Rachel Maddow Says GOP Will ‘Find Any Way to Get a Nationwide Abortion Ban’: ‘By Hook or by Crook’ | Video

The MSNBC host joins Joy Reid to hash out the latest attempts to restrict reproductive rights in the U.S.

Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC
Joy Reid and Rachel Maddow on "The ReidOut" (Credit: MSNBC)

Rachel Maddow was a guest on Tuesday’s edition of MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” and the pair discussed “the enduring, endlessly controversial and ugly political debate over abortion.”

As Maddow put it, Republicans in the United States are determined to “find any way to get a nationwide abortion ban, that’s what they want, and they’re going to try to get it by hook or by crook.”

Reid introduced the segment by reviewing the more recent history of abortion in the U.S. In the 1980s, she said, the majority of attacks against abortion providers were “spearheaded by ‘very angry men.’” That decade saw nearly 20% of providers leaving the profession entirely, and the 1990s saw the death of Dr. David Gunn, who was shot in 1993 after arriving to work at a clinic in Pensacola.

During the same time period, the abortion drug mifepristone (or RU-486) began being used for abortions in France. It wouldn’t be available legally in the U.S. until 2000. Now, Reid pointed out, the majority of abortions are performed with mifepristone—and Judge James Ho of the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas recently ruled to restrict access to the medication.

“Judge Ho also once clerked for — drumroll — Clarence Thomas,” Reid said. “I know, I know, we live in the worst simulation ever, which brings us back to the conservative majority Supreme Court, which held oral arguments today on whether to overturn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone more than 20 years ago.”

Most troubling, she continued, are three questions: how was the case able to come about — how can “this small group of doctors” make decisions for every woman in America, and “should some doctors’ individual religious objection to abortion be allowed to override decades of the FDA’s scientific judgment over the safety of this medication?”

Reid likened the debate surrounding abortion to terrorism, and kicked the topic to Maddow, who pointed out that in addition to the potential damage to the reproductive rights of American women, the Texas ruling could put the process of approving “thousands of drugs” up in the air.

She also cited today’s arguments as a “peek into what their thinking is.”

“I mean, Samuel Alito, I presume, is going to vote to end women’s access to mifepristone, because he sees himself a sort of defender of the faith,” Maddow posited.

“But you sort of got a peek into their arguments. Argument No. 1, well, the Comstock Act is at root here. That hasn’t been — for over 100 years, no one has enforced the Comstock Act, but essentially saying you’re sending a dangerous drug through the mail seems to be one way to do it, and the other being that these doctors had this deep religious conviction against abortion, which … in the 1980s, they used to call RU-486 human pesticide,” Maddow continued. “That’s how they used to refer to it, the religious right.”

The Comstock Act of 1873 banned the mailing of contraceptives and anything that could be considered lewd, including medications that can induce abortion.

Reid interjected that the doctors from Texas could simply opt not to prescribe the medication to their patients, but they want to take things further and restrict every woman in America from accessing it. At present, RU-486 can be mailed to patients, and Justices Alito and Thomas are focused on ending that.

Of the conservative push to overturn abortion rights in the U.S. completely, Maddow added soberly that the escalation of this case from Texas to the Supreme Court “just shows you how hard they’re working, how much — how they’re working triple-time to find any way to get a nationwide abortion ban. That’s what they want, and they’re going to try to get it by hook or by crook.”

Watch a clip from the “ReidOut” segment in the video above.

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