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“The Self Delusional Party Of No”: Carrying On As If Whistling Past The Graveyard Were A Plan

Self-delusion is a sad spectacle. Watching Republicans convince themselves that killing immigration reform actually helps the GOP is excruciating, and I wish somebody would make it stop.

House Speaker John Boehner’s unruly caucus has been busy persuading itself not to accept or even modify the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate. Rather, it wants to annihilate it. It’s not that these Republicans want a different kind of comprehensive reform; it’s that they don’t want comprehensive reform at all.

The Obama administration “cannot be trusted to deliver on its promises to secure the border and enforce laws as part of a single, massive bill,” Boehner (R-Ohio) and the GOP leadership said in a statement. Instead, the idea is supposedly to deal with the tightly woven knot of immigration issues one at a time.

That’s like sitting down with a piece of cake and saying, “First I’m going to eat the flour, then the sugar, then the eggs.”

House Republicans think they can begin with “border security,” which would be laughable if the need for real immigration reform were not so serious. It is ridiculous to think the nearly 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico can be made impregnable.

The border, after all, was judged 84 percent secure last year by the Government Accountability Office — meaning that only 16 percent of attempts to enter the country illegally from Mexico were successful. Any improvement, at this point, would necessarily be fairly modest. Perhaps Republicans know of a border somewhere in the world that is 100 percent secure. I don’t.

And never mind that the flow of undocumented migrants is way down from its peak, while apprehensions of would-be migrants are way up. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill, if enacted, could slash illegal immigration in half. No realistic increase in border security would do as much.

So the House Republicans’ intransigence isn’t really about the border. It’s about avoiding the central question, which is what to do about the 11 million undocumented migrants who are here already.

In the view that has become far-right dogma, giving these people a path to citizenship “rewards bad behavior” and puts them ahead of presumably well-behaved foreigners who are waiting “in line” for admittance. For the most adamant House Republicans, giving the undocumented any legal status and permission to stay would amount to “amnesty.”

No legal status, of course, means no solution. Opponents of comprehensive reform should just come out and say what they mean: Rather than accept measures that studies say would not only reduce illegal immigration but also boost economic growth, House Republicans would prefer to do nothing.

This makes no sense as policy or as politics. Amazingly, however, some conservatives who should know better — magazine editors Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Rich Lowry of National Review — contend that the GOP would actually help itself politically by killing the Senate immigration bill.

This line of argument — I can’t call it reasoning — holds that the Senate bill must be killed because it does not end illegal immigration for all time, it does not fix the legal immigration system for all time and it is really long. The GOP should not waste time and effort chasing after Latino and Asian American votes, according to this view, and instead should concentrate on winning working-class whites with an economic message for the striving middle class.

As for the Senate bill, Kristol and Lowry wrote in a joint editorial that “House Republicans can do the country a service by putting a stake through its heart.”

Some House Republicans worry openly that giving undocumented residents a path to citizenship would eventually add millions of Democratic voters to the rolls. But they should be more concerned about the millions of Latino citizens who are unregistered or do not bother to vote. Democrats are making a concerted play for these people. Republicans are telling them they’d like to deport their relatives and friends.

Most House Republicans have nothing to worry about for the time being; their districts are safe. But the GOP’s fortunes in national contests — and eventually in statewide races — will be increasingly dim. Maybe they’ll wake up when Texas begins to change from red to blue.

In the meantime, it’s sad to see a once great political party carry on as if whistling past the graveyard were a plan.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 11, 2013

July 13, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Return Of Back-Alley Abortions

Underground abortions have returned to the United States, just as pro-choice activists have warned for years. And women have started going to jail for the crime of ending their own pregnancies, or trying to.

This week Jennie L. McCormack, a 32-year-old mother of three from eastern Idaho, was arrested for self-inducing an abortion. According to the Associated Press, McCormack couldn’t afford a legal procedure, and so took pills that her sister had ordered online. For some reason, she kept the fetus, which police found after they were called by a disapproving acquaintance. She now faces up to five years in prison, as well as a $5,000 fine.

Idaho recently banned abortions after 20 weeks, and McCormack’s fetus was reportedly between five and six months old. But according to Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, under Idaho law, McCormack could have been arrested even if she’d been in her first trimester because self-induced abortion is illegal in all circumstances. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an 8- or 10- or 12-week abortion,” says Kolbi-Molinas. “If you do what you could get lawfully in a doctor’s office—what you have a constitutional right to access in a doctor’s office—they can throw you in jail and make you a convicted felon.”

While horrific, McCormack’s case is not unique. In recent years, several women have been arrested on suspicion of causing their own abortions, or attempting to. Most have come from conservative rural states with few clinics and numerous restrictions on abortion. In America’s urban centers and liberal enclaves, the idea of women being prosecuted for taking desperate measures to end their pregnancies might seem inconceivable, a never-again remnant of the era before Roe v. Wade. In fact, it’s a slowly encroaching reality.

Even more, these cases demonstrate that criminalizing abortion means turning women who have abortions into criminals.

In 2005, Gabriela Flores, a 22-year-old Mexican migrant worker, was arrested in South Carolina. Like McCormack, she had three children and said she couldn’t afford a fourth, and so she turned to clandestinely acquired pills. (The drug she took, Misoprostol, is an ulcer medicine that also works as an abortifacient and is widely used in Latin American countries where abortion is illegal.) Initially facing two years in prison, she ended up being sentenced to 90 days.

In 2009, a 17-year-old Utah girl known in court filings as J.M.S. found herself pregnant by an older man who is now facing charges of using her in child pornography. J.M.S. lived in house without electricity or running water in a remote part of the state, several hours’ drive from the nearest clinic, which was in Salt Lake City. Getting there would have required not just a car—her area had no public transportation—but money for a hotel in order to comply with Utah’s 24-hour-waiting period, as well as for the cost of the abortion itself.

According to prosecutors, when J.M.S. was in her third trimester, she paid a man $150 to beat her in the hopes of inducing a miscarriage. The fetus survived, but she was charged with criminal solicitation to commit murder. When her case was thrown out on the grounds that her actions weren’t illegal under the state’s definition of abortion, legislators changed the law so they would be able to punish women like her in the future.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have appealed J.M.S.’ case to the Supreme Court, and observers expect it to rule against her. She could still face a trial and prison time.

A woman doesn’t even have to be trying to abort to find herself under arrest. Last year, a pregnant 22-year-old in Iowa named Christine Taylor ended up in the hospital after falling down a flight of stairs. A mother of two, she told a nurse she’d tripped after an upsetting phone conversation with her estranged husband. Though she’d gone to the hospital to make sure her fetus was OK, she confessed that she’d been ambivalent about the pregnancy and unsure whether she was ready to become a single mother of three.

Suspecting Taylor had hurled herself down the stairs on purpose, the nurse called a doctor, and at some point the police were brought in. Taylor was arrested on charges of attempted feticide. She spent two days in jail before the charges were dropped because she was in her second trimester, and Iowa’s feticide laws don’t kick in until the third.

These cases are a harbinger of what’s to come as abortion laws become increasingly strict and abortion clinics harder to access in the more conservative parts of the country. They demonstrate the lengths to which women will go to end unwanted pregnancies. But even more, they demonstrate that criminalizing abortion means turning women who have abortions into criminals.

The antiabortion movement likes to see itself as pro-woman. Most of its spokespeople talk about protecting women from abortion, insisting they’re not interested in seeing them punished. “It’s tragic that this young woman felt that this was her only way out,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said in a statement in response to questions about the McCormack case. “The pro-life movement has never supported jail sentences for women who are victims of the abortion culture and abortion industry.”

Tobias said her group calls on Idaho officials “to engage in more publicity about the network of pregnancy resource centers and about the existence of Idaho’s safe haven law—either of which would have helped this young mother and saved her child.” But she didn’t call on them to release McCormack or to change the laws under which she’s being charged. If these sorts of prosecutions aren’t what the antiabortion movement had in mind when it pushed wave after wave of state-level legislation, now might be a good time to speak up.

 

By: Michelle Goldberg, Contributing Writer, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2011

 

 

June 5, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Anti-Choice, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Constitution, Education, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Governors, Health Care, Human Rights, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Privacy, Pro-Choice, Public Health, Republicans, Right Wing, Sex Abuse, State Legislatures, States, Uninsured, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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