May 14, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

D.C. readers: You're invited to Easing America's Pain, tomorrow morning at 8 am. 

  • Join me for a series of conversations on health care's biggest challenges, including the opioid crisis, and how to tackle them. We'll hear from Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) as well as HHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vanila Singh and Mayor Steve Williams of Huntington, West Virginia. RSVP here.
1 big thing: Red America's anti-abortion surge

The most restrictive abortion laws in generations are currently spreading across America's red states, setting up what could be a precedent-smashing Supreme Court challenge to the abortion status quo.

  • Alabama's state legislature is considering a bill that would ban abortions, with exceptions for the health of the mother. The state legislature is still debating whether rape or incest would also receive exceptions. Women would not be criminally liable for getting an abortion, but providers would face felony charges.
  • Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi passed fetal heartbeat laws this year, banning abortions at around 6 weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.
  • Similar motions have been introduced in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, West Virginia, Missouri and Tennessee, the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute notes.

Why it matters: Supreme Court rulings have been cited to allow abortions up to 24 weeks during pregnancy when the fetus is not viable — or when a woman's health or life is at risk.

  • But conservatives have been advancing much more restrictive policies in the past few years, hoping to spark a fresh Supreme Court case now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh has replaced Anthony Kennedy.

What they're saying:

  • "For pro-life folks, these are huge victories," Sue Liebel, state director for anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, told AP. "And I think they're indicative of the momentum and excitement and the hope that's happening with changes in the Supreme Court and having such a pro-life president."
  • “The gloves are off” among abortion opponents, NARAL Pro-Choice America's Kristin Ford told Vox. “They feel like they have the wind at their backs and they don’t have to dance around their true intentions anymore.”

The bottom line: We're one major Supreme Court case away from a new era on abortion rights, an unthinkable idea before the election of President Trump.

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images

What a sunset! Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica at the 2019 Corona Bali Protected surfing competition in Bali, Indonesia.

2. What you missed
  1. 2020 updates: Elizabeth Warren won't do a Fox News town hall, Beto O'Rouke says his Vanity Fair cover was "elitist" and Joe Biden says Republicans will work with him if Trump loses.
  2. Trump denied a report from the New York Times that his top national security aides discussed a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in case of a fallout with Iran, adding that if they were planning to, "we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that." Video.
  3. Jeff Bezos wants to build a "road to space" so 1 trillion humans can live and work there. Go deeper.
  4. Uber drivers are independent contractors, according to a decision by the National Labor Relations Board. Uber and other gig economy companies have long fought against lawsuits and other attempts to reclassify their workers as employees, which would require the companies to pay for benefits like health insurance. Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing

Fugitive cockatoo in Massachusetts. Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Here's a new one: "Escaped pet parrots are now naturalized in 23" states, according to a new study by the University of Chicago Medical Center.

  • "When Stephen Pruett-Jones, PhD, an ecologist at the University of Chicago, first came to Chicago in 1988, he stumbled on a unique piece of the city's history: the monk parakeets of Hyde Park."
  • "The U.S. originally had two native parrot species: the Carolina parakeet and the thick-billed parrot. The Carolina parakeet is now extinct; the thick-billed parrot, a Mexican species that ranged into the southwestern states, was driven out of the U.S."
  • "In the 1950s and 60s, tens of thousands of monk parakeets were imported from South America as pets. Inevitably, many of them escaped or were released."

Go deeper.

Mike Allen