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The Anti-Abortion Crusade Is a Monster

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.

Amanda Marcotte writes in Salon,

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:

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.

More from the Washington Post:

A woman with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy sought emergency care at the University of Michigan Hospital after a doctor in her home state worried that the presence of a fetal heartbeat meant treating her might run afoul of new restrictions on abortion.

At one Kansas City, Mo., hospital, administrators temporarily required “pharmacist approval” before dispensing medications used to stop postpartum hemorrhages, because they can also be also used for abortions.

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.

4 thoughts on “The Anti-Abortion Crusade Is a Monster

  1. Please support the Mahablog fund raiser…

    The two blogs whose writings I always look forward to are Mahablog and The Rude Pundit.  When you find writers who inform, entertain, and get you asking questions, support them as best you can.

    The forced-birth crusade is a monster but it is only a step on the path to imposition of 'Christian values' in America.  The Alito Court has had a heavy taste of power and they are only getting started on their goal of reversing most of the last century's improved liberties for non-whites and non-males. 

  2. I wonder what Dr. Freud would make of these men's "Mommy" issues?!? And the women's, too.

    These assholes – these uber-"Christian" type assholes:  both men AND women – put a $0.00 value on your lives, women.

    The "Glass Ceiling" is back up, ladies.

    But only so the men below can look up your dresses!

    Say, didn't our Founding Fathers write about keeping religion separate from the job of "govermentin'?"

    It was in the 1st Amendment, if I remember correctly.

    These twits see things differently, you say?

    "The Bill of Rights" was written in English, right?

    Well then they think things WRONG!!!

    Never argue with religious zealots!

    Their "God's Will" answers all of their questions – but not ours.  No, not one of our questions.

  3. My concern, years ago, was that the Supreme Court would chip away at Roe incrementally. (When I'm wrong, I'm really wrong!)  That might have been a greater threat (IMO) to women's rights than what we are experiencing.

    Trumpism invites obscene displays of assholery by adolescant legislators. So various states are trying to outdo each other in acts of barbarism. We're looking at a new set of laws under consideration that will outlaw travel for the purpose of ending a pregnancy in a state where abortion is legal!

    I don't know where the court will come down on that. The rationale was that the states would decide. But is a citizen of the US going to be the lifelong property of the state she resided in when she became pregnant?  This feels like the "games" of Rome in the Colosseum when the lust for gore knew no boundaries. 

    But there's a difference – the audience at the Roman Coliseum was never invited, much less compelled to become victims. This was Romans enjoying cruelty inflicted on the slaves of conquered nations.  This is cruelty that will be inflicted on a huge segment of voters who have ALREADY expressed a majority approval for the status defined in Roe. 

    I understand how young people do not trust the system to represent them when they vote, regardless of which party they vote for. But if you are a woman or a moderately "woke" male, you ought to be alarmed. The main issue is no longer that establishment Democrats will sell out your values to Wall Street. (Though they will.) The GOP is trying to install as the law of the land the precepts of a radical religious minority. 

    IMO, they turned the heat up too hot, too fast. Maybe, they'd have gotten away with it if they'd taken incremental steps (as Roberts wanted.) But they are not and I think the price in human misery will be huge and swift with a major blowback. 

    But before anyone else says it, I've been wrong before.

  4. Ms. Foster, who says is not an abortion with a ten year old rape victim leaves people with wombs the perfect out. If we don't call it an abortion, is not an abortion.

    So, can we call it a D and C to remove a benign tumor? Can we claim that women never have abortions, they have…heavy periods. I think we should get creative.

    It's the same in there opposite camp when they call giving birth to a viable fetus "an abortion up to nine months."

    Changing subject to El Salvadore, I'd be horrified if the police suddenly decided to check my vagina. You can't even fight back like they tell you you should. Can you say rape?

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