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Inside an Arizona abortion clinic: Uncertainty looms and optimism reigns

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Inside an Arizona abortion clinic: Uncertainty looms and optimism reigns

When Anna first read about the Arizona Supreme Court reinstating an 1864 law banning all abortions except when a mother’s life is at risk, she sent the article to her partner with an angry text.

“I was like, ‘God, this makes me so mad,’” she said.

She also decided to take a pregnancy test, just in case. Her period was a few days late, which she figured was because of her new birth control pills.

“I just want to make sure before anything goes into effect,” said Anna, 24, who declined to give her last name. “Thank God I did.”

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Days later, she found herself at Camelback Family Planning, discussing her options for an abortion.

The April 9 ruling set off a political hurricane, with both President Biden and former President Trump weighing in and Arizona’s Legislature devolving into chaos over whether to repeal the ban before it goes into effect June 8. But at a Phoenix abortion clinic, in the eye of the debate, it has been business as usual.

On Wednesday, Dr. Barbara Zipkin breezed into an examination room carrying Scooter, her emotional support dog. Although she lives in Sherman Oaks, Zipkin flies to Arizona most weeks, staying at her sister’s house while working three to five days at the Camelback clinic.

With her support dog Scooter staying in his bed, Dr. Barbara Zipkin rushes to an exam room at Camelback Family Planning on April 18, 2024, in Phoenix. The clinic will have to cease performing abortions on June 8 if the 1864 law banning abortions isn’t delayed of overturned.

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The doctor, who said she is “somewhere between 40 and death,” recalls the moment in 1973 when Roe vs. Wade took effect: She was on a plane returning to medical school, and she thought, “This is what I’m going to do.” She worked for years as an OB-GYN in Los Angeles, specializing in genetics and performing a lot of second trimester abortions.

“But there are enough providers in L.A.,” she said. “Arizona is unique.”

In the exam room, Zipkin walked Anna through her options — a medication abortion, which the patient had previously experienced with a difficult recovery, or a surgical procedure. Then Zipkin recited a state-mandated “silly consent” form, adding her own caveats to each point.

“Consent says the state of Arizona wants you to believe that there are alternatives to abortion. Well, that’s all well and good, but it’s not really true, because when you’re in this position, you really only have two options. One is carry it and the other is don’t carry it,” Zipkin said. “Adoption and all that — that comes after. You’re either carrying this or you’re not, and it still affects you.”

Anna said she’d always paid attention to the national conversation around abortion, as a woman and especially as an Arizonan. Anna said she had started taking birth control pills within a week of getting pregnant. As a 24-year-old who lives with roommates, she doesn’t consider herself financially able to care for a child.

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Zipkin performs an ultrasound on a patient.

Dr. Barbara Zipkin performs an ultrasound on a 25-year-old patient who didn’t want her name or face shown at Camelback Family Planning on April 18. The patient thought the Arizona 1864 law banning abortion had already taken effect and was planning on going to California for an abortion but she learned that the clinic in Phoenix was still open and performing abortions. “It makes me sad to think that women in the future may not be to have the choice to come here if that law goes into effect,” she said.

“It’s just not the situation I want for myself, or my children in the future. I want a two-parent household in a stable home, or a stable situation,” Anna said. “I just don’t know that I’m in that right now.”

After her 10-minute consultation with Zipkin, Anna scheduled an appointment for the following week, when she would decide whether to have a medication or surgical abortion.

After answering Anna’s questions, Zipkin offered her last bit of guidance: “Before I forget, because I have the attention span of a gnat — vote!”

Abortion is likely to top voters’ concerns in Arizona, where state legislators have yet to vote on a proposed bill repealing the ban.

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In the sunny plaza between the two state Capitol chambers, protesters on both sides of the debate milled about Wednesday, some wearing bright orange T-shirts in support of Arizona for Abortion Access, and others in shirts depicting baby’s feet and proclaiming “Choose life.”

Uncertainty at the clinic

Back at the Camelback clinic, staff members gathered in the break room, decorated with posters and handmade thank you cards, including one with a uterus drawn in place of a “Y.” They discussed what could happen after June 8, and the clinic’s founder, Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick, sought to provide clarity.

1 A Thank You card hangs on the refrigerator in the beak room at Camelback Family Planning on April 17, 2024

2 A Thank You cards hang on a cupboard at Camelback Family Planning on April 18, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona.

3 Information on a no-cost abortion clinic in San Francisco hangs on the glass at the

1. A Thank You card hangs on the refrigerator in the beak room at Camelback Family Planning on April 17, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The clinic will have to cease performing abortions on June 8 if the 1864 law banning abortions isn’t delayed or overturned. 2. A Thank You cards hang on a cupboard at Camelback Family Planning on April 18, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The clinic will have to cease performing abortions on June 8 if the 1864 law banning abortions isn’t delayed or overturned. 3. Information on a no-cost abortion clinic in San Francisco hangs on the glass at the reception area at Camelback Family Planning on April 18, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The clinic will have to cease performing abortions on June 8 if the 1864 law banning abortions isn’t delayed or overturned.

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She’s hopeful that a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion access will be on the November ballot — activists with Arizona for Abortion Access say they have gathered enough signatures.

“People were pretty nervous and stressed that they’re not going to have a job until November,” Goodrick said.

For a clinic rocked by Supreme Court decisions, it has become adept at weathering changes, Goodrick said. A ruling comes down, the staff adjusts its routines and schedules and continues to provide abortions with new limitations, which sometimes includes referring patients to clinics in California or Nevada.

The constant fluctuations have had their toll, though. The clinic, which Goodrick opened in 1999, usually averages about 350 patients a month. That total dropped in 2022 amid patient confusion over what would happen in the wake of Roe vs. Wade being overturned. Her small staff of 12 shrank to six, Goodrick said, as workers grew tired “from the stress of just not knowing.”

The doctor and her staff had just gotten into the swing of their new routine when the state Supreme Court ruling came down.

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 Dr. Barbara Zipkin, right, consults with a co-worker over ultrasound results at Camelback Family

Dr. Barbara Zipkin, right, consults with a co-worker over ultrasound results at Camelback Family Planning . The clinic will have to cease performing abortions on June 8 if enforcement of the 1864 law banning abortions isn’t delayed or overturned.

“The patients are more anxious,” Goodrick said. “It causes what the Republicans want, which is mayhem.”

But this time, she hopes, will be different.

“We just have to get to Nov. 25,” Goodrick said, referring to the date that a constitutional amendment, if approved, would take effect.

Confident that the political fight will turn in her favor, Goodrick has opened the clinic’s doors to media from around the globe, who’ve descended on Arizona to chronicle the latest front in a nationwide battle over abortion.

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Nurses wearing “abortion is healthcare” T-shirts moved deftly around the journalists, whom they’ve grown accustomed to filling their workplace recently. On their lunch break, the staff crowded into the break room, bickering over Supreme Court justices.

“Which one’s worse — [Clarence] Thomas or [Samuel] Alito?” one asked.

Sitting at a folding table laden with snacks, Dr. Jessica Holmes peered at the clinic’s schedule on her laptop.

Nurses carry charts to exam rooms past thank you cards tacked to cupboards and artwork of a uterus hanging on a clothesline.

Nurses carry charts to exam rooms past thank you cards tacked to cupboards and artwork of a uterus hanging on a clothesline at Camelback Family Planning.

“Are you doing through June, or only the first eight days?” Holmes asked.

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“No, we’ll go through June,” Goodrick answered briskly.

Opposing forces of optimism

Standing on the sidewalk a few yards from the clinic door, antiabortion activists were similarly optimistic about the future of Arizona’s abortion law.

“We accept it as a victory and we’re very excited,” said Matt Engelthaler, 49, who has protested abortions since he was a teenager, when he first joined his parents to pray outside clinics. “But we also realize that changing laws isn’t what’s gonna do anything, it’s just changing hearts. That’s what we pray for.”

Engelthaler fingered rosary beads as he held a sign that said, “Choose life.” A Catholic, he said he prayed the rosary “for the moms, dads and the babies,” and another prayer for the abortion clinic workers, “that they can understand the travesty of what they’re doing and turn away from it.”

A passing car honked, and the driver stuck his middle finger in the air at the protesters.

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“People just don’t know how to do the peace sign correctly,” Engelthaler said with a laugh.

A few minutes later, another car honked and the driver gave a thumbs up.

By the clinic door, three volunteers wearing bright, rainbow-colored vests escorted patients from their cars into the clinic, blocking their view of the sidewalk protesters with large, rainbow umbrellas. Michael Buble played on a nearby speaker, ready to drown out any protester’s megaphone.

“When they go loud, we go louder,” said one escort, who declined to give her name. She said her group of volunteers would continue serving at the clinic until they’re told to stop.

One of the patients, a 26-year-old from Phoenix, said the escorts’ music lifted her spirits on an otherwise bleak day. She took Scooter into her arms and, stroking the dog’s back, told the doctor that she found out she was pregnant two days after the state Supreme Court decision.

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A patient strokes support dog Scooter in an exam room

A 26-year-old patient from Phoenix strokes support dog Scooter in an exam room as Dr. Barbara Zipkin discusses her options for an abortion. The patient found out she was pregnant two days after the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated an 1864 law banning abortion.

“It has just been draining, in that sense of like, wow — this would happen this week,” the patient said.

She said that as Christians, her family vehemently opposes abortion and would support her if she decided to have a baby. The woman said she and her partner decided to keep the abortion private.

“It’s definitely confusing and emotional, considering, like, my upbringing,” she said. But referring to the escorts outside who welcomed her, she added, “it’s also encouraging, in a sense, because you do feel this community.”

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New Hampshire political consultant behind AI-powered Biden robocalls hit with 24 criminal charges, $6M fine

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New Hampshire political consultant behind AI-powered Biden robocalls hit with 24 criminal charges, $6M fine

The New Hampshire political consultant behind robocalls mimicking President Biden is now facing 24 criminal charges, 13 of which are felony counts.

Steve Kramer admitted to commissioning robocalls that used artificial intelligence to generate a voice similar to President Biden encouraging recipients not to participate in the primary.

The Federal Communications Commission also announced $6 million in fines against Kramer.

“It’s important that you save your vote for the November election,” the illicit calls stated, according to New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella. The calls added, “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.” 

NEW HAMPSHIRE INVESTIGATING FAKE BIDEN ROBOCALL TELLING VOTERS NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN TUESDAY’S PRIMARY

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In this image taken from video, Steve Kramer speaks during an interview in Miami. (AP Photo)

“After we received multiple reports and complaints on the day these calls were made and the day after these calls were made, my office immediately opened an investigation,” Formella said.

He described how his office’s Election Law Unit worked with the Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force, a bipartisan task force made up of 50 state attorneys general and the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau. 

Kramer previously told local outlet News 9 he produced the phone calls as a stunt to demonstrate the need to regulate AI technology.

NEW HAMPSHIRE AG TRACES ROBOCALLS WITH ‘AI-GENERATED CLONE’ OF BIDEN’S VOICE BACK TO TEXAS-BASED COMPANIES

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New Hampshire officials announce robocall probe

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella describes the investigation into robocalls that used artificial intelligence to mimic President Biden’s voice and discourage people from voting in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary during a news conference in Concord, N.H. (Amanda Gokee/The Boston Globe via AP)

“Maybe I’m a villain today, but I think, in the end, we get a better country and better democracy because of what I’ve done, deliberately,” Kramer previously said of the investigation.

The New Hampshire robocalls sparked immediate action in outlawing deep fakes impersonating political candidates. The FCC ruled the practice illegal in February. 

 

FCC commissioner

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Pool via AP, File)

With the unanimous adoption of a ruling that recognizes calls made with AI-generated voices as “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law restricting junk calls that use artificial and prerecorded voice messages, the FCC said it was giving state attorneys general new tools to go after those responsible for voice-cloning scams. 

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

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“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities and misinform voters. We’re putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

“State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.”

Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court OKs shift of Black voters to shore up GOP congressional district

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Supreme Court OKs shift of Black voters to shore up GOP congressional district

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a state’s mapmakers may shift tens of thousands of Black voters to a different district if they were seeking to shore up a partisan advantage for a Republican candidate.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices upheld a redistricting map drawn by South Carolina’s Republican Legislature and overturned a lower court ruling that called it a “stark racial gerrymander.”

At issue was whether the state legislators drew the districts for political or racial reasons.

All six Republican appointees were in the majority and said the legislators were motivated by partisan concerns, while the three Democratic appointees dissented and said voters were shifted based on their race.

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In the past, the court had said that partisan gerrymandering is legal and as old as the nation, but racial gerrymandering is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The justices reasoned that the Constitution permits elected officials to make decisions based on political considerations, but the 14th Amendment forbids the government from making decisions based on race.

Not surprisingly, however, those two principles come into conflict in the drawing of election districts. At issue in the South Carolina case was a congressional district in the Charleston area held by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.

That district had regularly elected Republicans, but a Democrat won it in 2018 in what was described as a major upset. Mace ran in 2020 and won a narrow victory.

When the South Carolina Legislature redrew its seven districts in response to the 2020 Census, the mapmakers sought to shore up her district as a Republican stronghold. They shifted more than 30,000 Black voters from Mace’s district in Charleston into a Black-majority district held by Rep. James E. Clyburn, the state’s lone Democrat.

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Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU sued and argued the state’s redistricting plan was unconstitutional. They won a ruling from a three-judge court which said “race was the predominant motivating factor” in the drawing of Mace’s district.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr, speaking for the court, said the evidence showed that partisan motives were driving force.

“To untangle race from other permissible considerations, we require the plaintiff to show that race was the predominant factor motivating the legislature’s decision to place a significant number of voters within or without a particular district,” Alito said. He added that the plaintiffs did not show race was the dominant factor in drawing the districts.

Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented.

“What a message to send to state legislators and mapmakers about racial gerrymandering,” Kagan said in dissent. “Go right ahead, this court says to states today. …In the electoral sphere especially, where ugly patterns of pervasive racial discrimination have so long governed, we should demand better— of ourselves, of our political representatives, and most of all of this court.”

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Unlike other redistricting cases from Alabama and Louisiana, the immediate impact of the South Carolina case looks to be limited.

Civil rights lawsuits in Alabama and Louisiana led to the creation of a second Black-majority district where a Democrat could be elected. The South Carolina litigation did not involve a possible second Black-majority district.

In March, the three judges who had struck down Mace’s district issued an order that allows this year’s election to proceed using the state’s preferred map.

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AOC demands Senate Democrats investigate reports of Jan. 6 flags flown at Supreme Court Justice Alito's home

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AOC demands Senate Democrats investigate reports of Jan. 6 flags flown at Supreme Court Justice Alito's home

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., demanded the Democrat-controlled Senate investigate reports that a flag associated with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol was flown at Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s home. 

In an interview on MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” on Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez described the reports as “an extraordinary breach of not just the trust and the stature of the Supreme Court, but we are seeing a fundamental challenge to our democracy.” She said that Congress did not have to wait to take action against Alito until Democrats had a majority in the House. 

“Samuel Alito has identified himself with the same people who raided the Capitol on Jan. 6, and is now going to be presiding over court cases that have deep implications over the participants of that rally,” the progressive “Squad” member said. “And while this is the threat to our democracy, Democrats have a responsibility for defending our democracy. And in the Senate, we have gavels.”

“There should be subpoenas going out. There should be active investigations that are happening,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “And I believe that when House Democrats take the majority, we are preparing and ensuring to support the broader effort to stand up our democracy. But I also believe that when Democrats have power, we have to use it. We cannot be in perpetual campaign mode. We need to be in governance mode, we need to be in accountability mode with every lever that we have. Because we cannot take a Senate majority for granted, a House majority for granted or a White House for granted.” 

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that a second flag of a type carried by rioters during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was displayed outside a house owned by Alito. 

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ALITO SAYS WIFE DISPLAYED UPSIDE-DOWN FLAG AFTER ARGUMENT WITH INSULTING NEIGHBOR

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., called for Senate Democrats to investigate flags flown outside a home owned by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

An “Appeal to Heaven” flag was flown outside Alito’s beach vacation home last summer. An inverted American flag — another symbol carried by rioters — was seen at Alito’s home outside Washington less than two weeks after the riot at the Capitol. 

News of the upside-down American flag sparked an uproar last week, including calls from high-ranking Democrats for Alito to recuse himself from cases related to former President Trump.

Alito and the court have not commented on the “Appeal to Heaven” flag. Alito previously said the inverted American flag was flown by his wife amid a dispute with neighbors, and he had no part in it.

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The white flag with a green pine tree was seen flying at the Alito beach home in New Jersey, according to three photographs obtained by the Times. The images were taken on different dates in July and September 2023, though it was not clear how long it was flying overall or how much time Alito spent there.

Alito and his wife at Billy Graham funeral

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr., left, and his wife Martha-Ann Alito, pay their respects at the casket of Reverend Billy Graham at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Feb. 28, 2018.  (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

The flag dates back to the Revolutionary War, but in more recent years it has become associated with conservatives, Christian nationalism and support for Trump, according to the Times.

It was carried by some rioters fueled by Trump’s “Stop the Steal” movement. 

OBAMA CHEERS BIDEN JUDICIAL MILESTONE AS FORMER ADVISER WARNS OF TRUMP ‘MAGA COURT MAJORITY’ ON SUPREME COURT

Republicans in Congress and state officials have also displayed the flag. House Speaker Mike Johnson, hung it at his office last fall shortly after winning the gavel. A spokesman said the speaker appreciates its rich history and was given the flag by a pastor who served as a guest chaplain for the House, according to the Associated Press. 

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An Appeal to Heaven flag among Trump supporters

Crowds arrive for the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. An “Appeal to Heaven” flag is seen being flown by a supporter. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Alito is taking part in two pending Supreme Court cases associated with Jan. 6: whether Trump has immunity from prosecution for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and whether a certain obstruction charge can be used against rioters. He also participated in the court’s unanimous ruling that states cannot bar Trump from the ballot using the “insurrection clause” that was added to the Constitution after the Civil War.

There has been no indication that Alito would step aside from the cases. 

Another conservative on the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, also has ignored calls to recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election because of his wife Virginia Thomas’ support for efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Judicial ethics codes focus on the need for judges to be independent, avoiding political statements or opinions on matters they could be called on to decide. The Supreme Court had long gone without its own code of ethics, but it adopted one in November 2023 in the face of sustained criticism over undisclosed trips and gifts from wealthy benefactors to some justices. The code, however, lacks a means of enforcement.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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