First, the good news: The Alabama ballot referendum we discussed last week, which, if approved by voters in November, would've amended the state's constitution to codify fetuses as persons, is "essentially dead" at this point. This according to Republican state representative Ed Henry, the bill's sponsor and author.
The bill would've criminalized abortion in Alabama as a form of murder, though specific punishments against women who have the procedure aren't enumerated in the text. Democrats in the state House successfully filibustered the bill, stalling it long enough to hit the end of the legislative session. Of course, it can always be reintroduced next time, and knowing how viral these anti-choice laws have become, we shouldn't expect it to completely go away.
Indeed, the notion of fetal personhood is one of the most pervasive reproductive Jim Crow laws being actively peddled at both the state and federal levels. Rand Paul, whose libertarianism ends at women's reproductive systems, has twice introduced fetal personhood amendments in the U.S. Senate, and we can anticipate many more attempts as time goes on, chiefly due to the fact that it's the ultimate anti-choice stab at ending legal abortions, while leading us closer to prosecuting women who retain control over their uteruses as murderers at best and participating in a genocide at worst.
Yes, that was the good news.
While the rest of us are obsessively refreshing Nate Silver's primary forecasts -- as well as simultaneously engaging in Twitter wars over the presidential candidates -- only seven states are controlled by Democratic governors backed with Democratic state legislatures. Twenty-three states, meanwhile, are fully controlled by Republicans, while the rest are divided between the parties. In other words, the presidential race seems comparatively trivial in relation to a roster of serious issues, including reproductive rights, Medicaid expansion, voting rights and, as we're witnessing in North Carolina and elsewhere, LGBT rights -- just to name a few.
And now, the bad news.
In Oklahoma, one of the states fully controlled by the GOP, legislators quietly passed a bill that would strip doctors who perform abortions of their medical licenses. The only exception noted in the legislation is for abortions in cases of life-threatening complications for pregnant mothers. So far, the bill has yet to be signed by the state's Republican governor, Mary Fallin, who is an anti-choice extremist who believes in personhood and 14th Amendment protections for the unborn, while opposing embryonic stem cell research. It's also worth reporting that Fallin pledged to de-fund Planned Parenthood based on a series of deceptively-edited videos, even though they've been debunked by multiple nonpartisan fact-checkers, as well as numerous red-state investigations.
Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President, Dawn Laguens, said about the bill, “This is a ban on abortion, plain and simple. Punishing doctors for performing a legal, medical procedure is an assault on women.” She continued, “As a health care provider, we have seen the very real and very disastrous impact these bills have on women's lives. Women are forced to drive hundreds of miles, and across state lines. Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of this extreme agenda.”