Tag: abortion

Ohio Republicans Scheming To Overturn Abortion Rights Referendum

Ohio voted 56.6 to 43.4 percent to put the right to abortion in its state constitution. The very next day, Republicans were vowing to overturn that election. Overturning elections is a growing Republican Party trend, but it’s possible that even Donald Trump would hesitate to try it with a 13 percentage point margin of victory where the top election official was a Republican.

Ohio Republicans are in the “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” phase of trying to undo what their state’s voters did, as a press release from the Ohio House of Representatives Republican newsroom clearly shows.

There’s the “ignore the margin, the election was stolen anyway” argument, which state Rep. Jennifer Gross made. “Foreign billionaires don't get to make Ohio laws,” she said, adding, “This is foreign election interference, and it will not stand.” She’s talking about money from the George Soros-backed Open Society Policy Center. Soros was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1961, the expenditures were made according to U.S. law, and if a few million dollars could reliably swing elections toward progressive issues or candidates in Ohio, it’s safe to say the past few elections would have gone very differently. Ohio voters made this Ohio law. They’re adults who made up their own minds.

Then there are some Republicans gearing up to pretend that this amendment doesn’t mean what it says and that it needs the legislature to step in and say what it really means. “Issue 1 doesn't repeal a single Ohio law, in fact, it doesn't even mention one,” according to state Rep. Bill Dean. And that’s the opening he hopes to exploit, or, as he put it, “The amendment’s language is dangerously vague and unconstrained, and can be weaponized to attack parental rights or defend rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers.”

While there are significant issues left to litigate, with the courts needing to decide which current abortion restrictions are allowed following the Issue 1 vote and which ones to strike down, state House Republicans are clearly very nervous about how that will go in the courts. According to their press release:

To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative. The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.

How’s that for an announcement of a planned power grab? They lost big in August on the vote attempting to make it more difficult to pass abortion rights. They lost big in November. Now, they’re looking ahead to losing in the courts—so they’re laying the groundwork to steal this election by stealing power from the courts.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Sean Hannity

Why Sean Hannity's GOP 'Abortion Strategy' Won't Work

Sean Hannity is a Republican Party operative with close ties to Donald Trump and other Republican leaders, and with the approval of the network’s executives, he explicitly uses his Fox News show as a platform to help its candidates win elections. So his Tuesday night meltdown, in which he blamed the GOP’s string of defeats that day on its unpopular opposition to abortion rights, bears careful scrutiny.

Hannity put his finger on what he considered the problem as results rolled in showing a series of Democratic victories.

“Democrats are trying to scare women into thinking Republicans don't want abortion legal under any circumstances,” he said.

The host and his guests urged Republicans to coalesce around banning abortion beginning at 15 weeks, which Hannity argued would be less risky politically, and focusing attention on right-wing lies about the purportedly extreme positions of Democrats.

Hannity, who says he is “pro-life,” has repeatedly sought to limit the political damage caused to the Republican Party when its Supreme Court nominees overturned the protections for abortion rights that had been enshrined in Roe v. Wade in their 2022 decision. He instructed Republican Senate candidates to dodge questions about the subject during the 2022 cycle, only for his hand-picked nominees to falter. Hannity carefully led newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) to say that he didn’t intend for Congress to take action on abortion this term during Johnson’s first interview in that role last month, and the issue didn’t come up at all during Hannity’s on-air pep rally for House Republicans last week.

Hannity’s reticence is relatively canny — abortion rights played a major role in GOP defeats across the country on Tuesday, and if Republicans can’t somehow defuse the issue, it threatens the party’s political success in the 2024 elections. A new Navigator Survey poll shows Democrats in a dominant position in battleground districts, with majorities saying that the GOP position is “too extreme” and would lead to national abortion restrictions, that the Democratic position is not extreme, and that voters want abortion to be legal in all or most circumstances.

Hannity is an influential figure within the GOP, and it’s possible that Republicans will try to publicly position themselves in line with his suggested remedy. But his proposed cure for the party’s ills is nonsensical — indeed, as Hannity was speaking, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s identical plan to use a 15-week ban to hold the state House and take over the state Senate was going up in flames.

Voters have not been somehow fooled by Democrats into believing that Republicans support banning abortion. Voters rightfully don’t trust Republican intentions because Republicans say they want to ban abortion, and they generally use whatever political power they obtain to prevent as many abortions as they can.

The text of the party’s most recent platform claims that “the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed” and calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions by granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses.

Johnson says that “life begins at conception” and called abortion a “holocaust,” and he has sponsored national abortion bans beginning as early as six weeks. Anti-abortion activists are gleeful at the prospect of his leadership if the party regains the Senate and the White House.

But Republicans at the state level do not generally stop with 15-week abortion bans — they push the envelope as far as their legislative majorities allow. That has meant a total abortion ban in 13 states, nine caused via “trigger” laws which took effect immediately after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In Florida, Republican state legislators passed and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban in 2022. Then, after DeSantis won reelection and Republicans increased their majorities, they went back and established a six-week ban.

And in addition to making abortion illegal within their states, far-right legislators have enacted laws which create bounties for private citizens who file lawsuits against anyone who knowingly “aids or abets” an abortion and ban helping a minor leave the state to obtain abortion care. There are countless stories about the devastating impacts these laws have already had on women and girls placed in dire situations.

Nor do Republicans confine their efforts to states where they win majorities. The right-wing movement’s lawyers, with the help of Trump-appointed judges, are currently trying to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion medication mifepristone, which would effectively institute a nationwide ban on a drug currently used in more than half of U.S. abortions. If their effort succeeds, they will likely deploy a similar strategy against an alternative drug, misoprostol. Meanwhile, in Congress, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-MS) is blocking hundreds of military promotions — to cheers from the right — in hopes of forcing the Biden administration to end a policy that reimburses service members for out-of-state travel to receive abortions.

And of course, the reason Republican legislators have been able to pass state-level abortion bans and threaten to pass national ones is that Trump and a Republican Senate added the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe in the first place.

The good news for Republicans is that Trump, the party’s likely presidential nominee, has very few genuine policy convictions, and recognizes that the issue poses a danger to his prospects in a general election. He was noticeably cagey in a September interview when asked about what type of abortion legislation he’d support, stating vaguely that he “would sit down with both sides and I'd negotiate something, and we'll end up with peace on that issue for the first time in 52 years,” and criticized his rival DeSantis’ six-week ban.

But that led to a chorus of criticism from Trump’s primary opponents, anti-abortion groups, and right-wing pundits, to which Trump later responded by crowing, “I was able to kill Roe v. Wade.” And there are signs that a Hannity-esque strategy of downplaying the party’s unpopular abortion stance could face fury from right-wing media figures who make their money by loudly proclaiming stands that appeal to a tiny, fervent minority.

If interviewers and debate moderators do their jobs, Trump should face a slew of questions between now and next year’s election where the desired answers of right-wing anti-abortion activists and average Americans diverge. Journalists have a responsibility to try to elicit a clearer position not only about what type of abortion bans he’d sign or veto, but about what he would do on federal regulatory issues like the availability of abortion medications.

“Polls are now closed in several key states, where close races could serve as maybe a small preview of coming attractions for the 2024 election,” Hannity said on Tuesday night, before the carnage for the GOP became apparent. That’s true, and support for abortion rights is a big part of the reason why.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Abortion Rights

Ohio Approves Abortion Rights Clause In State Constitution

Ohio decided to vote "yes" on Issue 1 Monday, enshrining abortion rights in the state's constitution, The Associated Press reports.

With approval of the amendment, The Washington Post reports, "Ohio would be the seventh state to protect abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s federal abortion standard in June 2022."

Per AP, "Opponents had argued that the amendment would threaten parental rights, allow unrestricted gender surgeries for minors and revive 'partial birth' abortions, which are federally banned," but "Public polling shows about two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal in the earliest stages of pregnancy, a sentiment that has been underscored in both Democratic and deeply Republican states since the justices overturned Roe in June 2022."

According to the report, "Issue 1 specifically declared an individual's right to 'make and carry out one's own reproductive decisions,' including birth control, fertility treatments, miscarriage and abortion."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Why Did Mike Johnson Scrub 69 Podcasts From His Website?

Why Did Mike Johnson Scrub 69 Podcasts From His Website?

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA), who House Republicans unanimously voted for last week, has scrubbed his personal website, apparently deleting all 69 weekly podcasts he and his wife Kelly began recording last year.

Kelly Johnson’s business website, Onward Christian Counseling, has also been scrubbed. HuffPostreports she “runs a counseling business that advocates the belief that homosexuality is comparable to bestiality and incest, according to its operating documents.” Attempts to access both websites now result in an “Error” message, although those web addresses have been archived.

Johnson has been described as a far-right Christian nationalist and Christian dominionist.

Last week, after Johnson was elected the third-most powerful official in America,Politico published a profile on “the Christian nationalist ideas that shaped House Speaker Mike Johnson.” The New York Timeswrote, “The new House speaker has put his faith at the center of his political career, and aligned himself with a newer cohort of conservative Christianity that some describe as Christian nationalism.”

An MSNBC columnist last week wrote, “Mike Johnson’s Christian nationalist track record isn’t a mystery — it’s a tragedy,” and added, “The new speaker cut his teeth trying to erode the separation of church and state and abortion and LGBTQ rights as a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund.”

On Thursday, in a Daily Beast opinion piece, David Rothkopf wrote, “Here’s Why Mike Johnson Is More Dangerous Than Donald Trump.”

“In interviews he has spoken of the fact that ‘We don’t live in a democracy’ we live in a ‘Biblical republic,'” Rothkop said. “He asserts this was because the founders sought to follow a ‘biblical admonition’—which must be a reference to a different group of people than those I cited at the outset. In the same set of remarks he described democracy derisively as ‘two wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner.'”

A Louisiana-based weekly, reporting on Johnson’s podcasts says the episodes are “focused primarily on politely and genially supporting the anti-civil rights and anti-human rights agenda at the heart of evangelical-infused Republican politics.”

Speaker Johnson and his wife published the 69 podcasts, “Truth Be Told with Mike and Kelly Johnson,” with individual titles including, “Who We Are and How We Should Lead (in Washington and Around the World).” Or, “How to Stand for Religious Freedom & Address the ‘Separation of Church and State,'” which he calls, “one of the most important–and most misunderstood–principles in American society today.”

Another, “Responding Biblically to ‘Pride Month’ and the Culture Wars,” reads: “As truth is now openly challenged and a deluge of huge cultural issues are hitting close to home for every American, it’s becoming more important than ever for all people of good conscience, and certainly Christians, to be able to think through the issues and respond appropriately. In this episode, Mike and Kelly discuss the impact of the explosive documentary, ‘What is a Woman?,’ how conservatives and traditionalists are finally awakening from their slumber and fighting back, and what the Bible says about our specific approach to the culture wars. They also discuss the new initiative to recognize June as ‘Fidelity Month,’ to help restore Americans’ belief in the importance of values like patriotism, religion, family, and community.”

Huffpost’s report on Kelly Johnson’s business points to an operating agreement and adds, “Onward Christian Counseling Services is grounded in the belief that sex is offensive to God if it is not between a man and a woman married to each other. It puts being gay, bisexual or transgender in the same category as someone who has sex with animals or family members, calling all of these examples of ‘sexual immorality.'”

Meanwhile, notes for the couple’s podcast last year titled, “Biblical Responses to a Divided Nation (A Conversation with Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis),” read: “In this episode, Mike and Kelly have an important discussion with Ken Ham, the CEO and founder of the Answers in Genesis ministry, the highly-acclaimed Creation Museum, and the world-renowned Ark Encounter theme park in Kentucky. His books have sold more than 3 million copies, and his latest publication, Divided Nation: Cultures in Chaos & A Conflicted Church, explains what is happening in our society, why persecution is increasing and more and more people are rejecting the truth of Scripture, and what Christians ought to DO about it. As he reminds us, ‘it only takes one generation to lose a culture’–and we must act now before it’s too late.”

Johnson may have scrubbed his personal website, but the podcasts have not been removed from other sources including Apple Podcasts.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.