In 1975, Loretta Lynn was one of the biggest stars in country music when she released a song that was quickly banned by many country radio stations. The song, “The Pill,” was an ode to birth control and sexual freedom that shocked the industry and many of the genre’s more conservative listeners with lyrics like:
It was this kind of sharp-witted and fearless storytelling that made Lynn, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, a titan of country music and an inspiration to future generations of songwriters, especially female country stars. Despite the controversy surrounding its release, “The Pill,” would become Lynn’s highest-charting pop single, peaking at #70 on the Hot 100.
But as conservative social norms have ossified around the country music establishment, “The Pill” is still forsaken nearly fifty years since it was released. According to Luminate (formerly Nielsen Music), the song was played just once by a country radio station in the U.S. in 2022, even though it’s a classic of the genre. The song—and Lynn’s career as a provocative lyricist—serve as a reminder that the conservative values touted by the country music establishment don’t always match those of their artists or listeners.
“What’s worse — politicians passing a bad law or politicians passing a bad law while attempting to make it look reasonable with meaningless window dressing?
You wind up in the same place, but I’ve gotta go with the jerks who pretend.
Let’s take, oh, I don’t know, abortion. Sure, lawmakers who vote to ban it know they’re imposing some voters’ religious beliefs on the whole nation. But maybe they can make it look kinda fair.
For instance Mark Ronchetti, who’s running for governor in New Mexico, was “strongly pro-life” until the uproar following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe. Now, his campaign website says he’s looking for a “middle ground” that would allow abortions “in cases involving rape, incest and when a mother’s life is at risk.”
That’s a very popular spin. The public’s rejection of the court’s ruling, plus the stunning vote for abortion rights in a recent statewide referendum in Kansas, has left politicians looking for some way to dodge the anti-choice label. Without, um, actually changing. “I am pro-life, and make no apologies for that. But I also understand that this is a representative democracy,” said Tim Michels, a Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor, when he embraced the rape-and-incest dodge.”
“Republican Bob Stefanowski’s carefully worded position on abortion won plaudits Thursday from an anti-abortion leader who sees common ground with a Connecticut gubernatorial nominee for the first time in decades.
Peter Wolfgang, the president of the Family Institute of Connecticut, was responding to a statement from Stefanowski indicating support for adding a parental notification provision to a Connecticut abortion rights law that he otherwise would not attempt to change.
“It has heartened pro-life voters. We know that Bob is not 100% with us. We’ve always suspected it. And now we know it for sure,” Wolfgang said. “But what we also know is where he does have common ground with us.”
Stefanowski, who was nominated by Republicans over the weekend for a rematch with Gov. Ned Lamont, has positioned himself to the right of the Democratic governor on abortion while not opposing Connecticut’s 32-year-old law codifying the tenets of Roe v. Wade.
His approach will test whether a candidate can appeal to social conservatives, who Wolfgang has long complained have been marginalized by the Connecticut Republican establishment, without losing more voters who support abortion rights.”
“It’s no secret that Republicans have to walk a tightrope in a place like Connecticut. It’s been 16 years since the state has put any of them in statewide or federal office, and they’re deeply outnumbered in voter registration.
And to be fair, nearly every state politician’s public reaction to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade focused on Connecticut law, where the right to an abortion is protected. But there was something uniquely tone deaf in gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski’s statement, which managed to hit every wrong note possible.
“In the week after the court’s decision, more than 70 percent of newly registered voters in Kansas were women, according to an analysis of the state’s registered voter list. An unusually high level of new female registrants persisted all the way until the Kansas primary this month, when a strong Democratic turnout helped defeat a referendum that would have effectively ended abortion rights in the state.
The Kansas figures are the most pronounced example of a broader increase in registration among women since the Dobbs decision, according to an Upshot analysis of 10 states with available voter registration data. On average in the month after Dobbs, 55 percent of newly registered voters in those states were women, according to the analysis, up from just under 50 percent before the decision was leaked in early May.
The increase varied greatly across the 10 states — Kansas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, Idaho, Alabama, New Mexico and Maine — with some states showing a pronounced surge in the share of new registrants who were women and others showing little change at all.
The total number of women registering to vote in those states rose by about 35 percent after the decision, compared with the month before the leak. Men had an uptick of 9 percent.”
TOPEKA, Kan. — Lines of Kansas voters, resolute in the August sun and 100-degree heat, stretched beyond the doors of polling sites and wrapped around buildings on Tuesday to cast ballots in a primary election. A few suffered heat exhaustion. Firefighters passed out bottles of water.
This inspired showing responded to a clear threat against reproductive rights. In the first state vote on abortion following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Kansans unequivocally batted down the state legislature’s proposed amendment to remove the right to an abortion from the state Constitution.
“As I read the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, I was devastated. It was shocking to see, laid out in cold legalese, the blatant ideological reasoning gutting the constitutional right to abortion.
I understand the frustration that many are feeling. I feel it too. Roehas been the law of the land for 49 years, nearly my entire lifetime. But it may not be the law of the land for my daughters. Many of us feared this day would come, which is why last month, I filed a lawsuit and, drawing on authority granted to me as governor, asked the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether our state constitution includes the right to access abortion.”
I admire Governor Whitmer and love this essay, and I recommended the comments giving her praise, but I also want the resistance to slow down, and put on the mute, like on a violin. Let this outrage become the new law of the land. Then see how easy it will be to organize. David blogs at InconvenientNews.com
Ms. Martínez Coral is the senior regional director of the Center for Reproductive Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Colombia had a blanket ban on abortion until 2006, when the country’s constitutional court mandated that abortion be legally accessible when a woman’s health and life were at risk, a fetus had serious health problems or when a pregnancy resulted from rape. But some women faced barriers to accessing these legal abortion services, including onerous medical requirements to prove they qualify. Others who had abortions — or who helped a woman obtain one — could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Last September, a lawsuit asking the Constitutional Court of Colombia to decriminalize abortion was filed by the Causa Justa — or Just Cause — movement, a coalition of which the Center for Reproductive Rights is a part. We argued that abortion is essential health care that should not be regulated in the penal system. The court also asked Congress to create regulations to apply the ruling. In a transformative shift for the majority-Catholic country, we are now the third country in Latin America to decriminalize abortion in the last year, behind Mexico and Argentina.”
By David S. Cohen, Greer Donley and Rachel Rebouché
Mr. Cohen, Ms. Donley and Ms. Rebouché are law professors with expertise in reproductive health.
“The constitutional right to abortion has never been more fragile than it is heading into 2022. The Supreme Court has allowed S.B. 8, Texas’ drastic — and clearly unconstitutional — ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, to remain in place for months, making Roe v. Wade virtually a dead letter in the state. Even worse, a Supreme Court decision that’s expected this summer is likely to either gut Roe or overturn the precedent altogether, paving the way for total abortion bans in about half the states around the country.
If the high court refuses to uphold abortion rights for all Americans and with Congress hopelessly stalemated over legislation that would codify a federal right to abortion, the Biden administration can and should act boldly to protect abortion access. But it will require some outside-the-box thinking — and a willingness to experiment with tactics that may well fail. If President Biden supports abortion as a critical right, as he has suggested, then he and his administration must take risks and get creative in pursuit of that goal. The anti-abortion movement has repeatedly pushed the envelope without fear of defeat. It’s time for activists and politicians who support abortion rights to do the same.”
” . . . It was Justice Sonia Sotomayor who asked the uncomfortable question. “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” she demanded of Scott Stewart, a former law clerk to Justice Thomas who argued for Mississippi as the state’s solicitor general. Listening to the live-streamed argument, I first heard “political acts” as “political hacks,” I suppose because still in my mind were Justice Barrett’s words when she spoke in mid-September at a center in Louisville, Ky., named for her Senate confirmation mastermind, Senator Mitch McConnell. “My goal today is to convince you that the court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” she said then.
Justice Barrett’s performance during Wednesday’s argument was beyond head-spinning. Addressing both Ms. Rikelman and Elizabeth Prelogar, the U.S. solicitor general who argued for the United States on behalf of the Mississippi clinic, Justice Barrett asked about “safe haven” laws that permit women to drop off their unwanted newborn babies at police stations or fire houses; the mothers’ parental rights are then terminated without further legal consequences. If the problem with “forced motherhood” was that it would “hinder women’s access to the workplace and to equal opportunities,” Justice Barrett asked, “why don’t safe haven laws take care of that problem?”
She continued: “It seems to me that it focuses the burden much more narrowly. There is, without question, an infringement on bodily autonomy, you know, which we have in other contexts, like vaccines. However, it doesn’t seem to me to follow that pregnancy and then parenthood are all part of the same burden.”
I’ll pass over the startling notion that being required to accept a vaccine is equivalent to being forced to carry a pregnancy to term. “Gaslighting” doesn’t adequately describe the essence of what Justice Barrett was suggesting: that the right to abortion really isn’t necessary because any woman who doesn’t want to be a mother can just hand her full-term baby over to the nearest police officer and be done with the whole business. As Justice Barrett, of all people, surely understands, such a woman will forever be exactly what she didn’t want to be: a mother, albeit one stripped of her ability to make a different choice.
I will give the gaslighting prize to Justice Kavanaugh and his suggestion that the court should simply adopt a position of “neutrality” with respect to abortion. Abortion is a contentious issue with important interests on both sides, he said to Solicitor General Prelogar. “Why should this court be the arbiter rather than Congress, the state legislatures, state supreme courts, the people being able to resolve this?” he said. “And there will be different answers in Mississippi and New York, different answers in Alabama than California because they’re two different interests at stake and the people in those states might value those interests somewhat differently.”
Justice Kavanaugh painted a soothing description of a down-the-middle resolution, but Solicitor General Prelogar, for one, wasn’t fooled. “The nature of fundamental rights is that it’s not left up to state legislatures to decide whether to honor them or not,” she responded.
Can Justice Kavanaugh really believe what he said? We’ll see soon enough. Last month, the court heard arguments in a case that challenges New York’s strict requirement for a license to carry a concealed weapon. Most states have looser restrictions. New York, through its legislative process, is in a minority.
Will Justice Kavanaugh and those of his colleagues who glorify a recently manufactured version of the Second Amendment allow New York City to keep going its own way on gun safety in the name of “letting the people decide”? That’s about as likely as the chance that those very same justices will decide to keep the right to abortion on the books. In both cases, we know what they’re going to do. The only mystery is how they will explain it.” -30-