In 2017, I had an abortion — at least I think I did, technically. I miscarried very early in a pregnancy, and two months later, my hormone levels were still elevated. My body couldn’t complete the miscarriage on its own, and I couldn’t try to get pregnant again until it was over, so my OBGYN prescribed the abortion drug misoprostol. I used it at home. Three months later, I became pregnant with twins.
There are several things I hope you take away from this story: That abortion is complicated and includes procedures you wouldn’t necessarily consider abortions. That you probably know more than one person who’s had one. That there is no one reason people have abortions. But mostly, I hope you realize that abortion — for any reason — doesn’t require a single one of these justifications. It’s a deeply personal medical decision that isn’t your business. I share mine willingly and without hesitation, but I shouldn’t have to share it at all.
The Big Takeaway
It’s impossible to imagine now, but abortion wasn’t always political. It became that way in the 1970s, when Richard Nixon took an anti-abortion stance to curry favor with Catholics and social conservatives. He won reelection with a majority of Catholic votes, prompting Republicans to use the same tactic in congressional races.
Legal and political experts characterized this as part of a larger strategy of making the Republican party seem more family-friendly. By 1980, opposing abortion had become a pillar of Republican campaigns; by the late 1980s, voters had split on it, too.
But they still don’t know, or care, a lot about it. Less than half of voters rank abortion as a “very important” issue. Most Americans do not want the U.S. Supreme Court to ban the procedure — but many of those same voters favor restrictions on abortion, including some that the court has deemed unconstitutional. Abortion, it seems, remains messy and confusing for much of the public.
It’s much clearer, and constant, for politicians. Republicans have introduced hundreds of anti-abortion measures over the past decade, including 106 in 2021 alone — the most ever in a single year. That includes a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and encourages citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who receives or helps someone access an abortion, with a $10,000 cash judgment if they’re successful.
The policy has spawned copycat bills in multiple states, from Wisconsin and Minnesota to Arizona and Iowa. In Florida, lawmakers scrapped a plan to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy in favor of a ban after 15 weeks, which they described as “very reasonable” and “generous.”
Many of those policies do not allow exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking. Most of them were introduced by cisgender men who cannot carry a child or possibly understand what it’s like to be pregnant when you don’t want to be pregnant. Some are based on faulty science, like the idea of a fetal heartbeat — visible flickering during an ultrasound that indicates electrical activity from developing cells, not a functioning heart. (The “heartbeat” sound that comes with it? Manufactured by the machine.)
As we’ve discussed, abortion is complicated, so it’s not surprising that a lot of lawmakers don’t fully understand it. What’s concerning is their rush to ban something they’ve never personally experienced and can’t be bothered to research.
People who’ve been through it often try to educate them, but they usually don’t care. In New Hampshire, Kelly Omu told lawmakers the details of her pregnancy, terminated at 18 weeks after an ultrasound showed a large tumor interfering with the development of her daughter’s lungs and brain.
Omu shared her story to demonstrate the need to repeal the state’s ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. House lawmakers are considering a bill to reverse the ban and another, plus a constitutional amendment, to prohibit the state from restricting access to abortion.
A similar proposal failed in the Senate last week, even after Republicans watered it down from a repeal to a clarification of the ban’s ultrasound requirement. Omu testified at the committee hearing where they approved those changes. Her pregnancy ended the next day.
Over in Georgia, Republicans advanced a proposal to prohibit doctors from mailing abortion medication to patients. It’s a response to a permanent federal rule change that began as a pandemic exception, the Georgia Recorder reported.
The bill, approved by a Senate committee with no Democratic votes, would require doctors to perform an in-person exam and ultrasound before prescribing the pills. They would also be required to schedule a follow-up appointment and provide contact information for a second doctor in case of “unexpected problems.” And they could no longer distribute the medication on college campuses or state-owned property.
The bill would also allow doctors to tell patients that it “may be possible” to reverse the abortion medication — a treatment that does “not meet clinical standards” and is “not based on science,” according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This is technically an improvement from an earlier version of the legislation, which mandated the disclosure.
You might think that promoting an unfounded medical treatment that doctors don’t want to prescribe is, I don’t know, a reckless action, but state Sen. Bruce Thompson, a Republican and the bill’s lead sponsor, doesn’t think so. Reckless actions are, in fact, exactly what he’s trying to prevent!
“This bill is simply intended to protect these women from the reckless actions of those mailing these drugs to women without ensuring she receives the proper and necessary care to ensure her health and safety and that it’s not compromised,” Thompson said.
As a woman, nothing makes me feel better than having men I’ve never met discussing my health and safety, especially when it’s clear that those men really love and understand women. Enter Garrett Soldano, a Republican chiropractor with no YouTube privileges who is running for governor in Michigan. He believes that rape victims who get pregnant shouldn’t have abortions, but rather “protect that DNA and allow it to happen,” per the Michigan Advance.
Because, you see, any person who is impregnated by their rapist is strong and amazing just by virtue of being impregnated by their rapist. Because God wouldn’t do that to someone who wasn’t strong enough to handle it, Soldano mused on the right-wing podcast “Face the Facts,” hosted by a meteorologist who got fired for complaining on live TV about her station’s COVID-19 policies.
“What we must start to focus on is not only to defend the DNA when it’s created, but however, how about we start inspiring women in the culture to let them understand and know how heroic they are, and how unbelievable that they are that God put them in this moment?” Soldano said.
Like sure, he continued, getting pregnant after being raped is probably a bummer, but that’s no reason to take it out on a baby, who could one day become a person, who might then eventually do something good.
“They don’t know,” he said. “That little baby inside them may be the next president, may be the next person that changes humanity.”
Soldano’s remarks were panned by Democrats and doctors, who suggested that women might be more inspired if he just…left them alone to make their own health care decisions. He doesn’t care, though, at least not beyond reveling in the media attention, which he said Tuesday was “great news” because it’s helping his campaign reach a wider audience.
My body, no choice: (Virginia) House GOP leadership scuttles bill to bar abortions after 20 weeks … Missouri Supreme Court tosses laws that blocked 2019 abortion bill referendum … (New Hampshire) Abortion ban repeal bill, rewritten as ultrasound clarification, passes Senate … (Minnesota) Planned Parenthood’s Sarah Stoesz says empathy is key to winning abortion rights fight … In Pittsburgh, abortion providers, advocates work to protect access in uncertain times
State of Our Democracy
This week’s “Stop Asking Me Questions About The Evidence I Said I Had” Gold Star Award goes to Peter Bernegger, a sausage heir, known fan of fraud and self-described “database analyst” who “analyzed” many “databases” and found a whole bunch of “evidence” of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
So much voter fraud, Bernegger told a Wisconsin legislative committee. “Millions” of illegal voter registrations! “Hundreds of thousands” of illegal votes! There’s evidence of all of it, collected with the help of an “eight-step verification system,” “thousands” of volunteers and one “supercomputer,” per the Wisconsin Examiner.
We’ll have to wait for more details on this scoop, because Bernegger wouldn’t share any of the actual evidence, or documentation of his allegations, or a single detail about the eight-step verification process. He did say he’s filed 450 criminal referrals because of the findings (which he wouldn’t share), but added that it’s too soon to know if anything will come from them.
But he did whet our appetites! Per Bernegger, Wisconsin’s voter registration list has more than 7 million entries, many of them inactive voters. Election officials have explained (...a lot of times) that active and inactive voters are stored in the same database, which isn’t used to track votes on Election Day, but who cares, because Bernegger said it’s fraud.
“Now this gets to the crux of a problem. We know we have seen it with our own eyes,” he said. “You could switch an inactive person to active with two clicks. We have seen it with our own eyes. It opens the door to fraud. Anybody in there, you’re talking electronic computer coding. Anybody gets access to the WisVote system, you can go in there, you could flip 100,000 people, vote them, set them back or take them off and nobody would ever know.”
…At least I think that’s what he said. Anyway, while we wait for more bombshells, can I interest you in Wisconsin’s 2020 election results? Joe Biden won the state by about 20,000 votes, which was verified by court decisions, recounts and investigations — but not, to my knowledge, a supercomputer.
Boop beep boop (supercomputer noise): Testimony: Florida elections restrictions erect ‘access barriers’ for disabled people … (Commentary) What I learned from watching more than 500 Jan. 6 videos … (Colorado) Arrest warrant for Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters issued following bagel shop confrontation … (New Jersey) Senate hearing expected on same-day voter registration
From the Newsrooms
- The unseen impact of COVID on Colorado’s young adults
- Missouri bill to prevent hair discrimination advances on eve of Black History Month
- (Maine) Families, formerly incarcerated call for ending the ‘torture’ of solitary confinement
- (Michigan) House committee approves bill that encourages unproven COVID-19 treatments
- (New Mexico) Second Chance bill opponents ask for another compromise
One Last Thing
Here is a headline I read today by accident:
I don’t understand anything about it, which is fine, but I still hate it, and if I have to live in this world, so do you.
This edition of the Evening Wrap published on Feb. 10, 2022. Subscribe here.