May 16, 2019 - Thursday
An Ivey League of Pro-Lifers
Is that a threat or a promise? Either way, Alabamians probably had a good chuckle. When their governor signed the Human Rights Protection Act into law, the ACLU thought its tweet would have the state shaking in its boots. "You can't say we didn't warn you @GovernorKayIvey. See you in court." Well, obviously, the Left wasn't paying attention, since that was whole point! When Governor Ivey (R) signed the state's abortion ban into law, she did it with one eye on the unborn -- and the other on the U.S. Supreme Court. If liberals sue, she knows as well as we do: they'll be doing pro-lifers a favor.
Before the ink was even dry on America's most complete abortion ban, radicals like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) were on the warpath, spouting all kinds of craziness about conservatives and the law. At one point, she appeared to be totally confused or outright lying, insisting that Alabama would be locking up mothers for ending their pregnancies. When people started calling her out, she blamed Twitter's limitations for the misunderstanding. Give me a break, Liz Wheeler replied. "280 characters is plenty of room to tell truth. It'd never be a felony for women. Period." The former bartender would not be deterred. This is the church's fault anyway, she dodged. "U.S. religious fundamentalists are working hard to outlaw sex that falls outside their theology." Funny, I thought her party was the one on the sex strike.
Meanwhile, Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) didn't exactly make the best case for his reelection. The Democrat, who's seat is up next year, said he "refuse[d] to believe that these Republican men represent the views of most Alabamians. Their action is both unconstitutional and shameful." For starters, the bill was written by a woman -- and signed into law by a woman. Secondly, 59 percent of Alabama supported the law he just called "shameful." I'm not a campaign consultant, but is insulting that many voters really the smartest strategy heading into 2020?
For a bill supposedly so "extreme," it had overwhelming support. Only nine out of all 108 legislators voted against it. That's as close to a consensus as it gets. When Governor Ivey says that this is "a powerful testament to Alabamians' deeply held beliefs that every life is precious," she's right. Just last November, the state streamed into polling places to put their seal of approval on Amendment 2, which said that unborn children are entitled to every protection under the law. There were no exceptions there either. So as much as Alabama leaders don't want to slog through a long legal battle, they know: this law can't go into effect without a challenge.
Eric Johnston, who founded the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition, told me yesterday on "Washington Watch" that the state will do anything to protect the lives of unborn children. If that means a showdown in the courts, so be it. Sometimes, I think the states are too preoccupied with how they think judges will or won't do. In Alabama, leaders decided that if the court doesn't like their abortion ban, then they can take it up -- but it's not going to stop elected officials from doing what they think is right.
In this case, that also includes taking out every exception but one: the health of the mother. Some people think that's radical. Eric disagrees. "You can't draw a distinction between what a person is and what the person is not because of the way they're conceived," he said, referring to the fact that there isn't a loophole for rape or incest. "If you conceive through consent or by accident or you're conceived through rape or incest or artificial insemination, the product is still a person. And so you can't say that this person is protected and that one's not. That would be inconsistent and disingenuous to try to do that. That's what we had explained to the legislature."
Of course, as he understands, "the rape and incest exceptions are very emotional ones." There was debate, he explained, about 12-year-old girls having babies. "You know, those are things that really pulled on our heartstrings and we really want to deal with. But you don't say, 'Well, abort that baby, that solves a problem. Those are a limited number of cases as well... [W]omen need compassion... [they need] assistance of all kinds, but we can't go to court and try to say that Roe was wrong if we try to put exceptions in a bill that says some people aren't people. That doesn't make sense."
The timing is right, legal experts agree. "Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973," Governor Ivey said. "The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter." Good for Alabama. Go for broke.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.