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Abortion, Every Day (9.8.23)
New California law would protect people who break abortion laws in other states
In the States
The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments today in the challenge to the state’s 15-week ban. The ruling will also determine what happens to Florida’s recently-passed 6-week ban. (For a refresher on the case and what’s at stake, check out the background I wrote on Tuesday.)
Questions from the Justices certainly seemed to give the indication that they’re opening to undoing decades of precedent that says the Florida constitution’s right to privacy includes abortion. ABC News reports that the judges interrupted pro-choie lawyer Whitney White several times, suggesting that abortion wasn’t implied in the privacy clause of the state constitution.
Chief Justice Carlos Muniz asked White, “This is a 50-year reflection by our society, by our state, that people's elected representatives believe that there's a compelling interest in protecting human life. Why should we as a court not defer to that?”
Muniz also called Roe v Wade “an abomination” and said to White, “you’re asking us to essentially take a whole class of human beings and put them outside of the protection of the law.” None of this is surprising, of course—just distressing.
Remember, the state Supreme Court is stacked with judges appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, and one of the Justices—Charles Canady—is married to a co-sponsor of the 6-week ban. (Former Chief Justice Barbara Pariente has called for his recusal.)
I told you yesterday how Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is attacking his Republican opponent, Daniel Cameron, as an anti-abortion extremist—a sure sign of just how politically powerful abortion rights is right now. WKU Public Radio looks at Beshear’s strategy today and what it means for Kentucky politics.
Angela Cooper, of the ACLU of Kentucky, told reporters that it used to be Democrats won in the state in spite of their pro-choice beliefs—but now things are changing. In part, she says, because of how much people are talking about the issue:
“People will talk about it in a way that we just haven't seen in the past, especially in places like Kentucky and in rural parts of the state and in homes. It became a kitchen table topic.”
Love to see it!
Even Republicans understand that abortion rights win elections. I reported yesterday that Rep. Lauren Boebert’s GOP challenger in Colorado, Russ Andrews, is proactively campaigning on his abortion beliefs (legal until 22 weeks). In Michigan, former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers—a Republican running for U.S. Senate—is trying to soften his abortion position for voters. He said yesterday that he wouldn’t support any national legislation to restrict abortion that are “inconsistent with Michigan's law.” (Michigan has some of the most pro-choice policies in the country.)
Similarly, Virginia Republicans are trying to soft-pedal or cover up their support for Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 15-week abortion ban. They know being anti-abortion is politically toxic!
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Meanwhile, Republicans in Wisconsin aren’t bothering to hide their disdain for abortion—and democracy. As AED has written previously, the state GOP is pressuring recently-seated state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz to recuse herself from abortion-related cases on threat of impeachment. Earlier this year, Wisconsin GOP Executive Director Mark Jefferson said “Protasiewicz clearly must recuse herself from participating in cases involving redistricting, abortion and Act 10 union reforms because she’s absolutely unwilling to hear them with an open mind.”
The good news, however, is that the Republican complaints filed against Protasiewicz have been dismissed this week by the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. It’s a setback for the state lawmakers seeking to remove the judge from certain cases, but the decision doesn’t meant the attacks are over. Republicans could still move to impeach Protasiewicz, which is why the Wisconsin Democratic party is launching a $4 million campaign to let voters know what their representatives are up to.
The Colorado Medical Board has decided that the state’s ban on so-called ‘abortion reversal’ will take effect in October or later because of a pending legal challenge by an anti-choice group. The board voted this week that the enforcement of the rule—which deems anyone providing ‘abortion reversal’ as participating in “unprofessional conduct”—will be pushed until at least October 23rd.
In Arizona, where doctors are challenging a ban on abortions due to fetal abnormalities, Republicans have found a novel way of fighting back: Conservative lawmakers are arguing that the doctors don’t have standing to bring the case in the first place. Why? Because, they say, doctors aren’t at real threat of being arrested because of an executive order from Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs that transferred the power to prosecute abortion cases from local DAs to Arizona’s Attorney General, who is pro-choice. In other words, they’re using Democratic abortion protections to argue that doctors have no reason to worry about being arrested. Ludicrous but clever.
Finally, some very cool news: The California legislature passed more abortion rights protections this week via SB 345, legislation introduced by Sen. Nancy Skinner which goes even further than previous shield laws passed in the state.
Under the new legislation, a patient in another state can contact a California health care provider in order to get abortion medication, and California pharmacies can ship the pills to anti-abortion states. So the law doesn’t just protect patients and providers from out-of-state criminalization—it also makes clear that California is willing to provide vital care to the patients in states where abortion is illegal.
Here’s where it gets really great: According to Skinner’s press release, SB 345 would also “strengthen the state’s ‘Safe Haven’ laws by adding protections for people seeking refuge from prosecution or imprisonment by another state that has criminalized abortion or gender-affirming care.” Essentially: California is willing to protect people who break abortion ban laws in other states. Love it.
In the Nation
Military promotions and nominations continue to be blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who is ‘protesting’ the Pentagon’s abortion policy. Despite the secretaries of the Navy, Air Force and Army calling on Tuberville to stop his “dangerous hold on senior officers,” the Alabama lawmaker shows no sign of giving in. In a recent interview, Tuberville said, “I'm not going to change my mind.”
Given that the Pentagon hasn’t shown any signs of backing down either, it’s unclear what happens next. While some Republican leaders have called on Tuberville to cut it out, others have thrown their support his way—and anti-abortion groups and conservative media have his back. They’ve even started to claim that this goes beyond abortion rights and is about the candidates themselves, who are unsuitable. (Sure they are.) We’ll keep you updated as (and if) things progress.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is calling on the U.S. to “follow Mexico’s example” on abortion rights. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, called Mexico’s decriminalization of abortion “a major victor for women in Mexico in their decades-long struggle for their bodily autonomy and their sexual and reproductive health and rights.” Related: Vox has more information on the ruling in Mexico and what it means for the entire region; and The Guardian looks at what the decision might mean for abortion-seekers in the United States.
MSNBC on the post-Roe care crisis;
Here & Now on how the abortion pill came to exist;
What Conservatives Are Saying
One of the the trends Abortion, Every Day has followed most closely is the anti-abortion war on language: From trying to do away with the word ‘ban’ and label 12-week bans as ‘compromises’, to redefining 'birth control as abortion and abortions as non-abortions—we’ve tracked all of the different ways conservatives are trying to change how Americans talk about abortion in the hopes that it will change how they feel about abortion.
“At a closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans this week, the head of a super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., presented poll results that suggested voters are reacting differently to commonly used terms like ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, said several senators who were in the room.
The polling, which NBC News has not independently reviewed, was made available to senators Wednesday by former McConnell aide Steven Law and showed that ‘pro-life’ no longer resonated with voters.”
Gee, I wonder why that could be! North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer told NBC News that the polls showed that Americans understand ‘pro-life’ to mean “being against all abortions…at all levels.” Which they should! Because regardless of what Republicans may say about deigning to allow certain abortions under narrow circumstances, we know that’s not the way access works.
What was also interesting (and if anyone happens to have those polls, shoot a girl an email!) is that while voters see being ‘pro-life’ as extreme and narrow, they see ‘pro-choice’ as meaning a variety of things. So, yay for nuance! For years, the prevailing political wisdom has been that conservatives won the language war, and that ‘pro-choice’ was a losing term. It’s nice to see that idea turned on its head for once!
Also noteworthy: Republicans told NBC that the other main takeaway was that people want to have conversations. Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming said, “People require more in-depth discussions; you can’t get away with a label anymore.” This is great for us, because the more you talk to people—rather than having them rely on bullshit scare tactic talking points—the more pro-choice they become. Especially on issues like abortion later in pregnancy.
“A party that shows no mercy should expect to be treated in kind. Republicans have unleashed great suffering in order to force women into pregnancy. That is a material reality, and it cannot be undone with a simple turn of phrase. Women are living with the consequences of their actions, and now so must they.”
Whew. Make sure to read the whole thing.
In the meantime, Mike Pence, who has made his presidential campaign almost entirely about banning abortion, says that Donald Trump was wrong to blame Republicans’ midterm losses on abortion extremism.
That’s it for today folks—have a great weekend!