Posted by: Donna
Bloomberg’s Amanda Crawford and Espe Deprez on Arizona’s new 20 week abortion ban, considered the harshest in the nation:
Arizona’s law calculates gestational age earlier than the rest: from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period, which opponents say pushes it before conception. Its exception is also narrower: abortions past 20 weeks are only permitted when they are immediately needed to avert death or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Otherwise the law makes it a misdemeanor punishable by as long as six months in jail for anyone to “knowingly perform, induce or attempt to perform or induce” such a procedure.
Anti-choicers swear up and down they don’t want women to be punished under abortion bans. Heavens no! They called it the “The Mother’s Health and Safety Act”, after all. Which obviously means they truly, and only, have the wellbeing of the ladies in mind.
“After almost 40 years of legalized abortion, we now see the devastation that abortion causes women,” Herrod said in a telephone interview. “This is a critical step forward to protect the health and safety of women having an abortion as well as to protect preborn children.”
Professional anti-choicers like Cathi Herrod are able to turn on the glib woman-friendly talking points at the drop of a hat. But many rank and file anti-choicers, as this exchange of tweets I recently had amply demostrates, are not:
So when the abortion ban goes into effect, realize that Cahti Herrod’s purported intentions are irrelevant. Really, no matter how many times professional anti-choicers (dishonestly) insist that women are not the targets of their campaign against legal abortion (and contraception), they are not the final authority on who will be interpreting and enforcing the laws. That discretion will be given to a host of people in positions of authority. Some of those people are going to be like Twitter guy Sebastian Boling. Who thinks women who abort are murderers who should be jailed. Even women in his own family.
I take Sebastian at his word on that. Now think about how there are politicians, prosecutors, cops, bureaucrats, health care providers, and nosy neighbors who think exactly like Sebastian does. Think about how four decades of nonstop emotionally charged anti-choice propaganda has influenced some people. It’s no longer in the realm of speculation since women are already being prosecuted under these abortion bans.
All she thought about was how it would be impossible for her to take care of another baby. Surviving, barely, on the $250 of monthly child support for one of her three kids, the unemployed, unmarried 32-year-old also knew she didn’t have the more than $500 she’d need for the two-and-a-half-hour trip from her bare-bones rental in Pocatello, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, the closest city with a clinic willing to terminate a pregnancy. She had no computer, no car, no one to take care of her 2-year-old—and like Idaho, Utah had a waiting period for abortions, which meant she’d have to make two round trips. So early this past January, she made the call that may alter history and turn Jennie McCormack into Jane Roe’s unlikely successor: she asked her sister in Mississippi to buy RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, over the Internet and send it to her. The cost: about $200.
“My mind just kept going back to my kids, how there was no way I could do that to them, no way I could make their lives even worse,” says McCormack, a petite blonde, as she nearly sinks between the cushions of her sofa, her eyes rimmed with tears. The man who had impregnated her had just been sent to jail for robbery; she did not feel comfortable reaching out to her mother—Mormon, like almost everyone in southeastern Idaho—for help.
McCormack, who thought she was about 12 weeks along, took the pills (the protocol involves two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol) the afternoon they arrived. The drugs are FDA-approved only for ending early-stage pregnancies; McCormack had no complications, but the pregnancy turned out to be more advanced than she thought—perhaps between 18 and 21 weeks, experts later speculated—and the size of the fetus scared her. She didn’t know what to do—“I was paralyzed,” she says—so she put it in a box on her porch, and, terrified, called a friend. That friend then called his sister, who reported McCormack to the police.
This is how these bans are going to be enforced, on a case-by-case basis with the harsh punishments generally meted out to poor and marginalized women, similar to how the so-called “war on drugs” is pursued. Misogynist control freaks in positions of authority now have a powerful law on their side in Arizona.
EDIT TO ADD: Both Arizona’s and Idaho’s abortion bans specifically exempt women from prosecution. But that didn’t stop Idaho prosecutors from going after Jeanne Linn McCormack under another law.
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