One of the very best congressional candidates running anywhere in the country is Long Island progressive activist Melanie D'Arrigo. This morning I was talking with her about the Supreme Court decision to strike down Roe v Wade. She's been fighting the extreme right, anti-choice movement for years. "Not only is taking away personal freedom inconsistent with GOP 'values,' she noted, "but it is an absolute affront to women everywhere. Let's be clear, there is nothing pro-life about a party who forces birth and does nothing while maternal mortality rates sky rocket. You cannot pretend to care about children when your party continually tries to defund programs that feed hungry kids and strip healthcare away from millions of low-income people. I am a pro-choice champion and will fight to ensure our reproductive rights are non-negotiable, whether I am running against anti-choice democrats, democrats who have remained complacent for decades as our rights have been eroded, or anti-choice republicans. This is a top issue for voters. Women, particularly Black women, won us the election in 2020 and representatives-- Democrats and Republicans would be wise to remember that. We are tired of asking for equality. Now, we are demanding it. And we will see that at the ballot box."
That is certainly true on Long Island's North Shore... but not everywhere in the country. Most voters, though not most Republican voters, say Roe v Wade should remain in place:
Even in a state like Texas, most voters (78%!!!) think abortion should be legal. The 3 most anti-choice states in the country are backward Trumpist hellholes, the only three states where less than 40% of the residents think abortions should be legal:
Louisiana- 36% legal, 59% illegal (-23%)
Arkansas- 38% legal, 57% illegal (-19%)
Mississippi- 39% legal, 55% illegal (-16%)
So it should come as a surprise to no one at all that Louisiana Republicans have already introduced a bill that would charge abortion as homicide. "Republicans in the Louisiana House," reported Caroline Kitchener this morning, "advanced a bill Wednesday that would classify abortion as homicide and allow prosecutors to criminally charge patients, with supporters citing a draft opinion leaked this week showing the Supreme Court ready to overturn Roe v. Wade . The legislation, which passed through a committee on a 7-to-2 vote, goes one step further than other antiabortion bans that have gained momentum in recent years, which focus on punishing abortion providers and others who help facilitate the procedure. Experts say the bill could also restrict in vitro fertilization and emergency contraception because it would grant constitutional rights to a person 'from the moment of fertilization.'... [L]awmakers and advocates who spoke in support of the bill appeared energized by the prospect of a long-sought imminent victory. One advocate who helped draft the bill specifically cited the draft opinion."
The sponsor of the bill, Republican Danny McCormick, an antisemitic bigot from Oil City in the backward, rural part of Caddo Parish, said "We’ve been waiting 50 years to get to this point." And he isn't kidding.
If the Louisiana bill passes the Republican-led House and Senate, it would head to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has supported antiabortion legislation in the past.
Although the antiabortion movement has traditionally embraced policies that claim to protect both the woman and the fetus-- and avoided laws that criminalize those seeking abortions-- abortion rights advocates worry that could change if Roe is overturned. Without the long-standing court precedent to temper state legislation, experts and advocates say, antiabortion lawmakers may begin targeting patients, especially in cases of medication abortions where pills are obtained by the patient illegally online.
“For legislators in the movement, their agenda is to stop abortion,” said Mary Ziegler, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School specializing in the history of abortion law. “When there is a conflict between punishing pregnant people and stopping abortion, it’s clear what they’re going to do.”
Medication abortion presents a particular challenge to antiabortion lawmakers, Ziegler said. If a patient orders abortion pills illegally online from outside the country, she added, the patient could be the only person for lawmakers to hold responsible.
...The antiabortion movement developed a reputation in the late 1980s and early 1990s for being “anti-woman,” said Ziegler, as antiabortion advocates became known for their violent tactics at abortion clinics, establishing blockades and, in a few cases, murdering providers. The media broadcast videos of women crying as they tried to get past protesters and access abortion care, Ziegler said, which did not play well for the antiabortion movement.
“Americans have usually been pretty unhappy about the idea of punishing patients,” Ziegler said.
After that, antiabortion advocates started to emphasize “pro-woman” policies aimed at protecting women’s health, Ziegler said, with leaders beginning to use slogans like, “Love them both.”
Since then, she said, there has been very little legislation targeting abortion patients. When Lizelle Herrera was charged with murder for a self-managed abortion in South Texas last month, for example, antiabortion groups quickly distanced themselves from the situation. The murder charge against Herrera was later dropped.
...While some in antiabortion circles occasionally discuss the idea of punishing abortion patients, Ziegler said, that idea has not gained much traction.
To see a bill like this moving through a state legislature is “definitely new,” she said.
This morning, Bernie e-mailed his supporters about how right-wing politicians have worked tirelessly to reverse Roe v Wade fro nearly 50 years "and to make it more difficult for women to control their own bodies. They've done it through increasingly restrictive abortion legislation in state after state after state. They’ve done it through the Hyde Amendment, which restricts access to abortion for low-income women. They’ve done it by attacking Planned Parenthood and shutting down clinics. They've done it by intimidating women who access clinics and doctors who work in those clinics. They’ve done it by making women travel hundreds of miles for an abortion and wait weeks for appointments."
Like all progressives, he advocates Congress taking action "to protect the right to a safe and legal abortion for millions of women across the country."
What really gets me about this issue is the extraordinary hypocrisy of my Republican colleagues. Every day on the floor of the Senate I hear Republicans, again and again, spout their right-wing mantras:
"Get the government out of people’s lives."
"Let people, not the government, decide what's good for them."
And on and on their rhetoric goes.
When it comes to ending the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that does not guarantee health care as a right, their response: "Gotta keep the government out of people’s lives."
When it comes to stopping the drug companies from being able to charge outrageous prices for the lifesaving medicine people need in this country: "Gotta keep the government out of people’s lives."
When it comes to asking people who want to buy a handgun or an assault weapon to pass a simple background check: "Gotta keep the government out of people’s lives."
But when it comes to telling every woman in America what she can or cannot do with her own body, about whether or not she can access reproductive health care and abortion care, now all of a sudden my Republican colleagues support a very big and oppressive government. Whether it is at the local, state or federal level, they believe that politicians should make the decisions regarding what is a deeply personal decision for women.
And now, despite overwhelming opposition from the American people, there is a very strong chance that this conservative Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
That is not acceptable. We cannot allow this Supreme Court to put in jeopardy the privacy rights of all Americans and a woman’s right to control her own body.
The consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade would be disastrous and would threaten the very lives of American women — and that's not an exaggeration. The reality is that banning legal medically-assisted abortion and forcing women back into the arms of quacks to get the care they need will quite literally kill women.
No. We cannot go back to the days when women had to risk their lives in order to end an unwanted pregnancy.
The decision about abortion must remain a decision for a woman and her doctor to make. So I am calling on Congress to act to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
Both Cristina Garcia and Robert Garcia-- the two Democratic candidates for the open congressional seat in southeast L.A. County-- support efforts to save Roe v Wade. Both Cristina and Robert and not the same. You may see Robert as an "ally" in the fight for Choice, but not a dependable ally who will really fight for us? Why? Because he was a life-long Republican activist who fought on the other side before conveniently deciding to "be" a Democrat when it became expedient for his political career. When Alito's leak hit the media, Robert had a well-crafted statement ready to go, but the best ally is one who ensures those most affected by a decision like this have a strong voice at the table because they can tell their stories best. The reality is that elected officials legislate on experience and it's Cristina's experience that prompted her to take action at the beginning of the year to prepare for this scenario and not wait until a leak or an actual decision to take action, she is proactive because it's personal and she'll fight like hell even when no one is paying attention to the issue. It's important that we elect women of color to tell their own stories; that goes beyond even the strongest allyship. The difference is reactive versus proactive action. He's a smart guy and knows what to say... but trustworthy? Yeah, sure... as trustworthy as Trump.
Cristina, on the other hand, has been in this battle for her entire career. This morning she told me that "If SCOTUS adopts this deplorable draft decision and overturns Roe, it will not stop abortions, but rather lead to unsafe and deadly abortions for women from vulnerable communities like mine. This is personal, growing up and even now, I see day in and day out how the system is already stacked against women from my community-- black/brown, immigrants, low income, LGBTQ. Access is already limited and not culturally competent, this decision is just another blow for us to control our bodies and our destinies. The reality is that if you have the means, you will still have access. Which is why I am fighting like hell as the chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus to not just ensure that California is a beacon of hope and sanctuary for anyone seeking an abortion, but that we have adequate access that's culturally competent for our most vulnerable community members because a right without access is just an empty promise. While I am angry, I am not surprised, which is why in January the Caucus announced a package of 13 substantive pro-choice bills centered around equity, to increase access and protect privacy for our state's most vulnerable women and to protect the many individuals that will seek refuge and an abortion in California. And while we put our full weight behind this package and a constitutional amendment to enshrine our reproductive rights in the California constitution, we are also putting our full weight behind urging congress to pass the Women's Health Protection Act. Because true justice won't be realized until women across the United States regan full autonomy of their bodies."
See that thermometer above? I put that there because he leads to a Facebook page dedicated to progressive women running for Congress, all of whom are fighters for Choice and all of whom can be trusted, like Cristina Garcia and Melanie D'Arrigo to stand up to oppressors-- on this and on every justice issue.