It’s a Congressional smorgasbord of abortion headlines this week, as the Senate held a confirmation hearing for what is likely the least progressive candidate nominated by a Democratic President for a federal bench ever. The hearing did little to change the minds of Democrats opposed to the bid, and even Senate leadership is saying the confirmation is probably a no go.
But the Boggs nomination wasn’t the only Senate fight, as South Carolina Lindsay Graham tweaked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over not bringing a 20 week post-fertilization ban up for a vote. Reid, meanwhile, proposed that Sen. Graham was likely far more interested in his reelection chances than he was in getting a bill to pass.
Senators Reid and Graham aren’t the only congressional members making headlines over abortion restrictions this week. Florida Senator Marco Rubio gleefully hit back at those who accused him of ignoring climate change issues by comparing it to abortion, saying if Democrats won’t agree to the “settled science” of human life beginning at conception, why should he have to believe scientific consensus on global warming. MSNBC’s Irin Carmon takes Sen. Rubio to town on his comparison, including noting that “life” isn’t “a scientific term.” Meanwhile, former senator and likely Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has thrown his hands into the air and advocated free birth control for everyone, utterly confusing people on both sides of the reproductive rights debate.
South Dakota is already one of the toughest states in the country to obtain an abortion. It has just one clinic in its borders, and the legislature mandated a 72 hour wait between the initial appointment with a doctor and the follow up appointment to actually terminate the pregnancy. Meanwhile, a law requiring all pregnant people to visit a crisis pregnancy center for counseling in between the appointments is still being fought in the courts. Yet some conservatives believe the state still isn’t doing enough to discourage abortion, and they want to push the GOP further to the right to get it done.
In Texas, you don’t need more far right Republicans in office to make the abortion situation more dire. Things are getting worse every day. One Texas provider tells of how bad it has become in the state, and how it can happen anywhere. “Take heed, non-Texans, and keep a close eye on your own statehouses. Texas’ 2013 package contained many elements but often was summarized journalistically as the ’20-week ban’ — the other stuff was harder to encapsulate. Yet ultimately, those other elements had far more impact, because most abortions happen before 12 weeks.”
Louisiana should know, since they are on the brink as well. The Louisiana bill that is expected to close almost every clinic in the state has passed its final hurdle this week, and, after a quick reconciliation hearing will head to the governor to be signed into law. But although Governor Bobby Jindal is a definite yes when it comes to signing the legislation, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is still a wildcard when it comes to whether or not he will personally veto his state’s 72 hour wait, which is heading to his desk as well. Also, Planned Parenthood in Kansas has decided to stop fighting a law that ousts them from receiving any funding from the state for any of their programs or services.
In Ohio, one lawmaker is trying desperately to get a “heartbeat” ban, which would make abortion illegal as early as 2 weeks after a missed period, up for a vote, after nearly three years of it being blocked in the Senate. Heartbeat bans have already been found unconstitutional, most recently in North Dakota. Yet now the North Dakota Attorney General has announced they will appeal the ruling, since apparently the state has copious money to burn on legal expenses.
Susan Cahill, whose clinic was vandalized beyond repair in Montana, is discussing the agonizing choice of retiring for her own safety or reopening but potentially putting herself back into danger.
Now for some good news. Mississippi will not be seeing personhood on the ballot again, as a new push to give legal rights to fertilized eggs fails to get enough signatures to make the ballot. And Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is making moves to rescind the medically unnecessary clinic building requirements that were a hallmark of the previous governor’s legacy and that had been shutting down abortion providers throughout the state.
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