‘Start Here’: Alabama abortion ban fallout, Trump has an immigration plan

It’s Thursday, May 16, 2019. Let’s start here.

Interested in Start Here Morning Briefing ?

1. Rape and pillage

The most restrictive ban on abortions in the U.S. was signed into law last night by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

Providing an abortion in Alabama could become a crime in six months, even if the pregnancy results from rape or incest, and doctors who perform the procedure could face up to 99 years in prison — a significantly longer jail term than that given to many people actually convicted of rape or incest.

Those who oppose the law have vowed to fight it in court. Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said in statement on Wednesday, “We haven’t lost a case in Alabama yet, and we don’t plan to start now. We will see Governor Ivey in court.”

Supporters have said the law was written with the hope it would eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court and allow for Roe v. Wade to be overturned by the court’s conservative majority, which could consider the case as soon as next term, according to ABC News’ Kate Shaw.

Chief Justice John Roberts is the person to watch going forward, Shaw tells us, adding: “I think there’s a possibility that he’s not going to be ready to sort of take on one of these frontal challenges to Roe v. Wade, and that he would rather have the court take up a law like Louisiana’s that really restricts the availability of abortion in the state but doesn’t ban it outright, like this Alabama law essentially does.”

2. ‘Something he can campaign on’

President Donald Trump is set to unveil an immigration plan in the Rose Garden later today that aims to move the U.S. toward a merit-based system.

The proposal would allow more highly skilled workers into the country, but it doesn’t address undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. or the so-called Dreamers, a key immigration issue for Democrats and some moderate Republicans, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl says on “Start Here.”

“They are putting this forward as an idea that the president can present, something that he can campaign on,” he tells us. “I think that the White House understands that there is not going to be a major immigration bill that is going to pass in this Congress before the election.”

3. ‘Explain to us what’s going on’

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to build, the State Department has ordered out of Iraq all non-emergency government employees because of an allegedly “imminent threat” by Iran or an Iranian proxy.

But U.S. officials have not provided specifics on any potential attack, and lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are demanding the Trump administration “come down here and explain to us what’s going on.”

“I think there are a lot of people in my shoes that are going to support standing up to Iran, but we need to understand what we’re doing,” Graham said on Wednesday.

There are fears from Democrats that the escalating tensions are a pretext for an invasion, similar to the first stage of the Iraq War, but ABC News Senior Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell is skeptical: “Iran is a powerful country with powerful interests throughout the region. Invading Iraq was difficult. Meddling with Iran will be significantly more so.”

4. ‘Under a cloud’

A Georgetown University student caught in the college admissions scandal is taking his school to court to block his possible expulsion.

Adam Semprevivo filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, claiming he was unaware of his father’s role in paying $400,000 to have him designated as a tennis recruit and accusing Georgetown of not giving him due process.

Georgetown said in a statement that the university “informed two students of its intent to rescind their admission and dismiss them” as a result of an internal inquiry following the March indictments, adding that “each student case was addressed individually and each student was given multiple opportunities to respond and provide information to the University.”

Federal prosecutors said a number of students whose parents were accused of being involved in the scheme did not know what was going on. ABC News’ Aaron Katersky notes some of them may face the same consequences, while “the entire college education admissions process remains under a cloud.”

“Start Here,” ABC News’ flagship podcast, offers a straightforward look at the day’s top stories in 20 minutes. Listen for free every weekday on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or the ABC News app. Follow @StartHereABC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for exclusive content and show updates.


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From our friends at FiveThirtyEight:

Would Democrats really face a backlash if they impeached Trump?: So that leaves Democrats with an underlying question: How strongly do they believe in the case for impeaching Trump, electoral considerations aside? As long as Republicans remain behind Trump, impeachment would be a symbolic action to some extent. But it’s still a powerful and important symbolic act.

Doff your cap:

Kudos to Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., for renewing efforts to get Harriet Tubman, who helped slaves escape, on the $20 bill in place of Andrew Jackson, who, as a slave owner, did exactly the opposite.

“It should not even be an issue, in my mind,” Katko said in a story posted to WKRN.com, ABC’s Nashville affiliate. “When the Trump administration came in, it fell by the wayside.”

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