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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

 
They're not dead yet

by digby

With all the hosannas over the alleged end of the culture war now that Republicans have Seen The Light, there's still one issue that gets their blood pumping:

If the idea of long and expensive legal battles was supposed to dissuade North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple from signing into law some of the country’s most restrictive abortion measures, it didn’t work. Less than 24 hours after the bills arrived on his desk from the legislature, the Republican governor has signed a ban on abortions at the point of embryonic heartbeat, a bill that could put the state’s only clinic out of business, and a ban on alleged gender- and disability-based abortions.

According to the governor’s press release, the threat of protracted legal action is actually what encouraged him to sign the laws: “I have signed HB 1456 which would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade. Because the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed state restrictions on the performing of abortions and because the Supreme Court has never considered this precise restriction in HB 1456, the constitutionality of this measure is an open question. The Legislative Assembly before it adjourns should appropriate dollars for a litigation fund available to the Attorney General.”

Forcing the courts to consider a new threshold for overturning Roe has long been a goal of the anti-choice movement, although only the most extreme of them believe that jumping straight to a “heartbeat” ban is the best way to provoke a challenge. Most legal experts who oppose abortion have advised taking a more incremental pace by enacting so-called “fetal pain” bans, fearing the more extreme heartbeat bans would reaffirm the tenets of Roe.

But the heartbeat ban isn’t the only legal challenge Dalrymple is intent on pursuing. Again, from his press release: “I have signed SB 2305 [a targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) bill] which requires admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota. The added requirement that the hospital privileges must include allowing abortions to take place in their facility greatly increases the chances that this measure will face a court challenge. Nevertheless, it is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions.”

If the governor is seeking a legal fight over shutting down the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion clinic in the state and the target of the TRAP bill, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) stands ready to defend the clinic. “There is no question that the goal of anti-choice politicians in North Dakota is to shut down the state’s only abortion provider, and shut down women’s access to safe and legal abortion along with it,” CRR President Nancy Northup said on the organization’s website. “We are prepared to take whatever steps necessary to keep the Red River Women’s Clinic’s doors open to the nearly 1,500 women from North Dakota and surrounding area who seek reproductive health care services there each year.”

I'm fairly sure that the hardcore Christian Right isn't going to come over to gay marriage any time soon. But the rest of the right wing seems to be making peace with it. But this issue is non-negotiable and I'm going to guess that the right will stay coalesced around it. They certainly don't seem to be losing any steam in the states.

I'm going to make the sad prediction that we're going to get some third way types saying that since the right "met us halfway" on gay rights it's only fair to meet them halfway on reproductive rights. And there will be plenty of centrists who believe that makes sense.


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