By Joan McCarter | 22 May 2019
There’s an emerging “division” among Republicans on which women’s lives to destroy by denying them a safe, still-legal medical procedure. Should women who have been raped have to carry that “baby”? How about women raped by members of their own family? This is now the “reasonable” discussion among Republicans, the way some of them are deciding to be “moderates” on the issue of stripping women of their most fundamental right of bodily autonomy.
We’ve heard from President Trump, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, and Sen. Mitt Romney, and various forced-birth activists have all furrowed their brows to say they just believe there should be exceptions for women who have truly suffered enough or face death, exceptions the Alabama abortion ban doesn’t allow. Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, calls this “diversity of opinion.”
Let’s just be absolutely clear on this. It is not diversity of opinion. The default position is to make safe, legal abortion a thing of the past. The number of abortions in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening pregnancy is very small, small enough that, should abortion be outlawed, the need for the procedure would become so rare that the number of practitioners trained to do it would shrink to a very small few. That number has already shrunk thanks to the violent war that’s been waged against them in recent decades.
Much more honest are the forced-birthers who say that there should be no exceptions. They’re stating the obvious fact: They believe that the moment a woman ends up with a fertilized egg inside her, she loses her personhood. No one makes that more clear than Lila Rose, president of Live Action. “The pro-life position is if you acknowledge the humanity of the child in the womb, that child’s humanity is not conditional on how he or she has been conceived,” she said. “Regardless of the crimes of her father, she has the same value and should be protected like any other child.” There’s a child, and a father, and no mother. No human mother, no person. Just a living incubator.
There’s a stark danger in ceding any ground for the supposed “moderate” position on abortion. It’s ground United States Chief Justice John Roberts could seize to strike down a ridiculous abortion ban like Alabama’s, but to allow one that bans the procedure in all other cases and say he was taking the “moderate” course.
There is nothing moderate about telling any woman that she has to give up her body to the demands of the state. Any lawmaker—Republican or Democrat—who pretends otherwise can’t be called reasonable, can’t claim the mantle of a moderate. Forcing any woman to give birth against her wishes, against the claims of her economic and physical and emotional well-being, is extreme. Period.
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