The Rachel Maddow Show | January 31, 2013
>>> okay. after an election year in which republican nominees serving in the united states senate introduced america to the concept of legitimate rape and the idea that sometimes god wants rapists to impreg naitd their victim, after an election like that and its attendant inevitable electoral defeats, republican strategists are now coaching their party to not do that anymore. they're holding training programs and seminars with pollsters, all dispensing friendly advice to republicans about how to stop talking in public about abortion and rape in ways that creep everybody out. "this is actually pretty simple. if you're about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop." stop yourself, congressman. deep breath. try some gum or maybe a lozenge. so that's what's happening at the national level. republicans pleading with other republicans to please for god's sake stop talking the way you talk about women and rape and abortion. that's the conversation in d.c. where outside the house of representatives republicans are out of power and part of the reason they are out of power is their public embrace of hard-line fringe anti-abortion politics. but if you look outside d.c. , to where republicans really are in power, this year in this legislative session in 2013 the hard-line fringe anti-abortion politics story is playing out totally differently than it's playing out in washington. in states where republicans actually control government there is not less emphasis right now on this stuff. like there is in d.c. there's more emphasis on it. 2013 so far shows a whole new republican offensive opening on abortion rights . mississippi , as you know, is poised to become the first state where republicans might successfully use state government to shut down the last abortion clinic left in that state . there is a handful of states that have only one clinic left. mississippi is one of them. and republicans there say they want to put that one remaining clinic out of business using regulations that are targeted to do just that. as they are getting closer and closer to maybe achieving that goal, that beleaguered last mississippi clinic in recent days, look what they have done. they have painted themselves bright pink. fluorescent pink. pepto pink. the clinic 's owner telling a local newspaper "it's a woman's color. it says we're right here and we're not going anywhere." they are clearly not going without a fight. but the clinic did get their notice today that the state health department intends to revoke their license. meanwhile, outside of mississippi , in another of the states that is down to just one clinic , republicans in north dakota are now deciding to pursue the same mississippi strategy. they are trying to end access to abortion in their state altogether. by issuing new regulations that specifically target their one last clinic . they're doing it exactly the same way as mississippi . north dakota republicans started moving the legislation at the state level this week. its new regulations targeting specifically the state 's one last clinic with new rules. same rules as mississippi . that are designed to be impossible to comply with. so then they can shut that clinic down. they have almost completed this process in mississippi . at least they think they have. and they are starting this process now in north dakota . they are targeting first the states where women are down to one last clinic as their last remaining connection to something that is supposedly a constitutionally protected right for them. they're only one clinic away from effectively outlawing abortion in some american states . in a country where constitutionally speaking that's not supposed to happen. but it's not only mississippi and north dakota . the republican war on abortion rights that the beltway press keeps saying is over is anything but over outside that beltway. it is actually ramped up so far this year. before this year a handful of states had gotten away with passing bans on abortion at roughly 20 weeks. i say they got away with that because under roe versus wade it's widely agreed that those laws are not constitutional. but after getting away with it in a few states now the idea is spreading this year. so far to arkansas and iowa and north dakota and virginia. republicans in ohio tried and failed to pass a ban on abortion effectively at about six weeks, which is often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. so it's effectively a total ban on most abortions. ohio republicans tried for that and failed last year. but this year they are trying it in arkansas and kentucky and mississippi and north dakota . today, in fact, that measure passed the arkansas senate by a vote of 26-8. there are also fertilized egg is a person abortion bans that have been put forward this year already in north dakota , oklahoma, south carolina , and virginia. this is the kind of ban that is likely to not just completely ban all abortion but to also affect birth control and even fertility treatment . it's the kind of abortion and birth control ban that has failed every time it's been put to a vote, a popular vote , including in 2011 by the voters of mississippi . but it is being pushed right now in four states . there are new restrictions on how women are allowed to access medication abortions, the abortion pill . in alabama, indiana, iowa, missouri, mississippi , and texas 37 there are new forced ultrasound bills in indiana, missouri, mississippi , new mexico, wyoming. there's also that bill in new mexico that seeks to ban abortions for rape victims specifically based on the assertion that the pregnancy is evidence of the rape and so a doctor can be sent to prison for tampering with that evidence. that one's still truck right along. and in south dakota , which already passed the longest in the nation 72-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion, there's a new bill this year to specify that 72 hours of waiting does not include weekends and holidays. you aren't waiting when you're waiting over those days. that is just a sampling of what has already been introduced in this session. since the 2012 election in d.c. everybody's focused on republicans getting the message about trying not to be the radical fringe hard-line anti-abortion party anymore. but in the states this is not just republicans not getting that message. this is a newly radical, newly aggressive push in the states that may have the rather immediate effect of effectively banning abortion into american states . maybe this year. who cares if you learn to talk about it less if you are doing it this much everywhere that you are in charge? joining us now is nancy northon. she's president and ceo of reproductive rights which helps states that battle clinics in states like north dakota and mississippi fight against the laws that are meant to shut them down. nancy , thanks for your time.
>> thank you.
>> did i get anything wrong there?
>> no. and i was going to say thank you for covering this. because as you point out, what's going on in the states tends to sort of sail under the radar screen and we need to pay attention because as you pointed out we're having states that are on the battle of losing their last clinic .
>> well, let's start with mississippi there. your organization is representing the clinic in a lawsuit against the state to try to block this new law that would try to shut down the clinic . what do you think your odds are? what is the likelihood this clinic is going to actually get shut?
>> well, that's going to be up to the decision by the district court and eventually the higher courts. we feel we're really strong in the facts of law. there's no question that the state of mississippi , the sponsor of the bill, the governor want to make mississippi an abortion- free state , as they say. and so this law was trumped up. they knew that doctors couldn't meet the requirements, although dr. parker is a board-certified o bchb-gyn everywhere he's practiced in his long career. mississippi knew he wouldn't be able to get that status in that state . so it's trumped up, and i think the courts are going to faketake a look at it and see it for what it is, which is a backhanded way to try to take away the rights that roe versus wade protected and which saw the 40th anniversary of last week.
>> i am struck by the fact that north dakota , which also only has one clinic , is moving forward not just with the same type of law but with the exact same rule. seeing how far it's gone in mississippi toward shutting down the last clinic in mississippi , how tough that fight is and how far along we are there, they're now doing the exact same thing in north dakota . do you think they saw this starting to succeed in mississippi ? is that why we're seeing it now pop up in this other state ?
>> well, i'd like to say it's not succeeded yet in mississippi because it's blocked by the court. but yeah, we see these copycat laws all over the country because it is a coordinated effort throughout the states to stop the american women from being able to access their constitutional rights . so you'll see it in the personhood laws are copycat laws, the you know, bans on medication abortion are copycat laws. and we've got to get them stopped. and it's important that people pay attention even if they don't live in mississippi or south dakota or north dakota because it's coming to a state near you.
>> well, how do you run a national campaign about individual states ' efforts? i can see the argument for how those individual states end up not only copycats but also end up setting precedent in ways that embolden people in other states . but how do you convince people that want to defend abortion rights that national attention is still being focused on this, say, north dakota trap law ?
>> because it's the base i can notion that constitutional rights should be the same whether you live in mississippi or you live in new york or california. sxip think people are beginning to say we need to draut line at what's happening, we're not going to let our sisters in mississippi be deprived of something that is their constitutional right. so it's paying attention wherever you live to say that we can't have this anymore, we have basically a full assault on women 's constitutional rights and we can't let, again, some of our sisters in some states not have the rights that others enjoy.
>> why do you think that we are seeing right now at the start of this new legislative session this big surge of some of the most extreme anti-abortion proposals? we always see a raft of legislation introduced. but i am struck that in so many states we're seeing the most aggressive anti-abortion measures right at the beginning of the session. ygs that?
>> well, because i think they're seeing that the doors may be closed for a while in washington. and so they want to take it once again under the radar screen and get where they can. and again, it also exposes, and we saw this last year during the election season, that there is a very radical agenda of those who want to reverse roe versus wade , and they want to push that radical agenda because they think they have an advantage in certain states , because they control those state legislatures , and they want to go for it. people often think, you know, it's not really about reversing roe. well, it is. and these extreme bills show that it is.
>> seeing the national polling that a clear majority of americans does not want roe overturned, how does that affect your work?
>> well, it's really critical because it shows that despite the fact -- i mean, there's a lot of reasons -- the decision to have an abortion, which one in three american women makes that decision, is a very personal one. so it's not the kind of thing that people are talking about every day when they go out in public, but it shows that in fact there is an enormous majority in this country that do not want to see these protections go away, that want to see this remaining a decision that women make with their families, their loved ones, their doctors. and so that's critically important because for years there's been a story out there because the opposition is so aggressive and loud and extreme that that is in the ascendancy, but that is not the case.
>> nancy northup, president and ceo of the center for reproductive rights , who fights these legal fights. thanks for joining us tonight and helping us understand it. i appreciate it.
>> thank you very much.
>> we have a moment of geek tonight what is not just pointless geekiness. it's about a big news story, big deal news story that is happening on the sulu sea . yes, i said sulu. as if you needed another reason