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Posts Tagged ‘John Robbins’

Abortion_AL

Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House in Montgomery on May 14, 2019.
REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

“What angers me about the GOP’s attempts to turn the United States into a far-right Christian theocracy is how dishonest they are about it. At least be forthright about your desire to subvert and dismantle our democracy into a creepy theological order led by a mad king.”

    – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D) New York, Twitter, 5/17/19

It seems as if America is on course for an abortion show down. A sort of Roe v. Wade version of pistols at noon.

In January of this year, the first shot in the latest iteration of the ongoing abortion war fired by the New York State Legislature when it passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). If ever a bill was fast tracked, this one certainly was. According to Wikipedia, the bill was introduced into the New York State Legislature on January 9, 2019, passed by both houses on January 22, and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo that same evening.

The RHA, widely considered the nation’s most liberal abortion law, changed New York’s abortion laws in the following ways:

  • Removed abortion from the state’s criminal code
  • Allows medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions
  • To the states statue allowing abortion in the third trimester if the mother’s health is threatened, the bill adds language permitting abortion in the third trimester if the fetus in not viable

In Virginia, a bill was introduced earlier this year that would have greatly liberalized abortion in that state. When asked in a radio interview about the whether the bill would allow a fetus surviving abortion to be killed, Governor Ralph Northam created a major controversy with his answer that lent support to allowing such an infant to die.

In sharp contrast to New York and Governor Northam, just this week the Alabama State Legislature passed, and the governor signed, what is viewed as the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. The Alabama law makes it a felony offense for doctors to perform or attempt to perform an abortion, allows no exceptions for rape of incest, but does permit abortions in the event the mother’s life is at risk.

But while Alabama’s law is the most restrictive state-level abortion statute, other states have recently enacted legislation that will have the effect of significantly reducing abortions. In 2019 five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio – have passed heartbeat bills, legislation designed to prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. Together with Alabama, this makes eight states in 2019 that have taken legislative action to restrict abortion.

Very clearly, when it comes to abortion America is a deeply divided nation.

With a majority conservative Supreme Court, it may well be, as several legal commentators have suggested, that state-level Republican legislators and governors have passed and signed into law these bills with an eye to challenging Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion in all fifty states.

If these laws are challenged in court, as they surely will be, it is entirely possible that the challenges could begin working their way through the federal court system just as the 2020 presidential election is coming to a head. If that happens, abortion could become the lightening rod of the 2020 presidential election.

Below are a few of my observations on brewing conflict.

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FP-Monroe Doctrine

1896 political cartoon depicting the Monroe Doctrine.

“In this administration, we’re not afraid to use the phrase ‘Monroe Doctrine.’ This [Venezuela] is a country in our hemisphere; it’s been the objective of presidents going back to Ronald Reagan to have a completely democratic hemisphere.”

    – White House national security adviser John Bolton

In at appearance earlier this month on CNN, national security adviser John Bolton expressed to host Jake Tapper the policy justification behind the Trump administration’s open attempt to overthrow Nicholas Maduro, the elected president of Venezuela, whom Bolton had earlier referred to in a Tweet as a “dictator.” Bolton based the argument for his and the administration’s stance on Maduro on the Monroe Doctrine, a historic foreign policy tenet of the United States dating back to the 1820’s.

Many Americans have a vague sense of the Monroe Doctrine, that it has something to do with the US keeping overseas powers out of the Western Hemisphere. There’s truth to this, of course. But is that all the Monroe Doctrine is about? Many think so. Interestingly, Bolton did not assert this aspect of the Monroe Doctrine, instead arguing that the Monroe Doctrine was about US presidents, going back to Ronald Reagan, ensuring that all nations in the Western Hemisphere have democratic governments.

On Friday, Bolton issued a statement concerning Russian military personnel in Venezuela that sounded more like a traditional understanding of the Monroe Doctrine. As Reuters reports, Bolton warned Russia about its military presence in Venezuela, saying the US would consider as a “direct threat” any attempt by Russia to establish or expand its military activities in that country.

No doubt, Russia’s military presence in Venezuela ups the ante in an already tense situation. Further, a European power’s entry into oil-rich, and therefore strategic, Venezuela certainly seems to be a challenge to Washington’s ability to enforce the Monroe Doctrine.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the Monroe Doctrine to see if its current use by the Administration is in keeping with its actual terms.

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