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    LAPD Held Down Keenan Anderson, Repeatedly Tased Him — Then Suggested His Death Was His Own Fault / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 17 January - 21:13 · 4 minutes

People mourn Keenan Anderson in Santa Monica, CA on Jan. 14, 2022. A protester takes to the streets demanding justice for Keenan Anderson who died while in LAPD custody on Jan 3, 2023. (Photo by Jacob Lee Green/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

People mourn Keenan Anderson in Santa Monica, Calif., on Jan. 14, 2022.

Photo: Jacob Lee Green/Sipa via AP

The Los Angeles Police Department is pushing the narrative that Keenan Anderson — a 31-year-old Black teacher, who LAPD cops held down and repeatedly tased as he begged for his life — is responsible for his own death.

Preliminary toxicology tests, performed on Anderson’s body by the police department itself, found traces of cannabinoids and cocaine metabolite in his system – results that in no way mitigate the extreme violence inflicted on Anderson by the police ahead of his January 3 death.

The drug tests were not released as part of an official autopsy; the Los Angeles County coroner’s office is still investigating Anderson’s death and has not yet ruled on its exact medical cause. Instead, the LAPD conducted its own drug tests and announced the results in an unambiguous effort to denigrate and blame its victim, the third man of color killed by the department in the few short weeks of 2023 alone.

There’s nothing surprising about this sort of police practice. The idea that drug possession or use by Black people creates grounds enough to warrant police violence, even deadly violence, has undergirded half a century of U.S. policing. Cops from the department that murdered George Floyd attempted to blame his death on the fentanyl found present in his system, too, but thankfully without success.

If Anderson’s official autopsy undermines police claims that drugs played a role in his death, it would be a relief, but not a victory. Instead, the very willingness of the LAPD to release its toxicology report speaks to a much broader problem: the certain confidence in the public’s willingness to demonize and blame Black victims. If such racist narratives around drugs weren’t readily available, the police department wouldn’t have bothered releasing the toxicology results at all.

That the LAPD is confidently deploying this public relations tactic nearly three years after Floyd’s death is a grim reflection of how little has changed.

This should come as no surprise, either: The uprisings that followed Floyd’s murder were met with harsh state repression in the streets, aided by disavowals and dismissals across the media and political mainstream. The Democratic lawmakers who knelt ludicrously in kente cloth to signal their anti-racist credentials are the same leaders who have rejected every serious attempt to reckon with the racist violence that defines U.S. policing.

The reality of U.S. policing persists as a continuous, unrepentant, and reform-resistant threat to Black lives.

Calls to defund the police were deemed electorally radioactive, demands to abolish the police derided as delusional, police budgets further swelled, and impunity has continued to reign.

Police killed 1,176 people in 2022 — more killings than in any of the last 10 years. And while racial justice organizers and abolitionists continue to fight, the mass rebellions of 2020 were aggressively drained of political potency by an array of counterinsurgent forces, from mass arrests, media demonization, and, crucially, the complete and cowardly abandonment by liberal politicians on the city , state , and federal levels.

I don’t doubt pollsters’ findings, that voters in 2020 were turned off by the term “defund,” but I’m not interested in relitigating debates around electoral slogans. What matters is that the reality of U.S. policing persists as a continuous, unrepentant, and reform-resistant threat to Black lives.

It should go without saying that the presence of drug traces in Anderson’s blood should in no way shift culpability for his death away from the police. Anderson died following a brutal interaction with police officers he had flagged down to ask for assistance after a traffic collision. Friends and relatives said Anderson was undergoing a mental health crisis — a tragically common circumstance of deaths in police custody.

As released body cam footage showed, Anderson was chased and pinned down in the middle of the street. Two LAPD officers held him down, one with an elbow on his neck, then a knee dug into his back while he was handcuffed, and another cop stood over him with a Taser gun, shooting him with its electric charge — directly in the back — again and again, for a total of over 90 seconds. Anderson was then taken to hospital, where he died around four hours later.

The presence of drugs in Anderson’s system doesn’t even mean that he was high at the time of his interaction with police. Cocaine metabolite can stay in a person’s system for days. More to the point, Anderson certainly didn’t die of a cocaine overdose: These almost exclusively happen while taking the drug, not after hours in a hospital following physical violence and extensive electrocution suffered at the hands of police.

Even as city residents are terrorized, police consume enormous amounts of these communities’ resources. The LAPD received $1.8 billion in city funding last year, 29 times higher than the city’s housing budget, amid a perilous homelessness crisis. Bloated police budgets have not diminished crime but simply expanded the potential for police interactions in which a civilian can be treated as criminal and face violence. Racist police logics maintain a stranglehold over U.S. political norms. Otherwise, it would be — as it should be — beyond doubt that the police are wholly responsible for Keenan Anderson’s death.

The post LAPD Held Down Keenan Anderson, Repeatedly Tased Him — Then Suggested His Death Was His Own Fault appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Why Queer Communities Are Welcoming Armed Anti-Fascist Protection / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 29 November - 22:31 · 5 minutes

COLORADO SPRING, CO - NOVEMBER 21: Police crime tape is still surrounding the scene of the shooting outside of Club Q on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. An attacker opened fire in a gay nightclub late Saturday night killing five people and wounding at least 25, officials said. The club said the suspect was subdued by patrons and Colorado Springs police said he was taken into custody and hospitalized for treatment of his injuries. Colorado Springs police Chief Adrian Vasquez identified the suspect as 22-year old Anderson Lee Aldrich. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Police crime tape surrounds the scene of the mass shooting outside of Club Q on November 21, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Co.

Photo: Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Over the weekend, the paper of record’s editorial board described a “chilling preview of what the future might look like if violence from the right begets violence from the left.”

The event that precipitated those fears at the New York Times offices in Manhattan? A would-be showdown that never was at a Roanoke, Texas, restaurant’s family-friendly drag brunch. An armed far-right group, including Proud Boys and self-identifying “Christian fascists,” turned up to harass brunch-goers — a sadly commonplace form of fascistic intimidation that’s hardly news.

Instead, what concerned the Times about this event was that the armed fascists were met and obstructed by armed anti-fascists, who had been asked by members of the local community to provide security for the brunch.

In the end, no one was hurt in this alleged portent of political violence and the restaurant owner’s son, a performer at the drag brunch, thanked the anti-fascists of the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club for “keeping us safe.”

Just a week had passed since the Club Q massacre, which left five attendees of an LGBTQ club dead, when the Times decided to draw an equivalence between the fascists who threaten LGBTQ-friendly spaces with guns and the anti-fascists with guns who volunteer to defend those spaces — a new low in bothsidesism.

For as long as marginalized and minority communities have been threatened and imperiled by armed white supremacists and fascists — a violence foundational to this country — they have been condemned for taking up arms in self-defense.

It is a profound mischaracterization of the history and principles of armed community defense to suggest that armed anti-fascists and anti-racists are engaged in escalatory political violence that is worthy of the same condemnation as the fascists they confront.

Oppressed groups and their allies have time and again seen guns as necessary defensive tools. This has been true at key points in the history of Black struggle in the U.S. — formerly enslaved marronage communities, Black civilians in the late 19th century who blocked jails to stop lynchings, and the Black Panthers, who were originally named the Black Panther Party for Self Defense — but also among the queer militants of Bash Back! in the late 2000s. Yet the decision to take up arms in community defense has consistently been decried as escalatory and extremist.

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - NOVEMBER 23: Mourners visit a memorial outside of Club Q on November 23, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A gunman opened fire inside the LGBTQ+ club on November 19th, killing 5 and injuring 25 others. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)

Mourners visit a makeshift memorial outside of Club Q on November 23, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Co.

Photo: Chet Strange/Getty Images

History of Self-Defense

Debates about violent and nonviolent protest, and what constitutes violence at all, are well worn . It’s important to note, though, that the presumption that armed community defense serves to escalate violence is simply not borne out in U.S. history.

The late political scientist Cedric Robinson highlighted in his epic “ Black Marxism ” that even in slave rebellions and marronage communities, there was no doubt a reliance on armed physical violence to ensure escape and sustain freedom, but there was a remarkably small number of retributive killings of white enslavers.

In the past century, too, white supremacist, far-right deadly violence in this country has so dwarfed the number deaths caused by Black, Indigenous, and queer armed struggle that talk of mutual escalation is obscene. In the last 30 years alone, over 85 percent of extremist killings are attributable to far-right actors. A separate New York Times report last weekend found that at 700 armed demonstrations since January 2020, 77 percent of those openly carrying guns were right-wing.

These numbers aren’t incidental but reflect something inherent about how white supremacist, anti-LGBTQ ideology operates: The goals are eliminationist. This is what makes the “bothsidesing” so horrifically off base: The far right has made clear their commitment to eradicate trans people, either through violent law or extralegal violence.

The far right has made clear their commitment to eradicate trans people, either through violent law or extralegal violence.

It is amid this larger picture that the Times wondered about a “chilling future.” With queer communities quite aware that police are more likely to harass them than help them, would it truly be less chilling to imagine a future in which armed right-wingers are met with no serious opposition?

Groups like Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club — which is one chapter among many anti-fascist John Brown Gun Clubs in the Redneck Revolt network nationwide — will not end the anti-trans, white supremacist violence of the far right. By showing up, though, they can at least give pause to the would-be assailants of these embattled communities.

More Guns?

To say that armed community defense is necessary and justified is not to say that there are not difficult questions around the issue.

It’s an understandable impulse to fear that the more guns on a scene, the more likely one is to be used, resulting in deadly violence. It’s a tragedy at the heart of all too many domestic violence murders , that women who keep guns in the house to defend themselves against abusive partners are killed with those very weapons.

Then there is the notion that teachers should be armed to defend against school shootings, which is belied by the facts: The more guns brought into schools, by teachers or cops, the more dangerous gun-related accidents there have been.

The proliferation of guns in the U.S. is intolerable, exceptional in its deadly consequences, and has always been organized around white supremacy — from various historical moves to bar Indigenous or Black people from owning guns, to the first federal “gun control” law in 1968, which was part of a massive crime bill that endowed police forces with military-grade weapons.

There’s every reason to be wary of the misuse of “self-defense” as a pretext for violent action — it has, after all, been the legally accepted justification for centuries of racist killings. Yet it is not the armed anti-fascists who are initiating the potential for gun violence in these instances; they go where the armed fascists go. And the fascists with guns, political support, and consistent police allegiance are turning up at restaurants, libraries, night clubs, school board meetings, and polling stations because they want to expunge whole marginalized communities from public life — by threatening them with a gun’s barrel, if not killing them with a spray of bullets.

So-called moderates can rely on tired tropes about violence begetting more violence. But such a stance, usually held from a comfortable distance, refuses to see that the fascist violence targeted at LGBTQ existence — and the lives of Black people — seeks to be annihilating and total. Thankfully, there are braver anti-fascist forces willing to stand in the way.

The post Why Queer Communities Are Welcoming Armed Anti-Fascist Protection appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Midterms Show Republican Anti-Abortion Agenda Relies on Minority Rule / TheIntercept · Wednesday, 9 November - 22:35 · 4 minutes

LOUISVILLE, KY - JUNE 24: Abortion rights protesters chant and display signs at gathering in dissent of the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case at  on June 24, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

Abortion rights protesters in Louisville, Ky., on June 24, 2022.

Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Insofar as abortion was on the ballot in yesterday’s midterm elections, abortion won. In all five states where ballot measures asked voters to decide the fate of abortion access, voters chose to protect or enshrine abortion rights. In North Carolina, Republicans failed to win a veto-proof legislative supermajority, ensuring that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper maintains the ability to block abortion bans. And without the feared “red wave” sweeping Congress, GOP plans for a nationwide abortion ban are thwarted — for now, at least.

Abortion, however, was only on the ballot to a degree.

We got here because of the far right’s proven record of entrenching minority rule.

For decades, well-funded Christo-nationalist organizing yielded restrictions on reproductive freedoms in dozens of states, culminating in the fall of Roe. The result is that abortion access in vast swathes of the country has been abysmal to nonexistent, even prior to the Supreme Court’s felling of Roe.

In light of Tuesday’s election results, it’s important for us to remember that just because the far right achieved success in implementing these restrictions, their pro-natalist agenda has never been a reflection of the popular will. Instead, their victories are a reflection of a powerful minority’s ability to enforce its desires into policy, law, and practice.

The election results are nonetheless a major victory, earned not by the Democratic mainstream but by the reproductive justice organizers fighting on the front lines. Voters in Vermont, California, and Michigan approved ballot measures to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions. Voters in Montana rejected a misleading and pernicious fetal personhood bill, and in deep-red Kentucky , voters defeated an attempt to ban all abortion in the state.

None of this means we can rest easy. We got here because of the far right’s proven record of entrenching minority rule. The popularity of abortion we saw on display Tuesday only provides some relief. What was true before the elections remains true now: We still need to fight for reproductive freedom for all.

Surprise and relief at the Kentucky result echoed reactions to a ballot victory in Kansas last summer, when voters in the red state turned up in great numbers to keep abortion protections in that state’s constitution. The Kansas result served as a rebuke to the GOP agenda, but also to a Democratic establishment that had for years entertained anti-abortion candidates as a route to win in red states.

The midterm abortion rights victories should likewise galvanize Democratic leaders to fight hard for abortion access, confident in the knowledge of its popularity.

I’m not holding my breath. Even with control of both houses of Congress, Democrats have failed to codify nationwide abortion access; they will have even less power in the likely event that Republicans take back Congress with narrow margins. The Intercept’s Ryan Grim suggested Democrats should thus use their lame-duck session while still in power to codify abortion rights, but it would be out of the party’s fangless character, to say the least.

President Joe Biden’s executive branch has roundly failed to offer federal remedy to abortion seekers and providers in the wake of Roe’s fall. Strategists looking ahead to 2024 might advise Biden to take further popular executive actions, including on abortion rights, but any such efforts will be limited in scope.

We’ve not seen the end of the Democratic Party’s compulsion to kneecap its progressive flank, even when voters overwhelmingly support progressive measures. Just look at how popular Medicare for All is, and yet Democratic leadership won’t take it seriously.

These midterms also further clarified the ways establishment punditry conjures the myth of the “average American” and their concerns to the disadvantage of real, living people in this country.

Pollsters and political analysts were clear that, despite widespread anger over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, midterms voters were not prioritizing reproductive rights. Economic concerns would rule the day, we were told. The professional predictors and commentators failed to appreciate that reproductive rights are also an economic issue, and that the fight for bodily autonomy is not a distraction.

Voters en masse reject outright abortion bans. Republicans may, however, keep doing what they’ve done for years — chipping away at abortion access until the restrictions become de facto bans. The strong electoral successes of Christo-fascists like Gov. Ron DeSantis in Florida and J.D. Vance in his Ohio Senate race give us every grounds for continued concern. The Christian far right will continue to wield disproportionate power; Republicans embrace minority rule.

Reproductive justice will also not be attained by simply reinstating a pre-Dobbs status quo, in which abortion was all but banned in dozens of states.

It would be a mistake to read Tuesday’s referenda on abortion access as evidence of mass support for the reproductive freedoms we need. Beyond protecting limited abortion rights, the struggle continues for a holistic framework of reproductive justice, for which Black feminist organizers have fought for decades. We are far from achieving the total decriminalization of all abortion; free, unrestricted abortion on demand; the recognition of abortion as a social good; and robust resources for those who want and choose to make babies.

As establishment Democrats now turn their eyes to 2024, our focus must remain on the front lines: by the side of anyone seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy, and those working within and against the law to help them do so.

The post Midterms Show Republican Anti-Abortion Agenda Relies on Minority Rule appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Michigan’s New Anti-Trans Bill Threatens Care-Providing Parents With Life in Prison / TheIntercept · Thursday, 13 October - 21:16 · 5 minutes

St. Paul, Minnesota. March 6, 2022. Because the attacks against transgender kids are increasing across the country Minneasotans hold a rally at the capitol to support trans kids in Minnesota, Texas, and around the country. (Photo by: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Amid nationwide legislative attacks on transgender youth, Minnesota residents hold a rally in St. Paul., Minn., on March 6, 2022.

Photo: UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Republican legislative attacks on transgender children over the last two years have reached such intolerable levels of barbarism, it’s hard to imagine that further cruelty would be possible. But on Tuesday, a group of Michigan Republican state representatives continued to push the envelope, introducing a bill that would see parents and medical professionals face potential life in prison for providing gender-affirming care to a minor.

House Bill 6454 seeks to change the very definition of child abuse to explicitly apply to anyone who “knowingly or intentionally consents to, obtains, or assists with a gender transition procedure for a child.” The language applies not only to gender-affirming surgery — which is very rare for teens — but also to hormone treatments and puberty blockers. If found guilty, parents and medical professionals could face a maximum life sentence of 25 years for assisting a minor in obtaining care that has been deemed, again and again , medically necessary by every major pediatric institution in the country. Providing or helping with such treatment would be penalized as child abuse in the first degree, a classification more severe than those for causing intentional or neglectful harm to children.

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Michigan House, and they are expected to throw full support behind the bill — although if the state’s Republican-held Senate passes it too, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is likely to veto. (In November, Whitmer faces a reelection challenge from Trump-endorsed right-wing commentator Tudor Dixon, who lags behind the incumbent by about 11 points in recent polls.) Beyond barring the provision of new treatment, the legislation also mandates that trans teens in the state who are currently receiving gender-affirming medical care would be forced to stop their treatments and undergo compulsory medical detransition, with potentially deadly psychological consequences.

For refusing to torture trans kids, then, parents, caregivers, and doctors could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Nationwide, GOP politicians now walk in lockstep to promote their eliminationist agenda against trans youth and adults. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott in February issued a directive to state agencies — bending the law to the Republican will — to assert that gender-affirming health care constitutes child abuse and that those who provide it or support children in accessing it should be investigated as potential abusers. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has been duly terrorizing families with such investigations ever since. Hundreds more bills taking direct aim at the lives of trans kids and adults are moving through statehouses at a chilling pace.

While the Michigan bill hardly stands alone, it is notable for the extremity of punishment proposed. It is already a felony to provide gender-affirming surgery to minors in Alabama; other forms of gender-affirming treatment, like puberty blockers and prescribed hormones, were covered by the same law but blocked from felony enforcement by a federal judge. Gender-affirming care is banned, but not deemed felonious, in Arizona ; and in Arkansas, a ban was passed into law but is currently blocked by a crucial court order.

In Congress, far-right extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is pushing a searing model like Michigan’s. In August, she introduced the first piece of federal legislation, co-sponsored by a whopping 40-plus House Republicans, to outlaw gender-affirming care for minors nationwide. That law, too, would make providing such care a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

As I’ve noted numerous times , the ubiquity of these anti-trans legislative assaults is no sign of some grassroots concern echoing nationwide. Anti-trans panic has been manufactured , top-down, by think-tanks like the Promise to America’s Children coalition, which disseminate model legislation to Republican state lawmakers. It’s a deeply cynical electoral strategy playing on illegitimate conservative concerns, but no less profound an ideological war for that fact.

Fascistic pro-natalism has always , necessarily, gone hand in hand with the organized elimination of oppressed populations.

There’s no inconsistency in the GOP championing “parental choice” on most every issue aside from a parent’s choice to love and support a gender-nonconforming child. “Parental choice” was only about parenting as an institution — the nuclear family — for reproducing the right’s Christo-nationalist order. When a parent’s choice is that schools not teach the brutal realities of U.S. white supremacist history, or the existence of gay people, parent’s choice is sacred. To produce the wrong kind of child, meanwhile, is deemed criminal — alongside the refusal to produce a child from a pregnancy. Fascistic pro-natalism has always , necessarily, gone hand in hand with the organized elimination of oppressed populations. There can be no doubt that these anti-trans efforts are genocidal.

The GOP has made clear that it will not stop or temper its assault on the very existence of trans people. For this reason, it is all the more critical for liberal media organs to reject and counter the outright falsehoods of Republican anti-trans claims and to actively support trans kids. Trans children are not new, and more than two centuries of scientific research have challenged the validity of gender and sex binaries.

A recent New York Times story correctly stressed that the (very, very few) trans teens who do receive gender-affirming “top surgery” have their lives immensely improved. Regret is exceedingly rare — especially considering that almost all medical interventions, from back surgery to cis women’s breast enhancements, carry a risk of regret — and the number of surgeries and hormones provided to cis teens far surpasses the number of those provided to their trans peers. Most trans young people in America, keep in mind, have neither the resources nor the support to access the care they need in the first place.

Yet even though the facts and content of the Times piece spoke strongly for gender-affirming treatment, the feature was hinged on and infused by the notion of trans youth as some impending site of risk. “Small studies suggest that breast removal surgery improves transgender teenagers’ well-being” the story notes, before adding, “but data is sparse” — thus framing the piece around uncertainty from the outset.

Those who would oppose the right’s fascist, eliminationist agenda must do better. The stakes for the lives of trans kids are too high for such unwarranted equivocation. As historian Jules Gill-Peterson, author of “Histories of the Transgender Child,” put it, “We need to really learn to say we want trans children. Not that we want all children to be trans. But when children tell us they’re trans, we are happy. And we are happy with that as an outcome.”

The post Michigan’s New Anti-Trans Bill Threatens Care-Providing Parents With Life in Prison appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Lindsey Graham's "Late-Term" Abortion Ban Is a Lie / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 13 September - 19:00 · 4 minutes

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) waits to speak during news conference to announce a new bill on abortion restrictions, on Capitol Hill September 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Grahams proposal would enact a national ban on abortions after the 15 week mark. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., waits to speak during news conference to announce a new bill on abortion restrictions, on Capitol Hill September 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

On Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham announced plans for a federal abortion ban . Anyone who has paid even marginal attention to the right’s long assault on reproductive justice expected this move. This was never about states’ rights; a nationwide ban, a mass criminalization program, was always the plan.

Graham held a press conference with anti-abortion leaders to announce the introduction of the “Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act” — a 15-week ban, aligned with the current restrictive legal status quo in post-Roe v. Wade Florida . The bill’s title toes a delicate line for Republicans, signaling the developing GOP approach when it comes to achieving the unpopular goal of banning abortion nationally but couching it in qualified language to not alienate voters in the midterms who would oppose a total ban.

Graham’s proposal would ban all abortions after 15 weeks with very few exceptions, beyond risk to the mother’s life and cases of rape or incest, applicable only after fulfilling typically burdensome reporting requirements. Contrary to several spurious claims in the bill’s text, 15 weeks is an arbitrary time frame, denoting nothing particular about fetal growth or experience. The ban would, however, serve its purpose of ensuring a far greater number of enforced births and criminalizing medical care.

This is not an effort to regulate already rare “late-term abortions.” If “late-term,” which is not a medical term but a political contrivance, conjures images of almost-babies, it is misleading to the extreme when applied to a 15-week ban. Fetal viability — another slippery concept — is not considered to occur until around 24 weeks. Graham has previously introduced bills using the same “late-term” vocabulary, but those consistently sought to ban abortion nationally from 20 weeks .

The stand against forced birth should have no caveats.

Congressional Republicans are threading the needle. They — and their most fervent Christo-nationalist supporters — have a clear desire to decimate women and pregnant people’s bodily autonomy, but after seeing the backlash to their support for overturning Roe, they also harbor a fear of losing votes by revealing a hard-line stance.

Graham himself has little to lose come November; he is not up for reelection until 2027. His proposed abortion ban is, however, reflective of what the GOP can try to present as a compromise. It should, of course, be rejected as such. Reproductive freedom should not be a question of compromise to protect just some abortions. The stand against forced birth should have no caveats.

A 15-week ban is highly restrictive. It will prove deadly and immiserating for many thousands of people, particularly Black women, who are over three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.

Most red states, especially since the fall of Roe, already have abortion bans at least as harsh as those Graham is proposing, like the vigilante-enforced abortion bans in Oklahoma and Texas . Graham’s bill, were it to pass into law, would primarily alter laws in states where abortion remains protected. Yet the existence of draconian bans from six weeks or, as in the case of Oklahoma, the moment of fertilization should not render a 15-week ban acceptable.

Republicans, while comfortable enforcing Christo-nationalist minority rule, are aware that support for abortion rights could severely hurt them in the midterm elections. Opposition to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning Roe is one of the only galvanizing forces likely to stop a red wave come November.

The ballot victory to keep abortion protections in the state constitution of deep-red Kansas, for instance, sent a clear message: Voters might not like the Democrats, but they like abortion access. Several GOP candidates, like the fascistic Blake Masters in Arizona, have since scrubbed hard-line anti-abortion messaging from their campaign websites.

The Republican gambit rests on the assumption that while total abortion bans are unpopular, many potential voters are comfortable with some form of regulation around the procedure. The fact that the Democratic mainstream has spent three decades defending abortion only as an unfortunate, rare necessity — rather than the social good that it is — has no doubt served the current Republican calculus. In response, we must continue to reject the criminalization of abortion in any form.

Even if Republicans win the Senate in November, Graham’s bill is highly unlikely to pass. With the filibuster in place, it would require 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle. And when Graham proposed 20-week national abortion bans while the GOP controlled both Congress and the White House, he was unable to get the legislation passed.

The long odds of Graham’s effort should not serve as a reason for inaction on the part of Democrats in Congress or in Democratic-led legislatures. Republicans continue to make clear that their successful assault on abortion rights is far from complete.

It remains the order of the day to strengthen and codify state law protections where they exist and, crucially, to throw our support behind those on the front lines in abortion-ban states.

Our rejection of bans like Graham’s should not be solely situated in their being misleadingly labeled. Even if it were truly a “late-term” abortion ban, it would be unacceptable. Whether at six, 15, or 20 weeks, or much further along in the gestational process, there can be no space in reproductive justice for criminalization.

The post Lindsey Graham’s “Late-Term” Abortion Ban Is a Lie appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Democrats' Cowardice and Complicity in the Post-Roe World / TheIntercept · Tuesday, 5 July, 2022 - 20:56 · 6 minutes

Xavier Becerra, secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), speaks during a news conference at the HHS headquarters in Washington, D.C., US, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Under the White House's direction, Becerra unveiled an action plan in response to the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photographer: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, speaks during a news conference about an action plan in response to the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Washington, D.C., on June 28, 2022.

Photo: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It should come as little surprise that the Biden administration and Democratic leadership in Congress are doing hardly anything to protect reproductive rights following the fall of Roe v. Wade.

Speaking on “Meet the Press” this Sunday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra made clear that his agency had little interest in exploring ways to use federal powers to ensure abortions remain available in states that have banned the procedure.

This unbound deference to the moribund institution of the Supreme Court is typical of the mainstream liberal response to the end of Roe.

“Unless we’re all going to say the word of the Supreme Court will no longer have value, we have to heed the word of the Supreme Court,” Becerra said, before dismissing the suggestion — supported by a number of left-wing Democrats and rejected by the White House — of using federal lands to provide abortion services in states with bans.

This unbound deference to the moribund institution of the Supreme Court — paired with a cowardly refusal to take any sort of risk in the service of women’s and other pregnant people’s lives — is typical of the mainstream liberal response to the end of Roe. On the Sunday talk show, Becerra rejected the centrist host’s suggestion to place temporary clinics on federal lands and force the courts to decide. Instead, the administration is throwing up its hands without even trying.

It would be difficult to overstate how badly Democrats dropped the ball on preventing Roe from being endangered and then preparing for it to be overturned. The world after Roe, though, is showing the liberal establishment’s cowardice and complicity when it comes to getting access to abortions for people who need them. From House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reading an Israeli poem to the repeated entreaties to vote harder, the utter failure is staggering.

Democrats in government are not the only ones whose scant resistance will ensure that the Christo-fascists can enforce their post-Roe reality. Numerous health care providers and nonprofit organizations — most notably Planned Parenthood — are acting with preemptive zeal to remove reproductive and other health care services, even while legal gray areas abound.

Planned Parenthood, a group that does much good work but also exists firmly within the reluctant liberal establishment, has showed a lack of fortitude since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision took down Roe last month. Planned Parenthood of Montana will no longer provide medication abortions for patients from South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and will now require proof of residency for the treatment.

“The risks around cross-state provision of services are currently less than clear, with the potential for both civil and criminal action for providing abortions in states with bans,” wrote Montana Planned Parenthood CEO and President Martha Fuller in an internal email to her staff, which was obtained by the Daily Beast. “As we move forward, and learn more about risks, we will be offering guidance and implementing any necessary changes in policies and procedures for abortion care.”

Signage outside the Planned Parenthood Southwest Fort Worth Health Center in Fort Worth, Texas, US, on Sunday, July 3, 2022. A Texas judge temporarily sided with abortion rights advocates that challenged a state law from the 1920s banning the procedure, in the wake of the US Supreme Courts decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade. Photographer: Shelby Tauber/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Planned Parenthood Southwest Fort Worth Health Center in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 3, 2022.

Photo: Shelby Tauber/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fuller is correct that the end of Roe brings about a new battleground of interstate juridical conflict : Republican-led statehouses are trying to find ways to prosecute out-of-state abortion providers. Numerous blue states are, thankfully, passing laws to combat this in turn. None of it is settled, and it remains legal for Planned Parenthood of Montana, where abortion is legal, to provide abortion pills to patients from out of state. Fuller even noted that surgical abortions would remain available for patients from any state.

Continuing to provide medical abortions for all should be the very least a well-funded institution could do. Instead, in the name of litigiousness, Planned Parenthood handed yet another victory to the pro-natalist far right .

In Missouri, meanwhile, St. Luke’s Health System, which operates 17 hospitals, pharmacies, and urgent care clinics in Kansas City, responded to the fall of Roe by immediately ending the provision of Plan B emergency contraception pills.

Within a day, however, the major health system reversed its decision. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson had clarified that the state’s new abortion ban did not affect Plan B or similar products.

The health care provider’s hair-trigger willingness to briefly stop providing Plan B remains chilling: a clear signal that as the GOP continues its fight to decimate all reproductive rights, including access to contraception, major hospital groups will follow in goose-step. In examples like St. Luke’s, the hospitals and their lawyers have been at the vanguard of care removal — even before a law was on the books to coerce action.

Police look on as abortion rights demonstrators march past the house of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on June 29, 2022. - The US Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, ended the right to abortion in a seismic ruling that shreds half a century of constitutional protections on one of the most divisive and bitterly fought issues in American political life. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Police look on as abortion rights demonstrators march past the house of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase, Md., on June 29, 2022.

AFP via Getty Images

In the days since the Supreme Court’s vile and long-predicted ruling, stories spread across social media of women who have been denied care, even care unrelated to ending a pregnancy.

A Virginia woman with the autoimmune disease lupus tweeted that her doctor had stopped prescribing her medication, methotrexate, because it is considered an abortifacient: “in less than one week i lost access to healthcare that i need because the drug could be used to induce abortions,” she wrote. “I live in Virginia and abortion is legal here. but it is not protected by law and individual providers and pharmacies can decide what they will and won’t do re: abortifacients.”

Meanwhile, other stories are circulating of OB-GYNs in red states waiting to operate to end potentially deadly and always unviable ectopic pregnancies until the patient’s life is in clear danger, so as to be in compliance with abortion bans’ “medical emergency” exemptions.

When Republicans designed abortion ban legislation to evade federal court challenges by relying instead on vigilante enforcement — like Texas’s pernicious Senate Bill 8 — it was in the knowledge that health care providers would respond with litigious compliance. Under a privatized model of medical care, the bottom line will always trump a broader commitment to human health and flourishing.

Those who continue to take risks to fight for reproductive justice make clear that real resistance is possible.

That so many have given up on reproductive rights so swiftly, even those purportedly dedicated to reproductive health care, is a grim reminder that neither the medical nor the political establishment can be relied upon as allies in the struggle for a robust reproductive justice. It’s hardly news: The U.S. medical system has long treated poor Black and brown women — who disproportionately suffer under abortion bans — as disposable.

Thankfully, while establishment Democrats, major nonprofits, and private health care groups act in timid compliance to fascist rule, sites of genuine resistance continue to grow. Collectives and individuals have long been committed to sharing information, support, resources , abortion pills , and services. They understand the need to navigate legal gray areas and work within, outside, and against violent laws.

Those who continue to take risks to fight for reproductive justice make clear that real resistance is possible. They clarify, too, that those caving so readily to a fascist status quo are making a choice to stand on the wrong side of history.

The post Democrats’ Cowardice and Complicity in the Post-Roe World appeared first on The Intercept .

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    With the Corpse of Roe Still Warm, Far Right Plots Fascistic Anti-Abortion Enforcement / TheIntercept · Friday, 24 June, 2022 - 19:35 · 5 minutes

UNITED STATES - JUNE 24: U.S. Capitol Police in riot gear return to their staging area after clear a path back to the Capitol for House Democrats after they spoke in front of the Supreme Court following the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision overturning Roe v Wade was handed down at the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

U.S. Capitol Police in riot gear are seen in Washington, D.C., following the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.

Photo: Bill Clark/AP

Given the makeup of the far-right Supreme Court, it has for some years been clear that Roe v. Wade would fall. Following Friday’s 6-3 decision to destroy all constitutional abortion rights, 22 states will enact their readied trigger laws for total or near-total abortion bans, with more expected to follow. Fascistic anti-abortionists have won in the courts, but they are already making clear that a victory in law is nothing to them if the laws are not brutally enforced to forge a Christian-nationalist nation through and through.

With the end of Roe achieved, the fascist right is setting its sights on shutting down and criminalizing all crucial sites of abortion solidarity and assistance that reproductive networks are fighting to build.

To get a sense of their expansive, draconian agenda, we need only look at the model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Coalition — the sort of laws that Republicans in state houses will be no doubt swiftly proposing.

“Traditionally, abortion laws relied on criminal enforcement to make pro-life laws effective,” the powerful anti-abortion organization wrote. “However, current realities require a much more robust enforcement regime than reliance on criminal penalties.”

That is, for these groups, criminalization of abortion providers is not fascistic enough.

For these groups, criminalization of abortion providers is not fascistic enough.

The model legislation would seek to use Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — or RICO — laws against anyone with any involvement in someone accessing an abortion. People could come under criminal suspicion for offering telehealth appointments; mailing or transporting abortion pills across state lines; potentially giving advice online about how to self-administer an abortion; or even “hosting or maintaining a website, or providing internet service, that encourages or facilitates efforts to obtain an illegal abortion.” All these activities would fall under “aiding and abetting.”

Drawing attention to the model law on Twitter, historian Thomas Lecaque noted , “IT DOESN’T STOP THERE THIS IS A BLUEPRINT FOR A CHRISTIAN NATIONALIST SURVEILLANCE STATE.”

The model legislation also makes clear that the route to enforcement should be vigilantism, following the lead of Texas’s vile Senate Bill 8 . The law permits anyone to file a civil suit against any person who could be deemed to “abet” an abortion — potentially including an Uber driver who takes someone to an abortion appointment, or a therapist or pastor who has counseled a person on ending a pregnancy. The plaintiff need have no personal connection to the abortion seeker or fetus at all. The Texas law incentivizes anti-abortion crusaders to act as bounty hunters, promising $10,000 to those who bring successful suits against abortion performed in violation of the law.

We can expect a spate of such laws to pass in red states, and without Roe on the books, they can no longer be challenged on constitutional lines. The enemies of abortion access, in other words, won’t be letting up anytime soon — and reproductive rights will continue to be stripped from more and more people.

The Texas law was not built on a new concept. White supremacist, patriarchal rule in this country has always relied on the coalition of government forces, official police, and state-endorsed vigilantism.

There are many examples. The Jim Crow South, for instance, depended on the threat of lynching and mob violence to enforce white rule. From the fabled Texas Rangers to Klansmen to today’s right-wing militia groups armed with assault weapons, vigilantes have worked in tandem with immigration enforcement agents to hunt down and round up immigrants trying to cross the border. Before Kyle Rittenhouse shot dead two anti-racist protesters, he was thanked by police for his heavily armed presence in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Federal agents were advised by the Department of Homeland Security to publicly support the right-wing teen and claim that he “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.”

As with the intersecting enforcement of racial hierarchy, we are seeing the shoring up of patriarchal power through a most American vigilantism, both outside of and inscribed into law.

We can be certain, too, that anti-abortionists will not wait to see whether all aspects of their bans and criminalization plans stand up in federal court before enacting them. The right makes laws realities through violence, and violent realities through law.

The right makes laws realities through violence, and violent realities through law.

S.B. 8 went into law while Roe was still on the books, despite being in clear violation of its now-dead protections. And a 26-year-old woman was arrested in Texas on murder charges in connection to a “self-induced abortion.” The charges were dropped, since no such murder statute currently exists in the state, but the incident highlighted the ways in which zealous law enforcement already polices and criminalizes abortion . This will only get worse, and poor women of color will suffer the most under the right’s forced-birth regime.

This is not to say that bold legislative efforts in abortion-protective states cannot work in effective opposition to block some of these Christo-fascist fantasies. The end of Roe, as a forthcoming and crucial paper in the Columbia Law Review notes, brings about an entirely new battleground of interstate juridical conflict. States that support access rights will move to pass laws that protect abortion providers who treat out-of-state patients, while anti-abortion states will seek to pass laws to prosecute out-of-state providers.

Legislators in Connecticut, for example, recently passed a bill designed to protect abortion providers who assist patients seeking refuge from abortion-ban states. Those of us in other blue states must push our legislators to do the same. The far right’s plans to criminalize interstate travel and online abortion solidarity must be forced to contend with robust protections for those activities where such protections can be made into law.

As is all too clear, however, when it comes to Congress and the federal government — and most any case that reaches the Supreme Court — the fascists have the upper hand against feckless Democrats. The ever-steeper uphill battle for universal abortion access will thus rely on the wisdom, experience, and cunning of those who have already been fighting on the front lines for reproductive justice, in the legal gray areas, in the streets and by the side of anyone seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy, in the collective struggle for lives worth living.

The post With the Corpse of Roe Still Warm, Far Right Plots Fascistic Anti-Abortion Enforcement appeared first on The Intercept .

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    Case of 11-Year-Old Brazilian Girl Denied Abortion Holds Stark Warning for Post-Roe U.S. / TheIntercept · Thursday, 23 June, 2022 - 17:37 · 6 minutes

Women march shouting slogans against Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro and holding a banner in favor of legalizing abortion, to mark International Women's Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Women march and hold a banner in favor of legalizing abortion, to mark International Women’s Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 8, 2022.

Photo: Andre Penner/AP

In recent weeks, a little girl has been fighting for her abortion rights in a Brazilian court.

The 11-year-old child was being forced by the courts to carry a pregnancy after she was raped, The Intercept Brasil reported . The girl, with the support of her mother, had sought an abortion as soon as the pregnancy was discovered — when she was just 10 years old.

A hospital in Santa Catarina, the southern state where they live, refused to perform the procedure without seeking judicial approval first, as the fetus was then 22 weeks old: two weeks past the hospital’s policy of not performing abortions after 20 weeks.

Though a directive from the Brazilian Health Ministry recommends a 20-to-22-week cutoff for abortions, the penal code allows for abortions in cases of sexual violence, without imposing any limitation on weeks of pregnancy and without requiring judicial authorization. The pregnant child, however, found herself before a judge, the growing fetus putting her young life at greater risk with every passing day.

Instead of allowing the mother to take the girl for a legal abortion, Judge Joana Ribeiro Zimmer ordered that the girl be separated from her family and go into a shelter — allegedly to protect her from further abuse. But Ribeiro Zimmer also made telling comments that the move to effectively block the abortion was to avoid what the judge incorrectly called a “homicide.”

Only after the Intercept Brasil’s reporting was a court decision enacted this week that permitted the girl to leave the shelter. She is now over 29 weeks pregnant.

Only after the Intercept Brasil’s reporting was a court decision enacted this week that permitted the girl to leave the shelter. She is now over 29 weeks pregnant.

Ribeiro Zimmer was then placed under investigation by a national judicial body. My colleagues in Brazil obtained footage of the hearing in which the judge denied the girl abortion access, including a particularly disturbing exchange. The judge’s remarks mirror the words of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has suggested that “safe haven” adoption laws justify banning abortions, since relinquishing a baby for adoption removes the “undue burden of motherhood.”

The cruelty of such logic was plain to see in the Santa Catarina courtroom. “Today, there is technology to save the baby. And we have 30,000 couples who want the baby, who accept the baby,” Ribeiro Zimmer told the pregnant girl’s mother. “Today’s sorrow for you and for her daughter is the joy of another couple,” she said. The mother responded in tears, “It’s joy, because they are not experiencing what I am.”

The Brazilian case is a grim reminder of what it looks like to put the fate of reproductive justice in the hands of a right-wing justice system.

Brazil’s abortion laws are highly restrictive: Providers and abortion seekers are criminalized, with exceptions only in cases when the pregnant person’s life is at risk, in the case of rape, or when the fetus has anencephaly, a condition in which parts of its brain and skull are missing. Many states in the U.S. already operate with similar harsh restrictions. A post-Roe reality has been the de facto status quo for years in dozens of states where abortion can’t be accessed and abortion providers and seekers are already policed and terrorized. Forced births are common.

The girl’s case in Brazil has its counterparts in the U.S. In 2018, for example , U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement illegally denied a pregnant minor held in its detention the ability to go to an abortion clinic, until the minor and her guardian sued.

The fall of Roe v. Wade is imminent , and 13 states are ready with trigger laws on the books to automatically ban all abortions in the first and second trimesters — many with no exceptions for rape. The U.S. power structure is replete with Ribeiro Zimmers: ideologues so committed to coercive pro-natalism , that any life, even that of an actual living child, is deemed disposable in service of the unborn.

The Brazilian case clarifies, too, the risks of fighting only for marginal abortion access. A world of reproductive justice is not one in which abortions are only permitted in cases of rape or when there is a risk to the pregnant person’s life. No one should have to announce that they were raped to end an unwanted pregnancy.

Anti-abortion extremists in the judiciary will always run roughshod over technical exceptions. Consider the arrest earlier this year of a 26-year-old woman in Texas on murder charges in connection to a “self-induced abortion.” The charges were dropped, since no such murder statute currently exists in the state, but the incident highlighted the ways in which zealous law enforcement already polices and criminalizes abortion . After Roe falls, it will only get worse.

The Brazilian case clarifies the risks of fighting only for marginal abortion access.

The American right, with its Christo-fascist tendencies, has of course decimated reproductive rights in this country. Liberals share some blame, however, in ceding so much of the discourse to a right-wing fulcrum. As feminist theorist Sophie Lewis wrote in a recent essay , the Clintonian “safe, legal, and rare” framework pathetically cast abortion as the problem — the thing that should rarely happen — rather than unwanted pregnancies, for which abortion is the cure.

The new fight for abortion needs to reject the mealy-mouthed Democratic Party approach of recent decades. Reproductive freedom cannot be something we approach with timidity.

We must fight for abortions as more than a right. Instead, it should be recognized as a social good. The battle must go hand in hand with the fights for universal health care and against the carceral state.

The case in Brazil shows how these struggles are interconnected. The power to confine a person — be it in a shelter, a detention center, or a prison — enables the authorities to readily prevent access to reproductive freedom, even in cases of legal abortion.

We don’t, however, need to just look to Brazil to find horrifying examples of forced pregnancies, just as we do not need to rely on an example from outside of U.S. borders to imagine the horror of a post-Roe world. Rather, the Brazilian case is a reminder that the anti-fascist struggle for bodily autonomy is an international one. We can be certain that Christo-fascists from the U.S. to Brazil to Hungary and beyond share an agenda to shore up patriarchal rule.

The left in the U.S. would do well to look to Latin America not simply for troubling presages of a post-Roe reality, but for inspiration. Feminist movements in countries like Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico with historically draconian abortion laws have seen a wave of reproductive rights victories legalizing and decriminalizing abortion. These movements were explicit in tying the struggle for abortion to the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and expanding access to citizenship — that is, against the intertwined fascist logics of border rule and denial of bodily autonomy.

It is within this robust, collective framework — not through limited calls for “privacy” and “individual choice” — that we in the U.S. should proceed. It is profoundly unconscionable that a raped child should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term. The lesson is not, however, to only protect abortions for abused children. All forced births should be deemed unacceptable.

The post Case of 11-Year-Old Brazilian Girl Denied Abortion Holds Stark Warning for Post-Roe U.S. appeared first on The Intercept .