Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Eroding the rights of 'Roe'

In its landmark Roe vs. Wade privacy ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded 40 years ago that the government may not intrude on a woman's reproductive freedom. But that freedom is being endangered in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country that are eager to test whether the current court would affirm that right.

Last week, North Dakota's legislature passed two antiabortion measures intended to make the majority of abortions in the state illegal. One would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable — as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when many women don't even know they're pregnant. More than 75 percent of abortions could be outlawed if the measure becomes law, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Under another North Dakota bill, women would no longer be allowed to obtain an abortion if it is sought because the fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. Older women are particularly at risk for such complications. Both measures are awaiting action by the state's Republican governor, who has not indicated whether he will sign them into law. North Dakota's actions follow a newly passed law in Arkansas barring most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

These bills are clearly unconstitutional under Roe, which guarantees women the right to obtain an abortion until a fetus is viable and can live on its own outside the womb, generally through the second trimester or 24 weeks of pregnancy. Religious conservatives are testing the strength of that legal precedent because they see some unique opportunities. The Republican dominance of state legislatures has boosted the ability of abortion-rights opponents to get measures passed. In 2011, states passed a record 92 laws that chipped away at access to abortion. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott signed an intrusive law — which had been vetoed the previous year by Gov. Charlie Crist — requiring women to obtain an ultrasound before an abortion. In 2012, another 43 restrictions were passed by state legislatures. And a narrow majority on the Supreme Court has upheld nearly every new restriction on abortion rights that has come before it, including unnecessary waiting periods, with some justices welcoming the chance to overturn Roe entirely.

Sixty-three percent of registered voters support the Roe decision legalizing abortion, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Florida voters in November turned back an antiabortion constitutional amendment that would have barred state funding of abortion services and health insurance that covered abortions and weakened the state's reproductive freedom rights.

A majority of Americans are not interested in returning to the days when women resorted to dangerous back-alley abortions performed by unlicensed practitioners. Yet state legislatures are pushing the envelope, ignoring abortion rights and legal precedent to force the Supreme Court to directly address Roe vs. Wade. It is a dangerous game of chicken, and women are caught in the middle.

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Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18