Rachel Ford is a programmer, and since 8:00 to 5:00 doesn't provide enough opportunity to bask in screen glare, she writes in her spare time. She was raised a very fundamentalist Christian, but eventually "saw the light." Rachel's personal blog is Rachel's Hobbit Hole, where she discusses everything from Tolkien to state politics.
While Donald Trump was quick to publicly walk back such talk, the idea of punishing women for having abortions is not a novel concept. It’s not only what happens all over the world where abortion is illegal, but the same fetal protection concerns are putting women in prison in the United States despite the fact that abortion is legal. Furthermore, legal punishments for abortion are something plenty of anti-choice activists advocate for — including those heralded as heroes and colleagues by Ted Cruz and other prominent Republicans. The reality is, punishing women for their abortions is the mainstream anti-abortion position. As far as optics go, that’s not good. If this week has taught us anything, it’s that Americans actually support a woman’s right to choose — so if anti-abortion forces are going to be effective in taking it away, it has to be done in a piecemeal fashion (at least until they have the political power to ban it outright). That’s why we see so many state laws slowly chipping away at that right, erecting absurd barriers, over-regulating clinics, etc. For now, conservatives would prefer to shift the abortion focus on health care providers, not the women who use their services. So while the Troy Newmans of the world write in books for their fellow “pro-lifers” that women who get abortions are murderers who hire contract killers (a book, we should mention, that also called for the execution of abortion providers — and a book Ted Cruz’s press release about his new anti-abortion coalition actually cited as evidence of what a great pro-life champion Newman is), their more public work is defaming Planned Parenthood as the organ smuggling, baby-killing face of Big Abortion. So even as women actually face jail time because of anti-abortion legislation in this country, conservatives will often adopt the patronizing air that they’re just looking out for the little ladies. Because women just don’t know what’s best for them. That’s why they need to deal with waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, and requirements to listen to heart beats, descriptions of fetal development, and medically inaccurate information. Furthermore, the womenfolk have just been bamboozled by Big Abortion: Sure, they’re murdering their own babies, but only because they’re too stupid to know any better. Read more
In Texas (as in my own state of Wisconsin), abortion is illegal after 20 weeks. Why? Because, as one of the many weapons in the anti-abortion arsenal, “pro-life” legislators have decided to protect the fetus against pain by banning the procedure after 20 weeks… even though the science to back up the idea of fetuses feeling pain at that age just isn’t there. (Not that science would really make a difference at crisis pregnancy centers, anyway.) As The Daily Beast’s Brandy Zadronzy points out, “A review of the evidence by the American Medical Association found that ‘fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.'” The Texas law allows for some exceptions — specifically, “where a woman’s life or physical health is in danger or when severe fetal abnormalities are present.” But you know what that doesn’t cover? Instances like the one experienced by Daniel and Taylor Mahaffey, a couple who very much wanted a child, whom they had already named Fox: Read more
When Donald Trump said the other day that women who have abortions should be punished if the procedure is banned, it raised many eyebrows. Predictably, on the left, because it’s an appalling thing to suggest; and, if I had to guess, on the right because that’s one of those things you’re not supposed to say out loud. (Not that Trump is the only anti-abortion zealot to have missed that memo.) But, as appalling as the idea is, this wasn’t actually one of the crazier things Trump has suggested — at least, not if you take “pro-life” ideology seriously. After all, if abortion is treated like — if it is — murder, as the pro-life movement argues, of course there have to be penalties associated with it. That’s just logical. That’s exactly what Jill Filipovic argues in a truly brilliant piece at TIME: Read more