Hang ‘em with it


Dana Bash: You’re an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, but are you at all concerned that this [mifepristone ruling] sets a dangerous precedent that any single judge can just overrule scientific agencies as they see fit?

Rep. Tony Gonzales: Dana, thank you for having me, and happy Easter from San Antonio, and special shout-out, happy birthday to Jackie, my four year-old, who is our Easter baby. You know, on this rule, I have 6 children. I’m a prolific pro-lifer, and I think it’s important we protect the sanctity of life. I believe in states’ rights. Here in Texas, we have a heart bill, uh, a heartbeat bill that was passed, and I think it’s important that states dictate their futures, and you have to have the courts uphold these. It’s very dangerous when you have the administration, the Biden Administration, coming out and saying they may not uphold a ruling? As an appropriator, on the House Republican side, I look at it as the House Republicans have the power of the purse, and if the administration wants to not live up to this ruling, then we’re gonna have a problem. And there may come a point where House Republicans, on the appropriations side, have to defund FDA programs that don’t make sense.

Dana Bash: You said that you want this to be states’ rights, but isn’t a federal judge saying on a national level, that a pill cannot be administered, the opposite of states’ rights?

Rep. Tony Gonzales: Well the states started this, the states had their ruling, and now the federal government is coming in and dictating theirs. I think it’s important that, we have to get back and allow our institutions to lead. We can’t undermine them when we don’t agree with things that are there, whether it is things on the state level. Look, I’m from Texas, we don’t have marijuana here. Marijuana is in California, and other places. If those are the kinds of things your community wants, then work it through the state, work it through the federal level, but we have to uphold our institutions. It’s dangerous when we erode them.

Dana Bash: I want to move on, but I just want to point one important thing out, which is that mifepristone isn’t just used for abortion, it’s also frequently prescribed for women experiencing a miscarriage. By some estimates 1 million women miscarry every single year. So, are they just on their own, if this ruling is upheld?

No, I think it’s important that we take care of women. It’s important that we have real discussions on women’s healthcare and get off the abortion, you know, the abortion conversation. Women have a whole lot more other issues than just abortion, and let’s have those real conversations, and let’s talk about the other things that are happening in this world. You know, I’ve got a picture of, uh, Emily, uh Amelia, and Maria. They recently passed away due to a smuggler in my district. What does that mean? That means that there are all these other things happening in the world, especially in my district. You’ve got a district that’s been turned upside down, due to this border crisis, there’s everyday people that are impacted on this crisis, to include the Tambungas.

Dana Bash: Well, both things can be true. Everyday people can be affected by all of these issues facing Americans.

Republicans will talk about all sorts of things before they talk about abortion. Easter babies, how “prolific” they are, marijuana, California, border crises, smugglers, states rights, and, uh, “uphold[ing] our institutions”. What Gonzales said is obvious nonsense, and easily refuted (it’s dangerous to “erode” “institutions”, but good to defund the FDA?), but what is more important — and funnier, if we’re being honest — is how badly, and baldly, he tried to deflect, reorient, and circumlocute past an issue that women apparently don’t care about.

It isn’t just Gonzales. Here’s U.S. Senator, and presidential hopeful, Tim Scott, in response to a question about his support of a federal abortion ban:

I would simply say that the fact of the matter is, when you look at the issue of abortion, one of the challenges that we have, we continue to go through the most restrictive conversations without broadening the scope and taking a look at the fact that…I’m 100 percent pro-life.

Of 49 Republican Senators, only 11 have formally lent their support to the recent mifepristone ruling. Of 222 Republican members of the House, only 58 have. No members of Republican leadership have spoken publicly on the issue. In other words, no Republicans in competitive districts, no presidential hopefuls, no faces of the party — no one who wants to win a national election — is willing to stand up for their actual beliefs. (And, to be clear, these are their actual beliefs.) Ron DeSantis, widely thought to be the favorite to win the Republican primary (provided Trump gets Logan Roy-ed), signed a 6-week abortion ban in a “closed door ceremony” at almost “12 am”. An excerpt from the article: ”DeSantis, who has rocketed to Republican stardom through his focus on divisive cultural issues, had been uncharacteristically tepid in his support for the six-week ban, typically only saying, “We welcome pro-life legislation,” when asked about the measure.”

Perhaps the surest sign that this issue is a political loser is, ironically, Donald Trump. Trump was never a true believer (remember “Two Corinthians”?), and his alliance with white evangelicals was one of convenience. Now he seems to be recognizing that its usefulness is ending.

According to two participants and another source close to Trump, the ex-president has warned [religious-right] leaders in off-the-record conversations that Republicans risk “losing big” — in Trump’s words — unless they follow his lead. He has warned the leaders to shift their own messaging, telling them to emphasize “exceptions” to abortion bans, including in cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother. In these frank talks, Trump has stressed this is his 2024 plan, saying it’s necessary to prevent Democrats from painting him as an “extremist.”

Privately, Trump is conceding those big losses have already begun. Trump has for several weeks vented to confidants that the GOP is “getting killed on abortion” or on “the abortion issue,” according to three people who’ve heard him use this phrasing on different occasions.

Trump wants to get Trump elected. In 2016, he recognized that courting evangelicals, a bloc whose power was thought to be waning, would help him achieve that goal. Now, with “the abortion issue”, as he calls it, he believes the electoral calculus has flipped. And he’s probably right. Trump was a better presidential candidate as an outsider than an insider — back when you could take him seriously, not literally. The same goes for the religious right. It was better for the GOP when they were perpetually aggrieved about abortion, than now that they’ve finally gotten their way. I’ve felt, with Brexit, Trump, and even Roe, that there is some troll-ish or idiotic segment of all electorates that fetishizes the idea of disruption, of sticking it to the establishment, but is somewhat horrified when what they supported actually happens.

Republicans are running as far away, and as fast as possible, from the abortion issue. Which means Democrats have to move towards it (with a haste and vigor they might not be capable of). But abortion isn’t the only issue where Democrats have a chance to hang Republicans with the consequences of their own policies. There’s also guns.

On Monday morning, a twenty-eight-year-old shooter, armed with three guns, all acquired legally, killed three adults and three children at the Covenant School in Nashville. It was the hundred and thirtieth mass shooting in the nation this year. Later that day, a Republican congressman from Tennessee, Tim Burchett, spoke with reporters about the tragedy in his home state. After expressing sorrow for the victims, Burchett said, of gun violence in the U.S., “We’re not gonna fix it—criminals are gonna be criminals.” There was, he believed, little action that lawmakers could take: “I don’t see any real role that we could do other than mess things up, honestly.” Instead of enacting legislation, he said, “we gotta change people’s hearts. . . . I think we really need a revival in this country.”

In the last few years, Desantis and friends in Florida passed a law allowing concealed carry without a permit. A Republican judge in Texas struck down a federal law prohibiting domestic abusers from obtaining guns. The Republican Supreme Court gutted New York State’s gun restrictions, and declared that “gun restrictions are constitutional only if there is a tradition of such regulation in U.S. history.” Republican politician after politician has posed with guns, some in a manner so creepy that it likely contributed to their election loss. And, in response to this second-latest mass shooting, in Nashville (I can’t say “latest”, since there was another in Louisville, just a few days ago), Republican politicians ejected two Democratic legislators who joined anti-gun protests at the state capitol. Afterwards, a tape leaked of their private, inter-party conversations, revealing their panic at the thought that this might not play well with the public.

Don’t the campaign ads write themselves? It is not too much of a stretch to say that Republican Party wants you and your kids dead. It wants you to live in constant fear of guns. It wants your kids to become desensitized to the ubiquity of guns and mass violence, to view school shooter drills and lockdowns and threats as commonplace, simply part of the fabric of society. It wants those who protest against the prevailing gun-permissiveness to be silenced. Or, worse, dead, by the hands of vigilantes, and these vigilantes to be pardoned. It sends its Foghorn Leghorn type assholes to lecture you about how little you understand. And it literally proclaims “we’re not gonna fix it”.

I might be accused of being glib about these topics. Real people are dying or being hurt, and I’m talking about how Democrats can use this to their electoral advantage. I’ll cop to the charge. But I will reiterate that the only way to make things better is to win elections and then change the rules of the game: expand the Supreme Court, deradicalize the lower ones, smash the NRA, and litigate the gun manufacturers into oblivion. But winning elections is the first step. And if we can’t win against these clowns — the child murderers, the women killers, the federalist frauds, the genteel racists, the thoughts-and-prayers brigade, the billionaire bootlickers — we might as well give up and go home.

I’ll leave you with this passage, which, if nothing else, reveals the depravity of the current situation and the stakes of the fight

Anya Cook did not want to push. But sitting on the toilet, legs splayed wide, she knew she didn’t have a choice.

She was about to deliver her baby alone in the bathroom of a hair salon. On this Thursday afternoon in mid-December, about five months before her due date, she knew the baby would not be born alive.

As soon as the fetus hit the water, blood started flowing between her thighs. Blood splattered on the white toilet seat and across the floor.

Over the course of the day, according to medical records, Cook would lose roughly half the blood in her body.

She had intended to deliver the fetus in a hospital, a doctor by her side. When her water broke the night before — at least six weeks ahead of when a fetus could survive on its own — she drove straight to the emergency room, where she said the doctor explained that she was experiencing pre-viability preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (PPROM), which occurs in less than 1 percent of pregnancies. The condition can cause significant complications, including infection and hemorrhage, that can threaten the health or life of the mother, according to multiple studies.

At the hospital in Coral Springs, Fla., Cook received antibiotics, records show. Then she was sent home to wait.

Cook’s experience reflects a new reality playing out in hospitals in antiabortion states across the country — where because of newly enacted abortion bans, people with potentially life-threatening pregnancy complications are being denied care that was readily available before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.


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