Commentary Law and Policy

Change Is A-Coming (Or, as They Say in Oklahoma, “If I Wanted Government in My Womb, I’d F*ck a Senator”)

ACLU

I am so excited I am beside myself. I am giddy because I can see that change is a coming.

By Jennifer Dalven, Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

I am so excited I am beside myself. I’m a long-time reproductive health advocate looking at politicians around the country lining up to make it harder for a woman to get birth control, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to set up demeaning and obstructive roadblocks for women seeking abortions. And yet I am positively giddy. Why?

I am giddy because I can see that change is a coming. Those who would turn back the clock to the days of the aspirin-between-the-knees method of birth control have gone too far. And women across the country have had enough.

First, there was Mississippi where nearly 60 percent of voters in the most conservative of states rejected a ban on abortion.

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Then there was the public outcry over the Komen Foundation’s short-lived decision to defund Planned Parenthood.

Then, this week, after facing large demonstrations and national ridicule, an anti-choice governor with national aspirations was forced to change the infamous ultrasound bill he originally touted. And then, because they were too politically costly, the Republican-controlled legislature quickly killed all of the other 12 abortion restrictions that were previously on the fast track to the governor’s desk.

And just yesterday Pennsylvania legislators shelved a proposed ultrasound bill in the wake of the Virginia controversy.

Recently, women gathered outside the capitol in Oklahoma (yes, Oklahoma) to protest a bill that would outlaw abortion. And, if that sight wasn’t uplifting enough, a state senator stood proudly with the protestors holding a sign that said — I kid you not — “If I wanted government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator.”

Now in some ways none of this should come as a surprise. We’ve known for decades that Americans don’t want politicians interfering in their personal and private decisions. And yet year after year more restrictions pass. But what we have seen over the last few months is that we’ve finally reached a tipping point. Those who would take us back to the dark ages have over played their hand: The American public is making clear that they won’t stand for outrageous proposals like those forcing a woman to have an ultrasound before an abortion, restricting access to birth control, or seeking to outlaw abortion. Women from all across the country, including the Deep South and the Bible Belt, are making their voices heard. Loudly and clearly they are warning politicians: Mess with women at your peril. Change is a-coming.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Selects Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to Join His Ticket

Ally Boguhn

And in other news, Donald Trump suggested that he can relate to Black people who are discriminated against because the system has been rigged against him, too. But he stopped short of saying he understood the experiences of Black Americans.

Donald Trump announced this week that he had selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) to join him as his vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, and earlier in the week, the presumptive presidential nominee suggested to Fox News that he could relate to Black Americans because the “system is rigged” against him too.

Pence Selected to Join the GOP Ticket 

After weeks of speculation over who the presumptive nominee would chose as his vice presidential candidate, Trump announced Friday that he had chosen Pence.

“I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate,” Trump tweeted Friday morning, adding that he will make the official announcement on Saturday during a news conference.

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The presumptive Republican nominee was originally slated to host the news conference Friday, but postponed in response to Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France. As late as Thursday evening, Trump told Fox News that he had not made a final decision on who would join his ticket—even as news reports came in that he had already selected Pence for the position.

As Rewire Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson explained in a Thursday commentary, Pence “has problems with the truth, isn’t inclined to rely on facts, has little to no concern for the health and welfare of the poorest, doesn’t understand health care, and bases his decisions on discriminatory beliefs.” Jacobson further explained: 

He has, for example, eagerly signed laws aimed at criminalizing abortion, forcing women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, banning coverage for abortion care in private insurance plans, and forcing doctors performing abortions to seek admitting privileges at hospitals (a requirement the Supreme Court recently struck down as medically unnecessary in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case). He signed a ‘religious freedom’ law that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ persons and only ‘amended’ it after a national outcry. Because Pence has guided public health policy based on his ‘conservative values,’ rather than on evidence and best practices in public health, he presided over one of the fastest growing outbreaks of HIV infection in rural areas in the United States.

Trump Suggests He Can Relate to Black Americans Because “Even Against Me the System Is Rigged”

Trump suggested to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he could relate to the discrimination Black Americans face since “the system [was] rigged” against him when he began his run for president.

When asked during a Tuesday appearance on The O’Reilly Factor what he would say to those “who believe that the system is biased against them” because they are Black, Trump leaped to highlight what he deemed to be discrimination he had faced. “I have been saying even against me the system is rigged. When I ran … for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system, and the system is rigged,” Trump responded.

“What I’m saying [is] they are not necessarily wrong,” Trump went on. “I mean, there are certain people where unfortunately that comes into play,” he said, concluding that he could “relate it, really, very much to myself.”

When O’Reilly asked Trump to specify whether he truly understood the “experience” of Black Americans, Trump said that he couldn’t, necessarily. 

“I would like to say yes, but you really can’t unless you are African American,” said Trump. “I would like to say yes, however.”

Trump has consistently struggled to connect with Black voters during his 2016 presidential run. Despite claiming to have “a great relationship with the blacks,” the presumptive Republican nominee has come under intense scrutiny for using inflammatory rhetoric and initially failing to condemn white supremacists who offered him their support.

According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Tuesday, Trump is polling at 0 percent among Black voters in the key swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

What Else We’re Reading

Newt Gingrich, who was one of Trump’s finalists for the vice presidential spot, reacted to the terrorist attack in Nice, France, by calling for all those in the United States with a “Muslim background” to face a test to determine if they “believe in sharia” and should be deported.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton threw her support behind a public option for health insurance.

Bloomberg Politics’ Greg Stohr reports that election-related cases—including those involving voter-identification requirements and Ohio’s early-voting period—are moving toward the Supreme Court, where they are “risking deadlocks.”

According to a Reuters review of GOP-backed changes to North Carolina’s voting rules, “as many as 29,000 votes might not be counted in this year’s Nov. 8 presidential election if a federal appeals court upholds” a 2013 law that bans voters from casting ballots outside of their assigned precincts.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the election goals and strategies of anti-choice organization Susan B. Anthony List, explaining that the organization plans to work to ensure that policy goals such as a 20-week abortion ban and defunding Planned Parenthood “are the key issues that it will use to rally support for its congressional and White House candidates this fall, following recent setbacks in the courts.”

Multiple “dark money” nonprofits once connected to the Koch brothers’ network were fined by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week after hiding funding sources for 2010 political ads. They will now be required to “amend past FEC filings to disclose who provided their funding,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum and Ben Weyl explain how Trump’s budget would end up “making the deficit great again.”

“The 2016 Democratic platform has the strongest language on voting rights in the party’s history,” according to the Nation’s Ari Berman.

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Ted Cruz Would Make a Terrible, No Good Supreme Court Justice

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Whoever is floating the idea of a Supreme Court Justice Ted Cruz really needs to stop.

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

In “Dear God, who the hell asked you and why?” news, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) isn’t interested in becoming a Supreme Court justice. You can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Pretty sure we can lay to rest any notion that David Daleiden—he of the highly edited, widely debunked videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donation—is a citizen journalist. Because he isn’t. He really, really isn’t, as the Columbia Journalism Review points out.

If Scalia were alive, this death row inmate probably would not be.

Is “ban the box” the next big federal agency move by the Obama administration?

This story is just so tragic; unfortunately, similar stories are growing more common as religious institutions creep further into delivering social services. After entering a faith-based mental health facility, a young man attempted suicide after his mood stabilizers were replaced with Bible study and nutritional supplements.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging a Mississippi law that allows public officials and businesses to refuse to serve gay and transgender individuals.

Meanwhile, Alabama continues to be a hot mess of conservative political scandals.

group of constitutional law scholars is urging the administration to rescind a Bush-era memo they argue only encourages conservatives to bring more so-called religious freedom lawsuits—like the cases at issue in Zubik v. Burwell, for instance—in the future.

No, seriously, there are more lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act in the pipeline.

Conservative-led states cannot stop trying to defund Planned Parenthood reproductive health-care facilities. Ohio is the latest to try, which means another lawsuit. Of course.

Patricia Miller asks with whom Catholic bishops would ally in a Trump administration.

At least Susan B. Anthony List can now stop pretending its core mission was electing women.

Attorneys representing the State of Arkansas really want to cut off access to medication abortion for residents in their state.
 
There is nothing good about non-physician lawmakers passing anti-choice restrictions that are so muddled doctors are confounded as to how to comply with them.

Here’s the judicial fund questionnaire for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. “Bland as mayonnaise” comes to mind.

Rewire is going to talk more about this ruling in light of the Angel Dillard trial, but c’mon. A personal letter to an abortion provider suggesting she’ll get car bombed isn’t a threat, but playing NWA to cops is?