It’s always half shocking, half hilarious how animated the left side of the political aisle gets over the subject of abortion. They’ve been hiding under rocks over the plight of women in Afghanistan, and they’re seemingly fine with Jeffrey Toobin offering his thoughts on-air at CNN again. But the Supreme Court decides to stay out of Texas’ decision-making rights to pass laws related to abortion and the howling begins anew.
So let’s clear a few things up about the Texas abortion bill. It’s not a ban on abortion. It just reduces the amount of time people have to get one. And it does something else that I think is proximate cause of the freakout: it allows private citizens to sue if people violate the law. As I understand it, providers won’t be arrested or face any jail time, they just could find themselves sued for up to 10K.
I mean…if you don’t like the bill, you have to admit that’s fairly genius.
Since the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade, US women have had the right to an abortion until a foetus is viable – that is, able to survive outside the womb. This is usually between 22 and 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
The so-called Texas Heartbeat Act prohibits abortions after six weeks of a pregnancy – at a point when many women do not know they are pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said the term “heartbeat” is misleading, and that what is being detected at this stage is “a portion of the foetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo develops”.
The Texas law enforces its ban with an uncommon approach: it empowers any private citizen to sue anyone who “aids and abets” an illegal abortion.
The legislation makes an exception in the case of medical emergency, which requires written proof from a doctor, but not for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
Texan women who wish to have an abortion after six weeks will need to travel across state lines, or – as estimated by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute – an average of 248 miles (399km).
Of course Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats are rushing to codify Roe v. Wade into law so it’s not at the mercy of the courts, but I don’t sense a ton of passion behind their efforts. The overreach — their associated bill would basically allow abortion on demand up to the time of birth — is always a sign they think they may have lost and are just hail-marying to appease their constituents and donors.
And then there’s Hollywood who is threatening — get this — to boycott Texas.
When you’ve stopped laughing, you can read their threats in Variety.
As precedent shows, however, there are more meaningful measures that the entertainment community can take as a form of protest. In 2019, a similar measure in Georgia sought to ban abortion after six weeks (or at the detection of a fetal heartbeat). Georgia is a massive production hub known for generous tax incentives, and Hollywood contributes billions to the state economy annually, so the industry intended to weaponize its checkbook to rattle lawmakers.
Bob Iger, at the time the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, said the company would likely pack up and move in solidarity with its female workforce. Netflix, a massive spender on original production, was the first to blink and said it would “rethink its investment” in the state should the Georgia heartbeat become law. Kristen Wiig and Lionsgate yanked the “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” shoot weeks before cameras were set to roll. The Georgia law was later struck down in higher courts. A similar corporate backlash took place when Georgia enacted voting rights laws that critics said were designed to suppress turnout among voters of color. In response, Major League Baseball relocated the All-Star Game from the state and corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines decried the move.
Last I checked, Georgia’s doing ok. All you did was make them more mistrustful of your agendas and probably won a few converts to the conservative side.
I dig deeper into all this on today’s show. There’s also some discussion of the joyful, “Only Murders in the Building,” which you should definitely watch over this long weekend.
I’m going to the beach.