Welcome to the Friday Femorandum, your weekly guide to all the news in reproductive rights this week.
Two Republican Presidential debates happened this week, and while we at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington didn’t subject ourselves to both (the kids’ roundtable, between the seven (!!!!!) declared candidates who didn’t rank among the top ten in the polls, happened in the afternoon before the main event), we did clamp our eyelids open to watch the remaining ten spill out of the clown car and onto the stage at the (largely empty) Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
While the top ten contenders did talk about other topics such as ISIS (Obama armed them, says Rand Paul), the welfare state (“pimps and prostitutes” are “freeloading off the system,” says Huckabee), and “illegals” (“build that wall!” says Donald Trump), the topic they returned to again and again was women’s rights. Specifically: Are women fully human, like embryos? And which of these ten men hates abortion rights the most?
Mother Jones has an extensive roundup of what the candidates had to say about Planned Parenthood, abortion ban exemptions for rape and incest or to save the life of the woman, and their views on whether the “rights” of a fetus (all agreed that fertilized eggs are people) should trump the rights of incubators. I mean, women.
Of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, MoJo writes:
[Moderator Megyn] Kelly pressed Walker on his across-the-board opposition to abortion, even in to save the life of the mother: “Would you really let a mother die rather than let her have an abortion?” she asked, wondering if his position put him too far out of the mainstream to win the general election.
Walker answered, “There are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.” Walker was alluding to a popular pro-life myth that abortion is never necessary to save the life of the mother, an opinion rejected by mainstream medical practitioners.
Donald Trump (whose own anti-choice talking point was about how some friends of his had a baby once) out-Trumped himself when attempting to skirt a question by Kelly about some of the names he’s called women over the years, including “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.” (He also told a female contestant on his reality-TV show, The Apprentice, that she would look good on her knees.) Deflecting the question, Trump accused Kelly of not being nice enough to him and generally not being a cool gal, Reuters reports.
“Honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you although I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me,” Trump said. “But I wouldn’t do that.”
As Melissa McEwan at Shakesville notes, Trump perfectly filled his role as the guy who made all the other Republicans, whose views on women’s rights and other issues are exactly in line with his own, look reasonable by comparison:
“By comparison to the bombastic, utterly contemptible Trump, the rest of the field looked comparatively measured and thoughtful, even as they took turns disgorging entirely typical conservative swill.
“But, make no mistake, despite the Trump Sideshow, it was just another exercise in Republican Disdain for Humankind Cloaked in Heartland Anecdotes.”
MSNBC‘s Iris Carmon notes that although just four years ago, mainstream Republicans did believe in saving women’s lives instead of forcing them to carry life-threatening pregnancies to term or have babies conceived by their rapists. In recent years, Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush all broadly said they supported such exemptions. Last night, in contrast,every candidate who was asked said he supported a total ban on all abortions with no exceptions whatsoever.
Walker, who boasted repeatedly that he had defunded Planned Parenthood in his state (shuttering five clinics in the process), once again had some cool ideas about what’s “out there” in the world outside his hermetically sealed bubble of privilege (last seen on Scott Walker’s list of things that are “out there”: Forced vaginal ultrasounds)–this time, “an unborn child in need of protection out there.”
Walker made his remark, Think Progress reports, in response to a question about whether he’d rather let a woman die than have an abortion. His answer was yes, of course, but he softened it by saying there were “many alternatives” to save a woman whose pregnancy has been deemed life-threatening. Maybe he’s talking about prayer, because there certainly aren’t any medical resources that doctors are holding back when they tell a woman her life is in danger, and Governor Walker is being glib, disingenuous and irresponsible by implying otherwise.
Speaking of glib, disingenuous and irresponsible: Refinery29 reports on professional hater Mike Huckabee’s position on abortion and it is just as extreme and radical as you probably imagined it would be! Basically, Huckabee thinks that not only should all abortions be banned, but that fetuses and fertilized eggs should be granted due process and equal protection under the law. “Now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception,” Huckabee lied, “it’s time that we recognize that the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being” and take away its right to determine the definition of a “person.” Huckabee’s proposals would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade and give fetuses and embryos more rights than actual, living women.
Remember, these are the ten men chosen by members of one of the two major US political parties to represent their values on the national stage!