Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Health of the Woman 

Alas and others have a number of excellent posts on yesterday's terrible (and intellectually dishonest) decision in Gonzales v. Carhart. The bottom line is that, while the upholding of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, in itself, will harm a relatively small number of women -- indeed, the majority's opinion indicates that even intact D&E "likely" remains permissible so long as physicians take the additional step of first using "an injection that kills the fetus" -- the Court's reasoning in approving a ban that does not take into account the health of the woman invites a new wave of state legislation designed, as a practical matter, to so burden the right to abortion that it becomes (more) practically unavailable.

To some extent, the fight going forward will be fought in 2008, but that will mostly be a defensive fight. Even what remains of Roe will not survive another Republican administration. John Paul Stevens would be 92 by the end of the next administration. Ginsburg, a cancer survivor, would be 79. (In contrast, the oldest Justice in the conservative wing is Scalia, who would be 76.)

One thing to do now, therefore, is to pass Congressional legislation. There's little point in trying to reverse the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Bush would veto it and fighting over the intact D&E procedure simply buys into the Republican frame. Instead, we should make our own frame. I suggest a federal statute that provides that any state statute that regulates abortion must contain a provision protecting the life and health of the woman. Bush would probably still veto it, but the veto -- and the veto override vote -- then becomes a politically painful decision for Republicans by taking the focus off of this or that medical procedure and putting it back where it belongs, on the harm caused to real women when abortion is made unavailable. And, unlike waiting for Scalia to die, it offers a campaign promise of what we can do positively in our first 100 hours of the new Clinton/Obama/Edwards/Richardson administration.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Credit Where Credit Is Due 

Since I've harshly criticized Juan Williams in the past, I want to mention that he deserves credit for his coverage this morning of the Don Imus controversy. While most of the mainstream coverage has focused on racism (which is certainly unmistakable in Imus's remarks), Williams this morning made of point of connecting Imus's pattern of "racially charged" remarks with his pattern of making "sexually charged" and "homophobic" remarks. While I would have preferred the more direct "racist" and "sexist", kudos to Williams for making the connection.


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