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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times

Restrictions on some types of abortions in Arizona went into effect Tuesday morning after a federal judge upheld state changes limiting a woman’s access to an abortion-inducing drug.

U.S. District Judge David Bury issued an order Monday afternoon rejecting a bid to block the new abortion restrictions while the state’s 2012 law is litigated. The law allowed the state to issue new rules banning the use of the most common abortion-inducing drug, RU-486, after the seventh week of pregnancy, compared with the current restriction of nine weeks.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of local groups supporting abortion rights, said it is evaluating all available means of continuing to challenge the new rules.

Arizona has been aggressive in pushing anti-abortion measures, a movement that has included more than a dozen other states seeking to limit the 1973 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. Laws over access to abortion have been challenged in Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.

States have tried to increase inspections of facilities, arguing they were needed to protect women’s health, and impose new restrictions on what drugs can be used at different stages of pregnancy.

The Arizona Legislature in the last few years has approved a number of anti-abortion measures. A House of Representatives-approved bill that is being considered by the Senate would allow for surprise, warrantless inspections of abortion clinics. Proponents of the bill say it protects women from clinics that are not up to health standards. Opponents say it puts women at risk and violates their privacy.

In January, the Arizona Department of Health Services issued new rules limiting RU-486, prompting Planned Parenthood Arizona and the private abortion clinic Tucson Women’s Center, to sue. Through its lawyers at the Center for Reproductive Rights, the groups argued that the rules infringe on a woman’s ability to have an abortion.

“This law serves no purpose other than to prevent Arizona women from using a safe alternative to surgical abortion and force their doctors to follow an outdated, riskier and less effective method,” David Brown, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “This is what happens when politicians, not doctors, practice medicine.”

Bury was asked to grant an injunction that would have blocked the rules from taking effect, but the judge rejected that request after the state argued that the rules were just a small shift.

“The court finds that the injunction is not in the public interest,” the judge ruled, while acknowledging that the ruling would make it difficult for some women to get abortions.

Planned Parenthood estimated that 800 women would have had to get surgical abortions, rather than drug-induced ones, if the rules were in effect in 2012.

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

Many Democrats are getting nervous about the upcoming presidential election. Ominous, extensively reported articles by two of the best in the business—the New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin and The Atlantic's Barton Gellman—outline Boss Trump's plot to keep control of the White House in 2021 no matter how the American people vote.
Trump is hardly making a secret of it. He's pointedly refused to commit to "a peaceful transfer of power."

"Well, we're going to have to see what happens," is how he answered the question. He added that after we "get rid of the ballots"—presumably mail-in ballots he's been whining about for weeks--"there won't be a transfer, frankly. There'll be a continuation."

Of course, Trump himself has always voted by mail, but then brazen hypocrisy is his standard operating mode. If you haven't noticed, he also lies a lot. Without prevaricating, boasting, and bitching, he'd be mute. And even then, he'd still have Twitter. He recently tweeted that the winner "may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED" because mail-in ballots make it a "RIGGED ELECTION in waiting."
Gellman gets this part exactly right in The Atlantic: "Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.
"Trump's invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before."
No, we haven't. However, it's important to remember that Trump makes threats and promises almost daily that never happen. Remember that gigantic border wall Mexico was going to pay for? Trump has built exactly five miles of the fool thing, leaving roughly two thousand to go.
His brilliant cheaper, better health care plan? Non-existent.
On Labor Day, Boss Trump boasted of his unparalleled success in strong-arming Japan into building new auto-manufacturing plants. "They're being built in Ohio, they're being built in South Carolina, North Carolina, they're being built all over and expanded at a level that we've never seen before."
Not a word of that is true. Two new plants, one German, another Swedish have opened in South Carolina, but construction began before Trump took office. Auto industry investment during Barack Obama's second term far exceeded Trump's. His version is sheer make-believe.
But back to the GOP scheme to steal the election.
First, it's clear that even Trump understands that he has virtually no chance of winning the national popular vote. He's been polling in the low 40s, with no sign of change. To have any chance of prevailing in the Electoral College, he's got to do the electoral equivalent of drawing to an inside straight all over again—winning a half-dozen so-called battleground states where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by the narrowest of margins.
At this writing, that looks highly unlikely. The latest polling in must-win Pennsylvania, for example, shows Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points. That's a landslide. Trump's down ten in Wisconsin, eight in Michigan. And so on.
So spare me the screeching emails in ALL CAPS, OK? Polls were actually quite accurate in 2016. Trump narrowly defeated the odds. It can happen. But he's in far worse shape this time. Furthermore, early voting turnout is very high, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans two to one.
Hence, The Atlantic reports, "Trump's state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for post-election maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states."
The plan is clear. Because more Democrats than Republicans are choosing mail-in voting during the COVID pandemic, Trump hopes to prevent those ballots from being counted. Assuming he'll have a narrow "swing state" lead on election night, he'll declare victory and start filing lawsuits. "The red mirage," some Democrats call it.
"As a result," Toobin writes, "the aftermath of the 2020 election has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish." With Trump in the White House urging armed militias to take to the street.
Mail-in votes take a long time to count. Things could definitely get crazy.
True, but filing a lawsuit to halt a Florida recount was one thing. Filing suits against a half dozen states to prevent votes from being counted at all is quite another. Public reaction would be strong. Also, winning such lawsuits requires serious evidence of fraud. Trumpian bluster ain't evidence.
The Atlantic reports that GOP-controlled state legislatures are thinking about sending Trumpist delegations to the Electoral College regardless of the popular vote winner—theoretically constitutional but currently illegal.
Fat chance. If that's the best they've got, they've got nothing.
Anyway, here's the answer: Vote early, and in person*.

[Editor's note: In some states, receiving an absentee ballot means that a voter can no longer vote in person* or may have to surrender the absentee ballot, including the envelope in which it arrived, at their polling place. Please check with your local election authorities.]