The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

The Abortion Bill in Alabama Would be the Strictest Pro-Life Law in the Country

(Mana Rabiee/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: The Alabama legislature passes the most pro-life law in the nation, Elizabeth Warren refuses to grace Fox News with her presence, and a new poll shows Joe Biden leading President Trump by five points in . . . Arizona.

The Abortion Debate Comes to Alabama

On Tuesday, the Alabama state senate passed H.B. 314 by a 25-6 vote with one abstention. The bill establishes the legal personhood of unborn children and prohibits nearly all abortion. If Republican governor Kay Ivey signs the legislation — which the bill’s supporters anticipate — it would be the strictest pro-life law in the entire country, though it is highly unlikely that it would survive the inevitable legal challenge from abortion-rights groups.

The bill first received national attention earlier this month, when Democratic state representative John Rogers made a gruesome remark explaining his opposition to the bill. “Some kids are unwanted,” Rogers said. “So you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then send them to the electric chair.”

Rogers was roundly and rightly criticized for his comments, including by Alabama’s Democratic senator Doug Jones — though Rogers attests that the senator (who was once Rogers’s attorney) called to tell him privately that he agreed with him but had to condemn him publicly. Jones denies this contention. Rogers announced last week that he’ll challenge Jones for his Senate seat.

Alabama’s effort to pass H. B. 314 takes place against the backdrop of nationwide contention over abortion policy. So far this year, Democratic legislatures in New York, Illinois, Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Nevada, and New Mexico are considering or have passed bills to legalize abortion or loosen abortion restrictions during the last three months of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, in red states such as Ohio, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia, legislatures have passed so-called heartbeat bills, which prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at about six weeks’ gestation. The most recent of these bills, signed by Georgia governor Brian Kemp last week, has faced significant backlash, including a wide range of media coverage insisting that the legislation would prosecute women for having miscarriages and imprison post-abortive women for life — neither of which accurately reflects the substance of the bill. Our own David French has a great summary of why those interpretations are incorrect.

Both heartbeat bills and stricter abortion restrictions such as Alabama’s have little chance of being upheld by courts given the current framework of abortion-rights jurisprudence instantiated by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. But the scathing media coverage that these pro-life laws receive — compared to laws that allow abortion for any reason, even after fetuses are developed enough to survive outside the womb — is telling.

Elizabeth Warren Spurns Fox News

In a Twitter thread on Tuesday, Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced that she had declined an invitation from Fox News to take part in a town-hall event and called the network a “hate-for-profit racket.” Here’s part of what she tweeted:

“I won’t ask millions of Democratic primary voters to tune into an outlet that profits from racism and hate in order to see our candidates,” Warren added in a subsequent tweet. She also touted her many media appearances, claiming to have taken more than 1,100 press questions since January.

Call it a principled stand, but her principles are grounded in over-generalization rather than facts. And, as seems to characterize much of her grandstanding lately, Warren’s stunt is powered by a healthy dose of delusion. Does the senator really believe that her decision not to appear on Fox will have a noticeable effect on the network’s advertising revenue?

Of course not. It’s progressive virtue-signaling, the latest in a long line of decisions from Warren that do little to mark her as a serious politician or contender but a lot to reveal her desperation, as she struggles to rise from the middle of the Democratic pack.

Aside from being facially ridiculous, though, her rejection of Fox’s invitation also might have been a tactical error. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders accepted an invitation from the network in mid April and his appearance was widely considered to have been a resounding success, especially given that some of his rhetoric and policies seem to echo Trump’s, appealing to working-class voters in a way few other Democratic candidates are capable of doing. In fact, a brand-new Morning Consult poll of Democratic-primary voters shows that Fox News viewers are more likely to back Sanders than are MSNBC viewers.

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar has also already participated in a town-hall event on the conservative network. Not two days after Bernie’s Fox town hall, failed Senate candidate and former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke — another Democratic primary contender flailing in the dense mire of the middle-ten candidates — said he’d be willing to appear on the network, too.

South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has dropped in polls recently but remains in contention, also agreed to appear on Fox shortly after the Sanders event. He already has a town hall slated, for this coming Sunday evening, May 19. Even Kirsten Gillibrand, who’s trying to position herself as one of the most progressive candidates in the field, has a Fox town hall scheduled for early June.

But perhaps Warren is content with her decision. To some extent, her effort at virtue-signaling appears to be working: Media Matters president Angelo Carusone praised her decision to reject Fox, calling the network “a destructive, bigoted political-propaganda operation.”

Maybe that’s a win. Warren appears to be running a campaign to appeal to Media Matters, and hardly anyone else.

New Poll Shows Biden Leading Trump in Arizona

New polling from OHPI finds that former vice president Joe Biden is leading President Trump by five points in Arizona, 49 to 44 percent. In the 2016 general election, Trump won the state’s eleven electoral votes by a margin of 3.5 percentage points over Hillary Clinton.

The OHPI survey tested the top six Democratic candidates against the Republican president — Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, and Elizabeth Warren — and found that Biden was the only one leading Trump. Warren was the next closest, coming in with 42 percent to Trump’s 47.

Here’s what National Journal politics editor Josh Kraushaar had to say about the poll this morning:

In recent years, Republicans have struggled to balance the energy of their activist base with the pragmatism necessary to win over [Arizona’s] critical mass of suburban independents.

At the same time, Democrats are eyeing Arizona as a critical political prize that could make or break their national ambitions. Win Arizona, and the party could withstand a Rust Belt stumble in Wisconsin. . . .

There have been some troubling signs for Arizona Republicans in recent weeks. A statewide poll showed Joe Biden leading Trump by 5 points—with the president failing to hit 50 percent against any of the prospective Democratic challengers (including Bernie Sanders). . . .

“Joe Biden would create a real race here in Arizona,” said Arizona-based GOP operative Barrett Marson. “There’s substantial dissatisfaction with the president among independents and Republican-leaners.” . . .

The upcoming elections in Arizona will also be a test of the salience of two key issues driving Arizona politics: immigration and gun control. Both issues have traditionally played to the GOP’s advantage.

Given that Biden is leading the Democratic field by a substantial margin in nearly every national poll, and most polls out of states with early primaries, this latest general-election survey will likely make Trump supporters a little uneasy.

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