Issue 4: Alabama & Georgia's Regressive Abortion Laws

Also in this issue: Accessibility at concerts, Ben Shapiro DESTROYED and Chuck Todd's hot music takes

First, hit play.

Welcome back to the Blue Note.

I had a completely different intro and main segment written up but given the events of the last 48 hours it didn’t feel right. On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law an incredibly draconian anti-choice measure that effectively bans abortion by reclassifying the medical procedure as a felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison. The mostly-white male state senate made the only exception “when the mother’s life is at serious risk.” And the talking heads weighing in on Fox?

H/T John Whitehouse


At a time when Republican state legislatures are seemingly competing with one another to see who can enact the most stringent and extreme law, Alabama’s has been described as “the most far-reaching effort in the nation this year to curb abortion rights.”

The Alabama bill comes on the heels of Georgia’s similarly regressive effort. CBS News reports:

Last week, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law the state's so-called "fetal heartbeat" bill, a measure that will prohibit abortions after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo, which is typically five to six weeks into a pregnancy, and before most women know that they're pregnant. The state was the sixth to pass such a law, and the fourth this year alone.

In previous years the Supreme Court declined to hear such cases. But a new ideological makeup on the nation's highest court, including the recent appointment of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, has emboldened anti-abortion activists to try again.


Mississippi, too, recently passed a six-week ban, with Missouri considering an eight-week ban.

These state-by-state efforts are part of a larger scheme to overturn the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.

“There is no question that the long-term strategy of these and bills is to overturn Roe. Proponents of these laws are not ashamed to admit it and frequently proudly say so. There also is no question whatsoever that the end goal is to completely ban abortion across the country,” Jodi Jacobson, Editor-in-Chief of Rewire News, told me. “Ostensibly overturning Roe would send the issue of abortion back to the states to decide. The problem is that means a very checkered landscape will leave millions of people throughout the country without access to abortion care.”

And this isn’t a new effort, either. Conservative states have been trying to enact these extremely oppressive measures for years with trigger laws, now they see an even greater opportunity with the current Supreme Court makeup.

“Both bills were passed with the intent of challenging Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. There is a literal race among right-wing governors in various states to be the signer of a bill that overturns Roe,” Jacobson told me. “But neither of these laws is in effect yet so abortion remains legal in both states (in fact in all states at this moment).”

Other states have sought to limit access to reproductive care, and it’s important to remember legal =/= access.

”As a result of efforts to eliminate access to abortion care, six states—Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia—have only one clinic left. Imagine if every time you had to go to a doctor you had to drive three, four, five hours or more one way to reach the doctor and you get some sense of what that means.”

“Access to abortion is a critical medical and public health intervention and fundamental to the exercise of the basic human right to self-determination and to bodily autonomy. Without these rights, women particularly are not full citizens and their health and wellbeing is subsumed by the ‘rights’ of a fertilized egg. In much of the world, deaths due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among women ages 15 to 50, and complications of clandestine abortion are the leading cause of maternal deaths. Anyone who claims these concerns are overblown is just gaslighting you,” Jacobson said.

Anti-choice groups have been celebrating the passage of the bills despite grave warning signs from other states where criminalizing abortion also led to punishing the women. It’s a completely legitimate concern because it’s already happening.

“Women will be arrested and charged. It's that simple. We are already seeing this in other states where there are so-called fetal homicide laws. When they advocated for these laws, the anti-choice movement claimed that women would not be prosecuted for abortion or miscarriage and that the laws were intended for deaths to fetuses in utero due to external attacks,” Jacobson said. In reality, these fetal homicide laws are being used in a number of states—Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, Utah and others—to arrest women on the suspicion they purposefully caused a miscarriage by doing ‘something wrong.’ A mother in Pennsylvania was arrested for procuring medication abortion pills for her daughter because there were no abortion clinics nearby. This is already happening; it will only get worse in places like Alabama and Georgia if these laws go into effect.”

I asked Jacobson what’s something the media was missing on this story.

”Media and even many advocates are not connecting the dots on a critical issue: Voting rights. None of our rights are secure unless we have the right to vote and unless our vote is secure and counted. Voter suppression and widespread cheating in Florida and Georgia resulted in the election of two very right-wing governors in those states. The difference between Stacey Abrams and Bryan Kemp on these issues could not be more stark.Voter suppression in Texas, and in many other states, results in skewed elections,” she said. “Without voting rights there are no reproductive rights, economic rights, health rights, environmental security, job protections, living wages—there is no voice in government and you are subject to the whim of right-wing funders and legislators.”

With that in mind, there’s no surprise which states are at the forefront of this effort:


These fights start in the state legislatures in historically red states, where Democrats have struggled to gain a foothold. Because of that, many feel like the organizing and activism around the issue isn’t as efficient as it could be because those leading the effort on social media aren’t in-tune with the folks on the ground.

“In these times it is important that we are centering the work of local organizers and affected communities. A top-down approach alone cannot work and while amplification and support is valuable, it has to be led by those directly engaged on the ground. They know the intricate issues and relationships at play,” political strategist and lawyer Anoa Changa told me. “Celebrities and national organizations can be strategic partners with local organizers but that requires being in community with the people leading the fight day-to-day.”

Changa’s point is a critical one, and she certainly isn’t alone in her perspective.

“In moments of urgent national attention, it can be tempting to start new organizations or rush to those who seek the spotlight. But organizations like the Yellowhammer Fund, ARC Southeast, Sistersong and the National Network of Abortion Funds are prepared for this moment,” writer Talia Lavin said.

Lavin used Twitter to point people toward ARC Southeast, an organization that does work throughout the southeast helping people with access to reproductive care “by providing financial and logistical support and building power in our communities through advocacy, education, and leadership development.”

In just a few hours, Lavin had organized a crowdfunding effort that raised over $2,000.


“The best people to fight what has been an ongoing, meticulous, and total strategy to strip women of their rights are the people who have been fighting for years, and will continue to fight,” Lavin told me. “Small, local organizations will maximize your donations to continue the work they are already doing— providing critical abortion care, including travel and lodging, to those in the most need, right now.”

Don’t get me wrong, larger organizations like NARAL & Planned Parenthood do amazing work. We just often lose sight of the local groups, especially when it comes to donations leaving them with insufficient funds to fight back when these stories aren’t nationalized and purely local. And if you’d like to donate to them too, don’t let me stop you!

Here are some local & regional groups that organizers and activists have recommended people donate to if they can:

ARC Southeast
Feminist Women's Health Center 
Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund
Planned Parenthood Southeast
P.O.W.E.R. House
Sister Song
Spark Reproductive Justice NOW
The Yellowhammer Fund


Quick Hits:

Here’s your weekly roundup of stories worth reading:


Ben Shapiro DESTROYED by BBC

Last week, we got one of the most gratifying viral moments in some time: Ben Shapiro getting completely embarrassed. This isn’t music, it was certainly music to my ears.

The Islamophobic and extremely bigoted podcaster and right-wing blowhard went on BBC for a promotional spot to talk about his new book. However, the interview started to diverge from what the clearly-unprepared Shapiro expected and the interviewer, Andrew Neil, began to press Shapiro on some of his most inflammatory and racist quotes. Like this one:


Shapiro’s reaction was, to anyone who is familiar with his “work” both expected and hilarious:

“You talk about undermining the public discourse it seems to me that simply going through and finding lone things that sound bad out of context and then hitting people with them is a way for you to make a quick buck on BBC off the fact that I’m popular and no one has ever heard of you.”

I mean, good lord. He’s portrayed by dopes in the media as some intellectual titan and “the cool kid’s philosopher” but when presented with the slightest questioning he dives into some petulant attack.

Unfortunately, people have heard of Andrew Neil before this interview because he’s known, outside of his current role, for being right-wing, previously having hired a Holocaust denier “to work on on the Goebbels diaries,” and “when he was Sunday Times editor, his newspaper ran a series of articles arguing that HIV did not cause Aids.”

So, for that reason, the Shapiro meltdown clip was bittersweet.

But this wasn’t even a hyper-liberal host, like Shapiro claimed. What it demonstrated the most was how cozy the US media has treated him. How, when presented with the opportunity to push back on some of his most extreme antics, mainstream press has balked. That said, this showed a crack in the armor. Hopefully reporters and cable hosts will be more diligent going forward.

Check out the clip here:

Additionally, although a bit longer, The Young Turks had a hilarious play-by-play that you should definitely check out HERE.


Accessibility At Concerts

Earlier this month, a video went viral of an ASL interpreter interpreting lyrics at a Killswitch Engage show. I’d love to embed the video for you but for some reason, this platform doesn’t recognize Instagram links. Or I’m too dumb to figure out how. Maybe the latter, honestly. Either way, I’ve hyperlinked it above for you.

What I can embed for you is a similar video that went viral last year from a Lamb of God concert featuring Lindsay Rothschild-Cross:

These videos, while usually viral for the animated body language from the ASL interpreter, but are also signs of improvement in an area traditionally lacking in accessibility: live music performances.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires interpreters if public places “if even one person requests one.” This includes concerts and music festivals. I would assume most people reading this—if not all—have been to a show before. Think about whether or not you’ve seen an interpreter there. If not, the show wasn’t ADA compliant.

Not only does it violate the law, it typically demonstrates a lack of understanding from the venue’s or organizer’s standpoint, namely that deaf or hard-of-hearing people don’t enjoy music. They do! Especially live music because you can feel it.

Concerts provide more than just an audio experience, it’s about the atmosphere someone told CNN last year:

"Concerts are about a lot more than just the audio," [Greg] Lehr said. "They're electric, with a passionate intensity, and the lights draw you in! Since deaf people are a small minority, particularly at a concert, there is also a good chance of making friends with other deaf concertgoers."

It’s easy to overlook, but can make a huge difference to someone impacted by the lack of accessibility. So while the enthusiasm may bring some folks some laughs, let’s start working toward making this the norm. You can learn more HERE.


Chuck Todd’s Thoughts on Music: An Investigation

Last week, Pam Vogel stumbled upon a series of unintentionally funny music tweets from “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that might actually ruin some bands for you:

And, speaking of “Fight Song”…


Note: Sometimes this doesn’t display tweets with videos. Click through, you’ll be glad you did.

That’s all for this week, folks. I’ll be back with more next week. What do you want to see more of? What song should kick off the next issue? I’d love to hear from you. Send your comments to jordan@bluenote.news.

And if you haven’t subscribed yet, I’d love it if you did!

-jordan
@jordanuhl/@thebluenotenews

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