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Behind the scenes at the Capitol—and beyond, by Grace Segers

The Mixed Messages of the Contraception War

Democrats and Republicans have put forth dueling bills that would, to varying degrees, protect the right to contraception. Both are dead on arrival.

Americans for Contraception unveil a inflatable IUD in Washington
Bill Clark/Getty Images
Americans for Contraception unveil an inflatable IUD in Washington.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the party with a majority in Congress must spend the months leading up to Election Day on bills that make the other party uncomfortable. That’s why House Republicans voted this week to sanction the International Criminal Court over its decision to pursue arrest warrants against Israeli leaders for the war in Gaza. It’s also why, on the other side of the Capitol building, Senate Democrats put forth a bill enshrining the right to obtain and use contraception.

With the erosion of abortion rights in more than a dozen states since the Dobbs decision, and the threat that a future Trump administration could limit access to contraception, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the overarching issue of reproductive care.

“We’re going to have Contraception Day here in the United States Senate, and everyone’s going to be put on the record, and if [Republicans] say it’s not under threat, then they should all just vote ‘yes’ in order to reaffirm that right,” said Democratic Senator Ed Markey on Wednesday.

The vote on the Right to Contraception Act on Wednesday was deliberately timed just weeks before the second anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the first in a volley of bills intended to put Republican members in the tough spot of opposing measures on issues like birth control and in vitro fertilization.

’Tis a cynical political ploy on the part of Democrats, Republicans say, pointing to legislation by GOP Senator Joni Ernst that would protect access to birth control while enshrining the right of providers with religious objections to refuse to offer contraceptive care. (Democrats say there is nothing in their bill that would threaten religious freedoms.)

“They are more interested in playing politics than they are actually about securing the very things they’re talking about,” GOP Senator Katie Britt told reporters this week. “They’ve engaged in a summer of scare tactics, and they don’t care about the false fear they’re creating in women and families.”

Birth control was legalized nationwide nearly 60 years ago with the Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut. But reproductive rights advocates have long warned that contraception could be the next issue targeted by abortion opponents.

“Oh really? There’s no threat? That’s what they also said about abortion: that there was no threat to abortion,” Senator Elizabeth Warren told reporters on Wednesday. “Too many people fell for that last time. Nobody’s falling for it again.”

In his concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that other precedents could be revisited, including the decisions legalizing same-sex marriage and contraception.

More recently, former President Donald Trump said he was “looking at” restrictions on contraception, although he quickly backtracked, insisting in a social media post that he would “never, and will never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control or other contraceptives.”

Nonetheless, Trump’s administration enacted multiple policies making it more difficult to obtain birth control, including placing restrictions on the federal Title X program, which provides a host of free contraceptive and reproductive services to low-income Americans. Although President Joe Biden repealed these rules, a second Trump presidency could reimpose them. Meanwhile, a playbook by the conservative Heritage Foundation for a potential second Trump presidency would label Ella, an emergency contraceptive, as a “potential abortifacient,” to be removed from the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of birth control.

Meanwhile, in several red states, some Republican lawmakers have called birth control methods “abortifacients,” incorrectly equating emergency contraception with abortion drugs. “Attacks against birth control aren’t theoretical bugaboos. It’s already happening at the state level,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday.

With the exception of Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, Republicans remained largely unified in their opposition on Wednesday, despite the belief by some GOP senators that they should call Democrats’ bluff, as Punchbowl News reported. But for the Republicans who did vote in favor, the decision was obvious.

“If it’s a messaging bill, my message is I support a woman’s access to contraception. Pretty simple,” Senator Lisa Murkowski told reporters. “So if we’re gonna play messaging, that’s my message.”

Vibe Check

Each week, I provide an update on the vibes surrounding a particular policy or political development. This week: Why a transgender journalist is leaving congressional reporting, in her own words.

Jael Holzman, a climate journalist who most recently reported for Axios, announced this week that she is leaving congressional reporting. In an essay on Medium published earlier this week, Holzman, who is a trans woman, explained her frustrations with media coverage of trans rights and issues. I caught up with Holzman this week to discuss her decision to leave, and what reporters—particularly those who cover Capitol Hill—can do better. This interview has been edited and lightly condensed for clarity.

In this essay, you give an example of an issue that was under-covered by reporters on the Hill, which was the inclusion of language to ban government-backed health care insurance from covering sex- and gender-affirming care in the House GOP funding bills. I’d be interested to know more about why you think that was overlooked by reporters. Do you think that they didn’t know about it or that it just was deemed less of a priority?

Watching the coverage as another reporter who was covering those bills on a different beat, it was stark seeing the medical care that I need to live get lumped into what reporters often use as shorthand—whether it be like “culture war,” “anti-woke.” Sometimes I’d see it get lumped into “DEI,” which to me is not accurate. I’d see it get lumped into conversations about abortion. It was often lumped into [issues of] health care, LGBTQ acronyms. It was surprising how few reporters asked about this language.

When I look back on my conversations with my colleagues in the press, those who I’ve worked next to quite often, the conversations about this language usually went something along the lines of, “Either readers don’t care about it, or it’s just another poison pill.” I think often reporters are trained to think on the Hill, like, “Is this going to be law today? Well, no. Then I’m not going to spend my time on it.” It’s a heavily reactive kind of journalism today.

A sliver of a sliver of the American people is being targeted explicitly, and I think there’s just not a prior frame of reference. People thought it wasn’t going to be law, and so they didn’t cover it. Although I don’t really know if that was the case. No one was asking, “Is this going to become law?”

I think in journalism overall, but especially on the Hill, because we interact with lawmakers of both parties on a daily basis, there is a desire to seem “objective” or “neutral.” How do you think that affects how reporters talk about or cover trans issues?

When I became a climate journalist, I was drawn to that field because it was something so pressing, rooted in science, that had been over decades politicized to the point where one side of a political argument—at least when I started in congressional journalism, and in policy journalism—was spending a lot of time arguing that the science wasn’t sound or that the claims made about man-made climate change were somehow questionable. Over time, we as an industry have come to grips with the fact that that’s the product of a number of actors, a number of campaigns, industry-funded and also politically motivated, to somehow convince at least some percentage of the population that the science can be questioned. And we learned how to cover it that way.

I’ve spent a lot of time and continue to spend a lot of time talking to other reporters and editors about what story ideas are out there. I think that’s something that should be happening in more newsrooms on this topic. And what I’ve found is a—reluctance would be putting it mildly to the point of absurdity—an outright refusal, I would say, in some newsrooms, to write about the science behind this medical care the way that doctors and scientists talk about it. And I think that that’s happening because there is a fear of offending readers that don’t like trans people. And I know this firsthand, because I myself have heard that from people in our industry.

I’m glad you mentioned that comparison to climate journalism. I thought that was a really interesting comparison that you made in your essay. And I’m curious to know more why you think it’s so difficult to incorporate that into health reporting. I know you say people are afraid of offending those who oppose trans rights. But do you think that this, like climate journalism, just will take time? Or is this something that you’re less optimistic that people will come around to the science of?

It’s not even a question of optimism. Mother Jones recently reported … on the shadow campaign against this medical care. This is a dedicated, concentrated, well-thought-out, potentially global campaign to take away this medical care for ideological reasons that do not have any favor for making sure that people who need it survive.

I would like to say that I am optimistic that journalists will wake up to these facts. I would like to say that with training and with resources, reporters will cover this in a way that’s authoritative. But they need to overcome that fear, and that hesitation to deal with the existence of trans people as though it is fact. And I think the longer that it pervades, the less likely it is for it to improve. Because this industry’s crumbling. It’s sad to see, as a member of it. At a time when you need to be assigning people to a new story, do newsrooms have the resources to take it on?

I think there’s a huge story in this. Some day, some intrepid reporter is going to dive into it and win a Pulitzer Prize—or, like, seven of them—and I think that that day that person will be looked at as though they were a genius, and all they did was look at the pretty easy-to-find facts around them. When I was at Politico, I wrote at least four stories, investigative stories about the anti-trans movement, on top of the work that I did in climate. I did it because I think that there is a need for those of us who are trans in the press corps to use the privilege that we do have to at least improve somewhat—whatever margin it can be—the misinformation out there, and the lack of proper source identification out there, the lack of context. But I left Politico, and I think that says a lot. I left the Hill, and I think that says a lot. I think people need to recognize that if they’re not careful, there won’t be people around to help cover this better because all of us will be gone. Like the Lorax.

What’s next for you?

Stay tuned. I am staying in climate journalism. I have a really cool thing I’m doing that I can’t talk about right now. But stay tuned, keep eyes peeled. I’ve never been more excited. And on top of journalism, I am literally talking to you inside of my first-ever touring van rental because I’m about to go play a couple weeks of dates with my band, Ekko Astral. I’m really excited about that.

What I’m reading

Wartime emissions rage, but no one’s counting them, by Chelsea Harvey in E&E News
The ‘Appeal to Heaven’ flag is all over Capitol Hill, even as it becomes more controversial, by Haley Byrd Wilt in NOTUS
Once a beauty contest, Miss Subways is now a campy, voicy extravaganza, by Haidee Chu in The City
What Europe fears, by McKay Coppins in The Atlantic
How Imagine Dragons became the sound of gaming culture, by Gene Park in The Washington Post
‘We are the world power’: How Joe Biden leads, by Massimo Calabresi in Time
Is sports gambling a public health crisis? by Katrina Vanden Heuvel in The Nation

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet is Big Silver, submitted by The New Republic’s own Laura Marsh. Big Silver’s age and gender are unknown, although it has lived in Laura’s koi pond for two years. Big Silver is a butterfly koi—so called because of its butterfly-shaped wings—who enjoys eating mosquitoes and swimming under the ice in the winter.

Congress Is Waking Up to the Devastating War in Sudan

A civil war has brought the country to the brink of famine and created the world’s largest child displacement crisis. Here’s what politicians on Capitol Hill are hoping to do about it.

Children at a camp for people displaced by conflict in Sudan
Children at a camp for people displaced by conflict in Sudan on May 15

For more than a year, Sudan has been riven by a brutal civil war. The scale of misery is shocking: Nearly 18 million people face “high levels of acute food insecurity,” according to a global hunger monitor in March, and nearly five million were close to famine. Roughly three million children have fled Sudan, resulting in the world’s largest child displacement crisis.

The conflict broke out last year between rival camps in Sudan’s military government, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces—both of whom have conducted egregious human rights violations, according to the United Nations.

“While two armed factions launched this conflict, this is less a civil war between two sides than a war which two generals and their affiliates are waging against the Sudanese people and their aspirations to a free and democratic future,” the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, Tom Perriello, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month.

The national security bill approved by Congress last month included broad humanitarian funding, and the Biden administration recently promised an additional $100 million in aid to respond to the conflict. The U.S. Treasury Department has also imposed sanctions on leaders and organizations involved in the conflict, although some in Congress believe the administration could go further: The chairs and ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to President Joe Biden this month asking him to determine whether the RSF and its leader were subject to sanctions for human rights violations under the Global Magnitsky Act.

However, within Congress as a whole, the issue has largely been placed on the legislative back burner amid other international emergencies, namely the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. It was already a monthslong saga to approve the national security funding, and it’s unclear whether an aid package specific to Sudan could pass in Congress.

This past week, Representative Sara Jacobs, the Democratic ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, introduced legislation that would prohibit U.S. arms sales to the United Arab Emirates until the Biden administration certifies that the UAE is no longer providing material support to the RSF. Jacobs, who visited the border between Sudan and Chad in March, said she had been shocked by the fallout from the conflict.

“Before Congress, I worked in international conflict resolution, so I’ve been to many refugee camps, but I had never seen children so clearly traumatized as the Sudanese refugee children I met at the Sudan-Chad border in March. The longer this war goes, the greater the suffering and the higher the possibility of the conflict spilling over,” Jacobs said in a statement. She added that, along with withholding arms sales to the UAE, the United States “must also continue surging humanitarian assistance to the region and hold the RSF, SAF, and other enabling actors accountable.”

Although Jacobs has solicited Republican support for this measure, it is not yet sponsored by any GOP members. Representative John James, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Africa, said that he believed Jacobs’s legislation was “on the right track.”

“We want to make sure that we are being very specific and very measured,” James told me. “We also have to maintain the fact that America is a reliable partner, but at the same time, you cannot commit human rights violations, commit atrocities, with any semblance of U.S. support.”

James also believes the situation in Sudan should be called a “genocide.” This is not an isolated opinion in Congress; several senators introduced a bipartisan resolution in February to recognize “the actions of the Rapid Support Forces and allied militia in the Darfur region of Sudan against non-Arab ethnic communities as acts of genocide.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Black Africans are being murdered and displaced each and every single day, and it’s not rising to the level of public consciousness that it needs to be,” James said, adding that it was necessary to place “increased pressure on those who are not just complicit but funding the belligerencies.” James said that he was hoping to schedule a conversation with the UAE ambassador: “We should talk quickly, or else consequences are coming.”

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democratic member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that “the diplomatic effort is likely going to have to be led by African partners.” Indeed, in a joint statement with Kenyan President William Ruto released during Ruto’s visit to Washington last week, Biden said that he “appreciates Kenya for engaging in multiple efforts to de-escalate conflicts” in the region, including in Sudan and South Sudan.

However, Murphy continued, the U.S. will likely continue to play a role in diplomatic efforts, citing the “important role” of Perriello and the humanitarian aid passed by Congress last month. “We need to do more,” he said.

What I’m reading

How pig welfare became a states’ rights issue, by Grace Segers in The New Republic
The untold story of the network that took down Roe v. Wade, by Elizabeth Dias and Lisa Lerer in The New York Times
The obscure federal intelligence bureau that got Vietnam, Iraq, and Ukraine right, by Dylan Matthews in Vox
‘Just brutal’: Why America’s hottest city is seeing a surge in deaths, by Ariel Wittenberg in Politico
The hidden legacy of Indian boarding schools in the United States, by Dana Hedgpeth and Sari Horwitz in The Washington Post
The real “deep state,” by Franklin Foer in The Atlantic
Inside Donald Trump and Elon Musk’s growing alliance, by Emily Glazer, Robbie Whelan, Alex Leary, Cara Lombardo, and Dana Mattioli in The Wall Street Journal

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet is Killer Patches, a tortie with an attitude, submitted by Antonia. Killer Patches loves begging for food, peanut butter, and opened doors. She’s very persistent and doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “no.”

The Hot New Down-Ballot Races: State Supreme Court Seats

With the end of nationwide abortion rights, money and attention is pouring into state-level high court races.

Frederic J. Brown/Getty
Pro-choice protesters

Ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago, races for state Supreme Courts have garnered increased attention and money, becoming the new battleground for abortion rights and access. This year will be no different, as 33 states will hold elections for seats on their high courts.

Dobbs was a watershed moment in state judicial politics,” said Michael Milov-Cordoba, counsel in the Brennan Center’s Judiciary Program, referring to the decision that overturned Roe. “As it became clear to advocates and to the public that abortion access in their state would be determined by decisions made by state Supreme Courts, there became increased attention from both the public and national interest groups to win races.”

Although many state Supreme Court races are technically nonpartisan, the courts themselves tend to have ideological wings, much like federal courts where nominees are chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Party apparatuses and outside organizations also get involved, pouring money into the races. The Brennan Center found that 2021 and 2022 were record-breaking years in this regard: More than $100 million was spent in judicial races in 17 states. The high-profile Wisconsin race in 2023, won by Judge Janet Protasiewicz, saw upward of $50 million in spending.

But 2024 may set a new record. This Monday, two liberal organizations announced that they have linked up to invest $5 million in high court races in key states. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is dedicated to ensuring congressional and legislative maps are competitive for Democrats, and Planned Parenthood Votes, the political arm of the organization, will fund digital and canvassing operations to get out the vote for candidates in Arizona, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas.

Jenny Lawson, executive director at Planned Parenthood Votes, said that they are specifically targeting “places where Republicans have tried to stack the court with radical antidemocratic justices.” The joint campaign plans to partner with community advocacy groups to tailor their strategies to local needs. “What’s important to voters is that it is clear to voters the biases and hyperpartisanship of judges that we need to reject,” she said. “Our job will be to inform the voters of the choices in front of them.”

Three of those states—North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas—have explicitly partisan elections. North Carolina and Ohio have moved from nonpartisan to partisan elections in the past 10 years, with significant ramifications. Since North Carolina Republicans gained control of the state Supreme Court in 2022, the justices have reversed course on major issues such as gerrymandering and racial discrimination. (Other states have seen their legislatures attempt to limit the power of the high court, including Montana, where Republicans have been frustrated by the court’s protection of abortion rights and blocking restrictive voting laws.)

Michigan and Ohio also have a particularly narrow ideological divide on their state Supreme Courts, meaning that the upcoming elections could flip the courts’ partisan majorities. Abortion “looms large” in the Ohio race, Milov-Cordoba said, because the court will be evaluating the right to an abortion recently enshrined in the state Constitution by voters last year. Meanwhile, Democrats are defending their majority in Michigan.

For Ohio, Planned Parenthood Votes will emphasize to voters how the governor and state legislature attempted to stymie a ballot initiative to protect abortion and how the state Supreme Court permitted deliberately complicated wording for the measure on the ballot. “They’re watching their voices and votes being taken away,” Lawson said, adding that PPV’s campaign will argue that shifting the ideological leaning of the court would protect those “voices and votes.” In Michigan, however, the focus will be on how a “favorable” court has protected abortion access.

Even in states where justices are chosen by the governor or a judicial committee, voters have the chance to weigh in on those choices with “retention” elections. In Arizona, two of the justices who joined in the controversial decision to reinstate a nineteenth-century law banning nearly all abortions are now facing retention. Although Arizonans have never booted anyone from their high court, the two justices’ future may hinge on how important abortion is to voters on Election Day.

For Arizona and the other states, the goal is to ensure voters “know that these races are critical to these freedoms, and that they are making informed choices based on the positions of these justices,” Lawson said. “Our goal here isn’t partisanship, it’s about fundamental fairness.”

Vibe check: Immigration redux

Each week, I provide an update on the vibes surrounding a particular policy or political development. This week: Senate Democrats press forward with a doomed immigration bill … again.

Eons ago, in February, a bipartisan bill that would have overhauled immigration, asylum, and border policy failed on the Senate floor. Although it was the fruit of months of negotiation by GOP Senator James Lankford, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, and independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, congressional Republicans turned their backs on the bill amid opposition from former President Donald Trump.

Immigration has long been a topic that favors Republicans, and in a hotly contested election year with control of the White House and Congress up for grabs, it may be more useful to GOP candidates, especially Trump, to have the topic as a political cudgel. (House Republicans passed their own hard-line legislation, which they insist is the correct and only path to their stated goal of securing the border.)

Nevertheless, Democrats are trying to flip the switch on Republicans, hammering them for opposing the bipartisan legislation. On Thursday, the Senate will vote once more to proceed on the bill—even though it will not garner sufficient GOP support to succeed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed on Tuesday that the upcoming vote was “just a gimmick, a way to try to convince the American people that they’re concerned about this.”

It will also be opposed by Lankford, who has condemned the exercise as opportunistic. “This is not trying to accomplish anything, this is about messaging. This is trying to hurt Republicans,” Lankford told reporters this week, complaining about the lack of outreach from Democrats on trying to find a new consensus bill. “There’s been no legwork. There’s been no attempt to try to bring people back together again to try to figure out how we resolve this.”

But politically speaking, it doesn’t matter if Lankford votes for it, or any other Republican, or even most Democrats. Really, it just needs to make a small subsection of Democrats look like they’re “tough on the border”: those incumbents who face difficult reelection battles in red and swing states. Take Senator Jon Tester, who’s up for reelection in Montana. When I was in the state last month, I saw a TV ad by Tester’s campaign hailing his support for shutting down the southern border and his willingness to work with Republicans on legislation to expel certain migrants. Other vulnerable Democrats include Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Jacky Rosen of Nevada.

There is a question of timeliness; Lankford wondered why Democrats were putting the bill to a vote the week before Memorial Day, when Americans aren’t likely to be paying attention to what the Senate is doing. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer insisted there was no political calculation behind the vote now.

“Everything the Republicans do has no chance of passing. So who’s more serious about fixing the border? We are. And I think the public will understand that,” Schumer said.

Murphy, who helped negotiate the bill, echoed that argument. “I don’t know if there’s magic to voting this week, but if you think something’s important, you don’t give up on it just because you fail once,” Murphy said. “I think it would be insincere for us to say we care about passing the bipartisan border bill and not try to bring it up a second time.”

A second time, a third, a fourth—there’s no real political downside to continuing to vote on the measure between now and November. All the more chances to counter the narrative that Democrats are soft on immigration. If immigration is an important issue this year—and polling points to that being the case—those vulnerable Democrats will want to tout their voting for a bipartisan bill that Republicans rejected as often as they can.

But Tester rejected the implication that there would be electoral benefits to his voting on the immigration measure this week, telling Punchbowl News that was “bullshit.”

What I’m reading

The lynching that sent my family north, by Ko Bragg in The Atlantic
Is ‘Love Is Blind’ a toxic workplace? by Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker
How free school meals went mainstream, by Susan Shain in The New York Times
He came to L.A. 3 months ago with his young family. A ride on a Metro bus led to his death, by Rachel Uranga in the Los Angeles Times
Inside Georgia’s crusade to make bail unpayable, by Nia T. Evans in Mother Jones
How a Southern Baptist minister came to lead an LGBTQ-affirming church, by Monica Hesse in The Washington Post
She wanted an abortion. Her only option was driving to Mexico, by Shefali Luthra in The 19th. (Side note: This is an excerpt from Shefali’s new book, Undue Burden: Life and Death Decisions in Post-Roe America, out this week! Shefali is a great abortion reporter, and this is a nuanced and deeply reported book.)

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet is Ziggy, a 4-year-old, six and a half pound Yorkshire terrier submitted by Iris Lopez. As evident in this photo, Ziggy hurt his foot while playing “monkey in the middle,” his favorite game (aside from playing fetch in the snow). Iris assures us that his foot is fine now.

Republicans Are Doubling (and Tripling) Down on Abortion Restrictions

Their extreme proposals are in open defiance of voters’ wishes.

A banner reading "Abortion Always"
A banner outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on April 24

Louisiana has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The procedure is banned with very few exceptions, which do not include rape or incest. And yet, legislators there are hard at work trying to further restrict the procedure. This week, they added a provision to an abortion-related bill that would reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol as “controlled dangerous substances.” This would criminalize possession of the two abortion medications without a prescription. Although pregnant women are exempt from the law, anyone who helps them obtain the medication could be criminally charged. Doctors naturally are worried about the move, not least because the drugs are also commonly used in miscarriage management.

But this bill, like the anti-abortion laws that precede it, may not fully represent the wishes of the state’s residents: A recent survey found that most Louisianans believe the state should allow access to abortion in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

This disparity—which exists across the country, including in conservative states—is the Republicans’ dilemma in a nutshell. GOP-controlled legislatures continue to introduce and enact measures restricting abortion even further, despite the fact that their voters have made clear they want more moderate restrictions. 

In the two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the country has become functionally divided along the lines of abortion access. Fourteen states, most of them in the South, have enacted a total ban on the procedure; seven additional states prohibit abortion at or before 18 weeks of pregnancy, which would have been illegal before the Dobbs decision. Many of the states that have banned abortion continue to attempt to layer further restrictions, such as with measures targeting medication abortion, making it more difficult for minors to obtain contraceptives or abortion care, and funding “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are established by anti-abortion groups to persuade pregnant patients not to obtain an abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion access, this year six laws have been enacted in four states to fund crisis pregnancy centers, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill to allow the state Health Department to provide pregnancy services through crisis pregnancy centers.

Kimya Forouzan, the principal policy associate for state issues at Guttmacher, also noted that state bills to limit access to abortion for people under 18 are becoming increasingly common. She pointed to a law Idaho enacted in 2023 to penalize nonparent adults who help a minor obtain an abortion, which was blocked by a federal judge. However, four states introduced nearly identical measures this year, with a measure in Tennessee passing in the state legislature. Another law recently upheld in Texas blocked clinics that receive federal funding from providing contraception to minors. 

“We know that often there are restrictions that are very targeted toward youth, either as a test to see if the restrictions that they’re placing on youth can also be expanded to everyone, or as a way to prevent abortion for young people in a way that can’t be done for adults,” said Forouzan. Thirty-six states require parental consent or notification for minors to obtain an abortion, which she called a “normalization” of restrictions that “raises alarm bells” for abortion advocates. 

Anti-abortion copycat bills have become common, so the new legislation introduced this week in Louisiana may give abortion rights supporters cause for alarm. “It’s really meant to add an additional layer of restriction, and to add an additional layer of stigma and fear, around abortion in general but medication abortion specifically,” said Forouzan about the Louisiana bill. 

As Republicans continue to introduce abortion restrictions, Americans have become more supportive of abortion access: A poll by Pew Research Center released this week found that 63 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 36 percent who believe that it should be illegal in all or most circumstances. Even though conservative Republicans and Republican-leaning voters oppose access to abortion, according to the survey, the majority of moderate and liberal Republicans and Republican-leaning voters believe it should be legal in all or most cases.

The relative popularity of abortion access accounts for the success of recent ballot initiatives to protect it in state constitutions nationwide. This year, abortion-related initiatives are likely to be on the ballot in several red and swing states, such as Arizona, Montana, Florida, South Dakota, and Missouri. The future of abortion access in many states may come down to who has the final say: the state legislature or the voters themselves.

Vibe check: Preelection pitfalls 

Each week, I provide an update on the vibes surrounding a particular policy or political development. This week: Can Congress get anything done before the election?

With six months left before the election, it’s unclear whether Congress will accomplish anything significant beyond approving must-pass legislation. This is partially a function of timing: Thanks to the summer recess and the vagaries of campaigning, lawmakers will leave Washington for almost the entirety of the months of August and October. But in a deeply divided Congress, where Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate and Republicans have tenuous control in the House—not to mention the additional politics of the presidential election—any nonmandatory bipartisan bills may have to wait until the lame-duck session after the election.

Now that the Federal Aviation Administration has been reauthorized, there are few big-ticket items remaining. Aside from funding the government and approving the National Defense Authorization Act—the only real sure things in Congress—most of the serious legislation left to consider is more nice-to-have than need-to-pass. In theory, there is a deadline to approve the farm bill by the end of the year, but disagreements between the upper and lower chambers over its contents are complicating negotiations (stay tuned for my story on the negotiations). 

Which is why we’re now seeing a preponderance of “messaging” bills that are less about policy than political gamesmanship. Last week, the House passed the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act. This week, which is “Police Week,” Republicans are trying to put moderate Democrats’ feet to the fire with a resolution condemning the “defund the police” movement.

“I think a reasonable accomplishment is to keep the government open, with this crowd. I don’t see a lot of significant legislative action,” said Democratic Representative Dan Kildee. 

However, GOP Representative Dusty Johnson argued that government funding and the NDAA were the tip of the iceberg for legislation that might be considered this year, pointing to the farm bill and legislation on digital assets set to be considered in the House.

“A lot of members have lapsed into this sense that the big stuff is done, and I think it’s a real error in judgment,” Johnson said. “I don’t observe any benefit to our country in having people be pessimistic or fatalistic about our ability to get things done.”  

There could also be an upside to considering fewer pieces of legislation. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine argued that “in the absence of other big-ticket items,” Congress could take up the NDAA over the summer and consider multiple amendments.

Of course, even if the campaign eats away at the chance for major accomplishments, there’s always the lame-duck session. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and a bipartisan group of senators proposed a road map for government spending on artificial intelligence this week, and several bills related to A.I. and elections were advanced in a Senate committee. Kaine said that the farm bill and a tax bill that passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate might be ripe for consideration in the lame duck. 

Still, the effectiveness of a lame-duck session may depend on the outcome of the elections. If Republicans take control of Congress and the White House, they may want to wait until next year to take up some of their priorities.  

What I’m reading

Bishop vanished. His species can still be saved, by Harry Stevens and Dino Grandoni in The Washington Post
The other side of the river, by Rania Abouzeid in The New Yorker
Montana’s tribal voters could determine the makeup of the Senate, by Natalie Fertig in Politico
The most endangered Democrat in America, by Ross Barkan in New York
Artificial turf is tearing towns apart, by Liza Featherstone in The New Republic
What Alice Munro has left us, by Lorrie Moore in The Atlantic
Why school segregation is getting worse, by Fabiola Cineas in Vox 

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet is KitKat, six pounds of fierce Chihuahua submitted by Mark Roberts. KitKat’s hobbies include exploring the woods and sitting on the sofa to watch for visitors. When she plays with Mark, she will switch toys multiple times to maintain his interest.

The Other Montana Democrat to Watch in 2024

Yes, Senator Jon Tester is up for reelection—but also, Monica Tranel is looking to take the House seat held by Rep. Ryan Zinke.

Democratic candidate Monica Tranel in Bozeman, Montana
William Campbell/Getty
Democratic candidate Monica Tranel in Bozeman, Montana, in 2022

One could be forgiven for thinking of Montana as a fully red state. Republicans have won every presidential election there since 1996, with Donald Trump carrying it by 16 percentage points in 2020. The state legislature is ruled by a GOP supermajority, and the only statewide elected Democrat is Senator Jon Tester, who faces a challenging reelection bid this year.

Nonetheless, Democrat Monica Tranel is hoping she can flip Montana’s 1st congressional district, a purplish seat currently held by Republican Representative Ryan Zinke. The district is relatively new, established after the 2020 census due to Montana’s population growth (the new district increased the state’s congressional seats to a whopping two). Tranel came within throwing distance of defeating Zinke in their first matchup in 2022, when she lost by roughly three percentage points.

Given this overperformance in a district that supported Trump by more than six percentage points in 2020, the rematch has garnered national party support. In January, Tranel was added to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “red to blue” list of priority candidates who could flip Republican-held seats.

Outside observers nonetheless categorize it as a probable win for Zinke. Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate it as “lean Republican,” while the Cook Political Report designates the seat as “likely Republican.” One of the biggest challenges in reaching voters outside of the district’s more progressive enclaves, such as Missoula, is countering the increased polarization in politics.

Tranel told me that Zinke’s strategy was to “nationalize the race and make me into something I’m not, and then run against that person.” She recalled a recent meeting with members of a local union—once reliable Democratic voters—who were skeptical of her and her party. They echoed talking points that Tranel recognized from national right-wing media outlets, saying that Democrats and President Joe Biden “only ever lie.”

“I said, ‘Look, I’m not running for president. I’m running to represent you in Congress, in this seat. That’s what I’m looking to do,’” Tranel said when we met in a Missoula coffee shop last week.

Indeed, Tranel’s race may be affected by other candidates and issues on the ballot: This year, Biden and Trump will be at the top of the ticket, as will Tester. A state initiative to enshrine the right to an abortion up to around 24 weeks of pregnancy is also likely to make it onto the ballot in November. It’s still unclear how these other lines on the ballot will affect the turnout and outcome on Election Day.

Zinke is outpacing Tranel in fundraising; as of the end of March, he had $2.3 million in his campaign coffers, compared to Tranel’s $1.3 million in cash on hand. Al Olszewski, the chair of the Flathead County Republicans, who ran against Zinke in the 2022 GOP primary, said that Tranel would perhaps have an even more challenging race this year. In 2022, this was an open seat, but now Zinke is an incumbent with a seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

“If you’re going up against a giant, how are you going to kill the giant?” asked Olszewski.

Tranel believes she needs to capture a segment of the electorate—rural voters—who, like those skeptical union members she met, have begun to turn away from Democrats in recent years. Nationally, Republicans have a significant advantage over Democrats with rural voters: According to Pew Research, 61 percent of registered voters in rural counties are Republicans. Still, in 2022, Tranel improved upon Biden’s 2020 performance in a few of the 1st congressional district’s more sparsely populated counties.

“Democrats have abandoned rural America to our own detriment and said, ‘We can’t win there; why bother showing up?’ But that’s my home,” Tranel said. “We have a lot of work to do. It’s not going to happen in one visit. It’s not going to happen in two. I’ve been doing it over and over again for four years, and it’s because I’m invested in the home that I live in.”

This article first appeared in Inside Washington, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by staff writer Grace Segers. Sign up here.

Vibe check: Big trouble in little DCA

Each week, I provide an update on the vibes surrounding a particular policy or political development. This week: An update on plans to increase flights to and from D.C.’s most convenient airport.

Now that Congress has funded the government, it’s time to turn our attention to what really matters: a niche yet intense battle over whether to increase the number of flights at Ronald Reagan National Airport (a.k.a. DCA).

This week, congressional negotiators released text of legislation to reauthorize funding the Federal Aviation Administration ahead of a May 10 deadline. The bill includes a controversial provision to add five new round-trip flights to Reagan National—10 flights in total—beyond the airport’s 1,250-mile perimeter. This provision quickly incurred the wrath of the four Democratic senators from Virginia and Maryland, who insinuated in a letter that it was included for the personal convenience of far-flung members of Congress.

“We understand the desire of senators to shorten their commutes home, but this proposal would benefit few while impacting many, first and foremost in safety but also in delays and in reducing the economic competitiveness of smaller destinations within the perimeter,” said Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, citing a recent near collision at the airport, as well as a 2023 memo by the FAA warning of increased delays if round-trip flights were added.

The so-called “DCA perimeter rule” bars nonstop flights to destinations more than 1,250 miles away, with exceptions for 10 major cities, in part to reduce congestion and ensure that Dulles International Airport remains the long-haul hub of the region. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told lawmakers this week that Reagan National had “the hardest-working runway in the national airspace.”

“We would be concerned about the pressure that that could put on the system. Of course, we stand ready to make good on whatever Congress provides,” Buttigieg said.

The issue of additional slots helped stall negotiations over the FAA reauthorization bill last year, amid intense lobbying from airlines. In 2023, United Airlines, which opposes the expansion, spent more than $9 million in federal lobbying efforts; Delta Air Lines, which supports adding more long-distance flights, spent around $5 million in federal lobbying.

Support for more DCA flights falls less along party lines than regional ones. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the measure’s biggest proponents hail from Western states, while lawmakers who live closer to Washington are more likely to be opposed. One exception is Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a supporter of DCA expansion who already has an abundance of daily direct flights home to choose from—but his state is also home to Delta’s headquarters.

Van Hollen told me on Wednesday that opponents of the expansion were pushing for an amendment process to strip that provision out of the bill. “You cannot present this bill as a safety measure when you’re compromising safety at National Airport,” Van Hollen said after a meeting with the Senate Democratic caucus. He added that he had raised the issue in the meeting. “I just asked all my colleagues how they would feel if Congress was dictating how many slots all their local airports had,” he said.

What I’m reading

Challengers is a brutal game of desire, by Annie Berke in The New Republic
Interpreting Shōgun was more than just translation, by Bethy Squires in Vulture
America is nowhere near peak stuff, by Amanda Mull in The Atlantic
Beating cancer used to be bipartisan. What happened? by Erin Schumaker in Politico
Nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain could roil Nevada U.S. Senate race, by Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times
How far Trump would go, by Eric Cortellessa in Time
Tears and despair at Florida abortion clinic in final hours before ban, by Caroline Kitchener in The Washington Post

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet is Minnie the Moo, a houndlet submitted by King Williams. As evidenced by her chic apparel, Minnie was prepared for cold winter walkies in Tennessee this year. (One can only imagine her summer looks!)

The Supreme Court Could Change How We Think About January 6

The high court will weigh in on whether hundreds of rioters were properly charged in a case that may have big ramifications for prosecutions yet to come.

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Another week, another blockbuster Supreme Court case that could have lasting consequences for American politics: On Tuesday, the nation’s high court heard arguments in a case challenging whether federal prosecutors could charge rioters in the January 6, 2021, siege of the Capitol using a law that criminalizes what is known as “obstructing an official proceeding.” The Justice Department has argued that defendants violated this law, enacted in the wake of the Enron scandal more than two decades ago, by attempting to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in 2020.

More than 350 people have been charged, and more than 100 have pleaded guilty or been convicted, under the statute, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Perhaps the most prominent person charged under the federal obstruction statute: former President Donald Trump.

But the justices seemed to be divided on the issue in arguments on Tuesday. Some conservative justices, who comprise the majority of the court, worried that the statute grants federal prosecutors overly expansive authority to target protesters. “Would a heckler in today’s audience qualify, or at the State of the Union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote qualify for 20 years in federal prison?” Justice Neil Gorsuch asked.

Justice Clarence Thomas—whom Democrats hoped would recuse from the case, due to the efforts by his wife, Ginni Thomas, to overturn the 2020 election—questioned whether the law had been used in relation to other violent protests. (Although the case will not be decided for months, federal judges in lower courts have allowed several of the defendants who were imprisoned because of the law to be released from custody.)

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 includes a provision that applies to anyone who “alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding,” or “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so.” The Biden administration’s arguments rest on the word “otherwise,” maintaining that it is a catchall that refers to obstruction that goes beyond the shredding of documents. But Chief Justice John Roberts argued that “the general phrase is controlled and defined by reference to the terms that precede it”—in this case, “alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals.” (This would not be the first time the executive branch has been stymied by the judiciary in using Sarbanes-Oxley: In 2014, the Supreme Court limited the interpretation of the law outside of corporate fraud cases.)

Perspectives on the case from Capitol Hill, somewhat predictably, were divided along party lines. GOP Senator Josh Hawley argued that the federal application of Sarbanes-Oxley in this case ran “far, far afield” of the original intent of the law. “You want to charge rioters, go right ahead. Charge them with trespass, charge them with assault, charge them with whatever,” Hawley said. “They have applied that so broadly, and they’ve completely lifted it out of the records context, and that could be applied to just about any situation to any government proceeding.”

If the Supreme Court were to limit the use of the law, it’s unclear what effect this would have on prosecutions relating to the January 6 riot; many defendants, including the former police officer who brought this case before the court, were charged with multiple other crimes. Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing the federal case against Trump, has argued that a narrower reading of the law would not prevent the former president from being prosecuted under the statute. The two obstruction counts against Trump involve him conspiring to create false slates of electors, which Smith says would apply even under a stricter interpretation of the statute.

“I’m curious to see what the Supreme Court will say, but nothing in that particular legal adjudication affects in any way our sense of the criminal character of the violent and fraudulent assault on the 2020 election,” said Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, who was a member of the House select committee that investigated the riot in 2022. “I don’t think there’s any cause for a narrowing construction of that statute. But I think that if it did happen, again, it doesn’t change the essential character of the events we’re talking about.”

This article first appeared in Inside Washington, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by staff writer Grace Segers. Sign up here.

Vibe check: The future of the Affordable Connectivity Plan

I’ve previously written in this newsletter about the Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps connect millions of low-income Americans to the internet—and which will end in May if Congress does not approve additional funding. The program grew from a pandemic-era benefit, and has been used by around 23 million households. Despite bipartisan and bicameral support for the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, which would boost funding for the program by $7 billion, the future of the bill is uncertain. Congress is preoccupied with a host of other priorities, including approving a supplemental package of aid to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific.

Despite these complications, a group of Democratic representatives is pressuring Johnson to take up the legislation. I spoke with Representative Annie Kuster of New Hampshire, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition, about how her caucus of centrist Democrats is pushing to keep the Affordable Connectivity Act a priority. This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The ACP is set to end in May. Do you believe Congress can approve legislation to extend the program before that deadline?

I certainly hope so. I mean, that’s our goal. We’ve waited too long, obviously. This was a bipartisan bill when it passed; the extension has two dozen Republican co-sponsors. And we were hoping that they would help us to get it to the floor quickly. Now we’re really running up against the deadline. And so we want to make sure that we keep the pressure on the House Republican leadership.

These enrollees are all across the country, in red and blue districts, so we’ve got to put aside partisan politics and work together. It’s a lifeline for American families, for students doing homework, or people applying for jobs. We have very low unemployment, and our companies are looking for people to do jobs, to cover their job openings. And if you don’t have the internet from home, you can’t apply for the job. You can’t look up the bus schedule to get to the job. You can’t be in touch with your employer to send or receive messages.

The way America works and lives, and the way our communities function—for schools, for hospitals—everyone has the expectation that people will be available via the internet. And 23 million Americans have had this access to affordable internet. We’ve been closing this digital divide. This is true for low-income communities, but it’s also true for rural communities like my district to provide access to affordable broadband. We did this during Covid because it became immediately apparent how important it was for telework, for telehealth, for education online. And then now it’s being stripped away—just in my own state, we’re talking about 40,000 households. So that is a significant number of people who will no longer be able to participate in the normal course with our community and with our economy.

What do you believe is the best pathway for approving the Affordable Connectivity Program extension?

Well, the best pathway would be to just attach it to a bill that’s going to be considered, and get it to the president for his signature as quickly as possible. If the Republican leadership is unwilling to do that, then we would have to consider alternative pathways.

What kind of bill would you want to see it attached to?

Whatever passes the relevancy test. It’s such a popular bipartisan program. It shouldn’t be difficult to identify it—you know, a path to get this done. This should be a priority, really, with the deadline bearing down on us?

Well, that does bring me to my next question. There is a lot happening in Congress right now.

Yes, yes. Maybe we could attach it to Ukraine aid. [Laughs]

How do you convince Speaker Johnson that this is a priority?

I think it’s so popular that we should be able to do it on suspension, and now we’ve got a few extra days here. Let’s do it on Friday under suspension. That might be the way to go.

[Author’s note: Approving a bill under suspension of the rules requires a two-thirds majority to pass.]

The bill does, as you mentioned before, have significant GOP support. But there are a few Republicans who say that the ACP is redundant or that it has not truly connected a meaningful number of Americans. How do you respond to those criticisms?

Twenty-three million Americans is a meaningful number to me, and certainly 40,000 households in New Hampshire. We’re a state that has, I think we’re at 2.3 percent unemployment.… We can’t afford to have 40,000 people isolated, not connected to our economy and our society to the extent that they can’t fill out a job application, they can’t apply for a new position, they can’t go online to get new skills. Health care is a great example. So much of health care is working your way up from an entry level [licensed nursing assistant] to getting your credentials, working your way up to nurse practitioner. The way these things happen is that people take classes online, over the weekend, at night. And you’re just, like, squashing all of that talent. I wish I had a sophisticated word. I’m just thinking of just pushing people down. You’re not giving people the opportunity to thrive, and it will impact our economy.

I have one health care provider with 750 openings, they need to be able to communicate with everybody. And if you take 40,000 people out of the pool of potential applicants, just simply because they don’t have access to know about the position, to look online for a job, to fill out the application, to pull down their transcript from their school—everything happens online. Put yourself in the position of trying to apply for a job and not being able to go on a computer. It’s ludicrous in this day and age. And so to me the ACP is the equivalent of basic infrastructure. It’s like having public roads and high winds and phones and everything that we need to function. This is the modern version. The twenty-first-century infrastructure includes access to affordable internet.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you a question related to the news of the week. So, specifically, consideration of the package of national security bills and what that could mean for Johnson if the House is able to pass this new legislation. Do you think Democrats would be prepared to vote to keep Johnson in office if there is a motion to vacate against him?

So what I have said publicly is that, first and foremost, we’re focused on the substance. So we are taking today to ensure and reassure ourselves that all the parts of the set package are included. So, aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, humanitarian aid to Gaza; there’s a fourth piece that has to do with Taiwan. We need to absolutely confirm that all of the pieces [are there]. But if I accept your proposition that all of the pieces will be passed, I have said publicly that if he’s a man of his word, and he told me directly, personally, that that’s what would happen, then I would personally have no reason to remove him from the chair.

That seems like a very conditional statement.

Entirely. Entirely conditional. And frankly, I wouldn’t even make that decision until that decision had been made by my leadership. You will see Democratic unity on this issue. We will negotiate together. This will be in conjunction with a decision that’s made by our leadership, Leader Hakeem Jeffries and our whip, Katherine Clark. I would never get out in front of them.

What I’m reading

‘I’m gonna O.J. you’: How the Simpson case changed perceptions—and the law—on domestic violence, by Sonja Sharp in the Los Angeles Times

The coiled ferocity of Zendaya, by Matt Zoller Seitz in Vulture

The truth about organic milk, by Annie Lowrey in The Atlantic

How climate change turned camels into the new cows, by Chico Harlan, Rael Ombuor, and Malin Fezehai in The Washington Post

Into the Tubi-verse, by John Wilmes in The Ringer

How the dream of a financial aid upgrade became a nightmare, by Grace Segers in The New Republic. (It was recently pointed out to me by my mother, of all people, that I often include my own stories in the “What I’m reading” segment. To which I respond: How else will I get people to read what I write?)

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pets are Ruby (right) and Jet (left), submitted by CJ Warnke and Rachel Williams. The two siblings, who received their names as part of a gem-themed litter, just celebrated their first birthday in March and are “the best of friends.” “Jet loves to play fetch with his mouse, and Ruby loves to come cuddle on the couch whenever she has the chance,” CJ says.

Republicans Are Betting That Trump Got His Abortion Position Right

The highly volatile issue has been a huge factor in recent elections, but GOP lawmakers seem to believe 2024 will be different.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump in Atlanta on April 10
Megan Varner/Getty Images
Former U.S. President Donald Trump in Atlanta on April 10

In the two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion has become a defining campaign issue for Democrats and a thorn in the side of Republicans. The topic was once again at the fore this week, when former President Donald Trump on Monday stated his belief that abortion access should be determined by the states. After weeks of mulling support for a 15- or 16-week national ban, he chose not to endorse federal limits; however, he did not say how his potential administration would approach abortion access on the executive level.

“My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land—in this case, the law of the state,” Trump said in a video posted to his social media site, Truth Social. He also touted his nomination of three conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, calling himself “proudly the person responsible for the ending” of Roe.

With few notable exceptions, this viewpoint was quickly embraced by many Republican lawmakers. “I think President Trump is right where he needs to be, and importantly, where a majority of Americans are,” said Senator Thom Tillis.

Although the Biden administration is working to tie Trump to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, it may be difficult to define him by any particular position on abortion. He is, in many ways, a political Rorschach test: Strong abortion opponents know he would nominate conservative judges, while more centrist Republicans inclined to support him see him as “culturally moderate,” said John Conway, the director of strategy at the Republican Accountability Project.

“[Trump] understands that pro-lifers and evangelicals will go with him no matter what and that he needs to try to neutralize the abortion issue in 2024,” said Conway. “There are voters who understand that Trump is going to do what Trump is going to do to maintain political power.”

Republican Senator Kevin Cramer said that he believed Trump had been speaking from the heart in his announcement on Monday. “It was authentically him. I think it’s where he’s comfortable,” said Cramer.

But Trump’s vague positioning faced a challenge just a day after his announcement. On Tuesday, the Arizona state Supreme Court ruled that a nineteenth-century law prohibiting the procedure could go into effect on Tuesday. The 1864 statute bans abortion without exceptions for rape or incest, and would allow physicians to be prosecuted for conducting the procedure. The ruling was instantly blasted by vulnerable House Republicans from Arizona, as well as GOP Senate candidate Kari Lake, who had previously praised the law. Even Trump, who had just said that abortion should be left to the states, disagreed with the decision.

“It’s all about states’ rights, and it will be straightened out,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday, when asked if the ruling had gone too far. “And I’m sure the governor and everybody else have got to bring it back into reason and that it will be taken care of, I think.”

Trump said later on Wednesday that he would not sign a federal abortion ban if reelected, contradicting his position in his first term in office. However, it’s unclear whether his administration would take executive action to restrict abortion.

It’s difficult to know exactly how much of a motivating factor abortion will be in the 2024 elections, particularly in such close races. Arizona is a critical swing state, with congressional races that could determine control of the House and the Senate. There may be an initiative on the ballot in November that would amend the state constitution to expand abortion access in Arizona. (A similar initiative will appear on the ballot in Florida in November, and may also go to voters in states like Missouri and Montana.)

Representative David Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona facing a difficult reelection, criticized the ruling as “functionally overruling the legislature.” However, he said that he did not believe the ruling would affect the Senate race or his prospects of reelection in November. “It’s the fever delusion of the left,” Schweikert argued.

This view was echoed by Republican Representative Ryan Zinke, the former interior secretary from a swingy district in Montana. The ballot initiative to expand abortion access is “a Democratic push in Montana to mislead, quite frankly, and get the vote out,” Zinke said. “I don’t think it will be successful.”

As far as Trump is concerned, meanwhile, it’s unclear whether any position he might take on abortion would stick to him in the long term.

“One of the political advantages Donald Trump has always had is that voters understand that this man is not an ideologue,” said Conway. “Because Donald Trump can’t be tied down on any ideological issues, voters see him as someone who’s fighting for their interests.”

This article first appeared in Inside Washington, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by staff writer Grace Segers. Sign up here.

Vibe check: Unpacking the “bold willingness to delay” impeachment

When I started reporting for this week’s vibe check, I did so under the impression that the articles of impeachment for Mayorkas would be delivered to the Senate on Wednesday. Democrats, who control the chamber, then likely would have moved to table or dismiss the articles on Thursday—thus putting the issue to rest. Bada-bing, bada–Bob’s your uncle.

But such a scenario was not to be. Under pressure from Senate Republicans, House Speaker Mike Johnson delayed the transmission of the articles from the House until sometime next week. The outcome will likely be the same: All 51 Senate Democrats, and perhaps a small number of Republicans, likely will vote to table or dismiss the articles. Even if the impeachment did go to trial in the Senate, it would fall far short of the two-thirds vote needed to convict. So why delay the inevitable?

Short answer: Senators hate staying in the Capitol past Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Almost every week, there is a final vote at 1:45 p.m.; senators show up in jeans or other casual attire, ready to cast their votes and skedaddle out of the building. (This is why Thursdays are known on this side of the Capitol as “Senate Fridays.”)

This upcoming Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to address a joint session of Congress in the morning. That would have punted any consideration of impeachment articles to Thursday afternoon—right before senators’ flights out of town. As GOP Senator Mike Lee put it when he praised Johnson’s “bold willingness to delay” the delivery of impeachment articles: “Members will be less inclined to operate under jet fume intoxication on a Monday than they would on a Thursday.” (For his part, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “We’re going to move this as expeditiously as possible.”)

GOP senators are expected to put forward their own motions in an effort to put the pressure on vulnerable swing- and red-state Democrats to hold the full trial. Still, despite its ostensible political benefit for Republicans, an impeachment trial is hardly a thrilling prospect. It’s been a little over three years since Trump’s second impeachment trial and a little over four years since his first. As someone who sat through both trials—indeed, the inception of my vibe check came from that coverage—I can confirm that the senators did not enjoy them.

Still, Senator Kevin Cramer noted that Republicans were perhaps more eager to undergo an impeachment trial this time around than they were when Trump was under the microscope. “The issue of the border is just such a wonderful one for us to talk about as Republicans, that I think there’s a little more enthusiasm for it,” he said. “The House did it, so here we are, and now we might as well make the most of it.”

Republicans have also argued it would be a dereliction of duty to dismiss or table the articles. (Of course, they didn’t feel this way when Trump was impeached the second time, when the vast majority of Republicans voted to dismiss the trial.) Senator Josh Hawley, who himself introduced a resolution to make it easier to dismiss articles of impeachment ahead of Trump’s first trial in 2020, argued that successfully dismissing the Mayorkas trial would “probably be the end of impeachment.”

“A future majority that wants to get rid of an impeachment is going to do that. It’s just easy, it’s done,” Hawley said.

Some Republicans do acknowledge that impeachment has become an increasingly political tool, although they insist Democrats started it with their first impeachment of Trump, in particular. Senator Thom Tillis said that he wanted a full trial to occur in order to figure out whether the complaints against Mayorkas were legitimate, rising to the level of an impeachment, or born of anger with the current administration.

“There’s a lot of frustration there. I don’t know if that’s what motivated it, or if there’s really meaningful evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor. I just don’t think we’ll get to the point where that even gets considered or entered into the record on the Senate side,” Tillis said.

Regardless of whether Republicans are actually clamoring to sit through an impeachment trial, the articles have been approved in the House and will eventually be sent over to the Senate.

“In the Senate, we just have to respond to what the House does,” said Senator Mike Rounds. “The House is the emotional animal, the Senate is supposed to be the adults in the room.”

What I’m reading

Shōgun is reinventing the TV epic, by Phillip Maciak in The New Republic

Arkansas led the nation sending letters home from school about obesity. Did it help? by Kavitha Cardoza in NPR/KFF Health News

The RFK-curious women of Bucks County, by Elaine Godfrey in The Atlantic

The deeply silly, extremely serious rise of ‘Alpha Male’ Nick Adams, by Ben Terris in The Washington Post

How Texas teens lost the one program that allowed birth control without parental consent, by Eleanor Klibanoff in The Texas Tribune

Fallout finds the fun in an apocalyptic hellscape, by Austin Considine in The New York Times

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet was submitted by border collie aficionado Gayle Davis. Here is 7-year-old Lyel, one of her four border collies, reclining in a “pose that he utilizes whenever he wants to appear relaxed but is, in fact, letting me know he wants to be doing something active,” according to Gayle.

Can Abortion Rights Voters Turn Florida Blue?

Democratic Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell tells TNR that Sunshine State voters are “ready to come out to vote and protect reproductive freedom.”

Democratic Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is interviewed during a campaign event at the United Teachers of Dade headquarters in Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Democratic Senate candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is interviewed during a campaign event at the United Teachers of Dade headquarters in Miami.

This week, the Florida state Supreme Court issued two rulings with significant ramifications for abortion access in the state. In one decision, the justices overturned decades of precedent by ruling that the state constitution’s enumerated rights to privacy do not apply to abortion, which paves the way for a recently passed Florida law that bans the procedure at six weeks to go into effect beginning in May.

In their second ruling, however, the majority of justices found that a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy could go on the ballot. In other words, the state legislature has had its say, now Florida voters will have the chance to provide an electoral riposte—and overnight, that pending ballot initiative becomes one of the hot tickets in an already heady election season.

But these decisions have major implications for abortion access not only in Florida, the nation’s third-largest state by population, but throughout the South as well. In 2023, more than 84,000 abortions were performed in the Sunshine State, with nearly 8,000 out-of-state residents obtaining an abortion in Florida.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a former Democratic representative challenging incumbent Republican Rick Scott in the upcoming Florida Senate election, told The New Republic that she believes the two decisions by the state high court will not just be consequential for abortion access in the near future—but will have long-term political implications as well, in her state and beyond.

This interview with Mucarsel-Powell has been condensed and lightly edited.

What were your initial reactions to the state Supreme Court decisions released this week?

I had a lot of mixed feelings—because by them upholding the 15-week abortion ban, we know that in 28 days, the six-week abortion ban will go into effect. And it’s a near-ban on all abortions with hardly any exceptions for incest and rape. And I’m very concerned about the safety and the health of women in Florida and in the Southeast region. So many women from the Southeast region come [here] to receive care.

I’m really concerned to see a rise in maternal mortality rates. And it’s an issue that, as someone that came from Latin America, I have seen what happens when women don’t have access to this key critical reproductive health care. It affects, of course, Black women and Latino women disproportionately. And those are the first thoughts that came to my mind when I saw that.

And then at the same time, the good news is that Floridians are going to have the opportunity to make sure that they come out in November to protect their freedoms, their rights. This is an opportunity for us to make sure that we enshrine reproductive health care into the state constitution. But it’s not going to mean anything if Floridians come vote to make it a part of the state constitution to protect a woman’s reproductive health care and abortion care, if then Florida reelects Rick Scott [and] he goes back to the Senate and pushes the national abortion ban. And so I think that my race now is more critical than ever.

Do you think that engagement and interest regarding the ballot initiative on abortion will juice turnout in November, and perhaps get more people aware of your election and more excited about it?

I’ve been in Florida now seeing this grassroots movement and the energized groups that have been on the ground, that actually obtained over a million and a half signatures to make sure that we put this amendment on the ballot in November, and it included [around] 150,000 Republican registered voters. And I’ve been traveling across the state, and people in Florida are ready. They’re ready to come out to vote and protect reproductive freedom, and they’re ready to retire Rick Scott.

Everywhere I go, people know exactly who Rick Scott is. And they know that he’s someone that wants to push an abortion ban, that he proudly said he would have supported a six-week abortion ban if he was governor. And he also, of course, wrote that plan to sunset Social Security and Medicare. He wants to eliminate the [Affordable Care Act]. I mean, there’s so many issues in front of Floridians, and they understand, very well, the stakes. And I think that we are going to see huge turnout because of the amendment, but also because of all these issues, and because we have been present in the state in all these communities, talking to them directly about what it would mean if Rick Scott gets back into the Senate.

[Author’s note: When he was chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2022, Scott authored a proposal that would sunset all legislation after five years, including Social Security and Medicare. Under pressure from his own party, Scott later amended the plan to exclude entitlement programs.]

Florida has a significant Latino population, which has been critical in recent elections, but with whom Democrats have really struggled to engage. So how do you connect with Latino voters, but specifically on issues of abortion and reproductive care?

I’m a Latina, and I’ve been very present in my community for years before I was elected to serve in Congress, during Congress, after Congress. I have been speaking to our communities in Spanish radio, Spanish media, about issues that matter most to them. One of them is gun safety. Latinos understand what it means to live under government control, under political violence, political persecution. And I can tell you that my story is the story of so many Latinos living in South Florida, but also Floridians across the state. And so I feel very strongly that when you are present in our community, they come and vote for the person that’s going to represent them. And that’s what happened in 2018; it’s the same thing that’s going to happen now in 2024.

[Author’s note: Mucarsel-Powell was elected to the House in the “blue wave” of 2018.]

And let’s remember one thing: Argentina, Colombia, Mexico—very conservative countries in Central and South America—passed laws to protect access to abortion and reproductive rights. Because there’s a direct link to violence against women when you don’t have that care, that access to care, and also high levels of maternal mortality. And because of that, women organized in Latin America and were able to put pressure on the government to pass these laws. And so Latina women are Latinas for choice. They don’t want the government interfering in these private matters. They don’t want politicians making those decisions for them. Many of us have left that government to come to America to experience freedom and democracy. And that resonates because it resonates with me as a Latina, and it resonates with our communities in Florida.

[Author’s note: Argentina recently legalized abortion, and the procedure is decriminalized in Mexico and Colombia.]

Do you think that the National Democratic Party should be investing more in Florida and paying more attention to your race specifically?

I’m running because I want to represent all Floridians in the state. I have been called to serve. And I decided very early on that this is going to be my campaign to make sure that I have all the resources; that I have all the support inside of our state. Now I have also said that Florida is a state that’s worth fighting for and investing in. I have been saying this even before I launched my campaign to run for Senate. We are 20 million Americans living in the state of Florida under extremists that are trying to hijack the state, that have tried to paint a facade that is completely false that our state is red. The extremists up at the top—including Rick Scott, who is the poster child for extreme policies in Washington—don’t represent our values. We are a third independent voters, a third Democrats, a third Republicans. We are a bright purple state, and we are ready to vote for our rights, to protect our rights and freedoms in November. And so it would be a huge mistake for anyone to underestimate who we are in Florida.

On the ballot language on abortion: That amendment would protect abortion rights through viability, around 24 weeks. Some abortion rights advocates worry that protecting abortion through viability isn’t sufficient to ensure that everyone has abortion access. Do you believe that language, protection through viability, does enough to protect abortion rights?

I’m focusing on fighting to stop the six-week ban on abortion, and I completely support the abortion ballot measure the way that it’s written.

This article first appeared in Inside Washington, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by staff writer Grace Segers. Sign up here.

The Tragic Fallout of the World Central Kitchen Airstrikes

The IDF’s attack on food aid workers in Gaza is roiling Washington—and having a chilling effect on everyone working to stave off starvation.

One of the vehicles where employees from the World Central Kitchen were killed in an Israeli Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip,  Majdi Fathi/Getty Images
Majdi Fathi/Getty Images
One of the vehicles that carried employees from the World Central Kitchen who were killed in an Israeli airstrike, in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip

This week, after Israeli airstrikes killed seven workers from World Central Kitchen—the globe-trotting food aid organization famous for showing up wherever there are people in need (including Washington, during government shutdowns)—multiple humanitarian organizations have suspended their operations in Gaza due to concerns about the safety of their staff. These workers were killed despite traveling through a “deconflicted zone” in armored cars clearly labeled with the World Central Kitchen logo and sharing their movements with the Israeli military. World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, is among the groups pausing their operations in Gaza, even as more than one million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation.

Andrés told Reuters in an interview that the convoy had been targeted “systematically, car by car.” “This was not just a bad luck situation where ‘oops,’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place,” Andrés said. The strikes hit the convoy shortly after it left its warehouse in Deir Al Balah, where it unloaded over 100 tons of food aid.

Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International and a former top official at USAID, called the strike on the World Central Kitchen convoy a “significant escalation,” notable in part because the organization had worked to coordinate their efforts with the Israeli military. But he also noted that many Palestinian aid workers have been killed since the onset of the war in October; the United Nations has reported that more than 180 humanitarian workers have died.

“Israel is trying really hard to portray this as a one-off, an accident and aberration, and it’s none of those things. The only thing that is different here is that it was international personnel,” Konyndyk said. “This one is different in degree—it is even more egregious, it is more severe, it is grotesque. But it is grotesque in a way that follows a pattern of [Israel Defense Forces] behavior.”

Anera, an organization that provides aid in the Middle East, which has partnered with World Central Kitchen and other groups, is also temporarily suspending its operations. The deaths of the humanitarian workers this week come after the killing of Anera worker Mousa Shawwa last month. As with the seven workers killed this week, Shawwa had shared his coordinates and movements with the Israeli military before his death. Sandra Rasheed, the Palestine director for Anera, said in an interview that aid workers in Gaza had been concerned about their safety after the death of Shawwa and his young son shortly thereafter.

“When April 1 happened, and the WCK convoy was deliberately and intentionally targeted and attacked, and there were seven people that were killed that day, that was a real big shocker to them. They were really worried, [and] they knew that it could have been them,” Rasheed said about the Anera workers, who coordinated closely with World Central Kitchen on the ground. Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that strikes occurred, he called them “unintentional,” and other Israeli military leaders have characterized them as an error—but this does not reassure Anera workers, Rasheed said.

The deaths of the World Central Kitchen workers have invited international condemnation, including some of the strongest criticism from President Joe Biden. (The Biden administration has continued to approve munitions and aid for Israel, although Congress has not approved new military assistance since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.) In Washington, Andrés is an institution, respected across the political class; the deaths of the World Central Kitchen staff may thus resonate with American politicians more than the everyday devastation of Israeli strikes in Gaza. Rasheed theorized that the international community had become accustomed to the deaths of Palestinians, which have topped 30,000, according to health officials in Gaza.

“When the world sees images of international aid workers who are going into a crisis situation, who are going there to serve and to support the people, and then they are killed, that is a shock for them,” Rasheed said.

The pause in operations is temporary, Rasheed said, noting that Anera is still working on aid procurement. However, she said that she would like to see accountability for the Israeli military and more pressure put on the U.S. to stop supplying weapons to Israel.

“Are we being naïve that that would happen? I’m not so sure. I think that the shock of what happened and even some of the initial language of what President Biden said, shows an indication that people are starting to think that people need to be held accountable, that this needs to stop,” Rasheed said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Biden said that he was “outraged” by the incident. However, Politico reported that, while privately “angry,” Biden did not plan on changing the country’s policy toward Israel anytime soon.

“It’s very hard for me to see any real prospect of Israeli behavior changing without the U.S. government majorly upping the ante. Netanyahu has shown repeatedly that he will happily ignore the guidance that he gets,” argued Konyndyk. “As long as the approach of the U.S. government is to urge him to change, rather than deploy leverage to force him to change policy, he won’t change.”

This article first appeared in Inside Washington, a weekly TNR newsletter authored by staff writer Grace Segers. Sign up here.

The Mifepristone Case Isn’t the Endgame for Abortion Opponents

The Supreme Court was skeptical of this week’s case, but less spurious legal challenges are on the horizon.

Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court
Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images
Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday

The Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared skeptical of arguments in favor of limiting access to mifepristone, a medication approved long ago by the Food and Drug Administration for abortions—at least on the grounds that the plaintiffs, a group of anti-abortion doctors who haven’t actually prescribed the drug, had standing to claim that its availability somehow injured them. Justice Neil Gorsuch mused that the case could be “a prime example of turning what could be a small lawsuit into a nationwide legislative assembly on an FDA rule or any other federal government action.”

This is the first major abortion-related case the Supreme Court has heard since the conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000, but attorneys for the plaintiffs—the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which set up shop shortly after Roe was overturned—asked the court to block rules the agency implemented in 2016 and 2021 that made it easier to access the drug, including by mail. (Medication abortion represented 63 percent of all U.S. abortions in 2023, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, and it’s believed that the rise in abortions since Roe was overturned is largely due to the availability of abortion pills by mail.)

The court will release a decision by early July at the latest, but even if mifepristone survives this ruling, abortion opponents will continue to bring legal challenges against the drug. States that have implemented abortion restrictions “will file copycat lawsuits to try to restrict access to medication abortion in every state in the country,” warned Julia Kaye, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project.

During oral arguments on Tuesday, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas indicated another potential legal avenue for restricting mifepristone: They frequently mentioned the Comstock Act, a nineteenth-century law that bans sending obscene material and drugs for abortions through the mail. The federal government effectively stopped enforcing the law nearly a century ago, and the courts have narrowed interpretation of the law to apply only to mailing explicitly illegal material. However, as my colleague Melissa Gira Grant wrote last year, abortion opponents have sought to revive the Comstock Act to block abortion medication.

“This case is just one inflection point in an ongoing assault by anti-abortion extremists against all of our freedoms, both from the state and local level to the federal level,” said Mini Timmaraju, the president and CEO of Reproductive Freedom for All, an advocacy group that supports abortion access.

A coalition of conservative groups, led by the Heritage Foundation, has prepared a nearly 1,000-page “playbook” for a potential Republican president in 2025, including plans to restrict abortion. This would include directing the FDA to rescind its approval of mifepristone and stopping “promoting or approving mail-order abortions in violation of long-standing federal laws that prohibit the mailing and interstate carriage of abortion drugs”—a reference to the Comstock Act.

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, has mulled supporting either a 16-week or 15-week ban on abortion, with some exceptions. Republicans in Congress have also proposed bills to limit abortion, such as legislation that would roll back the FDA regulations allowing telemedicine prescription and mail delivery of mifepristone and even ban medication abortion altogether. Although efforts to restrict mifepristone tanked an agriculture appropriations bill last year, abortion opponents hope that a Republican in the White House and GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress could strengthen their hand.

On top of the 14 states that have banned abortion outright, 12 other states have passed at least one restriction on telehealth medication abortion. Meanwhile, blue states have begun adopting “shield laws” to protect doctors from prosecution should they prescribe abortion medication for out-of-state patients. Progressive groups have also championed state ballot initiatives to protect the right to an abortion in red states.

“We are in the states fighting around these ballot initiatives and fighting for governors, and A.G.s, and state legislatures that will uphold reproductive freedom,” said Timmaraju.

Vibe check: The scene outside of the Supreme Court

Each week, I provide an update on the vibes surrounding a particular policy or political development. This week: The scene on the ground at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The scene outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning was a familiar one, as anti-abortion and pro-Roe demonstrators held competing rallies. There were signs calling abortion a “human right” and signs declaring, “Abortion pills are murder”; anti-abortion rallygoers lying on the ground in protest and abortion supporters in Planned Parenthood pink dancing as Beyoncé’s “Cuff It” thumped from massive loudspeakers.

Shanay Watson-Whittaker, the director for Michigan campaigns at Reproductive Freedom for All, had traveled from her home state. Bedecked in the organization’s signature deep purple, Watson-Whittaker spoke of her six children in their mid-twenties. “This is about their future. It’s up to them what they want to do with their bodies, and I want to make sure that the government does not interfere with that,” she said. “I’m here to make my voice heard for them and their future.”

Inside the courthouse, most justices appeared skeptical about whether the anti-abortion doctors could prove concrete harm from mifepristone. Kaye argued that the case “should have been laughed out of court from the start,” adding, “We are certainly hoping that the justices will recognize that anti-abortion groups’ arguments in this case defied bedrock legal principles and are not based on a shred of credible evidence.”

But Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life, argued that “this is about providing medication to women without a doctor.”

“As Democrats, we support regulation. We support regulation in every avenue. And for some reason we’ve carved out abortion as, ‘Let’s give this to women without regulations and health and safety standards,’” Day said outside the court, as she waited to speak before the crowd of abortion opponents. (As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted in an amicus brief in this case, “Serious side effects occur in less than 1% of patients, and major adverse events—significant infection, blood loss, or hospitalization—occur in less than 0.3% of patients.”)

While mifepristone can be prescribed by a doctor or obtained through a clinic, including via telehealth, a patient’s ability to access it may depend on how strictly their state has restricted abortion; the legality of using mifepristone in a state where abortion is banned is murky.

In April, the Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in a case relating to a federal law allowing emergency access to abortion procedures. One thing is all but certain: When the court next convenes to consider a case relating to abortion rights, there will be protesters jostling outside, shouting to have their voices heard.

What I’m reading

Can this forgotten anti-poverty program be saved? by Grace Segers in The New Republic
Can a tribe’s religious freedom claims halt a major copper mine? by Taylar Dawn Stagner in Mother Jones
‘The whole bridge just fell down.’ The final minutes before the Key Bridge collapsed, by Lee O. Sanderlin and Adam Willis in The Baltimore Banner
In a secret game of prisoner swaps, Putin has held most of the cards, by Aruna Viswanatha, Bojan Pancevski, Drew Hinshaw, and Joe Parkinson in The Wall Street Journal
Living abroad, Jim McDermott finds his liberal utopia, by Ariel Cohen in Roll Call
Why some LGBTQ+ groups oppose the current Kids Online Safety Act, by Jasmine Mithani in The 19th
How Kate Cox became a reluctant face of the abortion rights movement, by Charlotte Alter in Time

Pet of the week

Want to have your pet included at the bottom of the next newsletter? Email me:

This week’s featured pet was submitted by Tom Grafton. Hank is pictured after a long day at the dog park.