I listened to what Republican governors said about abortion on Sunday. It's grim stuff.
And they're barely trying to hide that they're coming for contraception next.
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If the Supreme Court follows through on a leaked draft decision that would end the federal right to an abortion, abortion procedures would immediately become illegal in the 22 red or purple states that already have bans on the books. Comments from Republican governors on the most recent round of Sunday news shows served as grim reminders of what that would mean for women — and hinted at rights Republicans will come for next.
Because if you think they’re stopping with abortion, you’re wrong. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Republicans aren’t being especially coy about where they hope things are headed.
No exceptions for rape or incest
Arkansas’s Asa Hutchinson is a so-called “moderate” who regularly appears on the Sunday shows to do RINO-ish things like criticize Trump’s authoritarian power grabs and admit he was wrong to prohibit school districts from implementing mask mandates. But comments he made to ABC’s This Week demonstrated he’s also a big proponent of forced birth.
Last year, Hutchinson signed a so-called “trigger law” to immediately ban abortion in the event SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade. The only exception is for pregnancies where a woman’s health is at risk. Victims of rape or incest would be forced to carry the pregnancy to term.
Host Martha Raddatz asked Hutchinson what his message is to those victims. After some hemming and hawing, he basically offered thoughts and prayers.
“Again, that's where your heart goes out to them. I've had to deal with those very difficult circumstances of rape and incest as governor. And it's difficult,” Hutchinson said, adding that he personally supports the exceptions in question. But apparently not so much to refuse to sign a bill omitting them.
Meanwhile, over on CNN, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves made an unpersuasive attempt to defend a trigger law that, like the Arkansas one, doesn’t make exceptions for rape and incest. He tried to pass the buck to the legislature, even though it’s clear he supports the policy himself.
Hutchinson and Reeves know they’re essentially making women second-class citizens. During their Sunday interviews, both governors tried to soften the blow by vowing to provide more support to mothers and children. But as host Jake Tapper pointed out to Reeves, he’s had plenty of time to do that and hasn’t bothered. When ranking states by child well-being, Mississippi consistently lands near the bottom, and there’s no reason to believe that’ll suddenly change if abortions are banned.
The same point applies to Hutchinson and Arkansas. Both he and Reeves have already demonstrated they’re only pro-life until birth.
They’re coming for contraceptives too
With a sympathetic right-wing SCOTUS majority in place, prominent Republican elected officials like Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters are already talking about rolling back other privacy-rooted rights, such as the right to contraception.
Notably, Reeves didn’t close the door on signing a hypothetical contraception ban during a second Sunday morning interview he did on Meet the Press.
Reeves did a similar dance during his interview with Tapper, saying in response to a question about possibly banning Plan B and IUDs that it’s “not what we are focused on at this time.” Which isn’t something you’d say if you’re not open to it.
If you don’t live in a red and purple state, you might be tempted to think that as horrible as the looming rollback of reproductive rights is, it won’t directly affect you. But think again. Republicans are already talking about a federal abortion ban.
They aren’t content sending it back to the states
During an interview with USA Today on Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said a national abortion ban is “possible.”
McConnell said that talk of a federal ban at this stage “puts the cart before the horse," but added that "if the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies – not only at the state level but at the federal level – certainly could legislate in that area … so yeah, it's possible.”
While Republicans are currently out of power in Congress and the White House, betting markets peg them as favorites to control both the House and Senate after the midterm elections. And considering Biden’s poor approval ratings, there’s a similarly good chance a Republican will be moving into the White House in January 2025. So the possibility of McConnell being in a position to pass a national ban is not as farfetched as it might seem at first blush.
“There has to be some form of punishment”
Speaking of Republicans returning to the White House, it’s worth remembering that when Donald Trump told MSNBC six years ago that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions, the blowback was so severe that his campaign was forced into a rare walk-back.
At the time, Roe seemed to be the settled law of the land, and the prospect of SCOTUS overturning it seemed remote. But that equation changed after Trump won office and stuffed the courts with far-right characters.
Now, punishing women has become the explicit GOP platform. Consider last week’s developments in Louisiana, where the GOP-controlled legislature advanced a bill that would classify abortions as murder and make it possible for women who get them to face criminal charges.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are planning to hold a vote this week on legislation that would codify Roe into federal law. But the vote is largely for show — they don’t have the 60 votes needed to pass the bill or the 50 needed to change the filibuster rules, and Chuck Schumer knows it.
So while there might not be much that can be done right now to influence SCOTUS or Republicans who want to legislate women’s bodies and have the power to do so, the solution is ultimately to put more pro-choice Democrats in elected office. One thing that will help in that effort is talking about the thing Republicans don’t want to acknowledge — that ending the federal right to an abortion is opposed by the majority of Americans. There’s a reason only one Republican member of Congress appeared on the major Sunday shows this week (Nancy Mace on CBS’s Face the Nation), and it’s not because they’re so shy.
Trump doesn’t deny wanting to launch missile strikes against Mexico
Former Trump administration Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has a new book out in which he accuses Trump of proposing to do all sorts of horrible things in the months leading up to the 2020 election, including shooting protesters who took to the streets in DC following the murder of George Floyd and launching missile strikes against Mexico.
Notably, Trump’s response to Esper’s book was almost as unhinged as the accusations themselves.
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