A Republican candidate running for lieutenant governor in Idaho doesn’t just want to make abortion illegal; he wants to punish women who get the medical procedure with death.
Bob Nonini made the controversial statement on Monday as part of a conservative Christian podcast’s candidate forum. He first said “anyone who has an abortion” should “pay” before clarifying that he approved of the death penalty as a possible outcome. You can hear it around the 1:18:00 mark in the video below:
“There should be no abortion and anyone who has an abortion should pay,” Nonini said.
Pressed by moderators on the nature of the punishment, Nonini nodded in agreement when asked if he supported the death penalty as a possible outcome for abortion.
Nonini, a three term state senator from Coeur d’Alene, confirmed that position in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
Would that apply to rape victims? Teenagers who didn’t use protection? Married women whose babies would have a genetic disorder? Even if it applied to women who simply chose to have an abortion, the standard position of the anti-abortion side has always been to punish the abortion providers, never the women whose circumstances may already be dire.
After the (understandable) backlash over his ridiculous comments, Nonini attempted to walk them back, saying the punishment would only be used as a deterrent and that women wouldn’t actually be put to death… though he didn’t explain how a deterrent could work if everyone knew it was a bluff.
“I strongly support the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Nonini said. “That would allow states like Idaho to re-criminalize abortion as a deterrent. However, it is my understanding that in the history of the United States, long before Roe was foisted upon this country; no woman has ever been prosecuted for undergoing abortion. That is for practical reasons, as well as for reasons of compassion.”
He’s right that the U.S. has never prosecuted women for having abortions. That’s precisely why the suggestion that they deserve to be killed is unprecedented and insane.
As a result of the ensuing media attention, Nonini is now pretending he was simply misunderstood. Tricking women into thinking they could be executed, he says, would do the trick.
“Prosecutions have always been focused on the abortionist,” said Bob Nonini in a statement. “There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty. The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal.”
If his goal is to reduce abortions, we know what works: Comprehensive sex education and access to free (or at least affordable) contraception. What doesn’t work — and what has never worked — is outlawing the procedure. That doesn’t stop abortions; it only decreases safe abortions.
In Ireland, where abortion is currently illegal, the damage to women has been so profound that the nation will be voting next month to repeal the 35-year-old constitutional ban.
Nonini apparently wants to move in the opposite direction.
But it’s not surprising that he thought punishing women was a good idea. Donald Trump said the same thing as a candidate, presumably because he was 1) uninformed on the topic and 2) figured it was the logical conclusion of the conservatives’ anti-abortion rhetoric.
Trump, too, walked his words back almost immediately.
Both men discovered only after the fact that anti-abortion rhetoric — all that talk about how “babies are murdered” and how abortion is akin to another Holocaust — isn’t meant to be taken literally. It’s just a way to scare gullible conservatives into voting a particular way.
The GOP-approved line is that only doctors should be punished for helping women with the procedure.
(Screenshot via YouTube)