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Wake Up To Politics - June 21, 2022

Wake Up To Politics: Preparing for a post-Roe America
Wake Up To Politics - June 21, 2022

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 140 days away. Election Day 2024 is 868 days away.

A scheduling note before we begin today: There won’t be any issues of Wake Up To Politics for the next 10 days.

Back in May, I wrote about some of my plans for this summer — and I hope you’ve enjoyed the original reporting I’ve tried to offer from across Washington in the past month.

But I also noted then that I would be taking a short break in the middle of the summer, and that’s where we’ve arrived. I know the timing is not perfect (when is it?), with the January 6th hearings and Supreme Court opinions coming, but I’m going on a long-planned trip that just happened to fall during this stretch.

I’ll be back in the first week of July, ready to break down everything I might have missed and help guide you through the news for the rest of the summer and beyond. See you on the flip side.

But first, in today’s issue: I’m always looking for interesting voices from across the political spectrum to introduce you to. As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s opinion on abortion, here’s my interview with the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC:

Preparing for a post-Roe America

Traditionally the last month of the Supreme Court’s term, June is always when the justices wait until to hand down their most highly anticipated and controversial opinions.

In recent years, historic opinions on topics from gay marriage to Obamacare to voting rights have all arrived in June.

But, in the words of CNN’s legal scribe Ariane de Vogue: “This June at the Supreme Court is like no other.” In the short span of the next two weeks, the justices are expected to release not just one major ruling, but several, with the power to reshape interpretations of the Second Amendment, the administrative state, and other key parts of American life.

One case looms over them all, however: Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in which the justices will issue a ruling on Mississippi’s law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — and possibly go so far as to overturn Roe v. Wade, the precedent that has protected U.S. abortion rights for 50 years.

Compounding the unique nature of this month at the court is the fact that Politico published a draft opinion in May revealing that the justices were poised to strike down Roe, a glimpse inside the machinations of the court unlike any other in modern history.

Inside abortion clinics, the draft opinion landed “like a gut punch,” Dr. Laura Meyers, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., told me in a recent interview.

Meyers said that her branch of Planned Parenthood has been preparing for the Supreme Court’s decision for months. In their contingency planning, the draft decision — which will not necessarily look like the court’s final opinion — was “the worst” of the various possible rulings they had prepared for.

“Particularly, I think, for people who were born after [Roe v. Wade was decided in] 1973, this is a right that people had taken for granted, that I don’t think people thought was ever a right that was going to be taken away,” she said.

Dr. Laura Meyers, the CEO of Planned Parenthood’s D.C. branch, described her group’s preparations as the Supreme Court mulls abortion rights. (MMCTV) 

Meyers’ branch of Planned Parenthood may be located in a deep-blue city, but she noted that even D.C. might not be immune to the shifts in abortion law coming soon.

If the court rules as expected in Dobbs, it will be up to the states to decide the abortion laws within their borders. The D.C. City Council — the closest thing Washington has to a state legislature — passed a bill protecting abortion rights in 2020.

However, since D.C. is a federal district and lacks statehood, Congress has final authority over Washington’s laws and finances — leaving room in a post-Roe world for a future Republican-controlled Congress to implement abortion restrictions in the city.

“It’s important to communicate the will of the people of the district through their elected representatives, should Congress decide to play political football with the district, which it has done in the past,” Meyers said.

She added a warning to lawmakers: “Don’t use the district as a petri dish for things that you wouldn’t be able to enact in your own state or to impose the wishes of the people of Nebraska or some other red state. . . because it is clearly not the will of the people of the district.”

Abortion clinics in D.C. have already seen “a trickle of patients” from states that have restricted abortion, Meyers said.

In the past month, Meyers revealed, four patients had come from Texas seeking abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics in D.C., a “very unusual” number of patients to come from so far away. A six-week abortion ban went into effect in Texas in September; the Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to strike it down.

“They’re heartbreaking,” Meyers said of the out-of-state patients. “For someone to get on a plane in the morning, fly from Texas, have an abortion, and then get on another plane for another three-to-four hour flight back home. . . That is just a tragedy.”

A study published this month in The Lancet medical journal found that 65,000 women received out-of-state abortions in 2017, with 71% of them coming from states with restrictive abortion laws. That number is only expected to increase if Roe is overturned.

Protesters outside the Supreme Court while the justices heard oral arguments in Dobbs. (Gabe Fleisher / Wake Up To Politics)

In response, Meyers said, Planned Parenthood is amping up its preparations to help those coming in from across the country.

The D.C. branch is in the process of hiring “navigators” to guide patients calling in from out-of-state through the logistics of obtaining an abortion, especially as the national patchwork of laws takes hold.

Meyers said her organization is also raising funds to aid those patients financially, seeking to cover the costs of their travel and lodging, or even the abortion procedure itself.

“We know that wealthy people will always find a way to get the things that they need,” she explained. “So this will fall disproportionately on poor women, and specifically poor women of color. And so when we’re thinking about the sort of racial inequities that have resulted because of years of systemic racism, the ban on abortion will only force that chasm even wider.”

For your radar

→ First off, speaking of the Supreme Court: The justices are releasing opinions at 10 am, so we could see rulings in some of the major cases I mentioned above.

→ A few hours later, at 1 pm, the January 6th committee will gavel in its fourth hearing. Witnesses will include Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Arizona House Speaker Russell Bowers, two Republicans who certified the 2020 results despite pressure from former President Trump.

Trump infamously called Raffensperger asking him to “find 11,780 votes”; Bowers received two calls from Trump in the post-election period, urging him to have the state legislature approve a slate of pro-Trump electors even though President Biden won the state.

Today’s hearing will also examine the “fake elector” plan, with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) promising new evidence that will show Trump’s involvement in the scheme. The panel will also discuss threats to election workers; former Georgia election worker Shaye Moss will testify.

Rep. Adam Schiff will play a lead role at today’s January 6th hearing (Gage Skidmore)

→ Today is also Primary Day in Virginia and Washington, D.C., while Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia will hold primary runoffs to decide races where no candidate received a majority in the first round of voting.

The top race to watch is the Republican Senate primary runoff in Alabama, where Rep. Mo Brooks is facing off against Katie Britt, the former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. Trump originally endorsed Brooks, but changed his support to Britt after accusing the congressman of insufficiently supporting his claims of election fraud. Here are the other contests on the ballot.

→ Something else to keep an eye out for: The bipartisan group of senators negotiating a gun control package are expected to release the text of their compromise bill as early as today. The lawmakers have reportedly ironed out the hang-up on the “boyfriend loophole” that had stalled negotiations last week.

→ On that same topic: Friday will mark the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that sparked these gun control talks. A special Texas House investigative committee will convene today to examine some of the unanswered questions about the massacre and the slow police response.

What you’re saying

As part of my efforts to occasionally publish your thoughtful responses (and pushback) to the newsletter, here’s an email I received after last week’s piece on the state of the U.S. economy:

It’s not only America suffering from high inflation and teetering on the edge of recession. It’s practically every nation on the planet and when you compare the U.S. to them, we’re actually suffering less than most.

I fear that media outlets are not illustrating this point, which makes most people believe these problems are only American problems and then causes them to incorrectly attribute and transfer blame to the current administration and causes political strife where it otherwise would not be present. — Dave from Manchester, MO

I think this is a fair point to note. Inflation is indeed rising quickly across the world, although it’s not necessarily true that the U.S. is on the better end of things: a recent analysis of 111 countries pegged the U.S. inflation rate as slightly higher than the global median. “Core inflation” (which removes food and energy prices, which can be highly volatile, from the equation) is also significantly worse in the U.S. than elsewhere.

As noted in the piece, there are a number of global factors that are pushing prices up — from Covid-era supply chain difficulties to the war in Ukraine — and those are, of course, impacting other countries as well.

However, a slew of economists from both parties believe the Biden administration has also played some role in exacerbating inflation in the U.S., with many pointing to the $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed early in Biden’s term.

Still, I thought this was an important debate to bring up that I hadn’t delved into in the newsletter, so I thank Dave and other readers for writing in to carry on the conversation.

What Washington is doing today

All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch it.

— President Biden and Vice President Harris will receive their daily intelligence briefing (10:30 am) and have lunch together (12:45 pm). Then, President and First Lady Biden will visit a local Covid-19 vaccination clinic to highlight the recent authorization of vaccines for children under five (2:30 pm).

After returning to the White House, the president will deliver remarks on the fight against Covid and the recent vaccine authorization for kids (3:45 pm).

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her daily press briefing (1 pm).

U.S. public health officials will hold a press briefing on the under-5 vaccine rollout (2:15 pm). Briefers will include Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House chief medical adviser; Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator; and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director.

— The Senate will convene (3 pm) and hold a roll call vote (5:30 pm), although it has yet to be announced on what.

President Biden speaking about vaccines last year. (Adam Schultz / White House)

The House will convene (12 pm) and vote on seven bills, including the Active Shooter Alert Act, which would create an AMBER Alert-style system for active shooter incidents.

The other bills up for a vote today will deal with cybersecurity, 5G, drugs at the border, prosecutorial requests for electronic records, the National Computer Forensics Institute, and modernizing references in federal law to the president’s spouse.

The chamber is also set to vote on four resolutions, which will condemn the 2021 coup in Sudan, terrorist activity in Mozambique, the 1999 executions of U.S. citizens in Serbia, and the detention of Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda.

The House January 6th Committee will hold its fourth public hearing (1 pm). Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his aide Gabriel Sterling, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and former Georgia election worker Shaye Moss will testify.

— The Supreme Court will release orders (9:30 am) and opinions (10 am). Opinions are how the court releases its rulings in previously argued cases; the justices make other announcements, such as which cases it will hear next term, via orders.

Before I go...

Here’s a powerful story that I found to be sad and hopeful all at once: In the wake of the tragic shooting that rocked the town, Uvalde almost canceled a Little League tournament that had been scheduled to to be held last week.

“But then they thought again,” the New York Times reports. “Maybe baseball was exactly what they needed.”

“We are Uvalde strong,” the announcer said to kick off the tournament. “Let’s play ball!”

Here’s more from the Times, including a number of touching interviews and scenes from the game.

That’s it for today. If you enjoy Wake Up To Politics, it’s always appreciated if you donate to support the newsletter or buy some merch. Or if you tell your friends and family to sign up at wakeuptopolitics.com.

If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me: my inbox is always open.

Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe