Bad news for abortion opponents, as Wall Street Journal poll shows support for abortion rights rising even among Catholics

If any abortion opponents envisioned a groundswell of support for abortion restrictions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, they must be shocked at how quickly the tides have turned against them.

A new Wall Street Journal poll has bad news all around for abortion opponents, noting that, “Support for abortion in most or all cases rose among Catholics to 59%, up from 45% in March. Support from Black voters was at 69%, up from 59%. College-educated women moved to 76% in support, up from 65%.”

There’s more bad news:

The poll also showed clear opposition to the types of abortion restrictions being enacted or discussed in some states. A total of 62% opposed an abortion ban at 6 weeks of pregnancy that only included an exception for the health of the mother, and 57% opposed a ban at 15 weeks with an exception only for the health of the mother. The survey said 77% opposed banning women who live in states where abortion is illegal from traveling to other states to get an abortion. And 81% were against banning all abortions.

On prosecuting doctors who conduct abortions, 70% were in opposition. On restricting access to some contraception, like the morning after pill, 78% were opposed.

“Abortion is not an issue that most people, prior to Dobbs, spent a lot of time thinking about,” said Democratic pollster Molly Murphy, whose firm conducted the poll with Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio. “What Dobbs has done is one, we’ve had a national conversation about it. Two, it has gone from hypothetical to real.”

These are the reasons that Republicans are trying, probably unsuccessfully, to prevent a November ballot initiative in Michigan that would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. The GOP in Michigan saw what happened in red-as-red-can-be Kansas when voters there overwhelming approved a similar ballot initiative.

WaPo columnist talks to some of the people who voted against banning abortion in Kansas

No matter where you stand on the abortion divide — most people are firmly in the middle somewhere — this column by the Washington Post’s Perry Bacon, Jr. is an interesting read:

Even if all the unaffiliated Kansans who voted last week took the pro-abortion rights stance, the results would have been about 50-50, assuming everyone else voted along party lines. The election results suggestion that more than 80,000 Republicans, around a fifth of those who voted in Kansas last week, also took the pro-abortion rights position, leading to the 59-41 blowout for that side. That’s surprising, at least at first glance. I had assumed that registered Republicans who turn out for primaries would be aligned with the party on one of its long-standing core positions.

But that result didn’t come from nowhere, either. Polls have long suggested that from one-fifth to one-third of Republicans support abortion rights, depending on how the question is phrased. These Republicans can rarely express that preference without voting for a Democratic candidate.

And we know that Americans often have views that conflict with their party’s stands. Measures to raise the minimum wage, expand Medicaid and reduce gerrymandering have passed in red states over the past decade, even as GOP leaders oppose all three positions. A 2020 ballot measure to lift a ban on affirmative action failed in heavily Democratic California.

I asked Melissa Clark, a 42-year-old registered Republican who works in sales in the Kansas City area, what restrictions on abortion she would support. “None,” she replied.

“Politicians should not be involved in health-care decisions,” she wrote. “Women and all humans can make their own healthcare decisions. … I think it is a personal decision that is something that should be left in the hands of the individual under all circumstances.”

“Generally Republicans have gotten more of my votes,” said Cheryl Bannon, a 61-year-old retired title closing officer in the Wichita area who is also a Republican. “I am not in favor of large giveaway programs. However the Republicans are just getting too far out there — ‘don’t touch our rights to buy assault rifles in any way but let’s make women and, yes, children carry embryos to term.’”

Great column by a usually very good Bacon, Jr.

You can read the rest at this link.

Yards signs before the Kansas vote.

Nebraska’s ultra right-wing governor scraps calling for special legislative session to further ban abortion

The votes to restrict abortion even more than it is already — or to ban it entirely — are not there in the state’s single-house legislature.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) on Monday reversed his plan to call a special session of the state legislature to pass a 12-week abortion ban after an insufficient number of lawmakers indicated they would support such a measure.

Ricketts had vowed to call the special session after the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade leaked, but the governor said on Monday, months after the actual decision dropped, that he had received a letter from the state speaker revealing a vote would not have the 33 state senators needed for passage.

“It is deeply saddening that only 30 Nebraska state senators are willing to come back to Lincoln this fall in order to protect innocent life,” the governor said in a statement, which comes less than a week after voters in neighboring Kansas rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed its lawmakers to restrict abortion.

“The proposal to change Nebraska’s state law that prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks and reduce that to 12 weeks is a measured, reasonable step to protect more preborn babies in our state,” Ricketts added.

After the Supreme Court earlier this summer overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, rejecting a constitutional right to abortion, red states saw a flurry of activity seeking to restrict the procedure.

Some states had previously passed so-called trigger laws that automatically implemented abortion restrictions following the court’s ruling, while Republican leaders in other states, like Nebraska, promised to call special legislative sessions to quickly pass new restrictions.

“I ask all Nebraskans who are pro-life to look at the list of state senators who signed the letter,” Ricketts said, urging residents to call their lawmakers.

This is why local elections matter so much.

Just three more votes in the opposite direction and the state would ban abortions outright with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.

Ricketts, who comes from the family made rich by TD Ameritrade and the Chicago Cubs (the latter they still own) is particularly energized by opposing abortion, as is much of his family.

You can read the rest of the article here.

NE Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Wall Street Journal gives surprisingly even-handed coverage to Kansas abortion vote

I get a free Wall Street Journal subscription through work, otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother since I already subscribe to two national “dailies.”

However, the WSJ news pages have always been quite good, despite the fact that it is owned by Rupert Murdoch. In fact, its article today about the surprisingly lopsided Kansas abortion amendment vote in favor of abortion rights has been one of the best articles I’ve read in terms of analysis. And the article’s authors don’t waste a single sentence on the ridiculously baseless arguments coming from some Republicans as to why they lost in Kansas. (Interestingly, neither did the paper’s normally whack-a-doodle editorial writers when they weighed-in about the Kansas vote.)

“If it’s going to happen in Kansas, it’s going to happen in a whole lot of states,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). “The strong pro-choice turnout we saw last night in Kansas will continue well into the fall, and Republicans who side with these extremist MAGA policies that attack women’s rights do so at their own political risk.”

State election records show that women accounted for 70% of Kansans who registered to vote after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, according to Tom Bonier, a Democratic voter-data analyst.

The referendum was soundly rejected in the state’s suburban and metropolitan areas, losing by 16 percentage points in the Wichita area and by 36 points in the area around the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

Support for the amendment was stronger in the state’s rural communities. Still, the results suggested that some Republicans opposed it. In Cowley County, on the southern border with Oklahoma, Mr. Trump drew 68% support in 2020, but voters there narrowly rejected the referendum on Tuesday, 52% to 48%. Mr. Trump had won 72% support in rural Allen County, but voters split evenly on the referendum, with 50% for and against it.

Another thing I found interesting about the WSJ coverage of Kansas is that it gave prominent front-page placement in the print edition for the story. (See below.)

However, when I last checked the online WSJ home page, the Kansas news article was nowhere to be found, but the in-house editorial was there.

You can read the rest of the news article here.

I thought that pro-choice forces might win in Kansas, but I didn’t imagine they’d win this big.

Kansas overwhelmingly votes down anti-abortion constitutional amendment:

Abortion-rights forces scored an upset victory in Kansas on Tuesday when voters rejected an amendment that would have allowed the state legislature to ban the procedure.

The vote, which comes just six weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, means Kansas will remain one of the few red states where abortion is legal. It also provides hope to abortion-rights supporters who are betting on ballot initiatives in other conservative states to restore or maintain access to the procedure.

Emily Wales, the president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which covers Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma, said seeing the effects of abortion bans recently going into effect in roughly a dozen states made the issue more tangible for Kansans and spurred them to vote no.

“This level of government overreach — literally interfering in the decisions a physician and patient make together — has resonated with people in Kansas,” she said. “It’s a scary moment to think that you or your loved one might be in a situation where it’s not up to you or your provider what care you can get and instead it’s up to the government and what they think you deserve.”

Turnout for the primary also soared above usual levels Tuesday, and in some counties was closer to the participation usually seen in a presidential election. The in-person early vote, which tends to favor Democrats, was also nearly 250 percent higher than the last primary midterm election in 2018, when both Democrats and Republicans had competitive governors’ races, while the number of mail-in ballots was more than double.

The “no” campaign also outperformed in fairly conservative areas — like in Shawnee County in the eastern part of the state, coming in several points ahead of President Joe Biden’s results there in 2020.

Even in precincts that voted against Biden the pro-choice vote won.

Those Supreme Court justices overreached in a big way. Not that knowing this is going to stop them.

But it just might energize voters across the country and make sure that the Democrats are not trounced to the extent we thought they might be a few months ago.

If it can happen in Kansas, it can happen anywhere.

You can read more coverage at this link.

Pregnant women can’t get divorced in Missouri

Did you know that? I didn’t know that.

The Riverfront Times takes a look at a law that would be weird in most states, but not Missouri:

December 2020 was a turbulent month for Danielle Drake, 32, of Lake of the Ozarks. On December 1, her husband said he was going out with a friend, but he lied. He was actually having an affair. She filed for a divorce less than a week later, on December 7.

Then, not long before Christmas, Drake found out she was pregnant.

Drake knew immediately she had to file a second, amended petition for divorce. She also knew the impact her pregnancy would have on the divorce proceedings. Drake, who earned a law degree from University of Missouri Kansas City has been practicing family law for two years, was well aware that in Missouri, women who are pregnant can’t get a divorce.

Missouri law states that a petition for divorce must provide eight pieces of information, things like the residence of each party, the date of separation, and, notably, “whether the wife is pregnant.” If the answer is yes, Drake says, “What that practically does is put your case on hold.”

There is a lot of disagreement online about whether pregnant Missouri women can get divorced. The RFT spoke to multiple lawyers who handle divorce proceedings and they all agreed that in Missouri a divorce can’t be finalized if either the petitioner (the person who files for divorce) or the respondent (the other party in the divorce) is pregnant.

This both shocks me and yet it does not shock me at all.

Shocks me because it’s 2022 in America, for God’s sake.

Does not shock me because, well, Missouri.

A state I will not visit nor do business with until the urban residents of Missouri get off their asses and take back their state government from the yahoos in places like Lake of the Ozarks.

This is an amazing exchange during Congressional testimony from the head of a right-wing group

You can tell the exact moment Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) was incredulous that the head of a right-wing anti-abortion group said the crazy thing she had just said in testimony before his House committee.

During Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impact of the Supreme Court striking down a constitutional right to abortion, Swalwell questioned Catherine Glenn Foster of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life.

The congressman alluded to a now infamous case of a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who traveled to Indiana in order to obtain an abortion. Ohio has banned abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks of pregnancy. Although the state attorney general has claimed she could have obtained the abortion in Ohio, the law itself doesn’t corroborate this.

“Do you think a 10-year-old should choose to carry a baby?” Swalwell asked.

“I believe it would probably impact her life and so therefore, it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion,” Foster replied.

“Wait,” said Swalwell, who then paused as if to gather his thoughts on the answer. “It would not be an abortion if a 10-year-old – with her parents – made the decision not to have a baby that was the result of rape?”

She answered, “If a 10-year-old became pregnant as a result of rape and it was threatening her life, then that’s not an abortion. So, it would not fall under any abortion restriction in our nation.”

Swalwell turned to another witness, Sarah Warbelow of the pro-choice Human Rights Campaign.

“Ms. Warbelow, are you familiar with disinformation?” he asked.

“Yes, I am,” she responded.

“Did you just hear some disinformation?” he queried.

“Yes, I heard some very significant disinformation,” she stated.

America’s right-wing echo chamber of politicians, social media commentators and kooky extremist groups are well aware that overturning Roe is just as unpopular as everyone knew it would be once the Right had to turn to a non-democratically constituted Supreme Court majority to do what Americans as a whole did not want to happen.

So now they are doing this weird PR two-step where they say, among other things, that outright bans on any abortions are not really outright bans, and that little 10-year-olds who are raped and get abortions aren’t really abortions in the eyes of anti-abortion laws.

We are not shocked they will continue to lie through their teeth to get what they want.

See video of Swalwell exchange below.

Nieman Lab has an excellent piece about the 10-year-old Ohio rape victim, and why a newspaper could only find one person to verify the girl’s abortion

I was going to ignore this story because it keeps getting more awful by the day in terms of the terrible people who are turning out (again) to look like idiots (Glenn Greenwald, the “fact checker Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, Jonathan Turley, etc.).

There is a piece up at Nieman Lab by Laura Hazard Owen that gives a nice run-down of the major moving parts of this terrible story, and looks at whether journalism, in the odd way it is currently constituted, is ready to report on a right-wing America where people are afraid to talk to reporters because the weight of the MAGA social media and legal world might come raining down upon them.

First, some of the moving parts, including discussion of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indianapolis OB/GYN who took the call from the panicked Ohio doctor who was trying to help a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim get help outside of his state — a state that had just banned nearly every abortion not involving the emergency saving of a mother’s life

This situation was reported by two women reporters at the Indianapolis Star. Then the right-wing media machine began its work to discredit the factually accurate story. They got help from the Washington Post‘s fact checker Glenn Kessler.

Says Nieman Lab:

The debate over the [abortion] story’s veracity started with a Washington Post “Fact Checker” column. In “A one-source story about a 10-year-old and an abortion goes viral,” the Post’s Glenn Kessler wrote:

The only source cited for the anecdote was Bernard. She’s on the record, but there is no indication that the newspaper made other attempts to confirm her account. The story’s lead reporter, Shari Rudavsky, did not respond to a query asking whether additional sourcing was obtained. A Gannett spokeswoman provided a comment from Bro Krift, the newspaper’s executive editor: “The facts and sourcing about people crossing state lines into Indiana, including the 10-year-old girl, for abortions are clear. We have no additional comment at this time.”

Kessler notes that Bernard “declined to identify to the Fact Checker her colleague or the city where the child was located” and that after “a spot check,” he was unable to find evidence that the rape had been reported in Ohio. He wrote:

This is a very difficult story to check. Bernard is on the record, but obtaining documents or other confirmation is all but impossible without details that would identify the locality where the rape occurred.

Kessler doesn’t appear to consider the professional, non-nefarious reasons that a doctor might have for declining to share the names of her colleagues, or why she might be loath to (plus, due to privacy laws, legally prohibited from) disclose the name and address of her patient who was raped to a national newspaper.

“An abortion by a 10-year-old is pretty rare,” Kessler notes. (Oh, that “by.”) “The Columbus Dispatch reported that in 2020, 52 people under the age of 15 received an abortion in Ohio.” Definitions of “rare” may vary, but if 52 under-15-year-olds got abortions in Ohio in 2020, that’s one a week — and it’s just abortions that were reported, during a pandemic when a lot of abortion clinics were closed.

It goes on from there, but Nieman Lab ends up questioning whether American journalism, especially men in journalism, are ready to confront a world where women’s bodies and their health care have been criminalized in so many ways that the last thing they will do is go on the record with a reporter about the fact that doctors and patients are being turned into felons.

It’s important to note that nearly all the heroes thus far in this contemptible saga are women, and the villains are men. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, in particular, is so far removed from the realities of what the striking down of Roe means for women, that he could not even begin to conceptualize why his “fact checking” story was so far off the mark.

The Wall Street Journal also jumped on the bandwagon trying to discredit the 10-year-old rape victim story with this July 12 editorial, to which they later had to add an editor’s note verifying the story’s accuracy after the actual rapist was arrested.

Kansas constitution protects abortion rights; perhaps not for much longer

Thing I learned today from reading the always excellent Popular.Info from Judd Legum:

In Kansas, abortion is still legal. In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that “the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects a woman’s access to abortion.” The court found that  Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects “every person’s right to personal autonomy—and this right enables a woman to make decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life, including the decision whether to continue a pregnancy.” 

That could change soon. 

On August 2, citizens in Kansas will vote on an amendment to Kansas’ Constitution. The measure, Resolution No. 5003, would “amend the bill of rights to the constitution of the state of Kansas” to state that “there is no constitutional right to abortion,” while “reserving to the people the ability to regulate abortion through the elected members of the legislature.” The amendment, which is known to supporters as “Value Them Both,” was put on the ballot in early 2021 when it was approved by both chambers of the state legislature. 

If approved, it would open the door for Kansas’ Republican-dominated legislature to ban or severely restrict abortion. 

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) opposes the amendment and supports protecting abortion rights, but she is up for reelection in the fall. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who is expected to be the Republican nominee for governor, has already said he plans to vote yes on the amendment, and that he “prefer[s] a future with less abortion[s].” 

The implications of the vote could reverberate far beyond Kansas’ borders. 

The Catholic Archdioceses in Wichita and Kansas City have given a combined total in 2021 of $750,000 of $1.2 million raised last year. (Exact figures for this year are not yet available.)

I’m can’t get too worked up about official Catholic involvement in all of this. These prelates represent a lot of Catholics, and if lay Catholics didn’t support how each archdiocese is spending their money on politics, they can join another church.

But the dollar figures are interesting because they are so high. The Catholic Church knows that if voters in Kansas, of all places, were to keep in place that state’s constitutional protections for abortion, it would only feed into the perception that banning abortion is not popular with a majority of Americans. And that banning it altogether is basically a power grab by anti-abortion forces who have had to use the Supreme Court to achieve what they could not accomplish in legislatures or at the ballot box.

Are college students re-thinking their plans to go to colleges in states legislating extremist morality?

It has always been the case that some students with the most to lose in states with extreme right-wing regimes — students who are LGBT, Black, Latino, women in general — have likely chosen not to go to places like Alabama, Mississippi and the like because they are afraid of what might happen to them in that kind of atmosphere.

(Sports scholarships and winning records can blunt some, but not all, of that in recruiting incoming elite athletes. But we know some of those upper tier athletes choose to go to schools in states that align more with their progressive values.)

I wonder how many high-value students, academically and athletically, have decided against going to school in my own home state of Nebraska because right-wing goon and presumed Opus Dei idiot Pete Ricketts has been governor?

Anyway, Reuters has an article that broaches these subjects:

With its excellent academic and music programs, Oberlin College in Ohio seemed like a perfect fit for Nina Huang, a California high school student who plays flute and piano and hopes to eventually study medicine or law.

But Huang, 16, said she crossed the college off her application list after Ohio enacted a near-total ban on abortion last month. She now plans to cast a wider net for schools in states with less restrictive laws.

“I don’t want to go to school in a state where there is an abortion ban,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide has some students rethinking their higher education plans as states rush to ban or curtail abortion, according to interviews with 20 students and college advisers across the country.

While it has long been the case that some students hesitated to attend schools in places with different political leanings than their own, recent moves by conservative states on issues such as abortion and LGBTQ+ rights have deepened the country’s polarization.

For some students, the restrictions raise fears that they won’t be able to get an abortion if they need one or that they will face discrimination for gender differences. Others said they worried about facing racial prejudice or being politically ostracized.

“I’m only in high school right now, and I’m still finding out who I am,” said Samira Murad, 17, who will be a senior this fall at Stuyvesant High School in New York. “I don’t want to move somewhere I can’t be myself because of laws put in place.”

I think the GOP is mistaken if they don’t think young people think about these issues. And the Democrats are stupid if the Biden administration doesn’t do something, even if it’s partially symbolic, to show that President Biden and the people who work for him are as panicked about the future as young people are today.

Oberlin College could lose out at students worried about Ohio’s turn the the extreme right politically choose to get their education in another, less-restrictive, state.