As you know by now, the Republican candidates for President threw a debate last week, and boy did all of them hate abortion rights! From Marco “no rape exception” Rubio to Mike “overthrow the Supreme Court” Huckabee, all ten of the “major” Republican contenders (the other seven convened at a kiddie pool debate earlier in the day) competed to convince GOP voters that they would do the most to prevent women from accessing even life-saving abortions and to defund Planned Parenthood so that poor women would no longer have access to cancer screenings and birth control.
Of course, that’s just the spin from those of us on the left. The anti-choice right’s reaction ranged from ecstatic to disappointed that some of the candidates didn’t go further to clarify just how much they hate women.
Live Action News, for example, criticized Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for being “way too vague” when he claimed that abortion is never necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. (This purely semantic argument holds that separate procedures, such as fallopian tube removal in ectopic pregnancies, are what destroy the fetus, and are technically speaking not abortions.) Nor did he do enough, in their eyes, to shut down Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin for good.
Similarly, Live Action goes on to argue that while Mike Huckabee did a good job “pointing out” that fertilized eggs (or, as they would have it, “unborn babies”) are full human beings with equal protection and due process rights under the 5th and 14th Amendments, “it would have been nice if he had done more to translate that into a specific plan of action—would he call out the National Guard to shut down abortion clinics, like he actually suggested last week? Or would he instead advocate for legislation invoking those amendments?”
(Legal scholars overwhelmingly believe that this claim by anti-choicers is a vast overreach and improper interpretation of the Constitution.)
Live Action does praise Walker for “informing” debate moderator Megyn Kelly that “abortion is not necessary to save a mother’s life.” After lauding Walkers’ mansplaining to Kelly, the author (a woman) goes on to ‘splain that “literal abortion has never actually been necessary to save the life of the mother, and no woman should be made to believe otherwise.” OK, Merriam Webster. You’re still saying no exception for life or health (much less in cases of rape and incest, which the far right wing of the anti-choice movement fully opposes.
As the Presidential candidates promised to wage war against women’s health on the debate circuit, the battle against Planned Parenthood that threatens federal funding for clinics that provide cancer screenings, annual exams, and birth control continued to rage across the country.
Anti-choice columnist and supposed “intelligent conservative” Ross Douthat dedicated his column in the New York Times last week to the case against Planned Parenthood, which is basically that no matter what else the group does for women’s health, they also perform abortions, and abortions are unconscionable. Parroting other right-wing activists’ use of fetal parts and other medical imagery to make the purely emotional, gut-level case against abortion rights, Douthat addresses his fellow opinion writers:
If, like many of the moderate-liberal columnists writing on this issue, you are 1) made at least somewhat uncomfortable by the dismemberment of living human beings in utero but 2) are convinced that Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion-related services are essential to the common good, why not write a column urging Planned Parenthood to, I dunno, get out of the dismemberment business? If all these other services are such a great, crucial, and (allegedly) abortion-reducing good, why do you, center-left journalist, want them perpetually held hostage to the possibility of public outrage over the crushing of tiny bodies in the womb? If a publicly-funded institution does one set of things you really like, and another thing that makes you morally uncomfortable, why are you constantly attacking that organization’s critics and telling them that they just have to live with the combination, instead of urging the organization itself to refocus on the non-lethal, non-dismembering portions of its business?
Here’s one reason: Because pro-choice people are capable of knowing that medical procedures can sound gruesome when described in detail can simultaneously be necessary and valid, despite being yucky. Women know how pregnancy and abortion work, and make the choice to have babies or choose abortion fully armed with that knowledge. Consider the alternative: Making decisions (and public policy) based on whether a procedure is unpleasant to watch. If ickiness was a legitimate deciding factor, no one would have or perform open-heart surgery, and most medical research would immediately lose government funding.
Rand Paul, top-ten candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination, doesn’t think women understand what abortion is. He told Glenn Beck last week that women don’t understand what they’re doing when they sign consent forms allowing their fetal tissue to be used to advance medical research instead of discarded, and insisted that they’d be “horrified” if they knew.
“I know pro-choice women and you know what? They’re horrified by this,” Paul told Beck. “It’s a rare person who thinks fully-formed babies ought to be taken out.”
Paul told Beck he doesn’t know how pro-choice advocates “can live with themselves” knowing that abortion clinics donate intact fetal parts for research. “When we’re talking about lungs, brains, hearts, livers, I think it … should make all people shudder that we’re doing this,” he said. “I don’t know how anyone could do that day in and day out, knowing that you’re pulling out the pieces of a baby.” Paul, incredibly, is a medical doctor, and either somehow obtained his certification without learning that some important research is, to use the medical term, gross, or is lying. We’re betting on the latter
Finally, the ironically named American Thinker has an a long justification of “the necessary comparison [of abortion] to Nazism,” because of course it does. Note to political bloggers everywhere: There is no necessary comparison between Nazism and anything.