Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Alaska Paradox

While there are notable exceptions (Louisiana is often listed as the most anti-abortion state and its proposed abortion restrictions are arguably the most extreme), there doesn't seem to be much correlation between the support for abortion in red states and the nature of the laws being proposed.

Oklahoma is moderately pro-choice and yet it basically photocopied the Texas law, complete with bounties.

Ohio is solidly pro-choice and it produced this:

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade by upholding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, then HB 598 would immediately begin.

The bill’s sponsor Rep. Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Loveland, gave her sponsor testimony and answered questions for an hour.

The bill would
Prohibits a person from purposely causing an abortion by using a “substance” or an “instrument” or other means.
Makes criminal abortion a felony in the fourth degree. 
Prohibits any person from making, selling or advertising tools to cause an abortion.
Makes “promoting” abortion a first-degree misdemeanor.
Creates the crime of abortion manslaughter, which is when a person takes the life of a child born from an attempted abortion who is alive when removed from the pregnant person’s uterus.
Makes abortion manslaughter a felony of the first degree.
The penalties
Minimum of four to seven years and a maximum of 25 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 for abortion manslaughter.
Minimum of one-half to two years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500 for criminal abortion.
However, the bill does grant immunity from prosecution for abortion manslaughter, criminal abortion or promoting abortion to the person who attempted an abortion or succeeded in an abortion. This individual would also be able to sue for wrongful death for violation of crimes of abortion manslaughter, criminal abortion or promoting abortion.

The intense back and forth between [Richard Brown (D-Canal Winchester)] and Schmidt revolved around the lack of exemptions for rape and incest.
“So under this bill, if a 13-year-old girl, let’s say, was raped by a serial rapist, broke into her house, or maybe more likely raped by a family member, which occurs frequently — unfortunately, this bill would require this 13-year-old to carry this felons fetus to term, regardless of any emotional or psychological damage or trauma that may be inflicted upon this 13-year-old girl to deliver this, felons a fetus. Is that right?” he asked.
Schmidt responded and said that rape is a difficult issue.
“It’s a shame that it happens, but there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is,” she said. 
The opportunity — which would be the only option — is to deliver that baby.

There are a number of other pro-choice red states, but one stands out as the very last place that, according to conventional political wisdom, the Republicans should be willing to poke this bear, Alaska. 

Alaska is more pro-choice than California. "Alaska was one of only four states to make abortion legal between 1967 and 1970, a few years before the US Supreme Court's decision in 1973's Roe v. Wade ruling." On top of that, the GOPs hold on the state is surprisingly limited. Over 57% of registered voters are unaffiliated. For complicated reasons, Republicans share control over the house in the state legislature. You would not expect party loyalty to protect the GOP from unpopular policies. Abortion ought to be the one issue they'd like to avoid. 

I'm not going to try to speculate at this point about what's driving this, let alone whether it's politically wise. This could be anything from the GOP conducting a bold and savvy attack to a dysfunctional party playing six-bullet Russian Roulette.

I will say that perhaps the most interesting places in the current political landscape are the pro-choice red states, and smart people should be paying attention.

All of this ties into the Arkansas Paradox, which will be coming to a blog near you soon.

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