The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: AL vs. Roe vs. Wade

State legislators in Alabama and Georgia have launched the first direct attacks on the landmark abortion law. Plus: Sometimes Trump’s aides simply ignore his orders and hope he forgets.

Thousands of abortion opponents march in the 15th annual Walk for Life across downtown San Francisco Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019. (Juliet Williams / AP)

What We’re Following Today

It’s Wednesday, May 15.

Programming note: Our politics team is taking a breath this week to think about our politics coverage with 2020 right around the corner, so the rest of this week’s Politics & Policy Daily newsletters will arrive in a slightly abbreviated form.

‣ The White House refused a demand from the House Judiciary Committee for records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staff.

Here’s what else we’re watching:

The First Direct Attacks on Roe v. Wade: Alabama legislators passed a bill that would outlaw abortion at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Earlier this month, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a law making abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The state legislators passing these bills know they’ll be challenged in court, and they know they’ll probably lose. But they’ve got their sights set much higher: They want to seed the challenge that could one day take down Roe v. Wade.

What’s Happening With Iran?: The past week of provocations and counter-provocations between the United States and Iran has inspired comparisons to the lead-up to the Iraq War: “Now as then, the American public finds itself in a fog of something short of war, with few ways to assess what could be coming.”

Hoping He’ll Forget: President Donald Trump routinely gives policy orders or announcements that seem impulsive and inadvisable. But often, those demands are slow-walked or ignored altogether, reports Elaine Plott.

How Drug Laws Affect College Achievement: The 1986 War on Drugs not only sent more black men to jail—it shut them out of higher education and kept them from the societal benefits that come with it, a new study by a UC Berkeley professor found.

Courtesy of Mireya Zamora

‘Mireya’s Third Crossing’: To live in the United States legally, Luz Mirella Zamora had to cross the U.S. border with Mexico three separate times. This is her story, featured in The Atlantic’s June issue.

If Mireya received a green slip, she’d get a visa and return to her husband and children. Blue and she’d have to stay and collect missing paperwork. Pink and she would be stuck in Mexico until her extended family could pool enough money for a smuggler to bring her home: $8,000 to hide in the back of a vehicle, $15,000 if she wanted to sit in the passenger seat.


Representative Anna Eshoo, the chair of the House Health Subcommittee, said that President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr want to take a sledgehammer to health care at a Democratic event ahead of a House floor vote on the Health Care and Prescription Drug Package at the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Ideas From The Atlantic

Don’t Do It (David Frum)
“If the goal of some inside the administration is to goad Iran into striking first—thus forcing Trump’s hand—that’s a ruse that risks igniting a conflict much bigger than the one with Iraq, and one even less likely to succeed.” → Read on.

The Anti-monopoly Backlash Reaches the Supreme Court (Eric Posner)
“With scandals mounting, and growing uneasiness about Facebook’s and Google’s influence on political speech—also a result of their monopoly power—a long-overdue anti-monopoly backlash has begun.” → Read on.

Harvard’s Feast of Grievance (Graeme Wood)
“The ousting of Ronald Sullivan, the first black faculty dean to preside over a dorm at Harvard, is one of those scandals that aspires to be about everything, and in the process becomes about nothing at all.” → Read on.

If Congress Won’t Act, Trump Will (Quinta Jurecic)
“But after the Justice Department released Mueller’s account of presidential venality and misconduct, only for Congress to respond with a collective shrug, it was probably just a matter of time.” → Read on.

What Else We’re Reading

‣  The Heavy Crown of Gretchen Carlson (Lyz Lenz, Columbia Journalism Review)
How the Media Fell Out of Love With Beto O’Rourke (Peter Hamby, Vanity Fair)
Did the Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary? (Bill Scher, Politico Magazine)

About us: This newsletter is a daily effort from The Atlantic’s politics writers: Elaine Godfrey, Madeleine Carlisle, and Olivia Paschal. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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