Freedom to marry

By EDITORIAL  |  June 30, 2011

Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama have all in recent months passed anti-choice laws that ban abortion after 20 weeks.

Similar legislation is pending in Iowa, whose February caucuses next year mark the official start of the 2012 electoral battle for the White House.

These laws contravene guidelines established by the Supreme Court, which has held that abortions can be performed up until the time when the fetus is viable outside of the womb, usually starting around the 24th week of pregnancy.

As such, these state measures should be declared unconstitutional.

The risk in bringing the measure before the Supreme Court is that the four-member right-wing block might persuade the more centrist conservative Anthony Kennedy to join them.

Kennedy voted with the majority in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed reproductive choice for women. In 2007, however, he backpedaled, authoring the majority decision that upheld the federal partial-birth-abortion ban.

In a worst-case scenario, Kennedy might totally rethink his position and vote to repeal Roe, or effectively gut it.

The six states that have rolled back the clock on legal abortion by at least a month are all players in a larger campaign intended to nullify Roe. (Massachusetts has adopted legislation that would maintain the right to abortion if the day ever came when it was abolished nationally.)

This is the increasingly tenuous string that maintains freedom of choice in America in the 21st century.


The Republican-appointed majority of the Supreme Court that last year abolished all regulation governing corporate and union political spending has invalidated an Arizona law that provided extra cash to candidates who rely on public funds rather than private backers to pay for their campaigns.

The Arizona law was intended to promote the participation of independent and non-aligned candidates. It was adopted in 1998 in the wake of a spate of political scandals involving legislators who sold their votes to corporate interests.

In effect, the five conservative judges ruled that trying to create a more level playing field for the underfunded violated the free-speech rights of those with big bankrolls.

Sleep tight, America.

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