Reason Roundup

Alabama Abortion Fight Could Come to the Supreme Court: Reason Roundup

Plus: New details on federal bullying of banks, a new fight over nutrition advice, and new migrant mania from President Trump


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Abortion, politics, and the law. In Alabama, a 2016 law banned abortion by "dilation and extraction" (D&E), the most common procedure used to perform abortions after the first trimester. The law was rejected by a federal judge, in a decision upheld in August by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Now Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall's office is hoping to take the case to the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the office indicated that it would file a petition for the Court to review the case but needed additional time to file. "The constitutionality of a state ban on dismemberment abortion is an important question of national significance," wrote Alabama lawyers in their motion.

Reproductive freedom has taken a backseat to immigration and other cultural flashpoints in the Trump era, but legal battles and political drama surrounding abortion have still been raging in some states. For instance, California's "FACT Act"—deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June—just got a final blow from the lower court that it was sent back to. The federal district court order permanently bans enforcement of the law, which would have required anti-abortion pregnancy centers to post signs advertising state aid for abortion.

And next week's midterm elections feature some states voting on referenda directly related to abortion and others where the issue has become a major sparring theme between gubernatorial candidates.

  • West Virginians will be asked to vote on a measure (Amendment 1) saying nothing in the state constitution "protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion."
  • Voters in Alabama will consider a similar initiative (Amendment 2).
  • In Oregon, Measure 106 would ban the use of public funds for abortions unless they are deemed medically necessary by a doctor.

Abortion "has consistently animated Republican voters more than Democrats," points out Daniel Cox today at FiveThirtyEight. "Two new surveys, however, reveal a remarkable shift in how important the issue of abortion is to Democrats and Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm election."

A PRRI survey found 47 percent of Democrats say abortion is a critically important issue to them, compared to 40 percent of Republicans. Meanwhile, Pew found that "abortion is a far more central voting concern for Democrats today than it has been at any point in the last decade," notes Cox.

Ten years ago, just 38 percent of Democratic voters said abortion was very important to their voting decisions that year. In the most recent survey, 61 percent of Democratic voters said it was very important.


No talking about diet without a license? New Jersey is considering new rules for nutritionists and anyone offering healthy eating advice.


Lawsuit offers new details on Operation Choke Point.

"New documents introduced into a lawsuit stemming from the Obama administration's 'Operation Choke Point'…show that powerful bank regulatory agencies engaged in an effort of intimidation and threats to put legal industries they dislike out of business by denying them access to the banking system," reports John Berlau at Forbes. More:

While I am often outraged about things the government does, now I am truly scared and frightened about the ability of government bureaucrats to shut down arbitrarily whole classes of businesses they deem to be "politically incorrect." As one who champions the FinTech sector and the benefits it can bring, I also worry that such powers may be uses to shut down innovative new industries, such as cryptocurrency, that carry some perceived or real risks.

Choke Point was a multi-agency operation in which several entities engaged in a campaign of threats and intimidation to get the banks that they regulate cut off financial services—from providing credit to maintaining deposit accounts—to certain industries regulators deemed harmful a bank's "reputation management." The newly released documents—introduced in two court filings in a lawsuit against Choke Point—show that the genesis of Choke Point actually predated Barack Obama's presidency, and began when President George W. Bush was in power.

For Reason's previous coverage of Operation Choke Point, see:


U.S.-Mexico border could see up to 15,000 U.S. troops. President Donald Trump's demonization of the Central American migrant caravan continues, as do his pledges to send ever-more-ridiculous numbers of troops to America's southern border.

Yesterday, Trump shared an anti-Democrat, anti-refugee video that's being widely panned as racist and irresponsible.


  • When considering whom to vote for, the question isn't just "what their stated positions are, but whom are they willing to recognize and listen to?"
  • Vice finds that "just about anyone can buy an ad identified as 'Paid for by' by a major U.S. politician."
  • The existence of intersex people doesn't mean sex is a spectrum, argues Debra Soh. "Certainly, research has shown that as many as 1 percent of the population is intersex, a medical condition denoting that an individual possesses anatomy characteristic of both sexes, such as a combination of vulvar and testicular tissue. Statistically speaking, however, this means that the vast majority of us fall into one category of sex or the other."
  • A city ordinance let officers harass strippers as part of a licensing inspection process. A judge ruled it unconstitutional, and now cops must pay $1.5 million.