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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trump and abortion

A furor in the news when pro-life Donald Trump said women should be punished if they got illegal abortions (then changed his mind). Democrats jumped on him, of course, but also the Republicans did too, and I think that's the real story - the Republicans and the pro-life movement were furious that Trump said out loud what they have been pursuing for years - the abolishing and criminalizing of abortion - the logical extension of their "abortion = murder" rhetoric.

From TIME ... Donald Trump’s Abortion Logic Is Totally 100% Right ...

The success of Donald Trump stems from one major factor: the perception that he tells it like it is because he’s beholden to no one. Whether Trump actually does tell the truth is a different question—one more often answered in the negative—but Wednesday, he did something rare for a Republican politician: he told the truth, saying that if abortion were illegal, women should be punished. (He later walked back his comments).

Commentators on the left erupted with outrage, and on the right with denial. “No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund in a statement. “We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser of the anti-abortion-rights group Susan B. Anthony List in a statement. “Punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”

And so went the usual anti-abortion claims: Outlawing abortion should punish abortion providers, not women. Women who have abortions are ignorant victims, coerced or tricked into forsaking their true desire for motherhood by greedy doctors who exploit them for financial gain.

These are lies. But they also reveal an important idea underpinning the anti-abortion-rights movement in the U.S.: It’s not about the life of the embryo or fetus. It’s certainly not about helping or protecting women. It’s about hostility to women’s social advancement, which has been rapid, and which would have been wholly impossible without access to contraception and abortion. And it’s not just Trump whose antipathy toward women’s rights and freedoms plays out particularly pronouncedly around abortion rights. It’s Ted Cruz, it’s the anti-abortion movement, and it’s most of the Republican Party ....

And from The LA Times ... Opinion Trump's abortion 'gaffe' exposed an anti-abortion contradiction ...

[...] “While antiabortion advocates have made it as difficult as possible in various states for women to get an abortion, often use language that equates abortion with murder, and hope for a day when Roe vs. Wade is overturned, rarely do they suggest criminalizing a woman seeking an abortion in that world. That’s, at least, in part because, politically, even they know what Trump apparently didn’t: No one would stand for that.”

But that is precisely why Trump’s original comment was so disruptive. It exposed a contradiction in a lot of anti-abortion rhetoric that those activists cannot explain away, hard as they try.

If abortion is murder — or the moral equivalent thereof — it’s absurd to suggest that only the doctor who performs an abortion should be criminally responsible.

That’s Trump’s new position: "The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb."

Put aside the paternalism of this explanation. (Women are pawns of presumably male doctors with no control over their own actions.) It defies logic to suggest that a person who initiates criminal act ought to be immune to punishment for it. At the minimum, the woman who seeks an abortion is an accessory to murder — if you believe abortion is murder ....

And from The Daily Beast ... Donald Trump’s ‘Punishment’ Talk Exposes Abortion Foes’ True Face ...

After Donald Trump said that when abortion is criminalized there must be some punishment for women who get an abortion, anti-abortion activists went into overdrive to distance themselves from his comments.

National Right to Life said it “has long opposed the imposition of penalties on the woman on whom an abortion is attempted or performed.” Other anti-choice organizations, including the Susan B. Anthony List and Priests for Life, joined in. Jeanne Mancini of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund declared flat-out, “No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion.”

That, of course, is utterly, ridiculously false. Just a few months ago, Personhood USA, a group that has been pushing for state-level laws granting legal personhood to fertilized eggs at the moment of conception, cheered the attempted murder prosecution of a woman in Tennessee who had tried to give herself an abortion. As Miranda Blue noted at Right Wing Watch in December, “In Alabama, the state supreme court has used ‘chemical endangerment’ laws to lay the legal groundwork for fetal personhood, leading to the prosecutions of nearly 500 women accused of endangering their fetuses.”

One of the co-chairs of Ted Cruz’s “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” group—announced by the Cruz campaign in January— is Troy Newman, who says a woman who has an abortion is essentially a “contract killer.” He has made it clear, in writing, that he thinks a biblical response to abortion means executing providers and treating women who have abortions as “murderers.” ....

And from Slate ...Good News, Donald Trump! Women Are Already Punished for Seeking Abortions (see the article for all the embedded links) ...

[...] Trump will be glad to hear that women seeking abortions are already punished here in the United States of America:

1. Women are fed misleading information and outright lies by doctors compelled by law to tell them that their abortions may cause breast cancer (it doesn’t), that they’ll be prone to infertility (untrue), and that life begins at conception (up for debate). In fact, one out of three bits of information abortion providers are forced by law to tell their patients are false.

2. To get to clinics, women must walk through gauntlets of protesters calling them murderers, telling them they’re going to hell, and waving signs with bloody imagery.

3. Women must wait for a prescribed amount of time between mandatory pre-abortion counseling and the procedure in 28 states. Waiting periods make abortions more expensive, more dangerous, logistically challenging, and emotionally taxing.

4. In 14 states, women must make two separate visits to a clinic, requiring extra time and money for transportation, time off work, child care, and travel expenses.

5. In Utah, women seeking abortions at 20 weeks gestation or later are forced to take anesthetic drugs, even if it’s against their will, adding additional risk to an overwhelmingly safe procedure.

6. Two-dozen states impose redundant or unnecessary safety requirements on abortion providers, making it harder for them to stay open and serve their patients.

7. Twenty-two states impose superfluous licensing standards, and 14 require doctors to have affiliations with local hospitals. These laws are forcing clinics across the country to close, leaving women with longer distances to travel, longer wait times, and more expensive procedures.

8. Poor women cannot use Medicaid to cover their abortions, sentencing them to debilitating expenses or unwanted pregnancies and children.

9. In 38 states, girls must notify or gain consent from their parents before obtaining abortions, putting themselves at risk of financial, emotional, and sometimes physical harm.

And again from The LA Times ... Abortion and the myth of 'protecting' women ...

[...] Some anti-choice activists have suggested that clinics literally hold women down and force them to have abortions. But most people floating the "coerced abortion" myth are more subtle. They pretend that unscrupulous boyfriends and clinic workers exploit women's supposed inability to make rational decisions when emotional.

In 2007, the National Review hosted a forum in which anti-choice activists laid out the theory that women are too stupid — though they shied away from that word — to make a fully informed choice to end a pregnancy. The woman is the "second victim of abortion," argued Dorinda C. Bordlee of the Bioethics Defense Fund. Villanova University law professor Joseph Dellapenna concurred, saying, "Women were victims of the abortion and not perpetrators."

Throughout the forum, participants advanced the notion that women choose abortion because the poor dears don't know "abortion for what it is" because "health and legal authorities fail to tell them," as Catholic blogger Pia de Solenni put it. And so, as Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, claimed, abortion bans are about "protection, not punishment."

In other words, much as we have laws that say a minor is too immature to consent to sex, we ought to shield women — lifelong minors, effectively — from making choices about their own bodies.

The ignorance argument is all over the latest attacks on Planned Parenthood. David Daleiden, the head of the Center for Medical Progress, told the National Review that if he had a chance to ask Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, anything, "I would ask her if she knows abortion the way Planned Parenthood providers know abortion." ...


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