Florida just dealt reproductive justice another troubling body blow
The Sunshine State’s House passed a 15-week abortion ban that could arrive to the governor’s desk as soon as next week. This is terrible for so many reasons.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Friday morning. Quick programming note: Supercreator is off on Monday, Feb. 21 in observance of President’s Day. The newsletter will return to your inbox the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 22.
In today’s newsletter:
Why a state-level abortion ban is worth paying attention to, despite everything else going on in the world right now
Details on the “most significant restoration of the Great Lakes in US history”
Reading recommendations on the billionaire funding the next wave of Trumpism, DeathTok and the return of “revenge travel”
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The Florida state House on Thursday morning, just after midnight, passed a bill banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“These bans are riddled with systemic racism and misogyny,” Christian F. Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women, an organization that promotes equal rights for women, said in an interview with Supercreator. “They are bans that are targeting communities that are already struggling to find access to health care.”
Specifically, Nunes said women of color, immigrant women, women living in poverty, underage women and college students are affected most by these types of bans. “It’s intentional and it’s another way to oppress and restrict without calling it what it is,” Nunes said.
“Extremist anti-choice politicians in Florida are pushing abortion bans that will endanger the health and safety of women and girls across Florida,” Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida said in a statement to Supercreator. “The danger is not theoretical. We must take action now to protect reproductive rights and the health and safety of Florida’s women.” (Demings is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for his Senate seat in this year’s midterm elections.)
The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates agreed that the ban will impact Black women and Latinas the hardest.
For Black Floridians who may now be forced to remain pregnant, this ban could be especially deadly. Nationally, Black women experience maternal morbidity and mortality at a rate three times higher than white women, largely as the result of systemic racism in the medical field and in society at large,” the Alliance said in a statement. “This disparity continues to bear out in Florida, where Black women are twice as likely as white women to die during or shortly after pregnancy.”
The Alliance added that the obstacles created by this abortion ban will be compounded for immigrants who often are ineligible for public health coverage and may be unable to travel for care due to immigration enforcement.
The bill excludes exceptions that would allow abortions after 15 weeks in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking, Kirby Wilson at The Miami Herald reports. (A state lawmaker said pregnant victims of those crimes would have enough time to seek an abortion under the bill if they choose.)
Florida House Democrats filed 14 amendments onto the bill in an attempt to address its lack of exceptions but they each failed in party-line votes.
There are exceptions in the bill that would allow abortions after 15 weeks in cases where the pregnancy endangers the life — or seriously threatens the physical health — of the mother. If two doctors detect a “fatal fetal abnormality,” a pregnancy could be terminated after 15 weeks under the bill.
The Supreme Court is likely to decide this summer if it will effectively overturn Roe v. Wade, which ruled that the Constitution protects the rights of pregnant people to seek abortion care. But recent polling shows a majority of Americans believe the Court should uphold Roe and oppose a controversial Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks. (Three-quarters of Americans say abortion access should be left to women and their doctors.)
As with voting rights, the House passed a bill last year — the Women’s Health Protection Act — that would codify a person’s right to choose and supersede the state laws. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced on Thursday that the Senate will vote on the legislation when it returns from recess of Feb. 28.
“Our right to control our bodies and our lives is a Constitutional guarantee and we must fight to protect our freedoms,” Demings said to Supercreator, as she urged her colleagues in the Senate to pass the WHPA. (President Joe Biden Vice President Kamala Harris and the congressional Pro-Choice Caucus also support the legislation.)
Nunes told me that despite everything that’s going on in the world, this story is worth following because at the heart of it is one about oppression.
“Right now it may be women who are being targeted. Then we see Blacks, then we see immigrants, then we see LGBTQ, then we see trans — it just keeps moving. The oppressors are there to oppress,” she said. “So it’s important that we come together in solidarity to work to eradicate oppression and racism and whoever’s being affected by it because eventually, the oppressor is going to move to your group.”
A Florida state Senate committee is expected to take up the bill on Monday. If it clears that committee, the full Florida Senate will vote on it. If the legislation passes, then it will go to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis who is expected to sign it into law.
— Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined how the US government expects Russia to invade Ukraine in a speech at the United Nations in New York on Thursday.
— The Senate passed a bill to fund the government through March 11 while lawmakers draft spending legislation for the rest of the fiscal year.
— Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who chairs Senate Judiciary Committee, wants President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee confirmed before the chamber’s Easter recess. [Jordain Carney / The Hill]
— Weekly unemployment claims increased by 23,000 from last week, the first climb in the past month.
— The Justice Department announced the first director of the cryptocurrency enforcement team it established last fall to prevent crimes involving the emerging digital currency.
— The Justice Department also launched an initiative to prosecute companies who exploit the supply chain disruptions for profit.
— More than 17.1 million voters turned out for the 2020 presidential election than in 2016, the largest increase between consecutive presidential elections since the inception of the Census Bureau report that tracks the data.
— Four months ahead of the primary election, Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California leads the rest of the field for Los Angeles mayorship. [Benjamin Oreskes / LAT]
— California lawmakers introduced two bills Thursday that aim to combat anti-Asian harassment and violence against women and other vulnerable populations in public spaces, including streets and transit platforms. [Claire Wang / NBC News]
— Transplant recipients, cancer patients are among the millions of other Americans with risk factors who feel ignored and abandoned as the country looks to return to normal after a two-year pandemic. [Amanda Morris and Maggie Astor / NYT]
— The percentage of US adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual has increased to a new high of 7.1 percent, which is double the percentage from 2012 when it was first measured. [Jeffrey M. Jones / Gallup]
AGENCIES & DEPARTMENTS
EPA plans to restore almost 90% of the nation’s degraded Great Lakes by 2030
The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday a $1 billion investment to clean up and restore the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites.
“We will make unprecedented progress in our efforts to restore and protect the waters and the communities of the Great Lakes basin,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in a statement. “Building a better America means investing in our natural resources and the communities they support.”
According to a 2021 study published in Nature, almost 490,000 American households lacked complete plumbing and lived with poor water quality from 2014 to 2018.
President Biden traveled to Ohio on Thursday to announce the $1 billion investment, which is funded by the bipartisan infrastructure deal he signed three months ago.
“This is not the totality of what we’re going to do, but it’s an example of what I’ve said from day one: We’re rebuilding America,” Biden said. “We’re going to invest in America and build a better America than we found.”
The Great Lakes, which are a group of five large interconnected lakes in middle America that consist of lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, constitute the largest area of fresh water in the world.
The EPA estimates the clean-up and restoration will secure clean drinking water for more than 40 million residents and create 1.3 million jobs. The White House said it’s the most significant restoration of the Great Lakes in US history.
The agency projects completion of 22 of 25 remaining Great Lakes — sites known as “Areas of Concern” or AOCs — by 2030.
TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing this morning.
Editor’s note: There is nothing else on the president’s public schedule. A logical conclusion is that he could be interviewing candidates today for the Supreme Court nomination. The White House declined to confirm on Thursday if Biden had met or will meet with candidates but did reiterate the president is on track to announce the nominee by the end of the month.
— Vice President Harris will hold a bilateral meeting this morning with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg in Germany where she is attending the Munich Security Conference. Harris will also hold a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. She will remain overnight in Munich.
— First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will visit a cancer center in Tampa, Florida this afternoon with National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Ned Sharpless as part of the White House’s Cancer Moonshot initiative. Dr. Biden will also visit the US Coast Guard Air Station Miami and host a private listening session and book-reading event. She will also speak and be joined by Homeland Security Deputy Secretary John. K. Tien.
— Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will travel to Jacksonville, Florida to participate in a canvass launch with Black Men Engaged, a community group that has partnered with the HHS to boost vaccine confidence through grassroots organizing. Sec. Becerra will also host a roundtable and tour a testing site organized by the group.
— The House is out.
— The Senate is out.
CULTURE & CREATIVITY
— Megan Thee Stallion has booked her first major movie role in the upcoming A24 film, F*cking Identical Twins. [Trey Mangum / Shadow and Act]
— YouTube outlined announced three areas of focus to limit misinformation: Stopping it before it goes viral, limiting cross-platform sharing of misinformation and better addressing misinformation in languages other than English. [Andrew Blok / CNET]
— The deal that brought Joe Rogan’s controversial podcast to Spotify is said to be worth over $200, twice the value that was previously reported. [Katherine Rosman, Ben Sisario, Mike Isaac and Adam Satariano / NYT]
— Condé Nast, my former employer and the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker generated nearly $2 billion in revenue last year while posting its first profit in years. [Alexandra Bruell / WSJ]
— Google created a $100 million fund to sponsor a skills training and job placement program for low-income Americans. [Steve Lohr / NYT]
— Psychedelic treatment with psilocybin relieved major depressive disorder symptoms in adults for up to a year for some patients, according to a new study. [Johns Hopkins University]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Abha Bhattarai on “revenge travel”:
Pandemic patterns show that consumers rush out after each coronavirus wave, eager to splurge on flights, hotels, amusement parks and other services they had forgone.
That surge in spending was most evident last summer, when households were emboldened by a lull in coronavirus infections and widespread vaccine availability. Subsequent rebounds have been less pronounced, though economists say they still provide a notable jolt to the economy.
This time around, the expected burst of spending comes just as the Federal Reserve prepares to raise interest rates to slow inflation, fueled by consumer demand that is widely seen as unsustainable. Prices are rising at the fastest rate in 40 years, which Fed officials have said is the biggest threat to the economic expansion.
Melissa Gira Grant on what’s behind surge in anti-trans laws:
What groups like Heritage and ADF want, according to Kao, is “to protect children’s minds, bodies, and relationships with their family from the distraction of gender ideology.” The goal of this aggressive wave of anti-trans legislation, they claim, is merely “to make sure that the voices of parents and children are reflected in the laws.” ADF does not use the word “transgender” when pushing laws that are designed to directly endanger trans people. But embedded in this deceptively neutral language of “gender ideology” is a cataclysmic victory in its reactionary war: By reframing trans people’s right to exist as ideology, ADF and others have succeeded in turning the lives of trans people into a debate. When you read that trans kids are “new” (and they aren’t) or that transition-related care for children and teens is “controversial” even in the medical establishment (it’s not), that’s the Christian right groups’ quiet triumph.
Andrew Prokop on why voters so often punish the president in midterm elections:
There are a few clues that can rule out possible explanations. The trend predates World War II, so it’s not about recent developments. It happens in states (the governor’s party usually loses seats in off-year legislature elections), so it’s not just about the presidency. It’s not just an American phenomenon, either. “It also occurs internationally in systems where there is a chief executive election separate from a midterm,” says Matt Grossmann, a professor of political science at Michigan State University.
And the trend usually reverses itself — at least partly — by the time the next presidential election rolls around, since most presidents get reelected and their party’s down-ballot performance usually improves relative to the midterms.
Any explanation must take all this into account. It should also grapple with the two main factors that explain why election results can differ: turnout and persuasion.
Alex Shephard on the billionaire funding the next wave of Trumpism:
Peter Thiel, the free press–hating, alleged young-blood enthusiast who also happens to be one of the richest people alive, has emerged as the Republican Party’s latest kingmaker. Thiel is, per OpenSecrets data, the co-leader among GOP donors this cycle, funding an array of pro-crypto, anti-China candidates, spending tens of millions on congressional candidates during an election year in which Republicans are expected to triumph without his involvement. A longtime donor, Thiel nevertheless will almost certainly see his cachet among conservatives grow exponentially: Having stepped down from Facebook’s board earlier this year, Thiel is positioned to gain an enormous level of influence within right-wing politics practically overnight.
Jessica Lucas on DeathTok:
Casual TikTok viewers might think of the app as just a feed of Gen Zers doing viral dances and lip-synch reenactments. But the social network has also provided a space for some unlikely influencers: hospice workers, morticians, and funeral directors. These content creators hope that their comedic takes on mortality will help people who find death hard to discuss, especially during the pandemic, in which more than 900,000 Americans have died. DeathTok, as it’s called, is a corner of the platform where skits about end-of-life care, funeral arrangements, and death-worker mishaps bring comfort to those suffering through grief and loss, and clarity to those who are curious about an oft-avoided topic.
Tammie Teclemariam on single diners:
There’s this idea that a restaurant is an experience meant to be shared, but if you live exclusively like that, you’ll miss out on so much. Whether you enjoy or dread dining alone, it’s hardly a radical act or a move that benefits from any kind of external validation. And if you really feel compelled to interrupt somebody just to tell them you approve of their behavior, at least buy them a drink first.
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