Washington preps for abortion care
The Florida Legislature approved a six-week ban on abortion April 4, going further than the 15-week ban that already exists.
Idaho lawmakers passed a bill making it a crime in some cases to help a young person cross state lines to receive abortion care, a potential challenge to the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution.
Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk out of Amarillo, Texas, declared Friday, April 7, that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone, a drug that causes an abortion, was illegitimate. That in and of itself was shocking and unorthodox — the drug was approved more than two decades ago and is safer than Tylenol, according to several experts. But just hours later, a judge in Washington state ruled the exact opposite, barring the FDA from restricting access to the drug.
What happens next is anyone’s guess.
Anti-abortion activists got to this point by filing a lawsuit in Kacsmaryk’s courthouse. Kacsmaryk, according to the Texas Tribune, was once deputy counsel for the conservative religious liberty law firm First Liberty Institute, which sued over reproductive health care. National commentators were not surprised by Kacsmaryk’s ruling, but they were taken aback by the reasoning, which included a footnote that rejected the use of the word “fetus” in favor of “unborn child or unborn human.”
“Jurists often use the word ‘fetus’ to inaccurately identify unborn humans in unscientific ways,” the footnote reads. A “fetus” is, instead, a “gestational stage,” according to the judge.
The dictionary says a fetus is “the offspring of a human or other mammal in the stages of prenatal development,” so it is diffult to understand what the judge is on about.
And yet abortion is apparently not the issue that Republicans want to run with.
There are enough actions by enough lawmakers to the point that Ann Coulter, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who is outspokenly anti-abortion, took to Twitter to beg conservative lawmakers to stop pushing the envelope lest they lose more middle-of-the-road voters.
“The demand for anti-abortion legislation just cost Republicans another crucial race,” she tweeted. “Pro-lifers: WE WON. Abortion is not a ‘constitutional right’ anymore! Please stop pushing strict limits on abortion, or there will be no Republicans left.”
Politically, it’s a strange hill to die on. According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared to 36 percent who said it should be illegal in all or most cases.
Washington state is getting ahead of the game. Gov. Jay Inslee announced on April 4 that the state used the Washington Department of Corrections’ existing pharmacy license to purchase a three-year supply of the drug, which has been used for medical abortions for more than 20 years.
Those drugs arrived on March 31.
Inslee called the likely ruling a “clear and present danger to patients and providers across the country.”
“Washington is a pro-choice state and no Texas judge will order us otherwise,” Inslee said in released remarks.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which is pro-choice, there were 930,160 abortions in 2020. The same organization reported that medication abortion accounted for roughly half of all abortions in the United States.
Pro-life but also pro-guns
The Giffords Law Center gave Washington state a B+ on laws to protect its residents from gun violence.
The organization — named for former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was herself a victim of gun violence — applauded the state for banning “ghost guns” and large-capacity magazines, among other things, but faulted it for not banning assault weapons, not enacting universal background checks through gun-owner licensing and not passing a “victim’s access to justice” law.
Gun violence is another topic dominating the national news after a school shooting on March 27 in Tennessee took the lives of six people, including three children. Protests on the floor of the Tennessee House that three lawmakers joined resulted in the expulsion of two of those representatives from their elected positions.
Ashley Archibald is the editor of Real Change News.
Read more of the April 12-18, 2023 issue.