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Opinion | Gavin Newsom’s great big mirror

Alabama Republicans are big mad at Gavin Newsom, who had the gall to show people what Alabama Republicans are actually doing.

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How dare Gavin Newsom? The nerve of the California governor and his political action committee, The Campaign for Democracy, to create an ad painting Alabama in such a negative light. I mean, the absolute gall. 

This ad depicts a woman being arrested for attempting to leave the state to get an abortion. 

Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl called it “disgusting” and said it was “disrespectful” to the people of Alabama. He denounced it as nothing more than a “shameless political stunt.” 

So true. After all, it’s not like anyone in power in Alabama has ever said they want to lock up women for traveling out of state for an abortion … right? 

“An elective abortion performed in Alabama would be a criminal offense; thus, a conspiracy formed in the State to have that same act performed outside the State is illegal,” the Alabama Attorney General’s Office wrote in a court filing. 

Hey, wait a minute!

Man, I hope there’s not more. 

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“(Alabama’s) Human Life Protection Act targets abortion providers, exempting women ‘upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed’ from liability under the law,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said. “It does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law—which the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children.”

Marshall eventually walked that statement back, but only after numerous attorneys in the state, including state Rep. Chris England, pointed out that the chemical endangerment statute couldn’t be used in such a manner. 

Still, it was rather obvious that Marshall, or someone in his office, was sitting around dreaming up ways to prosecute women for seeking legal health care in other states. 

Even after walking those comments back, Marshall later signed onto a letter from a collection of rightwing AGs that sought access to private citizens’ medical records in order to get records of abortions and gender affirming care. 

But yeah, Gavin Newson is the “disgusting” one. 

The problem for Wahl – and for so many other Alabama conservatives – is that they have a hard time keeping what they do inside the conservative bubble from leaking out into the real world. Locking up women for seeking abortions is likely very popular within the far-right circles that now drive so much of the current day GOP. 

But out here in the real world, where women think for themselves and make their own decisions, it’s a problem. 

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Just ask Teddy Powell. 

If you don’t recognize the name, it’s because Powell is the Republican who got steamrolled by Marilyn Lands in a House District 10 race last month. Lands ran on abortion rights and women’s healthcare issues. 

In this blood red state, with one of the nation’s toughest abortion laws, she won by 25 points. 

And she’s not alone. 

In every competitive race in which abortion rights is an issue, Democrats have wiped the floor with Republicans. Women have turned the races upside down, and they’ve brought their significant others with them. And it hasn’t been close. 

Honestly, it’s a sign of Democratic incompetence at the highest levels that it’s taken this long after the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, for Democrats to start an organized, national campaign on the issue. 

Because it matters to people. A lot. 

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So, it’s understandable that Wahl is all up in arms that finally someone is holding a big mirror up to this issue and Alabama’s deplorable handling of it. Because this is the type of issue – a real world, real life, kitchen table problem – that breaks the hold of the Republican Party on this state’s voters. 

The Republican Party has done fantastic work turning “democrat” into a derogatory term in Alabama. It doesn’t matter, in so many cases, that the Democratic plan might be better. People in Alabama vote Republican because that’s what people in Alabama do. 

Unless you take away my basic human rights. 

Unless you tell me that my young daughter has to carry a baby that resulted from a rape. And hint that you might arrest her for not doing so. 

Unless you tell a woman that a hospital won’t end the pregnancy that’s killing her because it’s afraid of legal repercussions from your anti-women laws.  

So, yeah, they’re big mad at Gavin Newsom. Because how dare that guy show people the reality of what Alabama’s doing?

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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