May 10, 2019

Cecile Richards on wave of state abortion bills: "I've never seen anything like it"

Cecile Richards and Mike Allen. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Former Planned Parenthood head and Supermajority founder Cecile Richards told Axios' Mike Allen Friday that the wave of anti-abortion bills introduced in state legislatures this year is unlike anything she's ever seen in her lifetime of activism, and that she believes they will be politically damaging to Republicans.

"The 'heartbeat' bills are not only unconstitutional, they're absolutely inflaming women throughout the country, it's a huge issue. And with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh [to the Supreme Court], the right to safe and legal abortion in this country is not just theoretically at risk — it is absolutely at risk."

Driving the news: The Alabama Senate was on the verge of passing the nation's strictest abortion bill on Thursday before the chamber erupted in a yelling match, forcing lawmakers to table the vote. Earlier this week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law a bill that prohibits abortions as soon a doctor can detect the first fetal heartbeat, which can come as soon as 6 weeks into pregnancy.

  • The Georgia "heartbeat" bill follows similar action taken by state governments in Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky and Iowa.

The big picture: Richards said that if the current trend lines continue, she believes women will comprise 53%–54% of the voters that turn out for the 2020 election. She added that it's important that so many women are running for president and bringing issues like child care and teacher pay to the forefront of the policy debate, but that she wants all candidates to be asked about women's issues.

Go deeper: A surge of restrictive state abortion bans take aim at Roe v. Wade

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 1,363,365— Total deaths: 76,420 — Total recoveries: 292,425Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 368,533 — Total deaths: 11,008 — Total recoveries: 19,972Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January about the massive potential risks from the coronavirus.
  4. Public health update: Funeral homes are struggling to handle the pandemic.
  5. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks the governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting until June.
  6. Tech update: YouTube has removed thousands of COVID-19 videos for violating policies related to spreading medical misinformation.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Stephanie Grisham out as White House press secretary

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is departing her post to return to the East Wing as First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff, the White House announced Tuesday. The news was first reported by CNN.

Why it matters: Grisham will leave after nine months without ever having held a formal press briefing. Her departure follows the arrival of new White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has a chance to overhaul a communications shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

WeWork board sues SoftBank

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

SoftBank was sued Tuesday morning by a special committee of WeWork's board of directors for alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty related to SoftBank's decision to cancel a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.

Why it matters: SoftBank is viewed by many in the private markets as an unfaithful partner. If this reaches trial, that reputation could either become widely cemented or reversed.