July 8, 2018

Three of the four panelists on AM Joy discussed what is really important in the upcoming SCOTUS pick regarding abortion rights in this country. Three of the four panelists discussed with clarity and accuracy the reality of access to abortion for women in this country. Three of the four women on Joy Reid's panel were women, and they are the same three to whom I refer in sentences one and two above. The fourth panelist was a man, and I will treat him here as dismissively as he treated the threat to abortion access on that panel - as in, I will behave as if he does not exist.

Maya Wiley, on the other hand, supported the claim (with facts! Imagine that!) that the Supreme Court has created a way to support states narrowing access to abortion so severely that it doesn't exist. In Mississippi, the limit for an abortion is 15 weeks. 95% of women in that state don't have a provider in their county. There is one clinic in the state. ONE.

WILEY: Essentially, you can make it so burdensome, call it Constitutional, say you didn't overturn Roe v. Wade, and essentially NOT have women make choices over their bodies.

Civia Tamarkin said several mouthfuls in a mere minute in her time on Reid's panel. The issue is not, as so many weaselly politicians are saying, whether or not they consider Roe v. Wade precedent, or in legalese, stare decisis. The question is, how much are they willing to allow abortion rights to be restricted until they are effectively wiped away completely?

Tamarkin is also one of the only people I have heard talk about the fact that access to abortion is already out of reach completely for women on Medicaid. Yes, our government has enacted a ban on Medicaid covering abortions, so women who rely on that for their healthcare effectively have no access to abortion. Medicaid covers over 25 million women in the U.S., nearly 17 million of them of child-bearing age. So, Roe v. Wade is already not a reality for them. Thank you, Civia Tamarkin, for lifting them up, and helping them be seen on Joy Reid's show.

REID: I'm going to you first, one of the front runners, Amy Coney Barrett, religiously conservative personally. This is how she responded when asked if Roe v. Wade could be overturned in the Supreme Court. This is from November of 2016. Take a listen.

BARRETT: I think the question is how much freedom the court is wiling to let states have in regulating abortion.... I don't think the core case, that Roe's core holding that women have a right to abortion. I don't think that would change. But I think the question of whether people can get very late term abortions, how many restrictions can be put on clinics, I think that will change.

REID: Civia, does that make you believe, as Danny does, that it's unlikely that this court, even if you put another Gorsuch on, would overrule Roe?

TAMARKIN: Well, the issue is really what Amy Barrett just said. You know, Roe has existed in name only for so many women in this country for so many years. There have been on a state-by-state basis over a thousand restrictions put in place since Roe was handed down. And when the Casey v. Pennsylvania decision came about in '92 that said the measure was an undue burden, no one defined what the undue burden was. So the reality is that the incursion and erosion of reproductive rights has been occurring all across the country. I think there is only nine or ten states where that right is secure. Because if you do not have access. If you do not have health care that will cover an abortion, and as a result of the ban on Medicaid covering that, you do not have the opportunity to exercise those rights. So in many ways the debate over the constitutionality and precedent is not going to affect the majority of women in this country who do not have access and for whom the undue does prevent the exercising of their rights.

Then Reid played a clip of Susan Collins attempting to seem strong by saying...what else? That she couldn't consider a nominee who did not agree Roe v. Wade was settled precedent. Yes, but...doesn't that just mean that's all a nominee has to say in order for Collins to vote to confirm them? Bibbedy-bobbedy-boo? The previous two women on the panel have just destroyed the notion that stare decisis protects access to abortion for women who need and/or want them. In comes Jill Wine-Banks to wrap it up neatly with a bow.

WINE-BANKS: The question is, how much whittling away will Susan Collins and others allow? How much will a new justice be able to narrowly define what "undue burden" is? Civia is absolutely correct that it's really where we're at, that Roe has been limited by this concept that it's okay to regulate it as long as it doesn't present an "undue burden" on the exercise of the rights that we're granted by Roe. But what is an undue burden can be defined in a way that, for example, Ohio has passed a law that says six weeks is the limit on when you can get an abortion. Most women do not even know they're pregnant during that period of time, so, of course, to me, that is a clear undue burden. But to Amy Coney Barrett, it may not be. And that's the risk we're facing now.

So, dear Senators - as you face whomever our unhinged, woman-hating, Putin-licking, pussy-grabbing president points to with his tiny fingers to replace Anthony Kennedy on the highest court in the land, I beg you...ask the right questions. It is not enough to ask if they consider Roe v. Wade precedent. Ask them to define "undue burden." Be specific. Here are some suggestions:

What do you consider "undue burden" to access?
How many miles should a woman have to travel?
How many appointments should she have to have?
How many days of work should she have to miss?
How long should she have to carry a dead fetus inside of her?
How many screaming protesters should she endure as she goes to the doctor?
How quickly would you make an appointment for your daughter if she were raped?
How many abortions do you think Donald Trump has paid for?

Don't be afraid to make them squirm. God knows they're not afraid to do that to us.

Note: The above clip is only the Civia Tamarkin portion of the discussion. To watch the full panel discussion in its entirety, click here. A longer 10-minute clip is below..

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