SD abortion bill: Johnson speaks! (At last)

Better late than never - and no harm in looking before you leap. (I doubt when South Dakotans elected Timmy Johnson for his resemblance to Zorro or Howard Dean!)

(I'm following up an earlier piece here.)

Hence:

The two Democratic members of South Dakota's congressional delegation on Tuesday characterized abortion-ban legislation signed by Gov. Mike Rounds on Monday as "extreme."

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State Law After Roe

Following up on last night's post about the South Dakota and Mississippi abortion bans, Josh Goodman of Governing magazine's '13th Floor' blog sent me a link to his analysis of state abortion law in a post-Roe America. Relying heavily on data from NARAL, Goodman concludes that "23 states would be likely to ban most abortions, 20 states would keep abortion legal... and 7 states would be battlegrounds...."

While it's a pretty solid piece of research, I'm surprised at some of the conclusions he reaches. For example, I have trouble accepting that Rhode Island would be likely to ban abortion, while Kansas would not. Since he uses Kansas as an example, I'll let him speak for himself on his methodology.

I took into account natural legislative inertia -- it's much easier to maintain the legal status quo than it is to change it. Look at Kansas, where there is currently no abortion ban on the books. NARAL lists the Kansas House as anti-choice, the Senate as mixed-choice and Governor Kathleen Sebelius as pro-choice. It would be difficult to pass an abortion ban in Kansas because Sebelius and the Senate could block it.

I would suggest that he's overlooking the social impact of an upending of Roe v. Wade. It's not as if such an event would occur in a vacuum where the "natural legislative inertia" would remain intact. Quite to the contrary, the end of Roe would likely bring a blizzard of activism on both sides of the issue. And in Kansas, even though I understand Goodman's take, I think the ensuing anti-choice uproar would push the state to join the ranks of abortion outlawing states.

Ultimately, with few exceptions, like swapping Kansas and Tennessee into the ban category, I'd say that Goodman's analysis sounds about right, at least numbers-wise (23 ban, 20 don't ban, and 7 on the fence). That means that if Roe is overturned (something that won't happen over night), the nation will be split about 50/50 when it comes to outlawing choice, with a number of states imposing varying levels of restriction. Like I said earlier, this is no longer an issue that exists merely in the abstract.

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Outlawing Choice No Longer Exists In The Abstract

As you've undoubtedly already heard, Governor Mike Rounds has signed into law a bill banning abortion in the state of South Dakota. While there is an exception in the bill if the life of the mother is at risk, there are no exceptions for cases of rape, incest, or situations where the health of the mother is compromised. The South Dakota ban is likely to be followed shortly by a similar ban in Mississippi, which does allow exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Right now, each state only has one abortion clinic.

Now, neither of these bills is really going to outlaw abortion in either state. Yet. Rounds openly admits that the South Dakota ban will be bogged down in the courts for years to come. Both (again, as you've undoubtedly already heard) are designed to challenge the precedent of Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court, where their backers expect to find a receptive audience with John Roberts and Samuel Alito. This is the moment that every pro-choice voter who has ever voted for a Republican never thought would come. They voted for Republican tax cuts, confident that the social agenda was just some sort of ruse to win over the Falwell crowd. For example, in September of 2004, polling indicated that in the crucial state of Ohio, support for Bush among self-identified pro-choice voters was much higher than support for Kerry among self-identified pro-life voters. This is a critical point. Throughout the pro-choice electorate, there has long been this assumption that the woman's right to choose is not seriously threatened. It has always been an incredibly stupid and undisciplined thing to assume. Elected Republicans haven't been pandering to the Falwell crowd. They are the Falwell crowd.

And this fight isn't over. It doesn't end with Bush naming Roberts and Alito to the Supreme Court. If not Bush, the next President will name a replacement to John Paul Stevens, whose death Republicans are gleefully hoping for because it will likely push the court decisively one way or the other (or at least more than it has already been pushed). A quick review of Republicans likely to run for their party's nomination in 2008 shows that ignoring choice at the ballot box is no longer an option. John McCain, George Allen, and Mitt Romney have all promised that, like Rounds, they would sign the South Dakota ban, as has darkhorse candidate Mike Huckabee.

Advocates for choice have been warning voters about this for years. Obviously, after a while, those warnings sounded alarmist and unrealistic to some. Unfortunately, they were neither. So here we are. This issue no longer exists in the abstract.

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Despite the polls, Bush corporate welfare is on track

The NYT happily provides a catalogue of the Bush Corporate Welfare Plan - past, present and future.

The culture stuff may make the most waves, and give his base the most ya-yas. But corporate welfare is the Bush regime's engine-room; and, with his bench of Congressional Dem enablers usually ready to bridge the gap when he's a few votes short, there's no sign of it seizing up.

So far, Bad Poll Bush is crying all the way to the bank.

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SD abortion bill: has anyone asked Johnson?

The SD abortion bill currently before 06 shoo-in Gov Mike Rounds for his John Hancock is perhaps the biggest thing in South Dakota politics since Wounded Knee.

Last time I looked, Tim Johnson was its sole Democratic US Senator.

And I seem to remember not long ago some sort of fuss being made about a nomination to the US Supreme Court in which abortion appeared to be an important issue to a whole slew of folks.

Yet, so far as I can see, no one has plucked up the courage to ask Brer Johnson what he thinks of the SD bill.

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