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Morning Wire: Supreme Court Upholds Texas Pro-Life Law, China’s Presence In Afghanistan, Florida Withholds Salaries From School Board Members

   DailyWire.com
Pro-life demonstrators hold signs outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Jan. 18, 2019.
Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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1) Supreme Court Upholds Texas Pro-Life Law

The Topline: On Wednesday evening, the Supreme Court denied an emergency petition from abortion providers, ruling 5-4 to uphold a new law in Texas outlawing the vast majority of abortions in the state. 

Quote Of The Day:

“The Texas heartbeat law going into effect… is the first domino to fall in the elimination of Roe v. Wade.”

– Lila Rose, pro-life advocate and founder of Live Action

Background

In May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed a law outlawing abortion once a doctor could detect activity in the heart of an unborn child. 

Key Point: The language in the bill is “cardiac activity” which begins before an actual heartbeat, at around the six week mark. Other states have attempted to pass similar laws in the past, but federal courts have usually blocked them.

Abortion providers in Texas filed an emergency appeal, but the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 it would not be overturned. They didn’t explicitly say whether the law was constitutional or not — they only said they would not block it. 

Kevin Dietsch/Staff/Getty Images

Civil Vs. Criminal

The Texas law was intentionally crafted to make it difficult to overturn in the courts. Traditionally, the State would prosecute those who violated such a law, but in Texas, the state has now opened the door for individuals to sue those who take part in abortion. 

Now, doctors and anyone else who “aids and abets” illegal abortions can be sued by private citizens. Legal experts say the fact that the suits can be civil and not criminal will make it harder to overturn in court. 

Abortion providers in the state say they’re worried about challenging the law because they would be financially liable and could potentially have to pay large sums of money in court.

White House Responds

President Joe Biden immediately denounced the court’s ruling, calling the law extreme and unconstitutional. On Thursday, he announced a “whole of government” effort to fight the law and will be ordering the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to find ways to overturn it. 

The White House is also encouraging Congress to pass a bill codifying Roe v. Wade, which would make it almost impossible for abortion bans like this to hold up in court. This is unlikely at the moment, however, as it would require 60 votes in the Senate. 

Texas Reacts 

On Tuesday, there were reportedly long lines at many clinics as women rushed to get abortions. Some providers said they performed more abortions Tuesday than any other day in memory, but by midnight, they began turning patients away as the law went into effect. 

There were reports of women going to other states in search of abortions, and some companies – including the dating app Match.com – have said they’ll offer funds to employees who must leave the state for an abortion. 

Many pro-life groups in the state celebrated the verdict and simultaneously called on Texans to donate to crisis pregnancy centers and other resources for expectant mothers who would have otherwise had an abortion. 

Pro-life clinics in the state said they’re already seeing a surge in the number of patients coming through their doors.

Chang Chuan/VCG/Contributor via Getty Images

2) China’s Presence In Afghanistan

The Topline: With U.S. forces now withdrawn from Afghanistan, the power vacuum created by America’s absence may create opportunities for China to expand their influence in the region.

China’s Interest 

Afghanistan is home to natural resources worth at least $1 trillion, including what many think could be the largest lithium reserves in the world — all yet to be mined. 

Unlike the United States, China may look to capitalize on these resources while demanding far less from Afghanistan’s leadership in terms of basic human rights whether from the Taliban or any other group.

As the U.S. freezes billions in Afghanistan’s reserves and the International Monetary Fund cuts off funding for Afghanistan, the country might welcome an investment from the Chinese.

China’s Global Strategy

China has already invested billions of dollars in Pakistan and Iran, and Turkey is eyeing Chinese support as their relationship with the U.S. and E.U. deteriorates. 

As time goes on, Chinese influence is spreading further into areas of Europe and Africa and it already has a corridor of influence from the far east to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Bottom Line: Afghanistan is a key puzzle piece for China, and the countries share a border, with a 57-mile boundary in the northeastern part of Afghanistan. 

Sally Anscombe via Getty Images

3) Florida Withholds Salaries From School Board Members 

The Topline: The Florida Department of Education followed through on its earlier warnings to withhold salaries from school board members defying Governor Ron DeSantis’s (R-FL) order on school mask mandates. 

Florida

On Monday, the Florida Department of Education announced it withheld monthly salaries from school board members in Alachua and Broward County.

The department said the districts have implemented a mandatory face mask policy which “violates parental rights” by not allowing parents or guardians to opt-out their child. It said this withholding of funds is going to continue monthly until each school board complies with state law.

The Executive Order

Governor Ron DeSantis’s July executive order tied mask mandates to the Parents’ Bill of Rights passed by the legislature earlier this year. His order essentially gives parents the right to decide whether or not their children wear masks at school. 

Last week, a circuit county judge ruled DeSantis’s executive order was “without legal authority.” 

DeSantis promised to appeal the ruling on Monday, saying the way the judge ruled gives the state grounds to appeal since it has to do with the school boards, which weren’t parties to the case. 

White House Gets Involved

President Biden recently asked his education department to see what legal action they could take against governors pushing back on mask mandates in schools. 

On Monday, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights sent letters to chief state school officers of Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

The office is looking into whether statewide limits on indoor masking “discriminate against students with disabilities” at “heightened risk for severe illness,”…. by preventing them from “safely accessing in-person education.” 

It’s also going to “closely monitor” several other states, including Florida, Texas, Arkansas, and Arizona, but it has not opened investigations into those states because state actions and court rulings have blocked their bans from being enforced.

Spencer Platt/Staff/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Northeast Experiences Massive Flooding 

Northeastern states, particularly New York and New Jersey, have experienced intense flooding as the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit the area on Wednesday, killing at least 28 people. Both governors have declared states of emergency. The rains affected subway lines and canceled hundreds of flights. Videos on social media showed rivers forming in the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Power Outages In Louisiana

In Louisiana, thousands of people still remain without power as a result of Ida, which was a Category 4 hurricane when it hit New Orleans on Sunday. Officials say the power outages could last for weeks for some residents.

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