Republicans Distancing Themselves From New Abortion Laws

Republicans have spent the past week putting as much distance as they can between themselves and the latest round of radical anti-abortion laws.

In the week or so since it was passed by the legislature and signed into law, Alabama’s new abortion law, which essentially bans all abortions except to save the life of the mother, has become a political rallying cry. However, it has been mostly a rallying cry for Democrats and supporters of abortion rights. With very few exceptions, most Republicans and other people in the “pro-life” community are running away from the law and seemingly acknowledging that the Alabama law, and in turn similar laws passed in the past month in Georgia and Missouri, is a bridge too far:

President Trump has joined a chorus of Republicans distancing themselves from new state laws banning the vast majority of abortions, though he emphasized what he called a “strongly pro-life” stance he has held throughout his time in the White House.

Without referring specifically to an Alabama law enacted last week that makes performing abortions a felony unless a pregnancy seriously risks a woman’s health, Trump reiterated his position that abortion should be legal following rape or incest.

In a series of tweets shortly before midnight on Saturday, the president wrote that his view is “the same position taken by Ronald Reagan.”

In aligning with the memory of the popular GOP figure, Trump disregarded that Reagan had, as California governor, signed a liberal abortion law. And as president, Reagan nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court the first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, who voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, in later challenges to the ruling.

By injecting himself into the debate over a new crop of strict antiabortion statutes, in Alabama and several other states, the president heightened the divisions emerging with the Republican Party over how far abortion opponents should go.

The sudden spate of state laws — and Trump’s weekend reaction — has ratcheted up the prominence of the issue of reproductive rights in the 2020 presidential campaign.

(…)

Since his campaign, Trump has championed the causes of Christian conservatives, including their opposition to abortion, even though he has not always held that belief. Two decades ago, he told an interviewer that he was “very pro-choice,” saying, “I hate the concept of abortion . . . but you still — I just believe in choice.”

Among his administration’s actions, federal health officials in February rewrote rules for the federal Title X family-planning program to prevent organizations from receiving grants if they provide abortion or refer patients for abortions. Like several steps the administration has taken that appeal to social conservatives, the rule has been blocked temporarily by federal judges while lawsuits against the change play out in court.

Here are the President’s tweets on the law:

In addition to Trump, several top Republicans and conservatives distanced themselves from the law. This included Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Utah Senator Mitt Romney have all sought to distance themselves from the new round of anti-abortion laws Even Pat Robertson said that the law went too far:

Televangelist Pat Robertson, who is opposed to abortion, criticized an anti-abortion bill passed by the Alabama legislature Tuesday as “extreme.”

“I think Alabama has gone too far,” he said during a Wednesday appearance on “The 700 Club“, referencing the bill’s 99-year maximum sentence for doctors who perform abortions and the fact that it does not provide exceptions for rape or incest cases. 

He added that he does not think the bill would be upheld by the Supreme Court. 

“It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose,” he said.  

“The Alabama case, God bless them, they’re trying to do something, but I don’t think that’s the case that I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court,” he later reiterated. 

The reservations that these people have voiced about the Alabama law have been echoed by many conservatives and “pro-life” activists, and one of the main reasons for that seems to be not that they believe the law is per se wrong but that they recognize that it is strategic and tactical error in the longer-term fight against Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. As I said in my posts last week, the Alabama law goes so far in challenging those precedents that any District Court or Circuit Court Judge the inevitable lawsuit against him is going to strike it down and enjoin it from being enforced. Additionally, the fact that it’s so radical that makes it less likely that the Supreme Court is going to accept the case for appeal assuming it even gets there. From their perspective, the problem is not that there’s anything wrong with barring all abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, it’s the fact that this law goes too far at this time. It’s a political, strategic, and tactical objection, not necessarily a principled one.

Indeed, if someone is pro-life it is hard to understand why they would accept exceptions for rape or incest. If you really believe that life begins at conception and that the rights of a fertilized egg are superior to those of the pregnant woman then why should it matter that the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest? Note that I do not agree with this position but it seems to me that if one holds the moral position that life begins at conception, then one should be applauding this law. The fact that so many pro-life advocates, conservatives, and Republicans are not is telling not only because of what it says about their political strategy but what it says about their own intellectual consistency and just how sincere they are in their belief about when “life” begins and how our abortion laws should be shaped around that. It also makes clear that, contrary to the argument of many “pro-life” activists, the question of when “life” begins and when rights attach to the potential human being growing inside a woman’s body is not capable of answering in an easy and straightforward manner.

Notwithstanding the effort of many Republicans to distance themselves from the new slate of anti-choice laws passed in Alabama and elsewhere, though, William Saletan argues in Slate that these new laws are a “disaster” for Republicans:

Banning abortion is unpopular to begin with. Many Americans who dislike abortion don’t want it to be prohibited. Normally, they vote on other issues. But when Roe looks shaky, they get scared and vote against politicians who threaten to criminalize the procedure. If you’re looking for a single event that could ignite a backlash against Republican candidates, an overturn of Roe is high on the list.

The Alabama law is even more incendiary. Alabama lawmakers rejected an amendment that would have exempted women who become pregnant by rape. When you extend a ban to these women, you cut the anti-abortion constituency in half. You take an idea that already scares and angers many people—banning abortions generally—and make it absolutely toxic. In particular, you alienate voters on the right who distinguish rape survivors from women who chose to have sex. By forcing victims to bear the offspring of their predators, you offend the morals of law-and-order conservatives.

This isn’t just speculation. Through the General Social Survey, a massive public opinion database built by NORC at the University of Chicago, you can see how themes of sex, crime, and punishment affect the abortion debate. One regular question on the GSS asks whether “it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if the woman wants it for any reason.” On average, over the course of four decades, 39 percent of respondents have said yes, and 57 percent have said no. The most recent GSS sample, taken in 2018, was evenly split, 49 percent to 49 percent.

When you bring up rape, however, the anti-abortion constituency plummets. Since 1972, the GSS has asked whether “it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if she became pregnant as a result of rape.” In the multiyear average, 78 percent of respondents have said yes, and 18 percent have said no. In the survey’s most recent sample, taken last year, 76 percent said yes, and 21 percent said no. So when the debate shifts to women who became pregnant by rape, abortion opponents lose more than half of their audience, and on average about two-thirds.

Saleton goes on to discuss the question of why so many “pro-life” conservatives support exceptions for rape and incest that is interesting in itself, and which I may make the subject of a future post. What he points out here from a political point of view, though, explains quite clearly why Republicans are distancing themselves from the Alabama law in particular. Even among pro-life conservatives, the idea of forcing a victim of rape or incest to bring to term a pregnancy that results from that act is simply morally repulsive. This is why you see Republicans distancing themselves from the law, and why you’re likely to see Democrats trying to hang it around the GOP like the political albatross that it is.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Donald Trump, Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kit says:

    You bring up a good point, Doug, by questioning just why rape and incest should matter, intellectually speaking. But reading this, I started asking myself just how allowing these exceptions would actually be handled. Have the details ever been worked out? Can a woman simply claim to be a victim of rape? Obliging her to follow a non-trivial legal or bureaucratic procedure would strike most people as horrifying, and, need I say it, the easiest way in the world for sh!t-kicking states to ensure that such abortions are never carried out.

  2. Jen says:

    I wish them luck in their hair-splitting endeavors (not really).

    Republicans are the ones who have been picking this fight for years. They looooove the money and ground troops they get from the evangelical coalition, and SURPRISE! now that they are better positioned to challenge Roe, they’ve gone ahead and done this.

    You reap what you sow, Republicans.

    The point about exceptions for rape and incest have always presented a philosophical challenge for Republicans. Instead of simply accepting that abortion is legal and setting about to find ways in which to *actually reduce abortions* (e.g., broad, comprehensive sex ed, and ready access to birth control, for example–which have proven to be effective in reducing unintended pregnancies), they chose to pursue the nuclear option, because that’s what got the evangelical base wound up and donating/voting. The party steadfastly drummed out virtually every pro-choice Republican.

    This mess is their making, and they shouldn’t be permitted to back away.

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  3. KM says:

    @Doug:

    Note that I do not agree with this position but it seems to me that if one holds the moral position that life begins at conception, then one should be applauding this law.

    Because before they were worried people would considered them to be uncaring bastards. It all goes back to the idea of control and punishment. They didn’t hold with the “murder” logic but rather with a “hold them responsible for their actions” policy. See, before all this “it’s murder” hysteria, there was concern that women who were pregnant by means “not of their own choice” would be punished in the same way those “sluts who just had sex” would be. After all, rape and incest are considered terrible crimes and thus the women would be innocent. They didn’t want to be seen as heartless monsters inflicting extra torment on victims who can vote their asses out of office.

    Now that the nuts who push personhood bills are starting to take control, that logic is falling by the wayside fast. They’ve painted themselves into a corner and created a “abortion is murder or it isn’t” dichotomy. They correctly point out there’s no such thing as “acceptable murder” so making exceptions in their laws makes no sense. They don’t care about the woman or her circumstances – only their own theological consistency. There’s a reason these nuts kept getting shoved to the back of the bus by their fellows in the past; their reasoning is actually the most internally consistent yet ends up being the most heartless in practice and turns people off. They fail to see the compromise was the point that got them this far in the first place.

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  4. gVOR08 says:

    The “reasonable, moderate” GOPs are just moving the goalposts. They’re looking ahead to restrictive decisions or legislation that they will hail as reasonable if they leave rape, incest, and health of the mother exceptions.

    As @Jen: notes, the exceptions may be worthless in practice. Which hillbilly state is it that’s pushing heavy penalties for rape accusations if there’s no conviction of the rapist?

    At some point, it’s hard not to conclude the cruelty is the point. But for the GOP pols it’s merely a matter of cynically using the issue to preclude a primary challenge on the right. The cruelty is just a bonus.

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  5. Kit says:

    @Jen:

    Instead of simply accepting that abortion is legal and setting about to find ways in which to *actually reduce abortions…

    You are absolute right. Pro-life would additionally require a different stance on healthcare, child care, schooling, gun control, incarceration, military action, budget priorities, the environment, the death penalty, and probably plenty of other issues. Whatever reasons the Right has for being against abortion, we can rest assured that the true reasons cannot be spoken out loud in polite company.

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  6. SKI says:

    @KM: Indeed. Ultimately, it goes back to the basics – the impulse to punish “bad” women.

    @Kit: Which is exactly why the only two logical positions are to outlaw all abortions or to allow individuals to make their own choices. Ultimately, government and the criminal justice system are *REALLY* bad levers to enact moral preferences.

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  7. Bruce Henry says:

    Yet in Mayor Pete’s FOX town hall last night Chris Wallace kept trying to insinuate he and the rest of the Democrats are “for” infanticide or damn-near infanticide. Loved Buttigieg’s answer, which finally was off the defensive and brought up how godawful, heart-rendingly painful the decision to undergo a “late term abortion” is for these poor women who must have them.

    Republicans use abortion as Gotcha and have for decades. Democrats don’t want our soldiers to die in Iraq? “Too bad you don’t care about all those murdered babies every year!” Don’t want S-CHIP cut? “If you care about children so much why are you for murdering them?” It’s the ONLY reason they say abortion is murder — so they can cry Gotcha at liberals.

    I want every pro-choice Democrat to answer when asked about “Where would you draw the line?” to have an answer like Mayor Pete’s. Or better, “How dare anyone interfere in the most heart-wrenching decision a woman must ever make?” They should insist, repeat, that NO ONE carries a baby for nine months and then decides to kill it for her own convenience.

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  8. Grumpy realist says:

    The fact that there’s no punishment for the woman, only for the doctor, also shows they don’t think it’s “really” murder.

    What it means is that the poor women are going to go for the coat hangers and dies from sepsis, while the good Christian upper-class girls are going to get on a plane trip to a state that does have legal abortions, just like usual.

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  9. Teve says:

    super informative William Saletan article where he gets into the data of who opposes abortion and why.

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  10. Teve says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    The fact that there’s no punishment for the woman, only for the doctor, also shows they don’t think it’s “really” murder.

    exactly.

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  11. Kit says:

    @SKI:

    Which is exactly why the only two logical positions are to outlaw all abortions or to allow individuals to make their own choices.

    I don’t see anything illogical about drawing a line. At a minimum, I’d say that any baby that could survive induced labor without requiring any special treatment is already a person. Now I rather doubt that happens very often, but I feel that vast majority of people would consider it reasonable.

  12. dmichael says:

    Your headline is: “Republicans distancing themselves….” Whenever I see something like this, I ask myself “What does that mean?” The answer: Nothing. The expressions of “concern” from the likes of Willard Romney and his niece will be the total extent of their actions on this contentious issue. It is ass-covering and will be regurgitated when confronted with these monstrous laws. I eagerly await reports of Susan Collins (I voted for Kavanaugh because he promised me he would protect precedents like Roe) having a furrowed brow.

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  13. gVOR08 says:

    @Grumpy realist:

    The fact that there’s no punishment for the woman, only for the doctor, also shows they don’t think it’s “really” murder.

    I’m sure they’d like to, but even they realize jailing the mother is politically a bridge too far. And I expect there’s a cynical calculation that no matter what they do, women are going to have sex, if they have sex there will be unwanted pregnancies, and they can’t repeal these laws of nature. But they can make every last doctor in the state too afraid to perform an abortion.

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  14. grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: I think they don’t really care if poor women decide to go the coat-hanger method–heck, if they die the problem is “solved” and they can feel smugly virtuous wagging their fingers as those horrible women.

    A lot of this reminds me of the U.K. and the high percentage of people now demanding a “no-deal Brexit”. Sounds great, now how do you implement it without trashing the U.K. economy given that there’s going to be a heckova lot of trade friction getting stuff OUT of the U.K. to the EU? Uuuhhh….we’ll worry about that later!

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  15. SKI says:

    @Kit:

    I don’t see anything illogical about drawing a line. At a minimum, I’d say that any baby that could survive induced labor without requiring any special treatment is already a person. Now I rather doubt that happens very often, but I feel that vast majority of people would consider it reasonable.

    Two points:

    1. What about the impact on the mother? I’m presuming, to be reasonable, you would also carve out an “exception” for the life and safety of the mother, yes?

    2. How do you determine when the baby “could survive induced labor without requiring any special treatment”? What constitutes “special treatment”? What happens when “reasonable” people disagree? Who decides? How do they do so in the space of time that may be available?

    Put bluntly, things that are theoretically reasonable, and the line drawing you suggest is, are impractical to have the government do. And we know, in reality, that the lines you suggest are what doctors do already – without government dictates and mandates.

    Despite the screams of the anti-abortion, anti-choice crowd to the contrary, there are effectively no cases in the United States of otherwise viable babies to healthy mothers being aborted in the final weeks of pregnancy. None.

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  16. JohnMcC says:

    @Teve: The lack of legal consequences for a woman who after all has contracted for the murder of her own fetus might cast doubt on the sincerity of the ‘murder’ part of the charge. But it also points strongly to the blessed state of innocence of the woman herself, who can be blamed for nothing because she is incapable of acting ethically/morally/legally of her own free will.

    (sarcasm alert!)

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  17. KM says:

    @Kit:

    At a minimum, I’d say that any baby that could survive induced labor without requiring any special treatment is already a person.

    *COULD*. That’s an incredibly iffy word to include in something like this. There’s a lot of contingency, assumption, theory and plain old luck covered by *could*. After all, you’d be amazed what you *can* live through but you won’t like the results and what it takes to get you there. If you want to go that route, it should be *SHOULD* – as in, no guesses or assumptions, just plain old facts but by that point, most women will be ready to give birth and will have chosen to do so in the first place. By what right do you have to demand someone give up their rights on a *could*? And by what right do you expect the mother to incur the costs of these “special treatments” when she doesn’t want the medical procedure in the first place ? The state ain’t paying, that’s for damn sure and neither are all these forced birthers. Setting up a precedent to force tens of thousands of dollars of medical care on the unwilling and then expect them to pay seems like a pretty bad idea in this day and age….

    Aside from that, you are not legally a person till you can and do exist independently and separately on your own. As long as it occupies space in a woman, it’s not a separate being but rather a dependent one. Pretty much all of our legal theories depend on the basic assumption that you as a person are a unique, separate entity that is not physically bound to another for survival and thus must be treated as a singular entity. It’s you and it’s me, not youme. There’s a good goddamn reason the law has made this the dividing line for legal existence since day one of recorded history – it would be madness to try and legislate it and its consequences otherwise, let alone actual enforcement. I understand your thought process but to grant even temporary personhood to a being not yet out of the womb completely invalidates the previous logic and invites challenges for those who want to take it back to conception.

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  18. Kit says:

    @SKI:

    Put bluntly, things that are theoretically reasonable, and the line drawing you suggest is, are impractical to have the government do. And we know, in reality, that the lines you suggest are what doctors do already – without government dictates and mandates.

    Impractical? Please! You already admit in the very same paragraph that this is what is currently done. This smells of the sort of pettifogging one uses to paint an issue as black and white.

    Despite the screams of the anti-abortion, anti-choice crowd to the contrary, there are effectively no cases in the United States of otherwise viable babies to healthy mothers being aborted in the final weeks of pregnancy. None.

    Which is exactly way drawing such lines both costs nothing and robs the other side of baseless accusations. As Jen said above, if the Right were interested in reducing abortions, they could follow any number of paths. But they don’t, because that’s not what they want. They don’t want compromise, they don’t want reductions. What they want is total victory. Victory of good over evil. Like all true fanatics. We’ve got a lot of them in this country.

  19. Teve says:

    Which is exactly way drawing such lines both costs nothing and robs the other side of baseless accusations. As Jen said above, if the Right were interested in reducing abortions, they could follow any number of paths. But they don’t, because that’s not what they want. They don’t want compromise, they don’t want reductions. What they want is total victory. Victory of good over evil.

    You want me to spend my own tax dollars doing something to help pregnant women, when I can save that money and just righteously complain about them being dirty slut murderers?

    /ConfusedEvangelical

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  20. SKI says:

    @Kit:

    Impractical? Please! You already admit in the very same paragraph that this is what is currently done. This smells of the sort of pettifogging one uses to paint an issue as black and white.

    You need to slow down and re-read what I wrote as I’m suggesting it is anything but black and white.

    Yes, this type of line drawing is what happens currently but trying to get the GOVERNMENT to make it a legal requirement is impractical as there is no mechanism that can work to deal with all the exceptions and the complex nuances of reality. It is best left to the individual, supported by their medical team, to assess and decide the individual cases.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC:
    But it also points strongly to the blessed state of innocence of the woman herself, who can be bl

    amed for nothing because she is incapable of acting ethically/morally/legally of her own free will.

    (sarcasm alert!)

    I don’t see why you feel that’s sarcasm. They do believe that, although that doesn’t lead to any feeling the father should be required to take responsibility. They also, without recognizing any contradiction, believe the woman is a slut who should be punished by having the child.

  22. JKB says:

    This is why you see Republicans distancing themselves from the law, and why you’re likely to see Democrats trying to hang it around the GOP like the political albatross that it is.

    At the same time that Republicans try to hang the post-birth/late term abortion around the Democrats like the political albatross it is. Difference is that Democrats have not been distancing themselves from the Northam testimony or the NY law. Northam spoke politically stupidly and brought late term abortion in to clear focus.

    If we are lucky the extremes will kill each other off (politically) and we’ll settle in the middle where most of the country is already.

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  23. Kit says:

    @KM: Wow! Sounds like induced labor should be outlawed.

    By what right do you have to demand someone give up their rights on a *could*?

    This is ridiculous but I guess you are on a roll. Let’s see… First thing that pops into my mind: falsely yelling fire in a crowed theatre could result in harm. Not always. Then again, I’ll admit that I’m not sure what you mean by what “right” one can demand a limitation on rights. Are you speaking for rhetorical effect here?

    And by what right do you expect the mother to incur the costs of these “special treatments” when she doesn’t want the medical procedure in the first place ?

    Looks like I missed the part where I wrote that. Mind quoting it back to me?

    Aside from that, you are not legally a person till you can and do exist independently and separately on your own.

    We are talking about what laws might look like for abortion, and your objection is to say that the law currently says something else… Color me unimpressed.

    Pretty much all of our legal theories depend on the basic assumption that

    Would you mind sending me links to, say, the top dozen or so legal theories along with the exception(s) you implied? No, in fact, let’s stop this.

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  24. Jen says:

    Put bluntly, things that are theoretically reasonable, and the line drawing you suggest is, are impractical to have the government do.

    Hard cases make for bad law.

    I was raised Catholic, and was a Republican who worked for the party–originally solidly in the “pro-life, except for cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.” After years of thinking about it, and, frankly, learning of several cases of acquaintances and friends, I changed my way of thinking. I am now firmly, and immovably in the pro-choice camp.

    There are simply too many cases that straddle areas that the government has no business being in. The best, most “pro-life” strategy we can ever work toward is to keep abortion legal and between a woman and her doctor, and enact policies that ensure as few as possible end up pregnant unexpectedly.

    The “what about” and “what if” scenarios are endless. But the moment we put a living woman and a barely formed embryo on the same legal footing, we can expect trouble. It stuns me to no end that Ireland now gets this, and the U.S. is going the opposite direction.

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  25. Kit says:

    @SKI:

    You need to slow down and re-read what I wrote as I’m suggesting it is anything but black and white.

    Someone who insists that no line can be drawn is effectively saying the situation is black and white. In fact, you said earlier that there were only two logical possibilities. Maybe you need to slow down and re-read what you wrote.

    trying to get the GOVERNMENT to make it a legal requirement is impractical as there is no mechanism that can work to deal with all the exceptions and the complex nuances of reality

    Ah! Yes! All the exceptions for something you said above had no cases! I liked you better in your black-and-white mode.

    In any case, that’s enough abortion debate for me, thanks. I’ll give you the last word.

  26. KM says:

    @JKB:

    NY law

    is being blatantly misconstrued for the forced-birther’s propaganda. The simple fact of the matter is that women are *NOT* going to choose to go through month and months of physical discomfort and biological indignities just to suddenly change their minds a week before the endgame. Late-term abortions are 99.99% for heart-breaking reasons and happen to women who CHOSE to have their child but CAN’T. This whole “swaddle then heartlessly kill” thing was completely and totally made up by Trump to hit you right in your feels and prejudices against women.

    Personally, I think it’s beyond cruel to force a child to go through the trauma of childbirth, only to suffer needlessly and die solely so the parent can cuddle them and “say goodbye”. It’s putting the immediate emotional needs of the adult above causing unnecessary harm to the dying child – what could be more selfish then that? The same goes for this “MUST keep alive” BS y’all are pushing since the whole reason this was happening was non-viability in the first place. When y’all are running around trying to “save” something that can’t be saved for a few more hours, you are taking time and resources away from children who’ve been born and *can* survive if you just paid attention to them instead.

    Prolonging pain and suffering because of an inability to accept a tragic fact of nature – namely, children die and not every pregnancy gets a magical happy ending – is a sign that maybe y’all shouldn’t be involved in this conversation to begin with.

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  27. JKB says:

    @Jen: It stuns me to no end that Ireland now gets this, and the U.S. is going the opposite direction.

    You do realize that most of Europe, including Ireland, ban abortion after the first trimester, period. That is they ban abortion after 12 weeks. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Louisiana, Utah, Iowa, North Dakota, and Iowa all have bans in or at the end of the first trimester (under injunction). Add to that the new “crisis” laws of Alabama, GA and MO. The rest of the US has bans in or just after the 2nd trimester, as of the end of 2017.

    On the other extreme, the state considered the least restrictive on abortion are moving for legalizing up to and even some undetermined period after live birth for the dubious reason that the mother might be unhappy to have a baby.

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  28. KM says:

    @Kit:

    Looks like I missed the part where I wrote that. Mind quoting it back to me?

    Who exactly do you think is going to get the bill then? Or did that slip your mind?

    This is what I mean when I said practical enforcement. You say “special treatment” like it just HAPPENS. Let me tell you, no medical treatment occurs in this country without a bill, let alone anything they’d consider “special”. And that bill goes to you as a patient as a matter of course.

    You just invoked it in an attempt to be reasonable without actually thinking through the consequences of what you said. I’m not trying to be mean but merely pointing out that your compromise places yet another undue burden you just seem to write off. Unless that “special treatment” is free (and there’s no such thing in this world), you are placing unfair restrictions on rights solely to justify your preferred position.

  29. Jen says:

    @JKB: Yes, I am very familiar with EU restrictions.

    On demand, any reason, no waiting periods, no parental notification, etc. in the first trimester. Check. This is when the vast majority occur, in both the US and the EU.

    Now, on to later terminations. In most European countries, these are “restricted” to: “abortion is allowed only under certain circumstances, such as risk to woman’s life or health, fetal defects or other specific situations that may be related to the circumstances of the conception or the woman’s age.” (Source.)

    This is legally more restrictive than Roe, but in practice is right in alignment with what happens in the US. The difference is that we’re going the other direction with laws that restrict Roe.

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  30. SKI says:

    @Kit: I’m not sure whether you are deliberately mis-describing what I said or not. Either way, you again aren’t grasping my point. Let me try again.

    Someone who insists that no line can be drawn is effectively saying the situation is black and white. In fact, you said earlier that there were only two logical possibilities. Maybe you need to slow down and re-read what you wrote.

    I didn’t say that no line can be drawn. I said it was impractical for the government to try to draw such lines in legislation. Pregnant individuals and doctors draw lines all the time.

    the comment about “two possibilities” referred to logical, rational consistent ideas that can be turned into legislation. I do not believe that you can logically restrict abortion only to cases that the government thinks is “moral” without creating a unworkable nightmare scenario. The practical approach is to leave it up to the individual and their doctor.

    Ah! Yes! All the exceptions for something you said above had no cases! I liked you better in your black-and-white mode.

    Really? I’m not making the inaccurate claim that there are no late term abortions. I specifically said “there are effectively no cases in the United States of otherwise viable babies to healthy mothers being aborted in the final weeks of pregnancy.” Do you disagree?

    In any case, that’s enough abortion debate for me, thanks. I’ll give you the last word.

    What debate? Debate requires engaging with what the other person said. you just misrepresented and fled. That isn’t debating. It is trolling.

  31. Jen says:

    @JKB:

    PS–“You do realize that most of Europe, including Ireland, ban abortion after the first trimester, period.” As you can see from the information at the link I included, this statement is incorrect.

  32. drj says:

    @KM:

    it would be madness to try and legislate it and its consequences otherwise, let alone actual enforcement.

    I think you are overlooking the fact that there are quite a few countries besides the US that do a pretty decent job in this regard.

    For instance, if you combine limited (late-term) abortion restrictions with decent sex-ed and universal health care, it’s not really an issue.

    Maybe Kit is looking at it from a broader perspective than a strict US-centric one?

    ETA: I guess I’m saying that I find your arguments more persuasive in a specific rather than general sense – which matters if one is discussing general legal principles.

  33. KM says:

    @SKI :
    Practicality isn’t a concern for them. It’s the difference between strategy and tactics – one’s the overall plan for what you want and one’s the method for getting it done. Pro-lifers speak in terms of strategy but rarely consider the tactics that will by necessity result from their grandiose ideas. That’s why they gets so pissed when you mention women getting arrested for miscarriages – that’s not their intent (or so they say) but it’s what’s going to happen from the tactics their strategy enacts.

    For instance, personhood from conception will be a complete clusterf^ck in terms of ID and legal verification. One of the things that establishes who you are as a legal entity is your birth – the who, what, where, when and sometimes even why. Think of how many John Smiths are in this country and how many of them were likely born in the same city at nearly the same time. That info matters in determining your legal identity and status and uses a concrete moment in time to determine it.

    Now, change birth to conception. Unless you can pin it down fairly precisely (and we’re talking hours, if not minutes) then we are introducing a HUGE new variable to a basic legal premise. Can you *prove* where and when you were conceived? Who signs off on that as a witness or authority like a doctor would in order to prevent fraud or false claims of citizenship? What happens if you provide false information, even if it’s your best guess?

    Imagine the headache it would be to do a background search on someone with those credentials for a security clearance. How can you be sure it’s the right person if the basics are in flux? Hell, imagine the citizenship arguments. Jus soli requires you to be born here but what if you were just conceived here? Does that count? How can you disprove such a claim? Even if we got away from that, citizenship would fall to the birth parent’s citizenship…. which also requires being sure of where they were born. The bureaucratic mess this would cause is migraine-inducing.

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  34. SKI says:

    @KM: Indeed.

    Rule-making is messy, difficult and hard. There are always consequences. Anyone who isn’t willing to honestly grapple with – and acknowledge – those consequences should not be making rules.

  35. KM says:

    @drj:
    Apologies – by madness I meant the whole changing birth to conception nonsense in order to justify giving rights to a fetus on par on a born person. It would thus create the quandary of two equal beings in one physical form with conflicting rights and goals.

    Most other countries still maintain that a fetus is not a legal citizen nor a person in it’s eyes. They’ll acknowledge it’s alive as a human being, have a right to exist but fall short of granting all the rights the born have. Instead, the restrictions on the woman fall under other logic or moral rationale that they put the force of law behind.

  36. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Republicans shouldn’t be allowed to run away from these legislative follies. It would behoove the DNC to have some folks research the entire debate record for each of these laws, mine them for nuggets of stupidity, and dribble them out in ads that say, “This is today’s GOP. Regardless of what they say, when you vote for them, this is what they do.”

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  37. grumpy realist says:

    We’ve already got enough cases of women getting thrown in jail for miscarriages. All the women involved were poor–surprise!

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  38. Kit says:

    @drj:

    For instance, if you combine limited (late-term) abortion restrictions with decent sex-ed and universal health care, it’s not really an issue.

    Maybe Kit is looking at it from a broader perspective than a strict US-centric one?

    As laid out by others above, I certainly agree that other countries manage this better than we do. But in the US, somehow only the true believers drive the conversation. Jen provided a good link detailing abortion in Europe, but were one to be so rash as to propose something like that, well, the blowback would be considerable. And this on the most civilized, informed and polite corner of the internet that I know! I don’t imagine that it’s a coincidence that most of the OTB regulars have stayed away from this thread.

  39. Mister Bluster says:

    Human life begins before conception.
    The human sperm in the male body is alive before it is ejaculated and the human eggs in the female body are alive before the living human sperm fertilize them. Otherwise human conception would not occur.

  40. KM says:

    @Kit :

    I don’t imagine that it’s a coincidence that most of the OTB regulars have stayed away from this thread.

    Not a coincidence that a great deal of regulars that have posted (included myself) have stated they’re female on other threads. Can’t imagine why we’d care so much…

  41. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kit: I’ve stayed away from this thread because the idea that we are actually moving towards the Handmaid’s Tale literally makes me physically ill. To see pawns here cheerfully parroting the forced-birth talking points makes it even worse. I’m glad some people have the stomach to carry on the fight, but to me it’s not just a philosophical debate on the limits of government.

    No one, but no one, carries a baby for 9 months and decides to “kill it” for “convenience.” I know two people who have had later-term abortions – one at 6 months, one at 7 months – for a lethal chromosomal abnormality in the first case (that was not detected until the amnio) and a fatal fetal abormality that was not detected until an ultrasound at 6 mos. In the first case, the woman was nearing 40 and while she could have had the baby and tried again, given that it would not survive, she opted for the abortion so that she did not lose 6-9 months of trying again (which, I am happy to say, resulted in a successful outcome and a healthy, chromosomally-normal, baby).

    And if there was a woman who actually, literally wanted to have an abortion at nine months? Too bad: abortion laws have NEVER ALLOWED A CHILD TO BE KILLED AT BIRTH.

    10
  42. drj says:

    @Kit:

    To be honest, I was responding to what I read as an absolute claim regarding abstract legal principles. Basically, it was an aside and not really a plea for different legal arrangements.

    Jen provided a good link detailing abortion in Europe, but were one to be so rash as to propose something like that, well, the blowback would be considerable.

    Reasonable abortion restrictions require good faith, which is entirely absent among the pro-life crowd. Also, a lot of these euro restrictions have no real teeth. From Jen’s link:

    It should be noted that the access to an abortion in much of Europe depends not as much on the letter of the law, but on the prevailing social views which lead to the interpretation of the laws.

    The interpretation of these laws (many/most of which date from the 1970s) tends to be rather liberal, especially in Northwestern Europe. You won’t see any third-trimester abortions without a clear medical necessity, but generally (AFAIK) it’s not more restricted than that.

  43. Kit says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    I’m glad some people have the stomach to carry on the fight, but to me it’s not just a philosophical debate on the limits of government.

    Frankly, what I appreciate about OTB is that there are rarely fights, and that disagreements tend to be civil. Philosophical debate is fine by me, but I also appreciate thoughtful stories such as the two you mentioned. So many serious issues are a strange brew of what we think, what we feel, and what we’ve experienced. The best threads here typically have people weighing in from any number of vantage points. But when someone decides to patrol an ideological border, I find it’s best to stay away.

  44. grumpy realist says:

    Several years ago Andrew Sullivan (yeah, him) was muttering about how he couldn’t see any reason for a late abortion and why didn’t the women do something earlier yada yada, and asked for explanations. He got deluged with a huge number of very detailed stories from many women showing exactly how things can go horribly wrong later on in a pregnancy (or a life-incompatible condition finally makes itself known.) Yeah, it may be only 0.001% possibility for any particular horror case…but those probabilities are additive, not multiplicative.

    (I don’t know whether anyone’s done reportage on this, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that a lot of the supposed “stillbirths” in earlier days were often cases of “helping” deformed offspring out of this world….)

  45. Kit says:

    @drj:

    Reasonable abortion restrictions require good faith, which is entirely absent among the pro-life crowd

    I absolutely agree. If the pro-life crowd truly thought that abortion was murder, then they would have rushed to limit the total number, starting with the lowest hanging fruit: sex education, contraception, health care, etc.

  46. drj says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Several years ago Andrew Sullivan (yeah, him) was muttering about how he couldn’t see any reason for a late abortion and why didn’t the women do something earlier yada yada, and asked for explanations. He got deluged with a huge number of very detailed stories from many women showing exactly how things can go horribly wrong later on in a pregnancy

    I still remember seeing his smug face on some cable show (CNN IIRC) explaining how these stories made him realize that things perhaps weren’t as straightforward as he (a pro-life Catholic) had initially thought.

    I also remember thinking how incredibly stupid he was. Did the fool really, really believe that women have late-term abortions for shits and giggles?

    It was also the first time that I clearly realized that maybe there was something to identity politics, after all. Why on earth was a gay man appearing on my television to explain the bleeding obvious about abortion? Couldn’t they find a woman? Or at the very least a prospective father whose partner had undergone a late-term abortion?

    It was bloody surreal.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: See? You understand the policy position just fine!

  48. Twve says:
  49. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    Not a coincidence that a great deal of regulars that have posted (included myself) have stated they’re female on other threads.

    I’m a regular, and a white male in his late fifties and I stayed away from this conversation simply because we had a pretty detailed go-around in the open forum a couple of days ago. But just in case the women commenters here are feeling outnumbered, here’s my go: I believe it is the woman’s choice up until birth. I think the religios have ginned up s significant portion of the population to believe pseudo-scientific nonsense (“Life Begins at Conception”). I also have sympathy for someone who has bought into this tripe because people they trusted passed it on, and accept the fact that not everyone who is anti-abortion is also not deliberately or consciously anti-woman. But not for one minute do I think the real distress felt by misinformed people should govern the actions of other human beings.

  50. Blue Galangal says:

    @Kit: I meant “fight” as in “fight the good fight.” Teve and KM may be as equally exhausted about having to re-explain this topic as I am, but they’re clearly far more cogent, and patient, and I appreciate their input more than I can say. Because it feels very lonely in the US right now as a woman, and a mother of a 24 year old daughter – and in Ohio, on top of it all.

    I am not going to scroll back up, but maybe halfway up the page you’ll see one of the pawns parroting the “abortion on demand means 9 month abortions” quite cheerfully and heedlessly. That is SICKENING. I can’t tell you what I really think about someone who spreads lies like that because that is not the person I want to be. But they are going to get someone killed, and that someone will be a doctor or a clinic worker or a nurse who’s trying to make sure women get health care, and it is UNACCEPTABLE.

    If there are men out there who are concerned about women’s rights and access to health care, they need to step up and be allies instead of steepling their fingers and peering at the audience and discussing the “political implications” and the “philosophical disagreements.”

    ETA: @MarkedMan: We crossed threads. But thank you for the support, and the excellent, timely example.

  51. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen:

    In most European countries, these are …

    Jen, good on you for fighting the good fight, but you have to know that you are dealing with a Trumper and the fact that you have shown him to be wrong by using, you know, facts, will not make the slightest impression. If Trumpers were capable of being swayed by actual reality they wouldn’t be Trumpers in the first place. He will be back here in a few weeks or months spouting the same nonsense he spouted before, as if you had never said a single thing.

  52. Kathy says:

    Perhaps politically being against abortion is more helpful in firing up the base than actually banning abortion?

    It’s like how the USSR was perpetually building socialism, or Mexico kept getting ever closer to fulfilling the goals of the Revolution. It made for good talking points. But eventually you have power, or have been at it for years, and you either put up shut up.

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Several years ago Andrew Sullivan (yeah, him)

    Actually, this is one of the reasons I continue to read Sullivan. I find that he often gets on a high horse about something he is totally wrong about, and he can be embarrassingly wrong about things (lately, testosterone, of all things) but he is one of the few people that I’ve come across that will actually change his mind when he is shown evidence. When he ran his own blog there were no comments allowed but he frequently published emails from those who disagreed with him. And he didn’t publish the straw man arguments so he could thump his chest and smash them down but rather chose the ones he and his staff thought made the best case against their arguments. In the case of late term abortion he had worked himself up into a state and made a post about how there can be no compromise with the pro-abortion crowd because they were such extremists they couldn’t even concede that late term abortions were never justified. And then the emails started coming in. These were heart-wrenching stories. As mentioned above they often concerned the tragedy of finding out a child you were joyously waiting for was suffering from a physical deformity so severe that once the outside the sustaining womb, the newborn would die in horrible pain in hours, days or weeks. Or in some cases, would be born with no higher brain whatsoever, and never really live at all. All too often in addition to the cruelty of circumstance was the cruelty of their hyper religious families, who ostracized their daughters, sisters, nieces because they didn’t carry the brainless fetus for four more months, and make the horrific journey to the hospital to bring a seven pound cadaver into the brief light.

    Sullivan published the first of these emails and they affected him, and he sort of half heartedly railed against the pro-choicers because they didn’t make it clear that sometimes there were these overwhelming medical reasons. But by the time he published the tenth and the twentieth and the thirtieth he admitted that he just didn’t have the ability to pass any kind of judgement. His religion taught him that abortion was 100% wrong all the time, but he could see that following through with such a prohibition in such circumstances was a profound religious undertaking and so he couldn’t see how society could force it upon someone who didn’t share his religious conviction. As far as I know, he has never been able to square the circle on this one, but unlike so, so, so many, left and right, he had the courage to look at the facts and deal with reality. I give him a lot of credit and hope I can do the same when similarly challenged.

  54. Gustopher says:

    The claim that the unborn child/fetus/zygote has a right to live which overrides the woman’s right to control her own body is bullshit.

    We don’t require people to donate blood, or even that they donate their organs after death. That’s all way less invasive and disruptive than carrying a child to term, and will save lives. If the government doesn’t have a constitutional right to do that, then it doesn’t have a right to force women to carry a fetus to term.

    Once the “pro-lifers” start seriously discussing what the limits are to a person’s sovereignty over their body, rather than just a woman’s, I might listen to their arguments.

  55. rachel says:

    @Jen:

    It stuns me to no end that Ireland now gets this, and the U.S. is going the opposite direction.

    Ireland now gets this because of women dying due to lack of access to safe abortions. It used to be the same way in the USA, pre-Roe v. Wade, but we’ve had enough time to forget the horrors of those days.

    I still remember a black-and-white picture (in Life Magazine, I think it was) of a poor young woman in her 20s who had died of a botched abortion in a hotel room. She was crouched with her head and shoulders face-down on the pillows, and her buttocks up in the air. Towels and more pillows were wadded up under her and between her thighs to sop up her blood as she hemorrhaged to death. The abortionist and any friends she had fled; she died alone.

    It was a harrowing image, and I’ve never forgotten it in spite of it having been nearly 40 years since I’ve seen it.

  56. Jen says:

    @rachel: I know exactly the photo you are referencing, it is an iconic photo. And yes, Ireland’s vote has very much to do with the death of Savita Halappanavar, which I think a great deal can be learned from IF the anti-choice crowd would open their eyes in the slightest. That one case shows just about everything: how a fairly routine miscarriage can go horribly wrong, how the health of the mother can rapidly become a question of the life of the mother (remember, most of the pro-life crowd are opposed to “health of the mother” exceptions because they argue this will be gamed), how having a heartbeat doesn’t mean that the pregnancy is going to make it, and–most importantly to me–how these are HEALTH CARE decisions that should be made based on the circumstances at hand rather than legal criteria. As I stated way up thread, there are simply too many variables when we are talking about medical conditions to have lawyers and politicians making these calls, rather than the women affected and their doctors/medical care team.

  57. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: I also found Sullivan to be an obnoxious asshole, but I still went to the Daily Dish all the time because he was something unusual for American politics, the conservative who would actually interact with contrary arguments and weigh facts. That’s refreshing. We need more Andrew Sullivans, and Jameses and Dougs etc, and fewer JKBs and Guarneris and Pauls.

    And at the national level we need fewer Garbage People like Mike Pence whipping up support among the dumb by pretending that women in the worst situation in their lives are just callous murderers.

  58. KM says:

    @Jen:
    Pro-lifers have an idealized concept in their heads when they speak of pregnancy and babies. Pregnancy is clean, easy and wholesome – it always results in a perfectly healthy child with no complications. The idea that a pregnant woman might not have a child in a few months is baffling to them. Miscarriages are like urban legends that happen to kids two towns over and they never quite believe just how frequently they occur. Maternal deaths are scary stories told to keep you in line, despite the fact some states have higher rates then some 3rd world countries. That things can turn on a dime and healthy can go to horror in moments is bad fiction or propaganda. They think in Disneyfication terms while we explain the Grimm fairytale version.

    We’re victims of our own success in promoting health, just like we are with anti-vaxxers. People have forgotten how truly terrible things were and are now used to the sanitized, safe world folks literally died to create. They get deeply upset when you point out in nature, pregnancy can have less then a 40% completion rate depending on when you start counting. Our ancestors understood and accepted this on a visceral level – modern folks find it morally offensive to question that God would start a process that won’t result in a perfect little bundle of joy.

    Until we can break through this magical thinking aspect of pro-lifers, we can’t have a real conversation about the medical necessities involved and why this must be a call in healthcare terms, not “moral” ones.

  59. KM says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    Teve and KM may be as equally exhausted about having to re-explain this topic as I am, but they’re clearly far more cogent, and patient, and I appreciate their input more than I can say. Because it feels very lonely in the US right now as a woman, and a mother of a 24 year old daughter – and in Ohio, on top of it all.

    I feel you. I come from a family of mostly headstrong women – there’s only 3 men not married in to the family in my closest 50 relatives and I’m the eldest of my generation of Millennials. We’re on the front lines in some very, very red areas and I’m worried AF about some cousins and friends who can’t leave their areas if push came to shove. We’ll be the ones in red…. well, not me since I’m damn sure I’d be made an example of very early on for being defiant AF but my sister and cousins have a bleak future if I don’t speak up now.

    If it takes talking till I’m blue in the face or typing till my fingers falls off, I’m not giving up on this. As a person of faith, I’m not happy with abortion in theological terms but I understand my moral qualms are mine and mine alone. As a student of science and medicine, I understand the optimal way to get preferred results isn’t to try an impossible ban but to eliminate as many negative causative factors so the action isn’t necessary in the first place. As a female and as an American, I’ll shank you twice before I let you tell me WTH to do with my body or take away my rights. All that adds up to an old-fashioned redneck case of DON’T TREAD ON ME. I’ll stand between me and my sisters (all of them worldwide) if I have to.

    This nation was founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, YOU move.” – Captain America

  60. grumpy realist says:

    @KM: I find grim amusement in the combination of anti-vaxxers and pro-lifers, given that one of the side effect of German measles on a pregnant woman is often fetal deformations or fetal brain damage. I was also told by my mother, who suffered through a bad bout of German measles as a kid, that she had been told by a doctor one of the side effects might be difficulty in carrying to term….which is exactly what happened. Two stillbirths and at least one miscarriage. (I came in there somewhere as a premie.)

    So here’s a question to all pro-lifers: wasn’t my mother guilty of accidental homicide for her continued attempts to have children, given that she knew her chances of carrying to term were bad?

  61. Blue Galangal says:

    @Jen: Savita is exactly the example of the “Shirley” rationale (an extension of the leopard-eating-faces line of reasoning). If her life is in danger, surely the law won’t be applied (just like “only bad undocumented immigrants will be deported, not my wife”). Instead – although she was actively miscarrying and sepsis was a real and present danger – because the fetus had a heartbeat, the hospital actively refused an abortion. The upshot was the fetus died – a foregone conclusion – but so did Savita because that heartbeat in a dying fetus was more important than the live woman who carried it.

    Ireland was also doing other things to game the system since the European court of human rights found them in violation, such as drawing out a request for abortion by an immigrant who was raped to the point the pregnancy was viable. That also did not help, since it was easier to show they were not even applying the exceptions as written.

    There were many people who testified about nonviable pregnancies and many more who pointed out that the ban on abortion affected women of childbearing age who had never had a chance to vote for it. I do think some were shocked that the referendum passed so easily, but they were probably the same people who were shocked by the vote to legalise gay marriage. It’s also notable that a great deal of dark money was poured into the keep it illegal movement from US parties. But the Irish media represented both sides of the debate much more fairly than I think could now be done in the US with the Fox bubble especially. They literally televised debates about it from both sides. I don’t think that could happen in this country now.

    The weird (and refreshing) thing about Ireland, though, is when they get the doctors and nurses into court, under oath, they don’t lie or obfuscate. It blew my mind, and this was before Trump was elected and we had to listen to all the nominees for various positions lie their way through their confirmation hearings.