THE NEWS: The victory is only temporary and the vote portends trouble ahead for abortion rights.
The news was bad yesterday for women's medical rights, in a couple of happenings that should have been no surprise.
The Arkansas Senate
voted 29-6 in favor a "trigger" law to make virtually all abortions illegal in Arkansas should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Three Democrats — Eddie Cheathm, Bruce Maloch and Larry Teague
, joined all Republicans in saying a woman (or child) impregnated by rape couldn't receive an abortion. They said a woman diagnosed with a threatening pregnancy and facing a fetus with no chance of survival could not have an abortion. Remember when Gov. Mike Huckabee
refused Medicaid coverage (required by law) for a retarded teen raped by her father? Private money was raised. That abortion would be a felony if this law had been in effect. Thanks, Sens. Cheatham, Maloch and Teague and the Republican legisators
The only exception that considers a woman:
“Medical emergency” means a condition in which an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself;
A doctor in a state where abortion is barely taught in med school and where the statute books are stuffed with legislation throwing up roadblocks to abortion on spurious "medical grounds" would have to make the decision if he or she could prove that it was a life or death decision to choose between abortion or facing a felony charge. Is only maiming of a woman by a problem pregnancy a sufficient reason to perform an abortion?
Should the law take effect, it won't stop abortion. It will drive them underground and make them unsafe. There will be a black market in abortion pills and mercy transportation to more benevolent states. There's a seeming exception for morning-after plls,
if a woman knows how to obtain them and gets them soon enough. But we've yet to decide whether the state will believe the most extreme anti-abortionists who say some proven early contraception methods are "abortifacient" — working after fertilization and thus a felony should this proposal become active law.
It's this simple: A microscopic fertilized egg is worthy of more protection in Arkansas than a grown woman. The Senate has said so, 29-6.
And on the national level, Chief Justice John Roberts
joined four liberal justices in stopping, for now,
a Louisiana law, like one in suspension in Arkansas, that requires hospital admitting privileges for a doctor to perform an abortion. This is only a temporary victory with an uncertain future.
The Louisiana law would put all but one abortion provider in Louisiana out of business (as would the Arkansas law.) The key development was accused sexual
assaulter Bart O'Kavanaugh's written dissent. He'd let the law take effect, in a clear break from Roe precedent to see if the law really was an obstacle to abortion. How could it not be?
Remember when the kegstander
was described by his advocates as a believer in precedent by people like Sen. Susan Collins
? That was a pile of boof, as everyone knew at the time.
The anti-women voters in the Arkansas Senate have every reason to believe, with Bart and Gorsuch on the court, that Roe's days are numbered. As are the days of safe, legal and ever rarer abortions.
PS: Does it matter that the public sentiment is in no way reflective of that 29-6 vote? Here's what the latest Arkansas Poll said about public opinion on abortion:
* 38 percent favor laws that would make it more difficult;
* 20 percent favor laws that would make it easier;
* 36 percent favor no change.
By that measure, the vote in the Senate yesterday would have been 20 to 15 AGAINST. Elections do have consequences.
Sen. Joyce Elliott wasn't having the rhetoric yesterday. She went to Twitter several times, including this:
UPDATE: Still more legislation here
from Sen. Gary Stubblefield to make it virtually impossible for an abortion clinic to operate. It puts in place rules for their operation much more severe than any law imposed on medical clinics that provide more dangerous services.
Said People for the American Way:
“Last night, even as a bare majority of the Supreme Court made the correct decision, Justice Kavanaugh found a way to prove conclusively what everyone already knows: that he intends to use his position on the court to attack reproductive freedom. Kavanaugh dissented from the court’s order, saying he would have let the law go into effect, a move that ignores the Court’s own precedent and would have put women’s rights in Louisiana in extreme jeopardy. He essentially endorsed the outrageous decision of the appellate court to ignore the detailed factual record established by the lower court and then re-try the facts in the case, a move that flies in the face of the proper functioning of our legal system. That he did so specifically when the issue of abortion rights was involved should escape no one’s notice.
“Senator Susan Collins claimed she supported Kavanaugh because he would respect precedent and the rule of law, but his dissent confirms in no uncertain terms that this wasn’t true. Kavanaugh’s dissent demonstrates—again—the threat he poses to women, and we will hold Collins accountable for her role in confirming him to a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.”