What is the historic amendment that enshrined abortion access in France’s Constitution? | Explained

The story so far: The French Parliament on March 4 overwhelmingly approved a bill to enshrine abortion as a constitutional right at a historic joint session at the Palace of Versailles. With this, it has become the only country to explicitly guarantee a woman’s right to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy.

During the extraordinary voting session, out of the 902 legislators, 780 voted in favour of the bill, 72 voted against it and 50 abstained. The measure was promised by President Emmanuel Macron following a rollback of abortion rights in the United States in recent times, especially the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 50-year-old ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Abortion, although legal in France since 1975, will now be a “guaranteed freedom” for women. The amendment had already been passed by the National Assembly in January and by the Senate last week. However, final approval by parliamentarians at a joint session was needed to effect constitutional change.

In the lead-up to the historic vote, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal paid tribute to Simone Veil, a prominent legislator and feminist who in 1975 championed the bill that decriminalised abortion in France. “It takes one generation, one year, one week for things to change drastically,” he cautioned in his opening speech.

The law will now be authenticated by a “seal of congress” and sent to the government. In a symbolic gesture, Mr. Macron will attend a ceremony to finalise the constitutional amendment on March 8, International Women’s Day.

What does the constitutional reform say?

The Bill, introduced last year, amended the 17th paragraph of Article 34 of the French constitution. The amendment stipulates that “the law determines the conditions by which is exercised the freedom of women to voluntarily terminate a pregnancy, which is guaranteed.” This means that future governments will not be able to drastically modify existing laws which permit termination up to 14 weeks.

Indicating how abortion rights have come under the scanner in many countries across Europe, the introduction to the legislation states, “Unfortunately, this event is not isolated: in many countries, even in Europe, there are currents of opinion that seek to hinder at any cost the freedom of women to terminate their pregnancy if they wish.”

Although rare, amending the constitution is not without precedent in France. The French Constitution has been modified over 17 times since it was adopted in 1958. The last instance was in 2008 when the Parliament was awarded more powers and presidential tenure was limited to a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms in office.

France is the only country to currently have such a specification pertaining to abortion, although former Communist-run Yugoslavia’s 1974 constitution said that “a person is free to decide on having children” and that such a right can only be limited “for the reasons of health protection.” After its disintegration in the early 1990s, several Balkan states adopted similar measures without an explicit constitutional guarantee. For instance, Serbia’s constitution in less specific terms states that “everyone has the right to decide on childbirth.”

However, some argue that abortion was already constitutionally protected following a 2001 ruling in which France’s constitutional council based its approval of abortion on the notion of liberty enshrined in the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man, which is technically a part of the Constitution.

How has it been received?

Unlike in the United States, the issue of abortion is not highly divisive across the political spectrum in France. Most French people believe that abortion is a woman’s right and an essential public health service. A poll conducted by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP) in 2022 showed 81% of respondents were in favour of enshrining the right to have an abortion in the Constitution. According to government figures, 234,000 abortions were carried out in France in 2022.

The right to abortion has not faced any significant challenges from political parties in France, including conservatives and the far-right National Rally party. While some right-wing senators from the Républicains party voted against a first attempt to change the Constitution in October 2022, the stance of major political parties has generally aligned with that of the French public. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally, told Reuters earlier that the move was unnecessary and a political gimmick, although her party would not vote against it.

The Vatican and the French Conference of Bishops have, however, opposed the amendment and so have other anti-abortion groups such as the Association of Catholic Families. Critics have also warned that the move is a conscious effort by Mr. Macron to appeal to left-leaning figures in his Renaissance party after controversial pension and immigration reforms.

What is the status in other European countries?

Abortion is currently accessible in more than 40 European nations, but some countries are seeing increased efforts to limit access to the procedure. In September last year, Hungary’s far-right government made it obligatory for women to listen to the pulse of the fetus, sometimes called the “foetal heartbeat,” before they can access a safe abortion.

Poland, which has some of the most stringent abortion laws in Europe, allows termination only in the event of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health or life. Restrictions were further tightened in 2020 when the country’s top court ruled that abortions on the grounds of foetal defects were unconstitutional.

The United Kingdom permits abortion to 24 weeks of pregnancy, if it is approved by two doctors. Delayed abortions are allowed only if there exists a danger to the mother’s life. However, women who undergo abortions after 24 weeks can be prosecuted under the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861.

Also Read:How many countries allow abortion on request, where is abortion completely prohibited, and more

Italy resisted Vatican pressure and legalised abortion in 1978 by allowing women to terminate pregnancies up to 12 weeks or later if their health or life was endangered. However, the law allows medical practitioners to register as “conscientious objectors,” thereby making access to the procedure extremely difficult.

The French initiative could however embolden efforts to add abortion to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

What do experts have to say?

“It’s not stating reproductive choices or the right to have children; it’s a very different language when you say access to abortion,” Anna Sledzinska-Simon, a law professor at the University of Wroclaw in Poland told The New York Times. “The French are calling it by its name — that’s crucial,” she added, highlighting the significance of the move.

However, Mathilde Philip-Gay, a law professor and a specialist in French and American constitutional law warned against easing pressure on legislators to safeguard women’s rights in the wake of far-right parties gaining political influence around the world.

“It may not be an issue in France, where a majority of people support abortion,” she told the Associated Press. “But those same people may one day vote for a far-right government, and what happened in the U.S. can happen elsewhere in Europe, including in France.”

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Women’s rights and women wronged in 2023

The year saw progress on women’s rights in some countries, such as Spain’s introduction of menstrual leave, France’s bid to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution and the arrival of the #MeToo movement in Taiwan. But there were also setbacks in 2023, from Taliban edicts tightening restrictions on Afghan women to what the UN called a “global epidemic of femicide”.

The year 2022 was marked by major convulsions in women’s rights across the world, from the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade to the “Woman, life, freedom” chants in Iran, which were followed by a massive government crackdown.

This year saw more gradual developments, from the continuing assaults on and pushback against diminishing abortion rights in the US to the steady disappearance of women from public life in Afghanistan.

FRANCE 24 looks back at some of the major developments in 2023 that left their mark on women’s rights across the world.

Spain becomes first European country to introduce menstrual leave

Spain’s Equality Minister Irene Montero after a parliamentary vote in Madrid, on December 22, 2022. © Thomas Coex, AFP

In February, Spain became the first European country to pass a law creating menstrual leave for women suffering from painful periods. Equality Minister Irene Montero – from the far-left Podemos party, part of the Socialist-led ruling coalition – called it “a historic day for feminist progress”.

The law, which passed by 185 votes in favour to 154 against, entitles employees experiencing period pain to time off, with the state social security system – not employers – picking up the tab.

As with paid leave for other health reasons, it requires a doctor’s approval. The length of sick leave was not specified in the law.

The new legislation also allows minors aged 16 and 17 to have an abortion without parental permission, reversing a requirement introduced by a previous conservative government in 2015.

Read moreSpain passes Europe’s first menstrual leave law

The #MeToo wave reaches Taiwan’s shores

Chen Chien-jou, 22, during an interview in New Taipei City, Taiwan during the #MeToo movement crisis.
Chen Chien-jou, 22, during an interview in New Taipei City, Taiwan during the #MeToo movement crisis. © Sam Yeh, AFP

It was a Netflix series that triggered the #MeToo movement in Taiwan – more than five years after the Harvey Weinstein abuse case sparked the social media-driven awareness campaign in the US and many parts of the world.

“Wave Makers”, an eight-episode Netflix drama released in April, is a political thriller that revealed the inner workings of a fictional presidential campaign team – and how women in power on the island deal with sexual harassment.  

The effect was instantaneous. Over the weeks that followed, several Taiwanese women broke social taboo to reveal their experiences at work. Female employees of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party kicked off the first major wave by accusing powerful politicians of sexual harassment and assault. The phenomenon spread to cultural and academic circles, with alleged victims accusing celebrities, doctors and professors.

A year after Roe v. Wade overturned, abortion battles rage in the US

Abortion rights demonstrators at rally in Washington, DC on June 24, 2023.
Abortion rights demonstrators at rally in Washington, DC on June 24, 2023. © Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, AFP

In its June 2022 ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court ended a half-century federal protection of abortion rights and allowed each state to legislate on the issue.

In 14 states, abortion has been outlawed, in some cases without exceptions for rape or incest. On the other hand, 17 states enacted laws or held referendums to protect abortion rights.

In other states, access to abortion is not prohibited, but is threatened by laws designed to restrict or prohibit the procedure. This is notably the case in Montana, Wyoming, Indiana and Ohio.

In April, a legal battle over the abortion pill opened a new front in the US battle for reproductive rights when a Texas district court judge invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill.

Days later, an appeals court struck down parts of the Texas judge’s ruling, but affirmed many restrictions on access to mifepristone, the abortion drug. The Justice Department under the Biden administration as well as the company manufacturing mifepristone sought emergency relief from the Supreme Court, which temporarily halted any changes.

In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by the FDA and mifepristone manufacturer Danco Laboratories. A decision is expected by end-June 2024, making abortion rights a likely campaign issue ahead of the 2024 US presidential election in November.

South of the US border, Mexico decriminalises abortion

A demonstrator in favour of decriminalizing abortion in Mexico City on September 28, 2023.
A demonstrator in favour of decriminalizing abortion in Mexico City on September 28, 2023. © Silvana Flores, AFP

Going against the grain of other Latin American countries and the US, Mexico decriminalised abortion across the country on September 6.

In a landmark judgement, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that criminal penalties for terminating pregnancies were unconstitutional.

Abortion was already decriminalised in a dozen of the country’s 32 states. The capital, Mexico City, was the first jurisdiction in Latin America to authorise abortions, in 2007.

Macron announces a bill to enshrine abortion rights in France’s constitution

Placards read
Placards read “My body my choice” (L) and “Abortion in the Constitution” at rally outside the Senate in Paris, February 1, 2023. © Ludovic Marin, AFP

In a speech on March 8, International Woman’s Day, President Emmanuel Macron announced a plan to put forward a bill enshrining abortion rights in France’s constitution.

The commitment was made during a tribute to feminist activist Gisèle Halimi, who played a key role in the passing of the 1975 Veil Act granting women the right to abortion and contraception.

Seven months later, the French president stepped up the pace, when he revealed that a draft project would be submitted to the State Council, France‘s highest administrative court, so that “by 2024, women’s freedom to have an abortion will be irreversible”.

Read moreThe challenge of enshrining abortion rights in the French constitution

Taliban slides into ‘gender apartheid’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ terrain

Afghan women wait to receive aid from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in Ghazni, Afghanistan on October 31, 2023.
Afghan women wait to receive aid from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in Ghazni, Afghanistan on October 31, 2023. © Mohammad Faisal Naweed, AFP

The year began with a Taliban ban on Afghan women from working in national and international aid organisations. It ended with an edict forcing the closure of all-women beauty salons, one of the few places left in Afghanistan where women could gather outside their homes.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021, Afghan women’s rights have been steadily rolled back, exposing the impoverished country to the “most serious women’s rights crisis in the world”, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Taliban have “completely dismantled the system” that had been developed to respond to domestic and gender-based violence in Afghanistan, noted the New York-based rights organisation. The beauty salon ban spelled the closure of “one of the last havens for mutual support among Afghan women”. Around 60,000 women lost their jobs in the process.

In a joint report to UN Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, said the Taliban’s actions “could amount to gender apartheid”.

The report also noted that the severe discrimination “may amount to gender persecution – a crime against humanity”.

Read moreAfghanistan’s NGO ban for women exposes rifts in Taliban ranks

Iran toughens penalties for women defying hijab rules

A woman holds up a placard with a picture of Mahsa Amini at a solidarity demonstration in Hasakeh, in Syria's Kurdish northeast on September 25, 2022.
A woman holds up a placard with a picture of Mahsa Amini at a solidarity demonstration in Hasakeh, in Syria’s Kurdish northeast on September 25, 2022. © Delil Souleiman, AFP

On September 20, a few days after Mahsa Amini‘s first death anniversary, the Iranian parliament approved a bill increasing prison terms, fines and penalties for women and girls breaking the country’s strict dress codes.

Penalties were also increased for employers as well as management of shopping malls and small businesses for failing to enforce the dress code.

The legal measures came after nearly a year of protests that saw women appearing in public without their hijabs as anger over Amini’s death while in custody exploded on the streets across Iran.

Following a brutal crackdown on the protests, many Iranian women continued to record and post anti-hijab clips and posts on social media. The new measures include penalties for “mockery of the hijab” in the media and on social networks.

Before the bill becomes law, it must be approved by Iran’s powerful Guardian Council.

Read moreYear after Mahsa Amini’s death, Iran crushes anti-veil protests

Morocco’s monarch nudges family code reform – again

On September 26, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI sent a letter to the country’s head of government, Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch, instructing the latter to ensure the revision of the country’s family code.

The letter followed a speech by the monarch on July 30, 2022 – marking the country’s annual “Throne Day” festivities, when Mohammed VI called for a revision of the Mudawana, Morocco’s family code.

The speech raised the hopes of Moroccan women – deprived of numerous rights such as inheritance, alimony and custody – to see enhanced gender rights in the kingdom.

In his letter to the prime minister, the king stated that the family code needed to adhere to the principle of “broad participatory consultation” with all concerned parties, including civil society activists and experts.

The king also asked the prime minister to speed up the reform so that a first version of the text could be presented to him within six months.

The family code, which had already reformed in 2004, has enabled joint responsibility between spouses, raised the minimum age of marriage to 18, granted women the right to request a divorce and the freedom to choose a husband without the authorisation of a guardian. But the weight of tradition and the discretion left to judges – much to the regret of women’s rights activists – have created a significant gap between the text and enforcement of the family code.

Feminicide hits global record high

A woman wears a mask during a
A woman wears a mask during a “Not One Less” demo against feminicide outside Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina. © Luis Robayo, AFP

Around 89,000 women and girls were deliberately killed in 2022, the highest yearly number recorded in the past 20 years, according to a study by the Research and Trend Analysis Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women.

In a joint statement issued ahead of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women called for an end to the “global epidemic of femicide”.

While #MeToo and other movements “have broken the silence and demonstrated that violence against women, girls and adolescents is happening throughout our communities, they have not always been followed by adequate reforms of laws and policies, nor have they produced much needed results and changes in women’s daily lives”, the statement noted.

This article has been translated from the original in French.

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Ohio Voters Reject Republican-Backed Measure to Make Constitutional Changes More Difficult, Setting Up Fall Referendum on Abortion Rights

Dennis Willard, spokesperson for One Person One Vote, celebrates the results of the election during a watch party on Aug. 8, 2023, in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio voters have resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to pass abortion protections.
| Photo Credit: AP

Ohio voters on August 8 resoundingly rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to change the State’s constitution, setting up a fall campaign that will become the nation’s latest referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nationwide protections last year.

The defeat of Issue 1 keeps in place a simple majority threshold for passing future constitutional amendments. It would have raised that to a 60% supermajority, which supporters said would protect the State’s foundational document from outside interest groups.

Opposition to the proposal was widespread, even spreading into Republican territory. In fact, in early returns, support for the measure fell far short of former President Donald Trump’s performance during the 2020 election in nearly every county.

Dennis Willard, a spokesperson for the opposition campaign One Person One Vote, called Issue 1 a “deceptive power grab” that was intended to diminish the influence of the State’s voters.

“Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio,” Mr. Willard told a jubilant crowd at the opposition campaign’s watch party. “The majority still rules in Ohio.”

President Joe Biden hailed August 8th’s result, releasing a statement saying: “This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.”

A major national group that opposes abortion rights, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, called the result “a sad day for Ohio” while criticizing the outside money that helped the opposition— even though both sides relied on national groups and individuals in their campaigns.

Republican lawmakers who had pushed the measure— and put it before voters during the height of summer vacation season— explained away the defeat as a result of too little time to adequately explain it to voters. A main backer, Republican Senate President Matt Huffman, predicted lawmakers would try again, though probably not as soon as next year.

“Obviously, there are a lot of folks that did not want this to happen — not just because of the November issues, but for all of the other ones that are coming,” he said.

While abortion was not directly on the special election ballot, the result marks the latest setback for Republicans in a conservative-leaning state who favour imposing tough restrictions on the procedure. Ohio Republicans placed the question on the summer ballot in hopes of undercutting a citizen initiative that voters will decide in November that seeks to enshrine abortion rights in the State.

Other States where voters have considered abortion rights since last year’s Supreme Court ruling have protected them, including in red States such as Kansas and Kentucky.

In trying to explain the defeat on the August 8 evening, State Rep. Jim Hoops, the House GOP whip, said the debate over Issue 1 became overly politicized because of the looming abortion rights question: “It’s just unfortunate that it became political.”

Interest in Ohio’s special election was intense, even after Republicans ignored their own law that took effect earlier this year to place the question before voters in August. Voters cast nearly 700,000 early in-person and mail ballots ahead of Tuesday’s final day of voting, more than double the number of advance votes in a typical primary election. Early turnout was especially heavy in the Democratic-leaning counties surrounding Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

One Person One Vote represented a broad, bipartisan coalition of voting rights, labour, faith and community groups. The group also had as allies four living ex-Governors of the State and five former State attorneys general of both parties, who called the proposed change bad public policy.

In place since 1912, the simple majority standard is a much more surmountable hurdle for Ohioans for Reproductive Rights, the group advancing November’s abortion rights amendment. It would establish “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits.”

Eric Chon, a Columbus resident who voted against the measure, said there was a clear anti-abortion agenda to the election. Noting that the GOP voted just last year to get rid of August elections entirely due to low turnout for hyperlocal issues, Chon said, “Every time something doesn’t go their way, they change the rules.”

Voters in several States have approved ballot questions protecting access to abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but typically have done so with less than 60% of the vote. AP VoteCast polling last year found that 59% of Ohio voters say abortion should generally be legal.

The result came in the very type of August special election that Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a candidate for U.S. Senate, had previously testified against as undemocratic because of historically low turnout. Republican lawmakers just last year had voted to mostly eliminate such elections, a law they ignored for this year’s election.

Al Daum, of Hilliard, just west of Columbus, said he didn’t feel the rules were being changed to undermine the power of his vote and said he was in favor of the special election measure. Along with increasing the threshold to 60%, it would mandate that any signatures for a constitutional amendment be gathered from all of Ohio’s 88 counties, not just 44.

It’s a change that Mr. Daum said would give more Ohio residents a chance to make their voices heard.

GOP lawmakers had cited possible future amendments related to gun control or minimum wage increases as reasons a higher threshold should be required.

Voters’ rejection of the proposal marked a rare rebuke for Ohio Republicans, who have held power across every branch of state government for 12 years.

Ohio Right to Life, the State’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group and a key force behind the special election measure, vowed to continue fighting into the fall.

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It’s The 2024 Republican Primary, And Everyone’s A Loser!

As we keep getting further and closer to the eventual Republican presidential primary debates, we have no shortage of Republicans jumping into the already cramped clown car. Let’s take a look at the three we saw this Sunday!

Bottom Of The Barrel

We begin with Donald Trump’s former loyal sycophant Vice President, “Hanging” Mike Pence, on Fox News Sunday.

Host Shannon Bream began by pointing out how Pence is unable to reach the base of Republican voters (on account of the whole wanted to murder him on January 6 thing) and that he’s still in single digits in the polls. So what “bold” strategy does Pence have to get elected?

PENCE: […] I authored the first legislation to defund Planned Parenthood that had ever been authored and passed in the House of Representatives. […]

Not sure pointing out you were first in line to snatch away women’s bodily autonomy is a winning strategy with independents there, Mikey.

Bream followed up by asking further about Pence’s theocratic stance on abortion, pointing out he wants a 15-week national abortion ban (so much for “states’ rights”). Bream then read a USA Today article showing polls pointing out Pence’s (and most of the GOP’s) abortion policies are actually very, very unpopular.

BREAM: “Americans overwhelmingly oppose […] a federal law banning abortion nationwide. By 80 percent to 14 percent, those surveyed opposed the idea, including 65 percent of Republicans and 83 percent of independents.” So how do you sell this to the American public that, according to these numbers, doesn’t want a national ban?

So how did Pence react when confronted with these statistical facts?

PENCE: This weekend we are celebrating a historic victory […] when one year ago, the Supreme Court of the United States sent Roe vs. Wade to the ash heap of history. […] I couldn’t be more proud of the some 20 states that have advanced protections for the unborn and support for women facing crisis pregnancy. […] As men and women step forward for office in the Republican Party all across the country, that we speak with clarity about a commitment to the sanctity of life. That we make it clear we’ll stand on principle, but we’ll also stand with compassion. […] That’s how we are gonna win hearts and minds. […] I also think it’s a winning issue.

It’s not. She just showed him that it’s not. These people are not good at taking in new information.

Pence also supported Sen. Tommy Tuberville holding military promotions hostage over abortion policy because religious fundamentalism outweighs whatever hollow pandering “support our military” slogan that Republicans blather out.

It’s clear that Pence is just gonna keep spewing the same canned, rehearsed garbage that ensured he was a horrible talk radio host, governor of Indiana and single-termvice president. All with Pence’s trademark disingenuous smirk someone mistakenly told him was “charming” rather than smugly condescending. It will be a genuine pleasure to watch Pence’s political career truly be sent to the “ash heap of history” once and for all.

Hail Mary

Meanwhile, over on ABC’s “This Week,” former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was continuing his Sisyphean attempt to win the Republican presidential nomination.

Host Jonathan Karl asked thorough questions regarding Russia’s almost coup, the continuing Ukraine conflict, and Christie’s differing view from Pence on abortion.

But we’re going to focus on Karl asking Christie about being booed in New Hampshire while speaking to GOP voters and criticizing Donald Trump. Karl, in light of this reception, asked if Christie thinks his message is resonating. Christie gave an answer that was very optimistic for himself.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely evidence it’s resonating, Jonathan. I’ve been in the race for less than three weeks and have already in third place in New Hampshire, only four points behind Ron DeSantis, who’s been in the race for a longer time and is supposed to be the co-front-runner. […]

Christie sure has high hopes.

But we don’t know if that’s as successful for Christie as he believes it is when Trump is beating everyone by more than 34 points and Christie’s “third place” is single digits. If anything, the latest New Hampshire poll reflects the ever-faster plummeting of DeSantis’s campaign.

After criticizing Trump’s latest incoherent speech, Christie gave a preview of what his general election strategy would be if he ever makes it that far.

CHRISTIE: This guy [Trump] lost in ’18. He lost the Senate and the White House in ’20. The House in ’18. He lost two more governorships and the Senate race in 2022. He is a three-time loser. We do not need our party to go to a fourth loss because Joe Biden, in my opinion, Jon, is an awful president. And we can’t afford to have him from age 82 to 86 in the White House or even worse have Kamala Harris assume the presidency. That’s the stakes here.

While we are here for any time people are reminded that Trump is a huge loser whose only real victory was getting elected in 2016, Christie’s critique of Biden is precisely why some in the GOP are freaking out about Trump being the nominee. They would love to run on Biden’s age, but Trump being the nominee takes that away due to his age.

Long Shot

We conclude with this week’s newest entry to the Republican presidential primary race: Former Texas Congressman Will Hurd.

Also appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Hurd gave an interview placing himself in the very crowded “moderate” lane. Since Wonkette has written many times about how much Will Hurd sucks previously, we’ll just summarize with this tweet from Tim Miller of The Bulwark regarding Florida Sen. Rick Scott possibly entering this race.

When your candidacy’s low standing is being used to measure how badly delusional someone else’s is, maybe you shouldn’t waste everyone’s time.

We’ll save our readers’ time by not wasting more of theirs.

Have a week.

If you are shopping on Amazon anyway, this link gives Wonkette a small cut.

Do your Amazon shopping through this link, because reasons.

If you like what you’re reading for free, please consider helping us pay our writers. We love you!

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A Former And Current Democrat Wrestle Against A Moral Universe

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It is a favorite quote of former Pres. Barack Obama (who had it woven into his White House rug) and cited by other politicians, often around MLK Day. But despite its good sentiment, some scholars have noted the meaning was taken out of context to excuse inaction all for a dream of “justice” we might never see in this world.

So, let’s keep this debate in mind when we discuss two specific guests on this week’s Sunday shows.

It’s the Kyrsten Sinema Show!

The senior senator from Arizona, part-time reseller and full-time asshole made a rare appearance on a Sunday show to answer some questions. She also made sure it was at the McCain Institute in front of a live audience with CBS’s “Face The Nation” so that she could receive maximum attention while being the feckless senator we all know.

For example, when Sinema criticized the Biden Administration’s border policy, host Margaret Brennan mentions an immigration bill Sinema and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced. But when asked about passing it before Title 42 expires, Sinema joked about the uselessness of the Senate.

SINEMA: Oh, God, no, Margaret. This is the United States Senate. (laughter)

BRENNAN: That’s what I was saying.

SINEMA: I don’t think you can get agreement on a restroom break by next Thursday. The United States Senate is functioning at a fairly dysfunctional level right now.

Hahahahaha! Isn’t it truly hilarious that the people elected to govern can’t do a single thing?! And that they not only know they won’t take action to help their constituents but find it a joke??! Just hilarious, Sinema. Hardy Har Har …

Sinema was asked about Republicans holding the full faith and credit of the US hostage for draconian cuts with the debt ceiling and she outlined the real problem — “both sides.”

While Sinema admitted Biden is correct to want a “a clean debt limit to meet the full faith and responsibility of the United States of America,” she blamed him for not prioritizing Kevin McCarthy’s political career over destroying the American people’s lives or the global financial system.

SINEMA: […] Kevin McCarthy, as we all saw, took him a long time to become Speaker. Barely squeaked by with the votes, had to make a lot of concessions to get the job and he has a very, very narrow road to walk. So he has to thread a needle where he can get the votes he needs to pass a debt limit increase and continue to be Speaker. […] Reality is the bill that Kevin and his colleagues passed through the House is not going to be the solution. The votes do not exist in the United States Senate to pass that. But what the president is offering is not a realistic solution either. There’s not going to be just a simple clean debt limit. The votes don’t exist for that. […]

The votes DO exist to pass a clean limit, Sinema. You just need all the House Democratic votes and enough sane Republicans for a majority. But the reason that someone like Sinema or McCarthy can’t see that is because anything that doesn’t advance their careers or risks political power for their constituents is not seen as a solution.

Ironically, Sinema’s Senate career and McCarthy’s speakership might be over soon due to that very calculus.

Dick Durbin: The Susan Collins of Chuck Schumers

Speaking of political inaction, Senate Judiciary chair Dick Durbin was on CNN’s “State of The Union” with Jake Tapper.

Tapper asked Durbin about what Congress can do to solve the gun violence that led to ANOTHER mass shooting in Texas on Saturday.

DURBIN: There is something more that America can do, and it’s called an election.

Oh, fuck you, Dick. Your answer to why Congress can’t meet the demands for action from the majority of Americans tired of gun violence is “vote harder”?? Fuck off! Americans are united. It’s Congress who isn’t.

Even in a Fox news poll.

Record-breaking election turnouts in 2018,2020 and 2022 is why Durbin even has a chairmanship. Voters are doing/have done everything they can only to have their votes “rewarded” by political apathy.

But that’s too much to ask from someone like Durbin. When asked about Clarence Thomas’s recent revelations, Durbin at best could muster mild disappointment.

TAPPER: Some of your fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill say that this seems to go beyond ethical lapses; it rises to the level of corrupt behavior. Is that a word you would use, corrupt?

DURBIN: Well, I can tell you that the conclusion most people would reach is that this tangled web around Justice Clarence Thomas just gets worse and worse by the day. […] The question is whether it embarrasses the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice. […] This is the Roberts court, and history is going to judge him by the decision he makes on this. He has the power to make the difference.

History? You’re the Senate Judiciary Committee chair! It’s YOUR job, you feckless fossil! If you are waiting on history, which if I remember is written by the victors, we are all doomed.

Durbin, who can’t even stand up to end the bullshit blue slips, also made an idle threat about taking action about Thomas on Twitter like a telephone tough guy.

Tapper, who is no progressive, seemed almost as frustrated by this when he asked about Dianne Feinstein’s return to the Senate and let his inner sauciness out on Durbin’s bullshit about Feinstein’s wishes over the needs of the American people.

Republicans are pursuing evil, but politicians like Durbin and Sinema help gatekeep progress through incrementalism instead of fighting hard.

And Dick Durbin should know better.

Have a week.

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U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocks restrictions on abortion pill

The Supreme Court said on April 14 it was temporarily keeping in place federal rules for use of an abortion drug, while it takes time to more fully consider the issues raised in a court challenge.

In an order signed by Justice Samuel Alito, the court put a five-day pause on the fast-moving case so the justices can decide whether lower court rulings restricting the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug, mifepristone, should be allowed to take effect in the short term.

The justices are being asked at this point only to determine what parts of an April 7 ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Texas, as modified by an appellate ruling on Wednesday, can be in force while the case continues. The order expires late Wednesday, suggesting the court will decide that issue by then.

The court finds itself immersed in a new fight involving abortion less than a year after conservative justices reversed Roe v. Wade and allowed more than a dozen States to effectively ban abortion outright.

President Joe Biden’s administration and New York-based Danco Laboratories, the maker of the pill, asked the justices to intervene.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement on Friday evening that the administration continues “to stand by FDA’s evidence-based approval of mifepristone, and we will continue to support the FDA’s independent, expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide range of prescription drugs”.

She added, “The stakes of this fight could not be higher in the face of ongoing attacks on women’s health, and we will continue to fight to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade.”

A flag that reads “my body, my choice,” flutters in the wind across the street from Florida Capitol where the House voted to ban abortions after six weeks on Thursday, April 13, 2023 in Tallahassee.
| Photo Credit:

A lawyer for the anti-abortion doctors and medical organisations suing over mifepristone said the court’s action on Friday was “standard operating procedure” and urged the justices to allow the appeals court-ordered changes to take effect by the middle of next week.

The type of order issued by the court on Friday, an administrative stay, ordinarily is not an indication of what the justices will do going forward. It was signed by Justice Alito because he handles emergency filings from Texas. Justice Alito also is the author of last year’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Justice Department and Danco both warned of “regulatory chaos” and harm to women if the high court doesn’t block the lower-court rulings that had the effect of tightening FDA rules under which the drug, mifepristone, can be prescribed and dispensed.

The new limits would have taken effect on Saturday if the court hadn’t acted.

“This application concerns unprecedented lower court orders countermanding FDA’s scientific judgment and unleashing regulatory chaos by suspending the existing FDA-approved conditions of use for mifepristone,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, the Biden administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, wrote on Friday, less than two days after the appellate ruling.

The Biden administration and Danco now want a more lasting order that would keep the current rules in place as long as the legal fight over mifepristone continues. As a fallback, they asked the court to take up the issue, hear arguments and decide by early summer a legal challenge to mifepristone that anti-abortion doctors and medical organisations filed last year.

ALSO READ | A history of the discourse around abortion in the U.S. 

The court rarely acts so quickly to grant full review of cases before at least one appeals court has thoroughly examined the legal issues involved.

A ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late on Wednesday would prevent the pill, used in the most common abortion method, from being mailed or prescribed without an in-person visit to a doctor. It also would withdraw the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone for use beyond the seventh week of pregnancy. The FDA says it’s safe through 10 weeks.

Still, the appeals court did not entirely withdraw FDA approval of mifepristone while the fight over it continues. The 5th circuit narrowed an April 7 ruling by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, whose far-reaching and virtually unprecedented order would have blocked FDA approval of the pill. He gave the administration a week to appeal.

“To the government’s knowledge, this is the first time any court has abrogated FDA’s conditions on a drug’s approval based on a disagreement with the agency’s judgment about safety — much less done so after those conditions have been in effect for years,” Ms. Prelogar wrote.

Erin Hawley, a lawyer for the challengers, said in a statement that the FDA has put politics ahead of health concerns in its actions on medication abortion.

“The 5th Circuit rightly required the agency to prioritize women’s health by restoring critical safeguards, and we’ll urge the Supreme Court to keep that accountability in place,” said Ms. Hawley, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that also argued to overturn Roe v. Wade.

File photo of protestors, upset with the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, gather on the Idaho Capitol steps, Friday, June 24, 2022 after marching through Downtown Boise.

File photo of protestors, upset with the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, gather on the Idaho Capitol steps, Friday, June 24, 2022 after marching through Downtown Boise.
| Photo Credit:

Mifepristone was approved by the FDA more than two decades ago and is used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol.

Adding to the uncertainty, a separate federal judge in Washington on Thursday clarified his own order from last week to make clear that the FDA is not to do anything that might block mifepristone’s availability in 17 Democrat-led States suing to keep it on the market.

It’s unclear how the FDA can comply with court orders in both cases, a situation that Ms. Prelogar described on Friday as untenable.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a statement Friday night, said the April 7 ruling out of Texas poses “an existential threat to the FDA’s authority to review and approve a wide range of drugs. If it stands, no medicine approved by the FDA would be safe from these attacks”.

Use of medication abortion jumped significantly after the FDA’s 2016 rule expansion, according to data gathered by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. In 2017, medication abortion accounted for 39% percent of abortions, but by 2020 it had increased to become the most common method, accounting for 53% of all abortions.

Experts have said the use of medication abortion has increased since the court overturned Roe.

When the drug was initially approved, the FDA limited its use to up to seven weeks of pregnancy. It also required three in-person office visits: the first to administer mifepristone, the next to administer the second drug, misoprostol, and the third to address any complications. It also required a doctor’s supervision and a reporting system for any serious consequences of the drug.

If the appeals court’s action stands, those would again be the terms under which mifepristone could be dispensed for now.

At the core of the Texas lawsuit is the allegation that the FDA’s initial approval of mifepristone was flawed because the agency did not adequately review safety risks.

Mifepristone has been used by millions of women over the past 23 years. While less drastic than completely overturning the drug’s approval, the latest ruling still represents a stark challenge to the FDA’s authority overseeing how prescription drugs are used in the U.S. The ruling late Wednesday overturned multiple decisions made by FDA regulators after years of scientific review.

Common side effects with mifepristone include cramping, bleeding, nausea, headache and diarrhea. In rare cases, women can experience excess bleeding that requires surgery to stop.

Still, in loosening restrictions on mifepristone, FDA regulators cited “exceedingly low rates of serious adverse events.”

More than 5.6 million women in the U.S. had used the drug as of June 2022, according to the FDA. In that period, the agency received 4,200 reports of complications in women, or less than one tenth of 1% of women who took the drug.

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US access to abortion pills in limbo after conflicting judicial rulings

Access to the most commonly used method of abortion in the U.S. plunged into uncertainty Friday following conflicting court rulings over the legality of the abortion medication mifepristone that has been widely available for more than 20 years.

For now, the drug the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2000 appeared to remain at least immediately available in wake of two separate rulings that were issued in quick succession by federal judges in Texas and Washington.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ordered a hold on federal approval of mifepristone in a decision that overruled decades of scientific approval. But that decision came at nearly the same time that U.S. District Judge Thomas O. Rice, an Obama appointee, essentially ordered the opposite and directed U.S. authorities not to make any changes that would restrict access to the drug in at least 17 states where Democrats sued in an effort to protect availability.

The extraordinary timing of the competing orders revealed the high stakes surrounding the drug nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and curtailed access to abortion across the country. President Joe Biden said his administration would fight the Texas ruling.

The whiplash of the conflicting decisions is likely to put the issue on an accelerated path to the Supreme Court.

“FDA is under one order that says you can do nothing and another that says in seven days I’m going to require you to vacate the approval of mifepristone,” said Glenn Cohen of Harvard Law School.

Abortion providers slammed the Texas ruling, including Whole Woman’s Health, which operates six clinics in five states and said it would continue to dispense mifepristone in person and by mail over the next week as they review the rulings.

The abortion drug has been widely used in the U.S. since securing FDA approval and there is essentially no precedent for a lone judge overruling the medical decisions of the Food and Drug Administration. Mifepristone is one of two drugs used for medication abortion in the United States, along with misoprostol, which is also used to treat other medical conditions.

‘Political attack’

Kacsmaryk signed an injunction directing the FDA to stay mifepristone’s approval while a lawsuit challenging the safety and approval of the drug continues. His 67-page order gave the government seven days to appeal.

“The Court in this case has substituted its judgment for FDA, the expert agency that approves drugs,” Biden said. “If this ruling were to stand, then there will be virtually no prescription, approved by the FDA, that would be safe from these kinds of political, ideological attacks.”

Clinics and doctors that prescribe the two-drug combination have said that if mifepristone were pulled from the market, they would switch to using only the second drug, misoprostol. That single-drug approach has a slightly lower rate of effectiveness in ending pregnancies, but it is widely used in countries where mifepristone is illegal or unavailable.


The lawsuit in the Texas case was filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was also involved in the Mississippi case that led to Roe v. Wade being overturned. At the core of the lawsuit is the allegation that the FDA’s initial approval of mifepristone was flawed because it did not adequately review its safety risks.

Courts have long deferred to the FDA on issues of drug safety and effectiveness. But the agency’s authority faces new challenges in a post-Roe legal environment in which abortions are banned or unavailable in 14 states, while 16 states have laws specifically targeting abortion medications.

Since the Texas lawsuit was filed in November, legal experts have warned of questionable arguments and factual inaccuracies in the Christian group’s filing. Kacsmaryk essentially agreed with the plaintiffs on all of their major points, including that the FDA didn’t adequately review mifepristone’s safety.

“The Court does not second-guess FDA’s decision-making lightly.” Kacsmaryk wrote. “But here, FDA acquiesced on its legitimate safety concerns — in violation of its statutory duty — based on plainly unsound reasoning and studies that did not support its conclusions.”

Mifepristone has been used by millions of women over the past 23 years, and complications from mifepristone occur at a lower rate than that seen with wisdom teeth removal, colonoscopies and other routine medical procedures, medical groups have recently noted.

19th century law

Elsewhere, Kacsmaryk sided with plaintiffs in stating that the FDA overstepped its authority in approving mifepristone, in part, by using a specialized review process reserved for drugs to treat “serious or life-threatening illnesses.” The judge brushed aside FDA arguments that its own regulations make clear that pregnancy is a medical condition that can sometimes be serious and life-threatening, instead calling it a “natural process essential to perpetuating human life.”

His order also agreed with plaintiffs in invoking a controversial 19th century law that anti-abortion groups are now trying to revive to block sending abortion medications through the mail. Originally passed in 1873 and named for an “anti-vice crusader,” the Comstock Act was used to prohibit the mailing of contraceptives, “lewd” writings and “instruments” that could be used in an abortion. The law was seldom invoked in the 50 years after Roe established a federal right to abortion.

Kacsmaryk, though, agreed with plaintiffs that the law — as literally interpreted — prohibits mailing mifepristone.

His order, if upheld, would also dismantle a number of recent FDA actions intended to ease access to the drug.

In late 2021 the FDA — under the Biden administration — dropped a requirement that women pick up the drug in person, opening the door to delivery by mail-order pharmacies. In January the agency dropped another requirement that prevented most brick-and-mortar pharmacies from dispensing the pill.

Anti-abortion groups, which are newly encouraged about their ability to further restrict abortion and prevail in court since last’s year’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, embraced the Texas ruling.

“The court’s decision today is a major step forward for women and girls whose health and safety have been jeopardized for decades by the FDA’s rushed, flawed and politicized approval of these dangerous drugs,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini.

Legal experts warned that the ruling could upend decades of precedent, setting the stage for political groups to overturn other FDA approvals of controversial drugs and vaccines.

“This has never happened before in history — it’s a huge deal,” said Greer Donley, a professor specializing in reproductive health care at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. “You have a federal judge who has zero scientific background second guessing every scientific decision that the FDA made.”

Still, because of the contradictory nature of the rulings, Donley and other experts said there would be little immediate impact.

“In the short term, nothing’s going to change,” Donley said. “This is the time to be preparing for the fact that in a week, potentially, mifepristone becomes an unapproved drug in this country.”


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2022: The Year of the Angry Woman on-screen

Mia Goth as Pearl in ‘Pearl’
| Photo Credit: A24

After a gruelling couple of years lost to the pandemic, cinema made a comeback in 2022, and how! We saw the larger-than-life heroes return to the screens with jaw-dropping action sequences, and space was made for fables on imperfect parents and their misguided efforts at expressing love; we had the movies to turn to during our recovery for a good laugh.

But the anxieties and horrors of the economic slowdown, an impending climate crisis, and the questions of existentialism that the pandemic birthed still lurk in the dark crevices of our minds. Cinema has justifiably absorbed these sensibilities and reflected them on the screen for all of us to gaze at, while looking within ourselves. We had the  Jaws-inspired Jean Jacket monster in Nope that revels in feeding on people, and, in the process, swallowing the lives they’ve built for themselves. Then, we also were witness to the cruel monsters lurking underneath our smiles in Smile. But one thing the horror slashers and cathartic dark comedies this year had in common was the sheer number of women championing our anxieties.

While it is interesting and encouraging to see women occupy space on our screen, the reason they fit into the roles perfectly is a tad complicated. A  BBC analysis of the World Gallup Poll points to a widening rage gap. In 2012 both men and women reported anger and stress at similar levels; however, nine years later, women are angrier by a margin of six percentage points with the pandemic playing a very significant role. 

The pandemic was disproportionately cruel to women — they were driven out of the workforce and forced to tend to childcare duties and household responsibilities, putting a strain on their economic independence. A global study found that women did three times more childcare duties than men. 2022 also gave women a lot to be angry about: women in the United States of America lost their right to abortion with the overturning of  Roe v. Wade, the Taliban in Afghanistan banned women from universities and kept the corridors of learning out of their reach, and the regime in Iran lynched women for participating in the anti-regime protests triggered by the killing of Mahsa Amini.

Women in cinema are amplifying the shared anxieties and anger of being a woman in the contemporary world in their own ways.

Do you know a woman who has been asked to smile by a stranger on the street? Do you wish to silence that stranger? Maybe Smile is your best bet. Starring Sosie Bacon, this tale explores mental health and generational trauma that daughters inherit from their mothers, a theme Natasha Lyonne explored through the character of Nadia Vulvokov, another infamous grumpy female protagonist, in the second season of  Russian Doll.

A still from Apple TV+’s ‘Bad Sisters’

A still from Apple TV+’s ‘Bad Sisters’
| Photo Credit:

Kith and kin united to shower rage over a misogynist man in  Apple TV+’s  Bad Sisters. The sisters plotted to kill their sister’s abusive husband and their imagination in all its gore and violence made its way to the screen, supplemented with dark comedy, pushed the audience to root for their erroneous antics.

Rage has largely been considered a masculine emotion, and women were forced to only express secondary emotions and consequences of a man’s rage. Watching women own their rage without facing brutal and unjustified consequences was indeed refreshing.

Armed with a stellar cast, Halina Reijn’s Bodies Bodies Bodies dared to turn the virginal final girl trope on its head by killing off men in the very beginning and keeping the highly sexual, morally-complicated female characters alive. The girls who survive the stormy night are rich brats to whom self-awareness does not come easy. Watching flawed female characters survive in a horror film makes me think of the famous internet phrase, “I support women’s rights but more importantly, I support women’s wrongs.” 

A sanitised portrayal of women on-screen has haunted women in real life as it paints an inaccurate picture of womanhood which often strips them of their needs, wants and desires. They are left to the mercy of a man’s story, and most of their emotions are secondary. Acknowledging women’s missteps without disproportionately punishing them goes a long way in understanding the women around us. 

Call Me By Your Name filmmaker Luca Guadagnino also seems to have taken supporting women’s wrongs a little too seriously in his film  Bones and All by letting Maren Yearly (Taylor Russell) feast on men. She’s often drenched in their blood and enjoys the human flesh while also being capable of empathy, friendship and love. On that note, cannibalism has served as a metaphor for a lot of socio-political and psychological commentary this year, with Mimi Cave’s  Fresh drawing lessons on class and patriarchy through the act of eating human flesh.

The mother of all horror films in 2022 (pun intended), Barbarian, manifests the generations of rape and incest as a supernatural female who lives in the basement of a house in Detroit and goes after men who hurt women, a sordid tale of female solidarity if you may. Watching Lib Wright (Florence Pugh) gives the finger to religion and patriarchy in The Wonder by lying and burning down a house for a girl she has known only for two weeks compels us to cheer for her misdeeds.

Mia Goth as Pearl

Mia Goth as Pearl
| Photo Credit:

However, Ti West’s  and  Pearl starring Mia Goth take the cake with their portrayal of a rural American girl who dreams, and pushes back when she is deprived of the means to pursue them. Letting the titular anti-heroine dream of vanity without punishing her makes the  series stand out. 

One positive side to the phenomenon of depicting violent female rage is that it makes way for women to express anger, an emotion even toddlers, until today, associated with male faces. With the influx of anti-heroines, we now have female characters as symbols of rage.

73 years after Simone de Beauvoir wrote in her book  The Second Sex — “He is the Subject, he is the Absolute – she’s the Other,” we might just be taking baby steps to remedy the stories we tell about women and give agency to the Other.

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