Georgia Governor Brian Kemp just signed an anti-abortion “Heartbeat Bill” that will effectively ban the procedure. But you didn’t hear any Debby Downer talk on Fox & Friends where cohost Ainsley Earhardt and her rabidly anti-choice guest, state representative Ginny Ehrhart, were all happy talk about this latest assault on women’s reproductive rights!
The law will effectively ban abortion after a “heartbeat” is detected and will be, essentially, a “near total ban on the procedure.”
With a great, big grin, Earhardt introduced Ehrhart, a co-sponsor of the bill and a Christian anti-choice zealot who once compared transgender people to moose. You may recall that last month, Ehrhart and Fox Friend Steve Doocy commiserated about those nasty Hollywood types who object to this awesome anti-choice law.
Ehrhart said her role as mother of six, with “one grandbaby and one on the way,” informed her decision to support this bill. She could hardly contain her glee as she described the bill’s enactment as “a pivotal day for Georgia.” She said, “We are thrilled and honored” and that she couldn’t express how “excited” she is to be part of a “historic” day for Georgia families and for “those precious unborn babies.” (Georgia's women, not so much!)
Ehrhart enthused that the new law “allows for the protection of those babies once a human heartbeat is detected by a medical professional.” She gushed that the new law “provides for the personhood” at the point “that human heartbeat is detected.”
Earhardt looked sad as she informed us that Hollywood and the ACLU aren’t in favor of the law. But she perked right up again when she said, “it’s going to be signed today.” She closed by congratulating Ehrhart.
Of course, this being Fox & Friends, you didn’t hear any mention of how this bill could deny a woman's right to an abortion at about six to eight weeks, before she even knows she’s pregnant. Nobody said a word about how similar legislation, in other states, has been stopped by the courts. But that kind of talk would have put a damper on, to use a Handmaid’s Tale phrase, “blessed day.”
Watch women’s reproductive rights get tossed aside below, from the May 7, 2019 Fox & Friends.
If you actually watch his full remarks, however, you’ll find that he actually didn’t establish any rule, and he qualified his statements. He made clear that his first recommendation was specifically in the case of George HW Bush playing the same belligerent game he played in throwing Thomas at the Senate. Bush had not, Biden noted, followed the normal process of “Advise and Consent” – choosing instead to just bully the Senate. Bush was quoted at the time in the press, saying that if the Senate didn’t confirm Thomas, he’d nominate someone they’d like a lot less. Biden’s response to the whole thing was to say that if Bush was going to behave like a child, it would be better to leave that until after all the election theatrics were finished. Biden also chided Democrats for assuming that a Republican like Bush would ever appoint a nominee like Thurgood Marshall. And Biden then went on to say that if Bush was planning to follow the regular course of business, the Senate would be fine to consider his nominees. So the actual floor speech plays very differently than the Right Wing would have you believe, which isn’t much of a surprise, to be honest. (And by the same examination, remarks made by Chuck Schumer in 2007 to the American Constitution Society go down the same logical path. Schumer noted that John Roberts and Samuel Alito both lied in their testimony before the Senate, and that if nominees and the W/Cheney White House were going to do so, it would be best to hold off any further lie-fests til after the 2008 election. But he also noted that if Cheney was going to behave himself, the nominees would of course be considered, as usual.)
As for Biden allowing Thomas to get onto the Supreme Court when he was obviously a terrible choice, frankly worse than Robert Bork in many ways, that can be attributed to the usual Democratic Party weakness. Biden was trying to play fair with George HW Bush, under the old “gentlemen’s agreement” idea of the Senate. He was trying to acknowledge that Bush had the right to make appointments and to show that the Dems would play ball. This is the same near-sightedness that led President Obama to repeatedly reach out to angry Right Wingers through his two terms, only to have them slam the door on his fingers. Increasingly over the last 25 years, angry Right Wing Republicans have played hardball whenever possible with their Democratic fellows in government. And the Dems have regularly been as conciliatory and friendly as they could be. Which has led us to where we are today. At least the current batch of Democratic Senators had the spine to say no to both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, even if they had no actual power to stop either nomination.
You reminded me of a pet peeve that has been bugging me a lot of late: We can thank Biden for Clarence Thomas being on the SCOTUS in the first place. Yes, Biden was an asshole to Anita Hill and it took me a long time to forgive him for that but the larger evil, IMO, was that he moved along the Thomas nomination. Clarence Thomas was clearly not an appropriate choice and not just because of Anita Hill. Yet Democrats controlled the Senate and Biden was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
There are three obvious purposes to the law:
1. Angry Right Wingers are intent on showing their hatred for women, and for women’s rights to control their own bodies.
2. The politicians involved are hoping this wedge will rile up the small base of the Pence White House for 2020 – playing the Democratic Party as evil baby killers.
3. The longest part of the con is the Supreme Court gambit. If this case lands at the current Supreme Court, or one where Clarence Thomas has been replaced by a younger gargoyle, much of this law will be upheld. And this will play a big part in the Right Wing agenda to finally get rid of Roe v Wade.
That third purpose is the big one – it’s the largest gift we received from the 2-3 million Dems across the swing states who chose to stay home in 2016. We need to hope they learned their lesson, because it really did matter if they showed up, and it really did matter who would be appointed to the judiciary. (BTW – had those Dems showed up, we would be looking at a 4-4 Supreme Court with Kennedy still on his seat, since the Right Wing would never have approved a single appointment by Hillary Clinton, but even that would be preferable to the disaster we now have.)
I note that the Roberts SC won’t just overturn Roe in one shot (even if most of the Hard Right partisans there want to). And how this Georgia law affects Roe will depend on when it actually lands at the high court. If it gets freight trained straight up, Roberts will use this law to cite State’s Rights. But the law is designed in a sneaky way to work as a subsequent ruling, since it also plays the game about “personhood”. What we should anticipate is at least three rulings in sequence by this Supreme Court, all on 5-4 lineups. The first will uphold restrictions on a state-level basis, on the theory of State’s Rights superseding the federal laws and precedents. The second will take it a step further, allowing that State’s Rights will allow each state to impose criminal penalties within their borders if their citizens wish. And the third is the final blow – the one that says that every developing fetus is actually a person, which would extend the ban and the criminal definition throughout the US. The Georgia screed allows for any and every level of those decisions, and will be extremely useful to Roberts, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and company. (There’s an interesting legal theory that will come up as a side effect – about how this will mean that the fetuses carried by pregnant prison inmates would now be deemed to be persons imprisoned for crimes they did not commit…)
By the way, I hope that people noticed the Georgia screed will make a termination a felony murder offence. Women caught having the procedure would face a prison sentence for the rest of their lives. And it gets better. Female Georgia residents caught in the act of leaving the state to have this procedure would be deemed to be committing a crime of conspiracy to commit murder and thus face 10 years in prison each time – as would anyone helping them. One has to wonder how this will affect non-residents who need such a procedure.
American women would do well to pay close attention to any news from the Supreme Court for the next few years. If Roberts and his block get their way, it may become a prudent idea to move out of the states that pursue this kind of viciousness. I frankly can see an exodus of women from various of these states coming in another year or two.