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Republicans Ignore Science and the Supreme Court in New Anti-Abortion Bill | The Nation

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William Greider

William Greider

The fragile and faltering state of American democracy.

Republicans Ignore Science and the Supreme Court in New Anti-Abortion Bill

Abortion-rights activists march towards the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, January 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Republicans have once again rolled their old war horse out of the barn for another run at the Constitution. This time the anti-abortion crowd has decided the viability of a fetus outside the womb should be twenty weeks, defying scientific evidence and the Supreme Court‘s settled judgment in repeated cases. Never mind, once again House Republicans oblige by passing the measure, this time accompanied by sly little sex jokes about masturbating male fetuses.

And then what? And then nothing. Talk about masturbation—this is an empty ritual the old bulls of the GOP have been performing for forty years, ever since Roe v. Wade. Sometimes they have even gotten a law enacted. But the story ends the same way—rejection by the Supreme Court, conservative though it is. This time there won’t be any new law, since Senate Democrats won’t allow it. Yet the juggernaut cranks up for another run.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of an anti-abortion political action group, called the House vote “historic.” Activists boast that they are winning big at the state level. Fourteen states so far this year have enacted a storm of newly restrictive laws at the state level, suggesting that the anti-abortion cause is cresting anew.

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Actually, no. If you look at those fourteen states—from Alabama to Utah—they are pretty much the same states that have been doing this for decades, mostly under-populated and rural. I did a little “back of the envelope” calculation and determined that the fourteen states represent 15 percent of the US population, 47 million out of 308 million.

Many of the states are also from the Deep South. That region has lots of experience defying Supreme Court decisions—the experience of losing in the long run.

Why does Aiyana Jones’s death matter? Read Mychal Denzel Smith’s argument here.

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