Political Animal


February 28, 2013 4:30 PM Moving the Goal Posts Again on Abortion

By Ed Kilgore

Arkansas is making news for more than the deal Gov. Mike Beebe has cut with the feds to enable expansion of Medicaid via health care exchanges. Earlier this week Beebe vetoed a bill making his state the tenth to enact a so-called “fetal pain” bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. That veto has already been overridden under Arkansas unusual rules allowing that to occur under a simple legislative majority (two House Democrats voted for the override; otherwise this was a strict partly-line vote).

So now Arkansas Republicans are sending Beebe a new bill that would set a new national landmark for patently-unconstitutional abortion restrictions, banning abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, which is supposedly about the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected. He’ll soon veto it again, and then the only question is how determined GOP legislators are to defy court precedents in a way sure to revive memories of the state’s unsavory history of defying Brown v. Board of Education and keep Arkansas in the competition with Mississippi as “most reactionary state” (though Kansas is giving both a run for their money).

While this ploy is obviously aimed at “moving the goalposts” yet again on the anti-choice movements demands for “compromise” abortion bans (already moved a long way since the “partial-birth abortion” bans of the 1990s), it’s unclear if they are trying to engineer the sharpest possible court challenge to Roe v. Wade, in hopes that the ever-wavering Justice Anthony Kennedy will award them the victory they have so long sought before the president gets another Supreme Court nomination. But by ratcheting up their restrictions, they may soon make another high-court confrontation unavoidable.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on February 28, 2013 4:45 PM:

    I'm sorry, but I'd almost prefer a full-on SCOTUS challenge.

    For the past decade (plus), they have tried to snuff out a woman's right to choose, slowly.

    I'd rather they take it to the SC, let them re-decide, and let the fight go on from there.

    Right now, it's "Life" by a slow strangulation of womens rights.

    Let them take on a woman's right to choose openly, and face the electoral consequences.

    Also too - if "abortion" is murder, then charge the women, and not Doctors or Nurses, with the murder!

    Except you won't, will you?
    Because you know that the quickest way to become a minor party representing religious zealots, and no one else, is to do that.

    So, bring on another SC trial!

    And if the SCOTUS rules for you, "Lifers," you'll have no one to blame but your zealot selves for your party becoming virtually impotent in places other than Red States and Districts.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I say, "BRING IT!!!"

  • boatboy_srq on February 28, 2013 5:07 PM:

    I suppose this translates into "preserving a woman's right to choose quickly."

    SO: in one day, we have a state a) make healthare as least-inexpensive as possible and still comply with the ACA and b) require childbearing after 12 weeks of pregnancy. I guess impoverishment of the electorate - along with slut-shaming, beggar-shaming and other misguided efforts to promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity - is somewhere high on the GOTea's agenda. Because nothing says general Welfare or the Blessings of Liberty like draining every last private sector penny to pay for health insurance, or mandating Teh Wimmins endure the birth and raising of unwanted children.


  • jjm on February 28, 2013 5:25 PM:

    to c u n d gulag on February 28, 2013 4:45 PM: going before SCOTUS while there is still a majority of conservatives and Catholic judges on it is what all these state anti-abortion laws has been about.

  • JoanneinDenver on February 28, 2013 5:35 PM:

    Two important points;

    1) Fetal hearts begin beating begin between 18 to 21 days after conception. The detection may not be made until 12 weeks, but that is not when the heart begins beating. The failure to make the absolute distinction between what is happening within a woman's body and when a man can detect the activity and thus declare it "valid," is left over from medieval times and church courts, when only men of the cloth could define reality.

    2) I believe that the state laws are designed to challenge Roe. But that the strategy is not that abortion would be outlawed, but that Roe would be overturned and the issue of abortion returned to the states. That would have dire consequences for all the civil rights guaranteed by the federal government because it would establish that states could define civil rights, and indeed, who was a person.

  • paul on February 28, 2013 5:39 PM:

    So that would be several hundred murder investigations a year, just for the miscarriages....