We're going to start off with some, well I'm calling it good news.
A new bill about abortion has been introduced into both the House and Senate. Why is that good? Because the bill, called the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, aims to strengthen women’s reproductive rights rather than take them away. It is, in short, that rarest of all creatures, a pro-choice bill.
Over the past few years, 17 states have passed laws that have had the purpose of restricting access to abortions. Attempts to pass such laws occurred in 18 more. These laws are pushed under the smirking lie that they are to "protect women's health," but the invariable result is to make access to a low-risk, legal medical procedure ever harder to obtain.
Unable to get abortions banned, the anti-choice, anti-personal freedom front has settled - for now - for making them all but impossible to get.
Meanwhile, for the moment the Supreme Court seems content to let right-wing controlled state legislatures and lower courts deal with the issue. Recently it rejected a challenge to a court decision in Oklahoma blocking parts of that state's new anti-choice law, then followed up by rejecting a challenge to a different court decision allowing Texas's new even stricter anti-choice law to stand, one which is already forcing dozens of clinics to close.
|Dark green: passed restrictions; light green: introduced restrictions|
If it passed, this would be the first pro-choice legislation coming out of Congress since 1994, when the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act was passed - and even that was a response to a string of attacks, including firebombings, on clinics.
I should tell you that the prime mover behind this is Senator Richard Blumenthal. He was joined by two colleagues in the Senate and three in the House. All, I expect to no one's surprise, are Democrats. Unfortunately, other than Blumenthal, they are all women - the unfortunate part being because hey guys, where are you?
Unfortunately, the greater one, is that while the bill has fair chances in the Senate, it's chances in the right-wing-run House are, realistically, zero. It's just not going to pass. Even Blumenthal admits as much.
So why, despite that, is it still good news? Two reasons: One, Blumenthal predicts that candidates for Congress next year will have to take a position on the bill, which, if it works out, will make it harder to dodge the issue and harder to hide the fact that, as I said last week in talking about the attacks on The Commons, this is a coordinated attack, not a series of separate, individual state fights that just by the purest of coincidences happen to be occurring at the same time.
But here's the real reason: because it's pushback. Because after years of playing defense,because after years of fighting rear-guard actions not aimed at improving things but merely at trying to prevent them from getting worse, at least some of the Dimcrats have realized that that is not enough. It's never enough. Not on this, not on anything.
I don't expect the Dummycrats to soon develop a spine stiffer than a rope, but at least a few may be starting to realize that spending all your time in a defensive crouch does not win political matches any more than it wins boxing matches.