This is from “Pro-Life Idaho Republicans Declare Women Should Be Left to Die to Save Fetuses” by Bess Levin at Vanity Fair.
If someone tries to claim to you that the Court’s decision wasn’t that big a deal and/or doesn’t change much, you are legally obligated to inform them they have shit where their brain should be. If you can stand to breathe the same air as them for a moment longer, you should also inform them of the many ways the various states in question have proceeded to use the opportunity afforded to them by the Supreme Court to advocate for not only forced births, but the state-sanctioned murder of pregnant people.
Over the weekend, the Idaho Republican Party voted against adopting an amendment that would have added an exception to its official policy on abortion for cases to save the life of the mother. Scott Herndon, a Republican running unopposed for a state Senate seat, argued to delegates that “for the last 49 years we have essentially lost the argument in the culture because we have focused on abortion as the termination of a pregnancy and not the termination of a living human being.” He added: “We will never win this human rights issue, the greatest of our time, if we make allowances for the intentional killing of another human being.” Obviously, he did not note that withholding life-saving care from a pregnant person, knowing they could die, is also an intentional killing, because that would apparently require too much reflection on his part. The decision not to add an abortion exception to save the life of the mother was decided 412-164; as The Independent notes, the party platform “is used to direct policy within the state’s GOP-controlled legislature.”
In just the 3 1/2 weeks since the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade was handed down, there have been reports from all over the country about compromises in women’s health care.
For example, it used to be standard medical practice for women having difficult miscarriages to have the remains of the failed pregnancy removed through a dilation and evacuation procedure. which is quick and done under anesthesia. Now in many states this is no longer available, because this same procedure is used to perform abortions, and doctors are terrified they will be prosecuted. So women are sent home to bleed and suffer, sometimes for hours or days.”Delays in expelling tissue from a pregnancy that is no longer viable can lead to hemorrhaging, infections, and sometimes life-threatening sepsis, obstetricians say,” it says here.
John Seago of Texas Right to Life blamed “a breakdown in communication of the law, not the law itself” for doctors who are afraid to terminate miscarrying pregnancies. But the doctors understand the legal risks perfectly well. The Texas abortion ban only makes an exception if “the mother’s life is in danger.” The patient described in the New York Times piece was told she could get her miscarrying pregnancy terminated “only if she was bleeding so excessively that her blood filled a diaper more than once an hour.” The doctors seemed quite aware they need patients on the verge of death to justify abortions. As journalist Irin Carmon pointed out on Twitter, in the very same article, Seago admits that the Texas abortion law does require doctors to refuse treatment to miscarrying patients. His other claims otherwise are just noise he spews to distract from the horrific realities he’s deliberately creating.
Texas abortion law requires doctors to refuse treatment to miscarrying patients? What is the bleeping point of that?
But this shouldn’t be a surprise, because this has happened in other countries where abortion is illegal. Indeed, where women can face jail time for getting abortions, many refuse to go to hospitals for miscarriages but suffer alone at home. See The Women Jailed for Suffering Miscarriages at the BBC.
I understand some states are putting blocks or alerts on filling prescriptions for any drug used to induce abortions, even if the prescription is for an entirely different purpose. So a guy who needs ulcer medication refilled may find himself out of luck. See Methotrexate, used on autoimmune diseases, can induce abortion. Some patients can’t get it. I guess lupus patients are out of luck, too.
The problem is that there is a small but powerful cult of people who are fixated on abortion as an absolute evil. The “moral clarity” that insists abortion is always an absolute evil depends on being able to deny the humanity of women. Once you start genuinely caring about the lives of women, an absolute anti-abortion position becomes unsustainable. And when you start making exceptions, all of your so-called “pro life” arguments fall apart. Abortion must not be absolutely evil if it’s okay in some circumstances.
There’s a wonderful quote about moral absolutes by the late Zen teacher Robert Aitken Roshi — “The absolute position, when isolated, omits human details completely. Doctrines, including Buddhism, are meant to be used. Beware of them taking life of their own, for then they use us.”
Anti-abortion fanaticism has definitely taken on a life of its own, and it has become a tyrant and a monster.
See especially “Pro Life”? Women’s Suffering Is Forced-Birth Zealots’ Doing by Jennifer Rubin at WaPo. So far I don’t know that any woman has lost her life because of compromised health care, but it’s only a matter of time. In many states doctors are delaying life-saving care, waiting to get go-aheads from lawyers. This applies even to ectopic pregnancies sometimes. This is ridiculous.
And this doesn’t even begin to address the risky things women will do to themselves to self-abort.
Justifying the cruelties being imposed in some circumstances requires monumental intellectual dishonesty. For example:
Swalwell: It would not be an abortion if a 10 year old with her parents made the decision not to have a baby that was the result of rape?
Republican Witness: That’s not an abortion
Swalwell: Are you familiar with disinformation? pic.twitter.com/6zyO3Bq2Uv
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 14, 2022
The dimwit insisting that when a ten-year-old terminates a pregnancy it’s not an abortion is Catherine Glenn Foster of Americans United for Life, who once claimed D.C. powers it street lamps by burning fetuses.
Again, all of this confusion was very predictable, because it’s all been going on for years in other countries. Way back in 2006 I wrote about abortion in El Salvadore, where a woman convicted of getting an abortion could face 50 years in prision.
Courts can order vaginal inspections of women under suspicion. If a woman needs a hysterectomy after a suspected back-alley abortion, the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute for examination. If the case goes to trial, the organ may be used as evidence against the woman.
El Salvadore’s laws are so insane physicians cannot even terminate an ectopic pregnancy before it becomes critical.
And here we are. This situation is beginning to be replicated in the U.S.
The system in El Salvadore hasn’t changed. Nina Lakhani reported for The Guardian this year,
The Salvadorian anti-abortion law, which was subsequently written into the constitution, has led to at least 182 women who suffered an obstetric emergency being prosecuted for abortion or aggravated homicide.
Poor, young women from rural areas with limited access to healthcare have been disproportionately persecuted, with most reported to the police by hospital workers. In many cases, prosecutors and judges have argued that the woman’s failure to save the pregnancy amounted to murder.
Women in the U.S. were already being prosecuted for miscarriages before the Dobbs decision. See this BBC report from November 2021. Women who miscarried and were found to have illegal drugs in their systems have been prosecuted for manslaughter. The next step in places like Texas and Missouri will be to start jailing women for smoking or drinking beer while pregnant, or for failing to take prenatal vitamins.
In other words, in that last instance the woman had given birth and was bleeding too much. This is a common cause of maternal mortality.
Let’s go back to Bess Levin at Vanity Fair:
Currently, Idaho’s “trigger” law, passed in 2020, outlaws abortions with exceptions for rape and incest, though only if the crimes are reported to law enforcement. (The Idaho GOP platform has no exceptions for rape or incest; a regional Planned Parenthood organization and an Idaho abortion provider have sued to block the law and a hearing is scheduled for August 3.) According to Newsweek, in a Facebook video after the Supreme Court struck down Roe, Herndon declared, “you don’t put to death the innocent child for the crime of its father, but that’s what this [trigger] law would allow.” He also claimed that such exceptions give women “a free pass,” and said that “if a mother really wants to kill her child, she could lie, say she was raped, file a police report, and go get her child killed in the state of Idaho and nobody would be prosecuted.” Because Herndon apparently wanted to make it abundantly clear that not only is he anti-abortion, he’s also a colossal asshole too. (On his website, Herndon says he “believes in preserving and protecting human life” and “has followed this in word and deed as an active Abortion Abolitionist and Pro-Gun advocate.” We’re going to guess that no, he doesn’t see the irony.)
As I said, an absolute anti-abortion position requires complete disregard for women as human beings. In the presence of even a little compassion or empathy for women, abortion as absolute evil becomes unsustainable. If you start making exceptions, such as for rape or incest or physical risk to the mother, then you’re admitting it’s not an absolute evil. And that must not be admitted
These wackjobs are going to get women killed. They may not have done it yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
Note also: I’m having the annual Mahablog fundraiser earlier this year. I put it off as long as I could, but there were too many unanticipated medical bills.