters are coveted by both major parties. They also are a target for election misinformation (Associated Press)
  • Arizona may fund tool to allow candidates to verify election results, ballot by ballot (Votebeat)
  • Miami-Dade voters will pick an elections supervisor. Donald Trump just got involved (Miami Herald)
Voting Rights
  • Who counts as an election official? Dane County asks AG to clarify constitutional change (Wisconsin Public Radio)
  • Georgia bill to strip QR codes from ballots would cost tens of millions of dollars (Votebeat)
  • Three counties will vote on banning ballot tabulator machines, requiring hand-counting (South Dakota Searchlight)
  • Wyoming voids 28% of its voter registrations in mandatory purge (WyoFile)
National and State News
  • Climate change could virtually disappear in Florida — at least according to state law (Associated Press)
  • Chicago Police won’t discipline nine officers who signed up for extremist group (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Schwab charity funnels $250 million to right-wing causes (Bloomberg)
  • When judges get free trips to luxury resorts, disclosure is spotty (NPR)
  • Police use tear gas on pro-Palestinian protesters at USF in Tampa (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Gov. Greg Abbott and UT-Austin shift from championing free speech to policing protesters’ intentions (Texas Tribune)
  • Dozens of deaths reveal risks of injecting sedatives into people restrained by police (Associated Press)
  • In this police youth program, a trail of sexual abuse across the US (Marshall Project)
LGBTQ Rights
  • Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas to ignore Biden administration’s new federal protections of LGBTQ+ students (Texas Tribune)
  • Moody sues to stop Title IX changes providing LGBTQ protections (Orlando Sentinel)
  • More Republican states challenge new Title IX rules protecting LGBTQ+ students (Associated Press)
  • Louisiana sues Biden administration over Title IX rules that protect LGBTQ+ students (Louisiana Illuminator)
  • Court says state health-care plans can’t exclude gender-affirming surgery (Washington Post)
  • How is Utah enforcing its new transgender bathroom law? (Utah News Dispatch)
  • Judge halts Ohio law banning gender affirming treatment for minors till after hearing (Statehouse News Bureau)
  • After failed veto override, gender-affirming care for trans youth remains legal in Kansas (Kansas City Star)
  • Morrisey files brief supporting WV students who protested competing with transgender athlete (News from the States)
  • Mississippi Republicans revive bill to regulate transgender bathroom use in schools (Associated Press)
Threats to Education
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • How shifting US policies led to one of the deadliest incidents involving immigrants in Mexico’s history (ProPublica)
  • North Carolina bill ordering sheriffs to help immigration agents closer to law with Senate vote (Associated Press)
Trump Accountability
  • Hush money trial judge raises threat of jail as he finds Trump violated gag order, fines him $9K (Associated Press)
  • Judge denies ex-Trump election lawyer John Eastman’s request to reactivate law license while he fights disbarment (CNN)
  • Shrugging at honoring the 2024 vote, at political violence and at Jan. 6 (Washington Post)
  • ‘What have we done?’ Lawyer describes shock at possible role in Trump’s 2016 victory (Associated Press)