Restoring US abortion access won’t be easy – but we need leaders who will try | Arwa Mahdawi

Extra, extra, the Democrats are finally doing something

After several weeks of twiddling their thumbs, reciting poems and breaking into song, Democrats have finally done something halfway useful against the right-wing attack on reproductive rights. On Friday, Joe Biden signed an executive order guaranteeing access to abortion, abortion pills and contraception. The executive order obviously doesn’t restore the nation’s right to abortion (the president alone doesn’t have the power to do so), but it does set out a plan of action. Of particular note is a provision that would appear to protect women who travel out of state for surgery.

It’s great to see the White House finally do something tangible to try to protect reproductive rights, but why has it taken them so long? Roe was knocked down two weeks ago. The draft notice quashing Roe vs. Wade was leaked over two months ago. The Biden administration knew what was coming; they had time to prepare and they wasted it. They should have been ready for action the moment Roe was knocked down – instead, it looked like they were taken by surprise by the whole thing. There have been many pleas from Democrats over the past two weeks to “vote!” but not much else.

Well, actually, that’s not quite true. Some high-profile Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, have been busy backing Henry Cuellar, the House’s last anti-choice Democrat, in the primary for Texas’ 28th congressional district. I’m not sure exactly what makes Cuellar, who loves guns and hates abortion, a Democrat, because he seems to have basically the same political positions as a Republican, but he has a (D) next to her name. Even when they knew Roe was set to be unseated, top House Democrats opted to help Cuellar — the incumbent — fend off a challenge from Jessica Cisneros, a pro-choice progressive. In the end, Cuellar won with just 289 votes. Democrats have the nerve to send out fundraising emails demanding people vote for them so they can protect our reproductive rights while simultaneously spending donor money to help support an anti-choice Democrat . It really defies belief. Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on TwitterDemocrats rallying for “a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent… was a total failure of leadership.”

Ocasio-Cortez is getting a lot of flak for calling out members of his own party. Progressives, in general, are often told to shut up and line up if they don’t want to jeopardize the Democrats’ chances of success in the upcoming election. But do you think Biden would have signed an executive order on Friday if Democrats hadn’t come under heavy criticism for doing nothing? Of course not. Democracy is not just about going to the polls every two years, it is about constantly pushing your representatives and leaders to do better; it’s about constantly holding them accountable.

AOC is by no means perfect, but she is one of the few Democrats showing the leadership we need for this political and cultural moment. We are in a crisis and we need fighters – we need people with energy and ideas. After Roe’s overthrow, Ocasio-Cortez was one of the only Democrats to speak with concrete ideas on what to do next. “We can at least TRY” she tweeted. And that, I think, is the key point here. We are well aware that restoring access to abortion nationwide will not be easy, but we need leaders who will at least try.

Women charged with illegal abortions in UK after miscarriages and stillbirths

If you are in the UK watching in horror what is happening in the US, it is worth remembering that the right to abortion is not set in stone in the UK either; technically, abortion has still not been decriminalized in England and Wales. Indeed, dozens of illegal abortion investigations have been launched by police over the past decade into alleged violations of an 1861 law, which declares it illegal to induce a miscarriage using ” poison”, “an instrument” or “any other means”. In one case, a 15-year-old girl who had an unexplained stillbirth was the subject of a year-long criminal investigation before the coroner concluded that the pregnancy ended for natural causes.

A demographer wants to tax the childless

The UK should address falling birth rates by introducing “a ‘negative child benefit’ tax for those without offspring,” an Oxford academic recently said. It didn’t go well for obvious reasons.

Antigua’s ban on homosexual acts ruled unconstitutional

It is hoped the High Court ruling could spur change in neighboring islands.

Steakhouse defends Kavanaugh’s ‘right to dine’

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh enjoyed dinner (and, we imagine, a few beers) at Morton’s Steakhouse in DC Protesters gathered outside to force Kavanaugh — you’ll never believe how it’s horrible – to exit through a back door. I don’t know how he will ever recover from this trauma, but at least he has Morton to help him through this. The steakhouse issued a statement saying the policy ‘should not trample on the freedom at stake of the right to gather and dine’.

Upside-down bikinis are a trend now, apparently

Searches for the style have increased by 203% over the past month.

How police reforms have improved the way officers treat women in India

Around four in ten women in India experience domestic violence – and the police are often less than helpful due to institutional misogyny. However, new analysis of criminal justice reforms has found that the establishment of dedicated women’s help desks in police stations is leading police to take violence against women more seriously.

The Week in Penguinarchy

Inflation hurts everyone, even the penguins. A zoo in Japan has started feeding its budget fish penguins because the fancy mackerel they previously fed has increased by 30%. The animals are unimpressed and literally turn their noses up. I had no idea penguins had such fishy palates.

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