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Tag: abortion bans

Transforming The United States Into The Republic Of Gilead

Ever since the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, standing in a ballroom with red-hatted Trump election celebrants in the New York Hilton, I’ve been waiting for this moment. This eruption of misogyny, unlike any since perhaps the witch trials and the burnings of midwives at the stake, was only a matter of time.

As shocking, as wildly insulting as that pussy-grabber winning the presidency was to American women and girls, it was just the beginning of what appears to be a long season of sadism.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

The election of Donald Trump signaled a cutting of the chain-link fence behind which something drooling and ferocious had been waiting. Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t fully grasp then was just how powerful that force of (male) nature was. Too late we understood that it had been long licking its wounds in a dark corner gathering strength. We sensed it for years, of course, but we didn’t know just how feral and hungry it might prove to be.

Remember the things that once had the power to shock us? They seem so meh now: American voters electing to the highest office in the land someone credibly accused of sexual harassment and assault, on record advising a younger man to “grab ’em by the pussy.” And that was after a presidential campaign in which he and his supporters had showered his female (“rhymes with witch”) opponent with profane misogynistic abuse.

Soon, The Donald and his followers had normalized everyday misogyny, celebrating their leader’s tendency to reduce all women to strip-club sexual attractiveness. Mini-Trumps sprouted in lesser elected positions across the country, publicly calling elected women or those campaigning for office witches and worse. We even got used to the seating of a new rightist Supreme Court with, for added insult, one new justice credibly accused of sexual assault and another a member of a religious cult that called women “handmaidens.”

Meh, meh. That, too, it turns out, was just the beginning.

We’re now living in the after-times of all that the Trump years unleashed.

In 1991, Susan Faludi wrote a book, Backlash:The Undeclared War Against Women, chronicling the ways in which the patriarchy was then fighting to reverse the gains made by our mothers and grandmothers. They were the ones who had braved public scorn in their struggle to pull American women out of their assigned roles as pointy-bra-wearing, breathy vixens consigned to housewifery or professional lives as secretaries, nurses, or at best teachers.

Faludi was spot on, of course. Sadly, though, the backlash of the 1980s she chronicled would prove to be just a prologue. Having had it named for us, you might think we could have checked that backlash and maintained momentum toward gender equality. Who in the 1990s could have imagined a day when elected men in at least 25 states would be legally enabled to force raped women to give birth or prevent doctors from performing procedures to save women likely to die of pregnancy? Who could have predicted the level of hatred toward women embodied in those very statutes and openly spoken of without shame or hesitation by elected leaders?

Obviously, we should have known better.

The change that felt so natural to those of us who came of age between 1970 and the turn of the century was not natural to them. Not even faintly. Never in recorded history had there been such an upending of patriarchal power as in the years when we grew up. We tend to take it all for granted, but the challenge to male power from the successes of second-wave feminism (and access to birth-control options) was indeed unique.

The facts speak for themselves: A majority of women now work outside the home, and we outnumber men in college attendance, too — signaling even greater numbers of women who should be able to rely economically on themselves instead of male partners. American women were enabled to escape lives of utter dependence on men, precisely because we had access to contraceptives and abortion, and for the first time in history were able to control if, when, and with whom we would bear children.

All that represented serious, deeply meaningful change. It altered the way young women and young men interacted, sexually and socially. Admittedly, we are still far from parity. The development of Silicon Valley, another economic revolution like the industrial one, created a new flood of male-only economic dynasties that once again shut out women (who weren’t wives) from the upper reaches of the economy. But the trend lines in general were upending eons of power relations between men and women at the most intimate, domestic level.

It was only a matter of time — and we should have known it — before such advances provoked the beast. The election of Donald Trump provided a green light for the release of sick, dark fantasies of revenge and a resurgence of the apparently ineradicable urge among some men to rule women utterly and completely.

The Predator’s Ball

I’ve always found the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale to be unwatchable, misogynistic torture porn. As a young English major in the 1980s, I read Margaret Atwood’s novel. I understood it then as a dystopic satire on the theocratic woman-controlling impulses already bubbling up around the edges of American society, which that Canadian writer had creatively taken to their logical conclusion.

The streaming series, however, was something else. The graphic and repeated scenes of actress Elisabeth Moss’s subjection as Offred, including the rapes and various bloody mutilations and punishments visited on her and her sister handmaidens, all converged into a category of visual titillation that went straight to the amygdala. I could imagine men who didn’t find such visual crap as impossible to watch as I did.

The fact that the producers were men had, I’m sure, something to do with the tone.

But today, the horror is this: it’s not confined to a Hulu series anymore. The extreme right in American politics is openly working off the playbook of Atwood’s fictional Republic of Gilead. Its urge is to construct an all-American theocracy in which the Old Testament Biblical rights of men to control women as reproductive chattel are restored to them.

There was a time not that long ago when American women could assume our foes were safely isolated in pockets of lunacy like Missouri, where 2012 Republican Senate nominee Todd Akin famously suggested that rape can sometimes prevent pregnancy. Another example: Nevada, where a 2010 anti-abortion Tea Party candidate explained her “no exceptions for incest” position by suggesting that girls impregnated by their own fathers should remember that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

We laughed at them then. But the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has emboldened those freaks to leave their hidey-holes and, as Dr. Phil might put it, open up about their true feelings.

Let’s start with Charlie Kirk, Jr., the co-founder of Turning Point USA (TPUSA), which exists mainly to bus conservative college students to fill seats at Trump rallies or form media-attracting long lines to shake hands with Marjorie Taylor Greene and harass progressive college professors.

Kirk has a podcast and a massive social media following. On June 24, in the giddy aftermath of the Roe decision, he gushed about his feelings to his 1.7 million Twitter followers this way (italics mine): “Notice who is marching in the streets: single, unmarried, mostly white, college educated women. Frankly it’s foolish to call conservatives racist — who we actually can’t stand are angry, liberal, white women.”

He was probably disappointed when he only garnered 6,860 likes.

Kirk and his fellow travelers seem to be engaged in a competition to revile women. A few months before Roe was overturned, former NFL football player and Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Minnesota Matt Birk actually got a twofer by slamming working women and supporting rapists simultaneously. Abortion rights, he said, lead to working women who then “go to the rape card” if abortion is restricted. He added: “It’s not over. Our culture loudly but also stealthily promotes abortion. Telling women they should look a certain way, have careers, all these things.”

Have careers, and all these things.

At Charlie Kirk’s recent TPUSA convention in Tampa, Florida, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz brayed to a roomful of young men and women this way: “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.” (Try to imagine the pasted-on cheerleader smiles of the women in his audience listening to that.)

Who cares about words, though, when sticks and stones — and laws — actually break our bones (or cause us to bleed to death)? Straight from the Gilead playbook, the theocrats are trying to force women who need abortions to stay within the restrictive borders of their states. You don’t even need to imagine how closely this tracks with scenes in Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale. A liberal/left-leaning political advocacy group, Meidas Touch, has created a little video clip to help you see it all too graphically.

In the past few weeks alone:

Texas Attorney General and indicted securities fraudster Ken Paxton sued the federal government to stop the implementation of the Biden administration’s requirement that abortions be performed in case of emergency, when the life of a mother is at stake. Texas is officially on record now, working in the courts to make sure women likely to die of pregnancy actually do so.

Idaho Republicans rejected a measure to allow a life-saving abortion. The man behind the proposal to criminalize all abortions from the moment of conception, Scott Herndon, is running unopposed for a state senate seat. He called it a “declaration of the right to life for reborn children.”

Or look to Texas again for proof that “pro-life” care for the “pre-born” child is a lie and not the real reason for the race to control uteri. A recent Texas Tribune/ProPublica investigation revealed that ironclad anti-abortion Texas is one of just a few states that doesn’t allow Medicaid coverage for a full year after a poor woman gives birth. How caring!

Democratic and progressive strategists and speechwriters don’t have to look far to find outrageous anecdotes. When President Biden mentioned a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion, the rightwing info-silo, including the Wall Street Journal, promptly cast doubt on the very existence of the child and the rape. When the alleged rapist was arrested, theocrats continued to offer up treacly, sick excuses, dripping with sanctimony, for why even children should be forced to give birth.

“She would have had the baby and, as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” pro-life lawyer and former Indiana deputy attorney general Jim Bopp typically told Politico. He was, of course, speaking of that 10 year-old whose medical care he would have wanted to prohibit in his state.

Reports of the post-Roe effects of care withheld are starting to hit the national news, with bleeding women and those with deadly infections having to wait for legal analyses or travel to distant places to find doctors. As one physician who narrowly saved the life of a miscarrying woman in Texas (having had to wait for the fetal heartbeat to finally stop) put it: “The patient developed complications, required surgery, lost multiple liters of blood, and had to be put on a breathing machine.” Her life was indeed saved, but in our new post-Roe world, barely.

The Disunited States Of Pro-Choice

There is no doubt in my mind (nor in Margaret Atwood’s) that we’re now witnessing a real-life attempt to construct her once-fictional Republic of Gilead in our country. It will be complete with forced birth and rape as a means of master-race reproduction — plus lots and lots of female blood.

On the upside, the insane depredations, verbal and legal, being visited on women in these post-Roe months have already handed the Democrats a wealth of material from which to craft effective messages and potentially gain an edge in the coming midterm elections. The question is: Does the party have the will and skill to do it? If past is prologue, we can’t be sure.

For too long, the onus has been on women to figure out how to protect themselves from fanatical political misogyny. For example, when it comes to abortion, feminist activists have long urged women to “tell” their stories. Some are now bemoaning the fact that not enough of us did so before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

The logic here is that if more women talked openly about their experiences, we would “normalize” that procedure. But is that true? Why should women have to “share” personal information in order to sustain our privacy, a right we actually possess, whether secured by law or not?

Our abortion stories couldn’t convert Justice Amy Coney Barrett or deter any other fanatical fetal rights activists from their appointed task before Roe was overturned. And why, in any case, should women ever have to discuss personal reproductive options and decisions outside a doctor’s office?

There is one exception. Survivors of illegal abortions do a service to the cause by sharing these stories. I recommend, for instance, French writer Annie Ernaux’s book The Happening, a short chronicle of her botched back-alley abortion in Paris in 1964. That bloody, terrifying account ranks with the most harrowing war stories ever written.

When abortion is relegated to dirty back rooms, women’s bodies become literal combat zones. The most resonant line among many comes when Ernaux describes the searing pain of a fake doctor inserting a tube into her uterus to start the process. “At that point I killed my mother inside me,” she writes.

A legion of organizations is now coalescing to assist women who will need abortions in the half of America where they’ll be faced with the same horrific choice Ernaux survived. (Some of those efforts are aggregated here and here.)

Doctors, to their credit, seem to be stepping up for women. The American Medical Association (AMA) issued a strong statement opposing the politicization of reproductive medicine. Its president, Jack Resneck, has warned lawmakers of the challenges they’re creating for doctors. The problem is, it might not matter. Like the American Bar Association’s declining influence in the selection of federal judges — unprecedented numbers of Trump’s appointees were deemed unqualified by that group — the AMA has limited influence in a world where significant numbers of the info-silo’ed believe Covid-19 is a hoax and the vaccines for it contain tracking microchips.

Politically, doctors aren’t going to save us anyway. For too long, even at the greatest women’s march of my adult lifetime, the anti-Trump protest in Washington on January 17, 2017, women have presented a disunited front. The history of the fracturing of the women’s movement is long and sad. Discussions of it are fraught territory, mined with political IEDs that I’d rather avoid. I’ll only say this: Why is it that Congress instantly got moving on the gay marriage law after Roe was overturned (and yes, I’m for it!), when it can’t even get the basics for women passed in the federal Women’s Health Protection act. (The Senate has blocked it twice already.)

The answer, at least in part: advocacy solely for women is always easier to defeat than advocacy for issues that also involve men.

Furthermore, we’re weakened from the inside. As Pamela Paul pointed out in a controversial post-Roe New York Times op-ed on the erasing of women, even Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU have stopped using the word “women” in discussing abortion in favor of phrases like “pregnant people” or “birthing people.” That the very definition of women is now added to decades of the slicing and dicing of women’s groups into narrower and narrower subdivisions of identity only weakens the movement.

It’s true that heterosexual white women are historically privileged over women of color or of different sexual orientations. But if we can’t even agree that all “women” are ultimately people born with a uterus — a subset of human beings who, whatever our differences in terms of class, race, or ethnicity, share the utterly exceptional, unique challenge of being impregnable — we are going to lose this war.

Copyright 2022 Nina Burleigh

Nina Burleigh is an American political journalist and the author of seven books. Her latest is Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America's Response to the Pandemic (an updated paperback version was published in July by Seven Stories Press), a real-life thriller that delves into the official malfeasance behind America’s pandemic chaos and the triumph of science in an era of conspiracy theories and contempt for experts.

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

Maternal And Infant Mortality Are Highest In 'Pro-Life' Red States

Valuing life is the official reason for abortion bans, but on measure after measure, the states banning abortion show just how little they really value life.

After Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves claimed that his state’s successful battle to overturn Roe v. Wade was “always about creating a culture of life,” we took a close look at Mississippi: Highest infant mortality rate. Highest homicide rate. Highest firearm mortality rate. Lowest life expectancy at birth.

But it’s not just Mississippi. The New York Times has a look at a range of ways states can support children and mothers, and states that are banning abortion come out worse on just about all of them than do states that are not likely to ban abortion.

Outcomes on which the 24 current or likely abortion ban states are worse than the 20 states unlikely to ban abortion:

  • The infant mortality rate in states banning or expected to soon ban abortion is 6.3 per 1,000 births. In states that aren’t going to ban abortion, it’s 4.7 per 1,000.
  • The maternal mortality rate in the ban states is 25.2 per 1,000, compared with 15 per 1,000 in states that won’t ban abortion.
  • 18.5 percent of children live in poverty in the ban states, compared with 14.8 percent in the no-ban states.
  • 15.7 percent of women of reproductive age are uninsured in the ban states, compared with nine percent in the no-ban states.
  • It’s 7.2 percent to 3.6 percent for uninsured children—that’s double.
  • 8.8 percent of babies in the ban states are born with low birth weights, compared with 7.7 percent in the no-ban states.
  • There are 21.2 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 in abortion ban states, compared with 12.1 per 1,000 in no-ban states.

Alongside those outcomes are some striking policy differences: Not one of the states banning abortion has paid family leave. Eleven states that won’t be banning abortion have paid family leave. Every single one of the latter has expanded Medicaid, while just 15 of the 24 abortion ban states have done so. All but one of the no-ban states have minimum wages above the federal level of $7.25 an hour, while just eight of the ban states do. Both groups of states include six that have universal pre-K, though that’s a larger percentage of the no-ban states.

None of the state lawmakers who have pushed through and supported abortion bans can seriously claim that their states’ governance reflects a priority on life. The numbers are clear.

Even if every one of these states had 100 percent insurance rates and the lowest infant mortality and maternal mortality in the world, forcing people to carry pregnancies and give birth against their will would be a moral outrage. But there really should be a rule that anytime a lawmaker is quoted opposing abortion, they should be identified with the infant and maternal mortality rates of their states and with any votes they have made to support or oppose things like expanding health care or establishing paid family leave or reducing child poverty.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Blue States Stepping Up Defense Against Republican Abortion Bans

It's tough to remain optimistic about abortion access right now, particularly in the face of such extremes from anti-abortion politicians and activists.

Take, for example, the Idaho Republican Party's refusal to include language in its platform that would allow abortion to save a pregnant person's life. Or the fact that Republicans are floating the idea that if they take the House back in November, they'll pass a federal abortion ban. Or the discussion over whether pregnant women should be allowed to travel to another state to obtain an abortion.

However, some states are moving to increase abortion access for patients and provide protection against prosecution if people are charged with what the texts of anti-abortion laws call "aiding and abetting," or with obtaining an abortion.

New York was one of the first states to take action, passing six bills designed to protect access once it became clear with the leak of the Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that Roe would be overturned.

The state also issued millions of dollars in grants, including $25 million earmarked for an abortion provider support fund that will help increase provider capacity, allowing those providers to serve more patients. In announcing the $25 million grant, New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul said that anecdotal evidence already pointed to an uptick in the number of patients from both Ohio and Pennsylvania coming to New York. More can be expected as bans in other states go into effect, she said; Ohio now has a six-week ban on the books.

Minnesota is also taking steps to protect abortion access. The state's Democratic governor, Tim Walz, signed an executive order requiring state agencies to protect people who provide or obtain abortions. Further, the executive order states that Minnesota will not assist other states that try to impose criminal or civil liability on someone seeking an abortion in Minnesota.

Earlier this month, a state district court judge overturned several of Minnesota's existing abortion restrictions, including a 24-hour waiting period and an "informed consent" requirement. The ruling also means that medication abortions can be offered by a variety of health care providers rather than just by doctors.

Advocates in Minneapolis are pushing the city to budget $800,000 to help fund groups that provide abortion funding and related support. It's vital for Minnesota to increase capacity because it is surrounded by states in which legislators are taking steps to ban or severely limit abortion.

Wisconsin has an 1849 abortion ban still on the books, and anti-abortion politicians argue that it is now in effect in the state. The state's attorney general has gone to court to argue that a 1985 law supersedes the earlier law.

Abortion is now fully banned in South Dakota, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Late last year, California announced it would be a so-called sanctuary state for those in other states seeking abortions. This is especially necessary given that California is surrounded by states with legislatures controlled by anti-abortion politicians such as Arizona, where Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich is pushing to have a Civil War-era abortion ban go into effect.

Clinics in California are hiring additional personnel and expanding hours to make abortion more available. Providers are also coordinating with abortion funds to help provide for ancillary costs, like travel and lodging. Hospitals are working to serve people with high-risk pregnancies who are forced to leave their states to receive care. A UCLA study predicts the state will see an additional 10,600 out-of-state patients seeking abortion care yearly.

Bans and severe restrictions are moving quickly toward enactment in Republican-controlled states. Eight states now have complete bans — Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama — and a New York Times tracker lists Tennessee and Idaho as states in which bans are expected soon.

As these restrictions move across the landscape, it will be ever more necessary for states that uphold abortion rights to continue to provide access for those in need.

Does 'Pro-Life' Have To Be Mean And Stupid? It's Starting To Look That Way

You’d think they’d be ashamed, these self-infatuated pundits and tin horn politicians who made bogus pronouncements on Fox News and elsewhere about the ten-year-old Ohio rape victim and the Indiana doctor who mercifully ended her pregnancy.

By any rational standard, their actions were farcical and ugly. But reason has nothing to do with it. Cruelty and stupidity are exactly the point. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, the bullies are in charge, and they’re making damn sure everybody knows it.

The episode began in the Indianapolis Star, a one-source story, to be sure, but a named source with first-hand information and a great deal on the line. Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an obstetrician-gynecologist with Planned Parenthood, had personally performed the procedure. She wanted people to understand what Ohio’s draconian new anti-abortion laws were doing: forcing a fourth-grader to flee her home state to end a potentially life-threatening pregnancy.

Now me, I had no trouble believing the Star’s account and neither did my wife. For years, Diane was an administrator at a children’s hospital. She participated in regular meetings about cases apt to draw the attention of cops or reporters. The terrible things people do to children, you never want to believe. A ten-year old rape victim would scarcely raise an eyebrow.

Indeed, after Ohio Attorney General David Yost went on Fox News to say that he hadn’t heard a whisper about such a crime, and said it was likely a “fabrication,” the Ohio Capital Journal went to work. A search of Columbus police records since March, it reported “uncovered 59 reports of sexual assaults of girls 15 and younger that, based on the information available, could have resulted in pregnancy.” Maybe Yost just wasn’t listening.

Then no sooner had President Joe Biden expressed some of his trademark empathy toward the victim--"Imagine being that little girl, ten years old” he said—than Fox News talking-heads pushed the fabrication angle. Tucker Carlson, Jesse Watters, and Laura Ingraham used terminology like “hoax” and “politically timed disinformation.” How many bamboozled viewers bought it is hard to say.

The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial headlined “An Abortion Story Too Good to Confirm.” “The tale is a potent post-Roe tale of woe for those who want to make abortion a voting issue this fall,” it said. “One problem: There’s no evidence the girl exists.”

Even Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote a persnickety column expressing skepticism on the grounds that the Indianapolis Star’s version was “a very difficult story to check.”

On his Media Nation website, Dan Kennedy points out that both Kessler and the Journal studiously ignore “that the media don’t identify rape victims, let alone those who are 10.”

Most readers know what happened next. The Columbus Dispatch broke the news that the child’s rapist had been arrested, charged, and confessed to police. During his arraignment prosecutors said that his victim had become pregnant, but traveled to another state for an abortion.

The newspaper also reported that similar cases were more common than people would like to believe. Ohio health department records showed that there had been 52 abortions performed on children 15 and under there during 2020-- basically one a week. Many are rapes by definition.

So you’d think Republican politicians might have been chastened. But no. The very next day, Indiana's Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita went on—where else?—Fox News—to denounce the real villain in the story: Dr. Caitlin Bernard. He called her “an abortion activist” with a suspect history.

Rokita gave no particulars, but added that “We’re gathering the information, we’re gathering the evidence as we speak and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at [Bernard’s] licensure, if she failed to report. In Indiana it’s a crime…to intentionally not report.”

Big “if” pal. Is it even necessary to say that Rokita, a former GOP congressman, was talking out his…

Well, blowing smoke is a gentler way to put it.

Courtesy of Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo website, we learn “that a local Fox affiliate in Indiana was able to find out through a simple public records request that Bernard not only filed the report on the termination of the pregnancy but also reported that the patient was a victim of abuse — even though the abuse occurred not in Indiana but the neighboring state of Ohio, where it was also reported to authorities by the girl’s physician.”

Even a cursory check of public records easily available to both attorneys general would have saved them the embarrassment. A public defender who turned up in traffic court so farcically unprepared would soon be out of a job. Too many voters, however, like them mean and stupid

Soon enough, pregnant children are going to die, and women suffering miscarriages too. These laws are barbarous and the people enforcing them too filled with partisan zeal to deal with mere reality.

Abortion Bans Don't Protect The Rights of 'The People'

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over a Mississippi law banning abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. The law roundly defies the court's decisions affirming a right to abortion, but the state portrays the ban as the mildest of correctives.

All Mississippi wants the justices to do, insisted state solicitor general Scott Stewart, is defer to "the people." The law, he said, came about because "many, many people vocally really just wanted to have the matter returned to them so that they could decide it — decide it locally, deal with it the way they thought best, and at least have a fighting chance to have their view prevail."

Justice Brett Kavanaugh seemed to find the argument persuasive. It's his understanding, he said, that Mississippi believes "this Court should be scrupulously neutral on the question of abortion, neither pro-choice nor pro-life."

Letting the people decide, and aligning the court to neither promote nor prevent abortion, sounds sensible — even libertarian. What neither Stewart nor Kavanaugh acknowledged, though, is that, in a fundamental sense, these conditions have already been met.

Under the court's major abortion decisions, the people, as individuals, already have the full authority to make up their minds on the issue. Those who believe that every pregnancy should be carried to term are free to forgo abortions. Those who disagree are free to procure abortions. No woman is forced to abort her fetus, and no woman is forced to undergo childbirth.

By the same token, the Supreme Court has adopted a position of neutrality. Just as the Constitution does not let government forbid or require anyone to worship, the Constitution does not let the government forbid or require anyone to bear a child. Each pregnant woman is free to decide for herself.

But when Stewart and Kavanaugh use these terms, they have in mind a different meaning. If Roe and Casey were overturned, the people would be empowered not as individuals but as a collective. The court would be "neutral" only on the matter of whether states allow abortion or ban it.

Apply these meanings to a different constitutional right and the defects in their logic become clear. Champions of gun rights have always argued that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" is an individual liberty — as the court agreed in 2008.

They believe the court must keep "the people" of any state from using the power of government to abridge this right. Americans who believe in free speech and religious liberty feel the same way about First Amendment guarantees.

Stewart insisted that abortion rights are different because the framers didn't explicitly protect them. The Roe and Casey decisions, he argued, "have no basis in the Constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions."

In fact, they have a spacious place in our history and traditions. In his 2017 book Sex and the Constitution, University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone notes that abortion was legal and widely performed in the United States at the time the Constitution was ratified — and wasn't outlawed for more than a century afterward.

It's true that the Constitution doesn't mention the right to abortion. But the Constitution protects many freedoms it doesn't mention — the freedom to marry, the freedom to refuse medical treatment, the freedom to have children and govern their upbringing, and more.

The Ninth Amendment stipulates that not all protected liberties are spelled out: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

If the Constitution has nothing to say about abortion, does that mean a state could require some women to have abortions — say, to prevent the birth of children with serious congenital defects?

Of course not. Requiring abortion would be a gross violation of physical autonomy, which enjoys broad constitutional protection. But banning abortion has the same effect. And the Supreme Court appears poised to let it happen.

Pro-life advocates say abortion ends a human life, as if that settles everything. But the issue is not whether a fetus is alive or human. It's whether and when its preservation is sufficiently important to override a woman's fundamental right to control her own body.

Americans have long disagreed on that question. Our disagreement is a powerful argument for leaving the choice to each pregnant woman.

Right now, we let the people decide, one by one, under the protection of a neutral government. But probably not for long.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Republicans Push Texas-Style Abortion Bans Across Country

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Last week, the U. S. Supreme Court let stand a Texas law that is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. With that green light, other states are lining up to pass similar laws, and at this time, there isn't much way to stop them.

Anti-choice legislators in four states — Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, and South Dakota — have already stated they will follow Texas's lead. They're planning on introducing bills that will mirror both the restrictive nature of Texas's law — a ban on abortion at six weeks — and the unique enforcement mechanism, which allows any citizen to sue someone who aids or abets an abortion. Several other states, including Nebraska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Ohio, will likely be considering similar laws.

In Florida, Ron DeSantis, the anti-abortion GOP governor, said his state would "look more significantly" at the Texas law and that he found it "interesting." In South Carolina, Larry Grooms, a GOP state senator, said the state would "move to pass legislation that would mirror what Texas did."

Jason Rapert, a GOP state senator in Arkansas who is mounting a lieutenant governor bid in that state for 2022, immediately posted a model bill from his organization, the National Organization of Christian Lawmakers. Rapert has stated he will file a Texas-style bill in his state immediately.

Rapert's Twitter feed makes clear that some legislators pushing bills that functionally outlaw abortion no longer feel tethered to whether those bills are good law under existing Supreme Court precedent. Instead, Rapert tweets about how the left has an "unrelenting demand for the innocent sacrifices of unborn children" and repeatedly refers to abortion as a "demonic force."

One day after the Texas law took effect, GOP Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota tweeted her office would "immediately review the new TX law and current South Dakota laws to make sure we have the strongest pro-life laws on the books in SD."

Noem's tweet is emblematic of the approach being taken by many abortion-hostile states. There's no discussion of what the voters might want. There's no belief that the existing restrictive laws might be enough — even in a state like South Dakota with only one clinic that offers abortions only twice per month. Rather, there's a rush toward imitating the Texas law simply because it is the most restrictive that has yet succeeded.

The states that have announced their intentions to replicate the law so swiftly may be taken by the notion that since the Texas law offloads enforcement from the state to private citizens, it insulates the state from lawsuits. States likeSouth Carolina and Arkansas just saw courts block their highly restrictive abortion laws. However, if they took those laws and "piggybacked" the Texas enforcement scheme onto them, a court might have to let the law stand, given that the Supreme Court did so in Texas.

There exists a chance that the Texas law will be overturned once it is completely litigated, as what happened at the Supreme Court was only that the court refused to block the law from taking effect. Indeed, some anti-abortion groups have stated they will continue to focus on the Mississippi 15-week pre-viability ban that the Supreme Court is set to hear this term. However, all that really means is that anti-abortion activists have more than one opportunity to utterly undo Roe v. Wade.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Confronted Over Abortion Bans, Pence Says Democrats Push ‘Infanticide’

Mike Pence resorted to telling lies about abortion at a joint press conference in Canada Thursday after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the GOP for their recent actions to restrict women’s health care.

Before the meeting, Trudeau, who is pro-choice, said he would raise concerns about anti-choice legislation enacted by Republicans when meeting with Pence.

He explained how he approached the topic with Pence at the press conference:

I highlighted to the vice president that there was a significant amount of concern amongst Canadians on the new anti-choice laws being passed in American — a number of American states… Canadians and this government will always be a staunch defender of women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose.

Instead of defending the Republican position in a straightforward manner, Pence chose to use the international venue to promote abortion lies about Democrats.

“Our administration has taken steps to stand for the sanctity of life, at home and abroad,” Pence said. “What we found troubling is the Democratic Party in our country and leaders around the country supporting late-term abortion, even infanticide.”

Pence’s claim is untrue.

No Democrats have supported infanticide or passed legislation on the topic. What Democrats have done is pass measures that allow women and doctors in extremely rare occurrences to make medical decisions to save their lives.

Pence has based a significant amount of his political career pushing for restrictions on women’s rights. Pence and his fellow Republicans, including Trump, are now twisting facts and using the “infanticide” label to help bolster their side. It’s a tactic to demonize women, and it also has the side effect of encouraging anti-choice terrorism.

Meanwhile, Republicans are running away from unpopular anti-choice legislation passed in states like Alabama that would force rape and incest victims to give birth no matter what the woman wants.

Americans support the right to an abortion, and the Republican position is unpopular and has repeatedly been on the losing end of the political spectrum.

Faced with a respectful rebuke from Trudeau, Pence could do no better than to keep up his lies and deception on the world stage.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

IMAGE: Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual March for Life rally in Washington. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Missouri Joins Alabama In Criminalizing Abortion Providers

Missouri is about to become the latest GOP-led state to try to make doctors criminals for providing women the basic health care service of safely ending an unwanted pregnancy.

Missouri’s Republican-held legislature passed a bill on Friday that bans abortion after eight weeks gestation, and subjects doctors who perform the procedure after that point to five to 15 years in prison.

The bill is likely to be signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson. If and when that happens, Missouri will become the sixth state just this year, and the eighth state overall, to pass a law criminalizing most abortions starting in the first trimester of pregnancy — often before women even know they are pregnant.

The other states passing extreme abortion bans this year have been Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Mississippi; similar laws passed in 2018 in Iowa and in 2013 in North Dakota. Alabama’s law bans abortion regardless of when a woman finds out she’s pregnant, and the others ban abortion at six weeks — which is just two weeks after a missed period.

Missouri is also the second state legislature this week that has voted to ban abortions even in the case of rape or incest, an especially draconian move that re-traumatizes victims.

Alabama’s near-total abortion ban that was signed this week also has no exceptions for rape or incest, and only makes exceptions for when a woman’s health is at “serious” risk — making it the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in the country. It also subjects doctors who perform the procedure to up to 99 years in prison.

All of these extreme bills either have been, or likely soon will be, blocked from going into effect by federal courts. That’s because they blatantly violate Supreme Court precedent under Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision guaranteeing women the right to an abortion.

But these GOP-controlled states are passing the bans anyway, in the hope that the legal challenges to their anti-woman laws will make their way to the Supreme Court — where they believe the two Trump-appointed conservative justices will help overturn Roe.

Republicans have painted their crusade as “pro-life.” However, abortion bans like those in Missouri and Alabama put women’s lives in danger.

This is also the same political party that’s seeking to take away health care protections from Americans, refusing to accept refugees who face violence in their home countries, and traumatizing children by jailing and separating them from their parents at the border.

The GOP is not a “pro-life” party. It’s an anti-woman one.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: An anti-abortion protester demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court building. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst