From the Left



Abortion-Ban Extremists Are Using a Slave Law to Repress Women

Jim Hightower on

Here's our big word of the day: Extraterritoriality.

It expresses a sketchy legal theory asserting that rulers in one state have a right to enforce their laws in another state. The most prominent use of it was in the infamous Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, requiring officials in Northern anti-slave states to capture and return escaped slaves to their plantation "owners" in the South, thus applying Southern slave laws in Northern jurisdictions. This abomination was finally repealed in 1864.

But, 160 years later, here comes another faction of right-wing zealots trying to revive the slave-law concept of extraterritoriality -- this time applying it to any and all American women who dare to make their own reproductive health decisions. I'm ashamed to say that this repressive use of the doctrine is being led by my state's misogynistic governor, Greg Abbott, and our corrupt attorney general, Ken Paxton -- two tyrannical men who've already saddled Texas women with the most draconian abortion ban in the country, including piously forbidding abortion in cases of rape and incest.

Thus, for women to obtain their inherent right to control their own bodies, they're forced to travel to nearby states. Uh-uh, bark brutish Texas' political extremists, we'll ban that, too! Thus, they've pushed a flagrantly-unconstitutional scheme to outlaw the use of public roads to drive out-of-state for care, and they've even sanctioned right-wing vigilantes to follow suspected medical travelers to doctors beyond our borders. And, going full-tilt totalitarian, the Abbott-Paxton posse has demanded that out-of-state-care groups hand over the names and addresses of Texas women they've helped to get out-of-state care.

Talk about government overreach! Big Brother isn't just watching ... he's stalking you. To oppose this brutish repression -- and to keep it from coming to your state -- contact


I no longer receive my local newspaper, the Austin-American Statesman.

Oh, the paper still comes, but it's just paper, minus the news part -- news that our community once counted on to keep up with local government doings, corporate shenanigans, citizen actions and other critical features of our city's democratic life. What happened? Wall Street profiteers swept in a few years ago to conglomeratize, homogenize and financialize the Statesman.


It's now a money cog in the Gannett/USA Today chain of some 200 major dailies that the syndicate seized. Indeed, Gannett itself is wholly owned by SoftBank, a Japanese hedge fund. Those distant bankers are not interested in local news, but in slashing news staffs to fatten their profits. In Austin alone, Softbank has cut two-thirds of the paper's journalists since taking over -- and coverage of local stories has also plunged by two-thirds.

Interestingly, the Statesman recently ran a front-page piece about a local union protest by flight attendants demanding fair wages. On that same day, the paper also reported that Uber and Lyft drivers were striking in Austin. But wait -- at the same time, the Statesman journalists were picketing right in front of the paper's office, protesting the greed of SoftBank/Gannett and the demise of local news. Curiously Statesman editors did not consider this local news about our newspaper to be news, so they cravenly kept this important information from the people.

Austin was not alone in this news blackout by the chain's managers. Journalists at a dozen other Gannett papers -- from Akron to South Bend -- were picketing, yet none of those papers ran a peep about their journalists' defense of local news. Nor did Gannett's flagship paper, USA Today, mention this nationwide union rebellion by its own journalists.

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