Bigots don’t necessarily take vows of poverty

28 May 2015 06:39 am
Posted by: Donna

Ann CoulterScreenshot: Fusion TV

Ann Coulter is one of those right wing demagogues with a high public profile who attracts a strange sort of – almost what you’d call a defense of her – that she’s just in it for the money! There’s a belief among many liberals that because she lives a cosmopolitan life split between New York City, Palm Beach FL, and Los Angeles (according to available bios) and is known to have gay friends and date liberal men, that she doesn’t really believe all that nasty stuff she espouses in numerous books, articles, speeches, and TV appearances.

But if you watch Coulter in a recent interview on the Fusion network with Jorge Ramos, it’s difficult to conclude that she’s acting. She refused to accept the offer of a hug a young woman who was an undocumented immigrant and compared Mexican immigrants to ISIS terrorists.

At another point in the appearance, Fusion host Jorge Ramos asked Coulter whether she really believed that immigrants were more dangerous to Americans than the Islamic State terrorist group.

“I have a little tip,” Coulter said. “If you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria. If you don’t want to be killed by a Mexican, there’s nothing I can tell you.”

Ramos said “most immigrants are not terrorists nor criminals” and asked Coulter whether she thought people were “biologically predisposed to commit crimes.”

“No, I think there are cultures that are obviously deficient and if they weren’t deficient you wouldn’t be sitting in America interviewing me, I’d be sitting in Mexico,” Coulter said to Ramos. “You fled that culture because it is a — there are a lot of problems with that culture.

“Hopefully it can be changed but we can share our culture with other nations without bringing all of their people here,” Coulter continued. “When you bring the people here you bring those cultures here. That includes honor killings. It includes uncles raping their nieces. It includes dumping litter all over. It includes not paying your taxes. It includes paying bribes to government officials. That isn’t our culture.”

This isn’t acting, in my estimation. Coulter is expressing a carefully thought out viewpoint. And yes, she is a skilled con artist who has separated money from millions of credulous wingnuts (for whom she likely has zero respect) for nearly two decades, having risen to fame in the late 90s as an attacker of the Clintons.

I don’t understand why some people cling to this weird insistence that one can either be a reactionary bigot or a grifter, but not both. Back in 2010, Arizona reporters and pundits pooh-poohed allegations that then AZ Senator Russell Pearce had collaborated with ALEC and private prisons in the formation of SB1070. They treated the reports as spurious simply based on their experience of Russell Pearce as a “true believer” in the anti-immigrant cause. As if an awful person like Russell Pearce wouldn’t also grift. Why not? Awful people are awful and who would be more likely to con you than an awful person? Possibly they have convinced themselves that they are doing their grifting toward a worthy cause, which makes them no less awful.

My guess is that Americans have seen too many movies about hard-bitten con artists with secret hearts of gold. That might be a reasonable explanation for why the likes of Joe Arpaio and Sarah Palin continue to have careers.

Should Cathi Herrod answer some questions about the Duggars? Why, yes!

26 May 2015 06:25 am
Posted by: Donna

will-cathi-herrod-ever-apologize

The shocking Josh Duggar story broke last Thursday, when Mark and I left for a long weekend in a mountain cabin. When we returned it was all over the place and perhaps the most interesting (if by “interesting” you mean “vomit-inducing”) reactions to it have come from conservatives defending Josh Duggar (while insisting they are NOT defending Josh Duggar!).

I’m honestly surprised that our local news people, who can usually be counted on to find an “Arizona connection” to any major national story (no matter how tenuous), haven’t seized upon a rather obvious one with Josh Duggar, who resigned quickly from his position as executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the highly anti-gay and anti-choice Family Research Council.

FRC has deep roots in Arizona right wing politics, as Political Research Associates reported in 2012.

Some of the most important leaders in the conservative movement were on a marriage equality panel at the recent Values Voters Summit. But likely few of the conference participants had even heard of the panelists or the Family Policy Council, the network that makes them greater than the sum of their parts.

Panel moderator Cathi Herrod, president of the Arizona Center for Policy, is worried about the “Four states voting on whether marriage will be redefined in their states.” Herrod said that proponents of marriage equality (no, she didn’t really call them that) “see the fights in these states as the kickoff to reversing the victories in thirty-two states where the voters said ‘yes’ to marriage being defined as between one man and one woman.” She sees any victories by her opponents as potentially a “game changer.”

The four panelists, leaders of the anti-marriage equality forces in states where the issue is on the ballot this year, all head state level “Family Policy Councils” (as does Cathi Herrod). Built into a network of existing and newly created entities by Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council in 1988, these groups have played leading roles in every state level battle over marriage equality. (Cathi Herrod said that the groups are now affiliated with FOF, FRC, and FOF’s current political arm, Citizen Link, where there is a current list of affiliates.)

In the wake of the Reagan revolution, which devolved many areas of public policy development to the states, conservative movement strategists sought to create infrastructure much as they had in Washington. In 1999, I published a study, “Takin’ It to the States: The Rise of Conservative State Level Think Tanks,” (pdf) on this and a parallel business-oriented network in The Public Eye. Generally speaking, the Focus on the Family-spawned network has pursued the agenda of the Religious Right, while groups affiliated with the State Policy Network were modeled after the Heritage Foundation, and pursued economic issues.

In 2013 FRC and Alliance Defending Freedom (an Arizona-based legal think tank closely aligned with Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy) collaborated on a push-poll claiming a majority of Americans siding with religious conservatives on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council (FRC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) released the results of a commissioned national survey showing that 59 percent of likely voters “oppose the mandate requiring the coverage of preventive care services for women which includes all FDA approved contraceptives, including drugs that can destroy a human embryo, and sterilization services without a direct cost to the patient.”

The poll, conducted by WPA Opinion Research from November 18-20, sought to determine how likely voters feel about Obamacare overall, and their opinion regarding the HHS mandate. WPA noted that “Obamacare has seen its public support drop as the unadvertised consequences of the law have become clear. The mandated coverage of drugs that can destroy a human embryo, are just another instance of this.”

In 2014 Herrod appeared on FRC President Tony Perkins’ radio show to defend SB1062.

The president of a right-wing Arizona group that’s advocating for the state’s gay segregation bill said yesterday that the extremist legislation is simply an expression of the religious freedom that American service members fight to preserve.

Speaking [with] Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on yesterday’s edition of Washington Watch, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy accused the bill’s opponents of “incredible hostility to religion.”

“Our first freedom, our ability to live out our religious belief as our founders intended, as wars have been fought for our right to live out our religious belief, that is what is very much under attack,” Herrod said, adding that she is shocked that people would oppose the right-to-discriminate bill. “This was non-controversial until the last four or five days.”…

…She told Perkins that listeners should “pray for a miracle and to pray for an intervention” for the governor to sign the legislation.

Josh Duggar is the son of Jim Bob Duggar, a former Arkansas state legislator and US Senate candidate and the patriarch of the TLC network’s popular 19 Kids and Counting reality show. The Duggars aren’t merely entertainers, though. They have thrown a considerable amount of political weight around, with Josh figuring prominently in that.

Besides its millions of viewers, the power of the Duggar name cannot be underestimated, even in Washington. Last summer [2013], conservative lobbying arm Family Research Council recruited the eldest Duggar child, Josh, to move to D.C. with his wife and three kids to become the executive director. As the Reliable Source noted at the time, “In hiring him, the group — known for its vigilantly anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage stances — hopes to appeal to more young people and to tap into the huge popularity of his evangelical clan within flyover America.”

In addition to writing multiple books about their lives, the family members are also popular figures to bring to GOP political rallies. They’re frequent guests on the “Today” show, among other programs.

I’m not interested in Cathi Herrod being asked about this by local reporters in an attempt to get her to defend Josh Duggar as it’s likely she had no knowledge of the allegations against him prior to a few days ago. And she probably wouldn’t be dumb enough (as some of her fellow conservatives have been) to make excuses for his teenage transgressions or (worse) to defend the elder Duggars for hiding Josh’s acts, while continuing to attack LGBT rights by portraying LGBT people as predatory perverts.

Oh no, what I would like to hear is Cathi Herrod having to explain how the rigid rules – on marriage, procreation, gender roles, etc. – that she wants to impose on everyone seem to have failed so spectacularly to protect Josh Duggar’s and his family’s victims. The Duggar clan was supposedly Ground Zero of the safest abstinence-based climate for girls and young women, after all. I’d also like Herrod to explain why so many people who are not Josh Duggar – who apparently should simply be forgiven and allowed to go on with his life because he apologized and repented – and who didn’t even violate other people’s boundaries as Josh Duggar did, must suffer permanent punishment for their “sins”. Such as being gay or being a girl or woman who had non-procreative sex (willingly or not). Herrod would like for gay couples to be denied hospital visitation rights, for women to be denied abortion rights (whatever the circumstances or complications of their pregnancies), and has even gone on record basically declaring cervical cancer to be a just consequence for girls who don’t put it off until marriage.

Cathi Herrod definitely needs to answer some questions about the Duggar situation. Not because of the Duggars. Because of her own history of defending some really awful things.

Ducey’s cruel move on welfare continues the legacy of “reform”

20 May 2015 06:04 am
Posted by: Donna

New Republic welfare cover
This was seriously on the cover of the New Republic in 1996.

Gotta love this headline and lede:

Facing $1 billion deficit, Arizona sharply limits welfare

PHOENIX (AP) — Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation.

Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months.

Oh, yes, it’s all about the deficit. Sure it is.

The cuts of at least $4 million reflect a prevailing mood among the lawmakers in control in Arizona that welfare, Medicaid and other public assistance programs are crutches that keep the poor from getting back on their feet and achieving their potential.

“I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don’t ever let them face those consequences, they can’t get back on the path to rewards,” Republican Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said during debate on the budget. “As a society, we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them.”

I saw several people on social media wondering how Arizona could enact such limits to TANF when these are federal dollars in question. Understanding that requires historical context that the AP report touches on briefly in the very last paragraph:

Former President Bill Clinton signed the block grant law in 1997, making good on a campaign promise to “end welfare as we know it.” The federal government still requires states to make sure recipients have a job, are looking for work, going to school or trying to go to school, but states retain broad discretion in imposing restrictions.

The Welfare Reform Act was considered (by some) to be a signature accomplishment of the Clinton administration. It was supposed to end generations of poverty and dependence while (according to Democratic leaders) depriving the GOP of a powerful attack on Democrats in perpetuity. But Peter Edelman, who resigned from his post at the Department of Health and Human Services over it, warned that the law Clinton ultimately signed would fundamentally change the mission of welfare and plunge millions into poverty.

…In 1994 [President Clinton] proposed legislation that required everyone to be working by the time he or she had been on the rolls for two years. But it also said, more or less in the fine print, that people who played by the rules and couldn’t find work could continue to get benefits within the same federal-state framework that had existed since 1935. The President didn’t say so, but he was building — quite incrementally and on the whole responsibly — on the framework of the Family Support Act. On the other hand, candidate Clinton had let his listeners infer that he intended radical reform with real fall-off-the-cliff time limits. He never said so explicitly, though, so his liberal flank had nothing definitive to criticize. President Clinton’s actual 1994 proposal was based on a responsible interpretation of what candidate Clinton had said.

Candidate Clinton, however, had let a powerful genie out of the bottle. During his first two years it mattered only insofar as his rhetoric promised far more than his legislative proposal actually offered. When the Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994, the bumper-sticker rhetoric began to matter. So you want time limits? the Republicans said in 1995. Good idea. We’ll give you some serious time limits. We now propose an absolute lifetime limit of five years, cumulatively, that a family can be on welfare. End welfare as we know it? You bet. From now on we will have block grants. And what does that mean? First, that there will be no federal definition of who is eligible and therefore no guarantee of assistance to anyone; each state can decide whom to exclude in any way it wants, as long as it doesn’t violate the Constitution (not much of a limitation when one reads the Supreme Court decisions on this subject). And second, that each state will get a fixed sum of federal money each year, even if a recession or a local calamity causes a state to run out of federal funds before the end of the year.

This was a truly radical proposal. For sixty years Aid to Families with Dependent Children had been premised on the idea of entitlement. “Entitlement” has become a dirty word, but it is actually a term of art. It meant two things in the AFDC program: a federally defined guarantee of assistance to families with children who met the statutory definition of need and complied with the other conditions of the law; and a federal guarantee to the states of a matching share of the money needed to help everyone in the state who qualified for help. (AFDC was never a guarantor of income at any particular level. States chose their own benefit levels, and no state’s AFDC benefits, even when coupled with food stamps, currently lift families out of poverty.) The block grants will end the entitlement in both respects, and in addition the time limits say that federally supported help will end even if a family has done everything that was asked of it and even if it is still needy.

There were other terrible things in welfare reform, such as throwing immigrants off of many forms of public assistance, cutting food stamps to a large number of households, and tightening the eligibility of children with disabilities for Social Security benefits (SSI). These cuts went well beyond (pay attention here, conservatives) the stated goal of encouraging work as they penalized many families headed by people who worked.

But getting back to Governor Ducey, the change from welfare as a federal entitlement to a block grant to states is why he (with the GOP-led Legislature’s help) was able to unilaterally impose a lifetime limit on TANF benefits even more draconian than the federal one. So now you know.

The practical effect of states having this level of control over federal TANF dollars has put the lie to any claim that cuts are done with deficit reduction in mind. When the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities examined how states were using their block grants they found that many are simply back-filling other cuts to general fund revenues.

States use a large and growing share of the state and federal TANF funds that formerly were used to help poor families meet their basic needs for other state services. In some cases, states have used TANF and MOE funds to expand programs, such as state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) or pre-K, or to cover the growing costs of existing services, such as child welfare. In other cases, they have used TANF/MOE funds to replace existing state funds, thereby freeing those state funds for purposes unrelated to providing a safety net or work opportunities for low-income families.

Of course, anyone who has been paying attention to the nasty inclinations of the Right toward poor people (and the disingenuousness of deficit wankery in general) is well aware that none of this is done for the purpose of balancing the budget. (As Edelman put it in the 1997 Atlantic piece, “Many of them are just mean, with no good policy justification.”) Cuts to public assistance are often counterproductive anyway, budget-wise. When Republicans took over Congress in 2011 one of the first things they did was pass a bill to cut Planned Parenthood, which some members justified under the ludicrous claim that it was a deficit reduction measure. Every dollar spent on family planning saves the government several more.

The thing is, it’s pretty obvious at this point what anti-choicers are after. They’d bankrupt the state if it meant they got a free hand to punish sexually active women and force them to have babies! That’s why even the most generous accounts of their attacks on abortion and contraception don’t give any weight to deficit reduction claims. Cuts to welfare are similar in that it’s likely that cutting desperately poor families off from the pittance they get from TANF will lead to higher costs for taxpayers down the line (health care, criminal justice, child protective, etc.) but that seems to be a harder sell to the media, hence credulous news reports like the AP one. Wake up! Conservatives are not cutting welfare because of the budget. They are cutting it because they are reactionary anti-egalitarian authoritarians and, luckily for them, they operate in a larger culture of blame and disdain toward poor people. Which, sadly and shamefully, has included Democrats at times.

Stockholder protest of APS Wednesday morning

19 May 2015 08:08 pm
Posted by: Donna

aps protest

I meant to post this earlier in the week but better late than never. If you are available tomorrow morning at 9:30 (Wednesday May 20) please join some folks at the Heard Museum as they let stockholders at the state’s largest utility company, Arizona Public Service (APS), know how they feel about the company’s underhanded electioneering tactics.

In 2013, APS and its parent company, Pinnacle West first denied and then admitted to using dark money sources to try to convince you that solar energy home installations where bad for Arizona –a charge that is questionable, at best.

Then in 2014, Pinnacle West is thought to have spent, over $3 million of rate-payer-derived funds to elect Corporation Commission candidates that it backed.

The Corporation Commission is the very body that regulates Pinnacle West and, specifically, what it can charge you for electricity. The conflict of interest here is staggering.

If Pinnacle West can spend that kind of money at the Corporation Commission, what can they do to influence your elected officials directly?

What other company or union could secretly over-whelm a local city council or school board election?

This cuts to the core of our democracy.

Join us in our fight in two ways:

1) If you have owned Pinnacle West shares since before March 12th, please vote in support of a resolution, which was put forward by concerned shareholders, and which requires Pinnacle West to disclose how it spends money to influence the public.

Unfortunately, the only way to convince the current leadership of APS is to speak with their bosses, the shareholders.

2) Even if you don’t own shares, we need your support. We are organizing events and public communications leading up to and around the May 20th Shareholder Protest.

After all, Pinnacle West makes money from your monthly payments.

Even if you are an SRP customer like we are. Everyone in Arizona who isn’t a wealthy energy company owner, utility executive, or shady campaign consultant got hosed by their election shenanigans.

https://www.facebook.com/events/922524637810428/

Arizona is being groomed for the eradication of income tax

14 May 2015 06:18 am
Posted by: Donna

Steven SlivinskiSteven Slivinski, from handout

Doug Ducey ran on the promise of eliminating Arizona’s income tax in 2014. It wasn’t taken seriously by most political observers and the candidate himself walked his proposal back and characterized it as an aspiration when pressed on how it was possible to implement it.

“No one’s talking about eliminating the income tax,” he said. “I’ve talked about an ever-improving tax situation, where year after year, we have an improving climate and if we can get it as close to zero as we possible, that’s a positive. Because the nine states that don’t have an income tax have double the job growth of the highest-tax states.”

He later said his talk of driving the income tax rate to zero is a “direction.”

His campaign literature says otherwise. In his “My Pledge to the People of Arizona,” which is online and distributed to voters, Ducey’s No. 1 promise if he’s elected is to “Submit legislation to reduce taxes every year, with the goal of eliminating personal and corporate income taxes in Arizona.”

On April 30, he told The Arizona Republic eliminating the taxes is a “long-term goal, it is one I embrace.”

The Republic asked Ducey on Tuesday evening to clarify the remarks he made during the debate in light of his campaign literature and prior comments. Ducey said, “Elimination is a severe word. Reduction and improvement (in the tax code), people will get that. We will do that over a couple of legislative sessions.”

Now that Ducey has been elected, elimination (that severe word) of the income tax appears to be fully on the table. Keep your eye on a guy named Steven Slivinski. He’s a former “senior economist” for the Goldwater Institute (huge red flag) and he has nabbed himself a spot as a “senior research fellow” at ASU’s (wait for it) Center for the Study of Economic Liberty (freedom!). If you guessed from the name of that endeavor that it was funded by the Koch Brothers without looking it up, you win the door prize.

Slivinski explained in an op-ed to the AZ Republic how this income tax-free nirvana can come to be:

The income tax can be phased-out over six or seven years if policymakers consider a combination of three broad steps.

First, maintain spending discipline by expanding the state budget no more than 2.3 percent annually and use the excess revenue to lower the income tax rate each year.

Second, the Legislature must reform spending programs, including urban revenue sharing. Arizona city governments automatically receive a chunk of income tax money annually without oversight. This lack of accountability leads to wasteful spending at the city level. Reforming this program by making sure the shared revenue only goes to the neediest cities would result in substantial state budget savings.

Additionally, the Legislature should amend the current law to forbid a city-level income tax. City leaders could still ask voters to raise local taxes to fund any spending increases. This would encourage more accountability in city government because leaders couldn’t push the costs onto taxpayers who don’t live in the city.

The result will be different in each city, but as long as voters have a choice as to whether to raise taxes or find cost savings, government spending levels will better reflect the preferences of each city’s voters.

Finally, Arizonans should be given the opportunity to vote to temporarily raise the state sales tax by no more than 1 cent. The proceeds of this increase would go toward reducing the income tax rate until it reaches zero.

Once the income tax reaches zero, this additional 1 cent sales tax rate add-on could be eliminated as well, bringing it back down to 5.6 percent. Spending discipline over the income tax phasedown period and robust economic growth are essential to making this part of the reform possible.

My cursory reading of Slivinski’s white paper, which was just released on Tuesday, indicates that he really downplayed the extent of the spending cuts he calls for (albeit vaguely) in his Republic op-ed. The five scenarios he proposes for abruptly or gradually ending the income tax suggest far more drastic cuts to government services than Slivinski is letting on to the public.

Maintaining spending discipline might be the single most important aspect of any approach to tax reform.

Of course it might be!

A commenter to the Republic wryly pondered how tuition tax credits to rich parents would be maintained if they no longer had income tax against which to claim them. No worries, Slivinski has that one covered (from Appendix B in the white paper):

The donations that trigger these credits are best seen as a private source of funding for expenses that, in the absence of the donations, would have to be financed by the state government or the school district. So, unlike other tax credits that are meant to subsidize activities, these credits are more properly thought of as reimbursements for people who used money they would have paid in taxes otherwise and directed it instead to a specific public service. This, by definition, frees up room in the budget of those respective governmental entities and the credits are a way of taking some of that surplus and delivering it back to taxpayers.

Yet, property taxes pay finance the vast majority of school budgets so it’s peculiar to administer this program
through the income tax. So, in a world in which there is no income tax, state law should be changed to allow
property tax payers to declare the same credit against their property tax liability.

Slivinski definitely know who pays him. But wait, aren’t these “school choice” tax credit schemes constantly sold as a way for poor families to gain access to better schools? And don’t many of those poor families rent, and not own, the places in which they live? How would such families possibly benefit from Slivinski’s proposal to funnel all the credits to property taxes? Looks like he gave away the game there. Oops.

Center for AZ Policy continues to be terrible

13 May 2015 06:44 am
Posted by: Donna

Unsurprisingly, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, who is reviving the 20 week supposed “pain-capable fetus” abortion ban, has the unflagging support of our state’s most prolific God-botherers, the Center for Arizona Policy.

cap action alert

Note how they claim that 137 post-20 week abortions take place in Arizona with no context outside of “horrors” and Kermit Gosnell. You are to assume that 137 women either capriciously terminated those pregnancies for funsies or they were lured into it by unscrupulous doctors. No mention of pregnancy complications that may have preceded (possibly most) of those procedures. Keep things like this in mind when anti-choicers promise that these bans will include meaningful exceptions for the life or (sometimes) health of the woman. When they act as though all second trimester or later abortions are done for non-therapeutic reasons, as they did here, it’s a signal that abortion foes don’t believe abortion is ever necessary for anything other than “convenience”. They write the laws accordingly.

Trent Franks is being terrible again

12 May 2015 06:23 am
Posted by: Donna

The GOP-led Congress is back with another attempt at banning abortion at 20 weeks. This one is supposed to be an improvement over the one rejected by a few female GOP Reps a couple of months ago over a lack of exceptions for rape and incest. The new version does contain those exceptions but the woman would be required to receive counseling 48 hours prior to the abortion (from a provider approved by the anti-choicers, natch). Gosh, thanks. LifeNews.com explains how the exceptions will be written so as not to leave loopholes for lying harlots to exploit.

After months of wrangling over language, with Ellmers and some other members of Congress siding with her for language that was a more expansive rape exception, House Republicans have finalized the language of the bill in a way that has the support of Ellmers and her colleagues, the backing of pro-life groups and in a manner that should result in a strong pro-life vote that paves the way for Senate consideration.

According to pro-life sources who spoke with LifeNews, the rape exception language will be airtight by requiring some sort of documented medical treatment or counseling 48 hours prior to the abortion (so hopefully the mother has a further chance to weigh abortion alternatives). In addition, such treatment or counseling must be provided by physicians or counselors that are outside of the abortion industry. In cases of rape or incest of a minor, the abuse must first be reported to either social service or law enforcement.

LifeSite also makes clear how anti-choicers are playing their trump card, polls showing majorities of Americans opposing abortion after 20 weeks (particularly if the questions are led with anti-choice garbage “science”) really hard.

A national poll by The Polling Company found that, after being informed that there is scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of feeling pain at least by 20 weeks, 64% would support a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, unless the mother’s life was in danger. Only 30% said they would oppose such a law.

A November 2014 poll from Quinnipiac found that 60 percent of Americans support legislation limiting abortions after 20 weeks, including 56 percent of Independents and 46 percent of Democrats.

It is a testament to the effectiveness of the anti-choice movement and the way that their rhetoric has dominated the discussion about abortion. I doubt most of the respondents to polls realize that women like this one will be caught up in and put in horrifying no-win predicaments by blanket 20 week bans. Instead they likely think these bans will only apply to irresponsible skanks who, for no reason, wait until they’re at least five months pregnant to terminate. It doesn’t work that way but it’s difficult to explain that to people who don’t pay much attention to the anti-choice movement (and that’s most people).

“Fetal pain” is the latest rage in eroding abortion rights and Rep. Franks is furiously hawking that narrative. As with every other anti-choice assertion, it’s a bunch of bullshit, but anti-abortion activists believe that they can use it to dial back the legal standard of viability. Those who think this means going back only to the 20 week limit (found to be so reasonable in polls) might be mistaken, if the language in Franks’ own amendment is any indication (emphasis mine):

(10) The position, asserted by some commentators, that the unborn child remains in a coma-like sleep state that precludes the unborn child experiencing pain is inconsistent with the documented reaction of unborn children to painful stimuli and with the experience of fetal surgeons who have found it necessary to sedate the unborn child with anesthesia to prevent the unborn child from engaging in vigorous movement in reaction to invasive surgery.

(11) Consequently, there is substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier.

(12) It is the purpose of the Congress to assert a compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain.

(13) The compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain is intended to be separate from and independent of the compelling governmental interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage of viability, and neither governmental interest is intended to replace the other.

In other words, fetuses will feel pain whenever anti-choicers decide they do and, once that is enshrined as a legal standard for restricting abortion access, viability will be irrelevant and Roe will be kaput.

Speaking of pain, do you suppose that Trent Franks ever ponders how pregnancy is generally a painful endeavor? Do the various discomforts and (often) excruciating agonies of gestation and delivery visited upon pregnant women enter into their calculations of what the law should be vis a vis pain and forcing women to endure it? Yeah, probably not.

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”