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MAY 16, 2022
Kuttner on TAP
Alito Outs and Splits the Republicans
His draft opinion overturning Roe’ has the anti-abortion movement in frantic damage control mode. Will the spin work?
Until the leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft decision May 2, overturning Roe v. Wade, Republican state legislators were on a roll, enacting ever more draconian laws interfering with women’s health in the name of the rights of a fetus. The repeal of Roe would explicitly allow all of this, and more.

In Texas, doctors are reporting that the state’s recent law is making it much more difficult to treat women after a miscarriage. The doctor is made responsible for assuring that the miscarriage wasn’t actually a deliberate abortion, and becomes an agent of a police state rather than a caregiver to women.

In Louisiana, legislation was fast-tracked to define a woman who had an abortion as a murderer, vulnerable to prosecution for homicide. Republicans and their allies in the anti-abortion movement, enraged about the possibility of sanctuary states helping women from jurisdictions that prohibit abortion, have been planning national legislation to prohibit abortion everywhere.

But the leak of the Alito draft has thrown the Republican propaganda machine abruptly into reverse. Polling shows that most voters outside hardcore “right to life” country are appalled by such measures. So the GOP is frantically trying to brand itself as kinder and gentler to women, even to women who have abortions.

Following a flash round of polling, the NRSC put out talking points, including this whopper: “Republicans DO NOT want to throw doctors and women in jail. Mothers should be held harmless under the law.” But of course Republicans in several states do hold doctors criminally responsible, and some would prosecute women as well.

After frantic consultations, the Louisiana bill was quickly pulled and killed. The head of the National Right to Life Committee went on a charm offensive, terming women who have abortions as victims worthy of compassion. Several anti-abortion groups have put out a letter urging states not to criminalize actions of women.

This raises some intriguing questions. First, will voters see through this patent BS?

Second, will Republican message discipline hold? For every Republican willing to trim the party’s story on abortion, there is another who wants to double down on punitive measures. It is the purists who will end up in Democrats’ campaign ads, embarrassing GOP candidates trying to downplay the entire party’s extremism on women’s health.

Thanks to Alito’s zealotry, Republicans have outed themselves. They are caught between what they really believe and the dread knowledge that most Americans don’t agree with them.

The Age of Rationing
From pandemic supply chain snarls to baby formula shortages, we forgot that physical production isn’t magic, and we need to engineer it for stability. BY DAVID DAYEN
Hell in Amy’s Kitchen
The ‘socially responsible’ company downplays the flood of complaints from its largely Latina workforce, but has paid over $100,000 to OSHA for multiple health and safety violations. BY JAROD FACUNDO
Federal Highway Removal Program Raises Hopes in California
But transit advocates and local leaders in communities of color worry that new infrastructure plans could repeat the harms of the past. BY CLAIRE WANG
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