Law and Policy

But We Didn’t Ask for This!


Anti-choicers want to criminalize abortion, but investigating women who have miscarried is taking it too far?

News broke yesterday about a bill proposed in the Georgia House that would outlaw abortion, and, as one of its provisions, require that women who have had miscarriages submit to investigations proving the miscarriage was “spontaneous” and that the pregnancy had not ended in an induced abortion. It is also worth noting that the legislator who proposed the bill is also responsible for one in which the term “victim” in regards to sexual assault cases would be replaced with “accuser” in Georgia’s Criminal Code. For what it’s worth, he also doesn’t believe in driver’s licenses and thinks that anyone who wants should be allowed to operate a vehicle on Georgia’s roads. I’m just glad I live in Alabama and not Georgia (wow, never thought I’d utter that sentence). The good citizens of Marietta should be proud of their esteemed representative.

As expected, news of this bill generated quite the firestorm on Facebook and in the blogosphere. I don’t think I saw anyone actually defending the measure, which does much to show how absolutely out of touch this man is with reality. What I did see, however, were responses from anti-choicers, along the lines of “I’m pro-life, but this is just awful.” And it is awful. Anyone who’s experienced a miscarriage can tell you; hell, anyone who’s been pregnant or thought about being pregnant or known someone who’s been pregnant can imagine how awful it would feel to be investigated to ensure that your miscarriage was spontaneous and not deliberate. And it could just be me, but I even feel a little sorry for the people who’d have to do the investigating if this bill were to pass. My miscarriage was diagnosed by two OBs and I had a D&C, so I assume looking into mine would be uneventful. A vast majority of women miscarry at home, however, and first trimester miscarriages don’t leave much by way of evidence. “Well, ma’am, did you happen to save the toilet paper with the blood on it?” One hopes Representative Franklin would also be so kind as to add a provision to protect his investigators from the threats of violence that would surely accompany their questions.

So it seems we can all breach the pro-choice/anti-choice divide and agree that this bill is heinous. But here’s the thing that bugs me: if you are anti-choice (or “pro-life”) and vote for anti-choice politicians, do you not bear some responsibility for their actions? A pro-choice elected official would never think to propose a bill that would treat women who miscarry as potential criminals. Yet, this bill is not the first of its kind and I doubt it’ll be the last. It’s simple logic: if you think abortion should be a crime, then every case of fetal demise is potentially suspicious. If you elect people who want to criminalize abortion, they will–deliberately or not–propose legislation that could work to punish women who have miscarried. The “Protect Life Act” being considered by Congress is a good example of this. It allows public hospitals to refuse to give abortions to women who need them even if their life is in danger. Ostensibly the bill only touches upon women who are carrying a live fetus (even though that in and of itself is reprehensible), but in my very personal experience, such policies can and do affect women who’ve suffered miscarriages. When I miscarried in 2006, the OB I’d been seeing was unable to perform the D&C because the hospital where she had privileges did not allow procedures–even for proven intra-uterine fetal demise–to be performed there if the woman was past 12 weeks (I was 13 weeks along). I found out later from the OB who ended up doing the D&C that the hospital was afraid they’d be “tricked” (his word) into allowing an actual live fetus to be aborted. How many more women will be subjected to that kind of pain and sadness in the name of “protecting life”?

It’s clear that anti-choicers have special sympathy for women who have miscarried, and that’s touching. But it is imperative for them to understand that when it comes to law and policy, induced and spontaneous fetal demise are all too often wrapped up together. If you find the idea of investigating miscarriages or forcing women who have miscarried to find someone who will give them a D&C appalling, then perhaps it’s time to ask how and why such elected officials are elected in the first place. And if you vote anti-choice, look no further than your own mirror.

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Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Republicans Can’t Help But Play Politics With the Judiciary

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Republicans have a good grip on the courts and are fighting hard to keep it that way.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

Linda Greenhouse has another don’t-miss column in the New York Times on how the GOP outsourced the judicial nomination process to the National Rifle Association.

Meanwhile, Dahlia Lithwick has this smart piece on how we know the U.S. Supreme Court is the biggest election issue this year: The Republicans refuse to talk about it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging doctors to fill in the blanks left by “abstinence-centric” sex education and talk to their young patients about issues including sexual consent and gender identity.

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Good news from Alaska, where the state’s supreme court struck down its parental notification law.

Bad news from Virginia, though, where the supreme court struck down Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 felons.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will leave behind one of the most politicized state supreme courts in modern history.

Turns out all those health gadgets and apps leave their users vulnerable to inadvertently disclosing private health data.

Julie Rovner breaks down the strategies anti-choice advocates are considering after their Supreme Court loss in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.   

Finally, Becca Andrews at Mother Jones writes that Texas intends to keep passing abortion restrictions based on junk science, despite its loss in Whole Woman’s Health.

News Politics

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns as Chair of DNC, Will Not Gavel in Convention

Ally Boguhn

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) resigned her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), effective after the convention, amid controversy over leaked internal party emails and months of criticism over her handling of the Democratic primary races.

Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel on Monday that she would not gavel in this week’s convention, according to Politico.

“I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future,” Wasserman Schultz said in a Sunday statement announcing her decision. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention.”

“We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had,” Wasserman Schultz continued.

Just prior to news that Wasserman Schultz would step down, it was announced that Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) would chair the DNC convention.

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

Wasserman Schultz’s resignation comes after WikiLeaks released more than 19,000 internal emails from the DNC, breathing new life into arguments that the Democratic Party—and Wasserman Schultz in particular—had “rigged” the primary in favor of nominating Hillary Clinton. As Vox‘s Timothy B. Lee pointed out, there seems to be “no bombshells” in the released emails, though one email does show that Brad Marshall, chief financial officer of the DNC, emailed asking whether an unnamed person could be questioned about “his” religious beliefs. Many believe the email was referencing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT).

Another email from Wasserman Schultz revealed the DNC chair had referred to Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, as a “damn liar.”

As previously reported by Rewire before the emails’ release, “Wasserman Schultz has been at the center of a string of heated criticisms directed at her handling of the DNC as well as allegations that she initially limited the number of the party’s primary debates, steadfastly refusing to add more until she came under pressure.” She also sparked controversy in January after suggesting that young women aren’t supporting Clinton because there is “a complacency among the generation” who were born after Roe v. Wade was decided.

“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” said Sanders in a Sunday statement. “While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

Sanders had previously demanded Wasserman Schultz’s resignation in light of the leaked emails during an appearance earlier that day on ABC’s This Week.

Clinton nevertheless stood by Wasserman Schultz in a Sunday statement responding to news of the resignation. “I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership,” said Clinton. “There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie—which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Clinton added that she still looks “forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid.” Wasserman Schultz faces a primary challenger, Tim Canova, for her congressional seat in Florida’s 23rd district for the first time this year.