In a recent column for The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg observes the nation’s abortion divide is growing deeper.
As the U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Roe vs. Wade is weakened, she says, conservative states are growing more conservative, and liberal states are growing more liberal.
“If Roe is overturned altogether, it won’t just be a disaster for women’s health care and autonomy,” she writes. “It will rip America apart.”
Among those fanning that division is President Donald J. Trump, who has been offering his own version of some rather clumsy comments put forth in January by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Northam was talking about a bill then pending in the Virginia legislature, and he came off sounding like he was supporting killing babies after they were born.
The Governor’s office later tried to clarify what he meant, but that hasn’t slowed the president.
“This is going to lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it's never been lifted up before, …" he told the Daily Caller at the time. "I think this will very much lift up the issue because people have never thought of it in those terms.”
He's been hammering on the story ever since.
Casting abortion in the worst possible light is part of the strategy for folks hoping to eliminate a woman’s right to choose. Take Liz Brown, an Indiana state senator who helped push through a measure limiting access to what her bill describes as “dismemberment abortions.”
During floor debate on the measure, the Fort Wayne Republican said this: “Today, in House Bill 1211, we are only restricting a particularly barbaric practice. We know these babies feel pain.”
Maybe she believes that, but here’s the reality. This “barbaric practice” she described is the procedure recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It is the procedure the medical professionals deem safest, the one least likely to cause complications.
She was accusing the physicians who perform these procedures of barbarism.
And let’s be clear. Second trimester abortions are not common. The Indiana State Department of Health reported 27 such abortions in 2017.
Make no mistake. The women who undergo these procedures don’t do it out of convenience.
They are women like Tara Mendola, who learned when she was 28 weeks pregnant the child she was carrying had no chance of survival. Mendola recently shared her story with Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham, noting she and her husband were left with no good options.
“Between bad and worse,” she said, “we chose bad.”
It’s way past time politicians in Indiana and across the country began to listen to women like Mendola. She says those politicians need to understand what they’re really saying to women in her situation.
“You’re saying you are OK with forcing a woman to continue a pregnancy with a baby that will either die or live a painful, short life filled with drastic medical intervention,” she said. “I think if you haven’t lived it, you can’t understand what a cruel sentiment that is.”
During that same Senate debate, Sen. Mark Stoops, a Democrat from Bloomington, tried to reason with his colleagues.
“Every time we pass one of these bills to limit abortions … every time we step on women’s rights … because of our own moral prerogative, we’re doing damage to the system, and we are basically trying to pass another unconstitutional law.”
His colleagues, of course, failed to listen to him, and the bill passed 38-10. At this writing, HB 1211 is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Assuming he signs it, the American Civil Liberties Union has promised a lawsuit.
And the fight will go on.