Sunday, December 17, 2017
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: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17