Health Care

What Does an Abortionist Look Like?

(AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Joe Mahoney)

She’s a single, unemployed mother with three children who finds out that she’s pregnant—just after the father has been sent to prison. She says she is distraught at the idea of hurting her kids by adding another child to the family, giving each of them less money, time, and attention, dragging them further into poverty. But she lives in rural southeastern Idaho, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the nearest clinic in Salt Lake City—and getting an abortion would require two round trips there, because of the mandatory waiting period.

So she takes RU-486, ordered online, self-supervised. She freaks out at the fetus’s size, stashes it on her back porch, tells a friend, and gets reported to the police.

And, is promptly arrested for inducing her own abortion.

Mapping the ACA

(Flickr/GenBug)

Via Sarah Kliff, here's a great graphic from Kaiser Family Foundation laying out how funds from the Affordable Care Act are being distributed across the country:

 

chart

What's in a Name?

(Flickr/LaDawna's pics)

Liberals often complain about the Democrats’ seeming inability to message their ideas with the same consistency and verve as conservatives. It just never seems like the party has the same discipline in its talking points. Congressional Dems' messaging during the health-care reform legislation in 2009 is a case in point. Rather than taking their cues from Republicans (despite the atrocious polices it entailed, naming a bill the PATRIOT Act immediately after 9/11 was a genius tactic), Democrats went for the unmemorably named "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." It’s not like Democrats are clueless to such tricks—the campaign finance disclosure bill they’ve proposed after Citizens United had the fitting acronym DISCLOSE—they just didn’t bother in this instance.

Of Course a Decision Striking Down the ACA Would Be "Judicial Activism"

WikiMedia commons.

Orin Kerr outlines a five-part test for whether a decision can be called "judicial activism" as a means of assessing whether the label could be fairly applied to a decision striking down the Affordable Care Act. Roughly, the criteria are: 1) whether the decision was motivated by the policy preferences of judges; 2) whether it expands judicial power for future cases; 3) whether it was inconsistent with past precedents; 4) whether it struck down a "law or practice"; and 5) whether the decision was "wrong." On three of the first four criteria, Kerr essentially agrees that a decision striking down the ACA would be "activist." On points No. 3 and No.

Judicial Review Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

(AP Photo / J. David Ake)

Last night while I was asleep, highly placed sources whom I cannot identify (because they don’t exist) assured me that Attorney General Eric Holder originally wrote this first draft of a letter he was ordered to submit to Judge Jerry Smith of the Fifth Circuit. The final letter has quite a different tone. But those of us who cherish the rule of law can dream that he might have actually sent Judge Smith the following instead.

Judge Jerry E. Smith
Circuit Judge
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Dear Judge Smith,

Three Roads from the Supreme Court

None of the options for health-care reform is ideal, but the most likely path forward would be through action in the states.

(AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Sitting in the Supreme Court on March 27, I was stunned by the oral argument on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). From their first questions to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the conservative justices seemed to echo the arguments against the individual mandate that the opposing lawyers had set out in their briefs. When it was over, I was not 100 percent sure that Justice Anthony Kennedy would vote to overturn the mandate and related penalties. But if he does, the Court may well strike down the law’s other critical provisions, staging what amounts to a conservative judicial coup.

The Long Moral View

Map of the uninsured by NPR

Someday, all Americans will have access to health care, just as all people in Germany and France and Japan and Sweden and every other advanced industrialized democracy do today. It may take a decade or two after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014 (if it survives the whims of Anthony Kennedy) to fill in the gaps the law leaves behind, or it may take decades beyond that. But it will surely happen eventually. And at some point after it does, we'll come to a consensus as a society that it was a collective moral failure that we allowed things to be otherwise for so long.

In New York, a Bipartisan Call for Reproductive Rights

(Flickr/M. Markus)

A few weeks ago, Teresa Sayward did the unthinkable. The New York state Republican assembly woman told a state news program that she'd consider voting for Obama. "I really, truly think that the candidates that are out there today for the Republican side would take women back decades," she said on Capitol Tonight. 

Don't Wish For Judicial Overreach

Wikimedia Commons.

Given the hostility the Republican appointees on the Supreme Court showed to the Affordable Care Act during oral arguments this week, some progressives are seeking a silver lining. At least, some have argued, striking down the ACA would substantially undermine the legitimacy of the conservative-dominated federal courts.

After the Affordable Care Act

Flickr/José Goulão

Today, the members of the Supreme Court will meet in private to begin deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act, and the millions of Americans whose lives and futures stand to be made more secure because of the ACA. It's entirely possible that Anthony Kennedy will discover some place in his heart where integrity and a respect for the true role of the Court are supposed to be and the Act will be upheld, but at the moment you won't find too many people willing to bet on it.

So I'd like to spend a few moments working through what might happen if the Court takes the middle course, which could be the most likely—striking down the individual mandate, but leaving the rest of the law intact—both in the short and long term.

Predicting the Supreme Court Vote

Flickr

This is from political scientist Michael Evans, and was originally posted to a law and courts listserv.  I thank him for sending it along:

*****

I was curious about the relative number of words directed at the two sides in yesterday’s oral argument and thought the results would be of interest here.

The Nine Circles of the ACA

(Flickr/diacritical)

Nobody was doing well by the time oral arguments in the Health Care cases ended at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Some Justices were sniping back and forth. The lawyers were showing the strain.

And Justice Antonin Scalia was telling jokes. 

“[Y]ou know—the old Jack Benny thing, Your Money or Your Life, and, you know, he says ‘I'm thinking, I'm thinking,’” Scalia said from the bench. “It's—it's funny, because it's no choice. ... But ‘your life or your wife’s,’ I could refuse that.”

“He’s not going home tonight,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor threw in as the crowd laughed.

How Far Will the Supreme Court Go?

"Balls and strikes" my ass. (Flickr/DonkeyHotey)

Just a few days ago, most people including me) thought that while Thomas, Scalia, and Alito might display their naked partisanship in deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act, both Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts, concerned with maintaining the Court's legitimacy and integrity, would surely uphold the law. And now after the spectacle the justices made of themselves for three days, everyone seems certain that the law is doomed, in whole or in part. And it really was a spectacle, one in which, as E.J. Dionne says, the "conservative justices are prepared to act as an alternative legislature, diving deeply into policy details as if they were members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee." What, you thought the Supreme Court's job wasn't to decide if they personally like a particular law, but whether it's constitutional? How quaint. Justice Scalia even asked whether if the government can regulate the insurance industry, it can make you buy broccoli, as though he had been watching Sean Hannity the night before and said, "Oo, that's clever—I'm going to use that one!"

So let me turn around the question conservatives have been asking about the mandate. If the Supreme Court will strike down this law that every sane and knowledgeable observer, both Republicans and Democrats, understands is obviously and clearly within Congress' power (see here, for example), what won't they do?...

Obama Rallies the Planned Parenthood Troops

(Photo: screenshot from Planned Parenthood video)

Republicans haven't been quite as eager to moralize against contraception after Rush Limbaugh gave voice to their true feelings, but Democrats aren't ready to let their argument that the GOP is waging a war on women slip by the wayside. Mitt Romney, a candidate who rarely seems comfortable when the discussion strays from the economy, is hoping that the issue will become a non-factor once he officially dismisses Rick Santorum and heads to the general election. Barack Obama clearly has a different view. The president issued a new subtle attack yesterday in a video where he directly addresses supporters of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Anti-Abortion Measures Die with a Whimper

(Flickr/World Can't Wait)

Women's health and abortion access have dominated state legislatures across the country and, until recently, dominated the headlines as well. But as legislative sessions are wrapping up and final decisions get made, there's been less focus on the issues. Perhaps it's because, in several cases, the bills are dying with whimpers instead of bangs.

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