Sunday, April 9, 2023

One step forward, several steps back.

First, happy Easter and happy Passover to those who celebrate. 


Fair warning: This is a political post.

leszekglasner | Deposit Photos

This has been a week, hasn't it? Particularly for anyone who's interested in the future of abortion rights in this country -- which, given how polarizing the issue is, encompasses virtually everybody. (Back when Kevin's Watch had a political forum, the quickest way to get a bazillion comments on a discussion thread was to post something, anything, about abortion.)

We can all be forgiven if we have abortion-rights whiplash. First, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas ruled -- in an order jam-packed with antiabortion rhetoric where sober jurisprudence should have been -- that the federal Food and Drug Administration erred big-time 23 years ago when it approved mifepristone for medically-induced abortions. The same guy also cited the Comstock Act (which hasn't been enforced since the 1930s) in his ruling, saying pills for medical abortions should not be allowed to be sent through the mail. Taken together, those two points would appear to outlaw medical abortions in the United States altogether.  But within the hour, an Obama-appointed federal judge in the state of Washington ordered that the federal government keep the pills available in the 17 states whose attorney generals had filed suit in his court.

The Texas judge paused his ruling for a week to allow the Department of Justice to file a brief explaining why he's wrong. The DoJ is on it. And given the dueling rulings, it looks like the issue is going to be on a fast track to the Supreme Court. Given the current court, you might think that makes the Texas order a slam-dunk. But the high court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization -- handed down not even a year ago -- deliberately left abortion access to the individual states to decide; this guy in Texas has pre-empted that. Will the Supremes be willing to second-guess themselves so soon? I hope not. The patchwork of state laws that have resulted from Dobbs is bad enough.

There have been shenanigans this week on another hot-button issue: gun control. The Tennessee legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, voted to expel two of its members -- Black men who represent the cities of Memphis and Nashville -- after they and a third representative participated in a protest in favor of gun reforms following a mass shooting at a private school in Nashville. All three of the representatives are Democrats, but the one who wasn't kicked out is a White woman. The ousted legislators say their voters have been disenfranchised. The boards responsible for appointing new representatives for their districts seem inclined to send both men right back to their old seats. But if they do, legislative Republicans are threatening to pull their state funding. 

I can only shake my head. In poll after reputable poll, a majority of Americans support both access to abortion and stricter gun laws. Why Republicans are hellbent on enacting restrictions that most people in this country don't want is a mystery to me. The only thing I can think of is that while these fossils are still in control, they want to lock things down for their side before they're too old to govern and younger folks take over. That day is fast approaching. But it can't come soon enough for me.


An update to my post of last week, wherein I was so excited to learn that Santa Fe has an arthouse theater that I saw two movies there in the same week: I'm glad I went when I did, because the facility's board of directors voted this week to shut it down, effective this weekend. There has been an outpouring of dismay about the abrupt decision on social media, and apparently there's an effort to raise funds in the community to reopen the facility. But still, I'm bummed. 


Oh hey, one other thing: I'm going to be out of pocket for the next two weeks. See y'all back here on April 30th.


These moments of head-shaking blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

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