It’s bad enough that we had the spectacle of states passing laws getting into the doctor-patient relationship by probing women’s ladyparts to check on the status of fetuses to deter a woman’s legal right to an abortion. Now the the “pro-life” crowd has realized that bible-beating is not the way to convince the mighty middle that the state needs halt access to abortion (and contraception rights, for that matter), they’ve pivoted and have started to cite pseudo science in the public sphere.
Take Missouri Senate candidate Todd “legitimate rape” Akin’s assertion that the “rape exception” is unnecessary because somehow, magically, a woman’s uterus shuts down to avoid pregnancy that results from rape.
Now we have womb-controller Rep. Joe Walsh claiming that there’s no need for an exception for “the health of the mother” because of the miracle of science in 2012 prevents women from dying during childbirth. Raw Story:
In their final debate before the November election, Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth noted that Walsh did not support “exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother” and he “would let a woman die rather than give a doctor the option to save her life.”
…Following the debate, the Illinois Republican told reporters that abortion was “absolutely” never medically necessary to save the life of the mother because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” according to WGN.
“This is an exception that opponents of life through out there to make us look unreasonable,” Walsh explained. “There’s no such exception as life of the mother. And as far as health of the mother, same thing. With advances in science and technology — health of the mother has become a tool for abortion for any time under any reason.”
Statistics released by the United Nations in 2010 indicated that the United States ranked 50th in the world for maternal deaths.
It’s sickening to see that we are even discussing this issue in 2012. And if you think about the rape exception…seriously, how would this work from the perspective of the “pro-life” crowd. Bridgette Dunlap at RH Reality Check mulls this prospective nightmare.
If efforts to criminalize abortion succeeded, would it be a medical, legal, or theological authority that would make the determination as to whether a woman qualified to have the banned procedure? If I was raped, would I have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, or might a preponderance of the evidence standard suffice? Would I make my case to a doctor? A judge? A police officer? An ethics committee?
And on what basis would the appointed entity make the decision? The embrace by many politicians of an exception for the life but not the health of the patient would presumably require legislation that would then leave authorities in the position to determine, for example, whether a delay in beginning cancer treatment would be considered a threat to my life or merely a risk to my health.
The nebulousness of the exception concept is also relevant to the debate over the contraceptive coverage mandate. Opponents of the HHS mandate claim they are not opposed to insurance coverage for contraception in general, but only when it is used to prevent pregnancy. So what they want is an inquiry into the reasons my doctor writes me a prescription and the authority to rule on whether it is justified.
Will someone please explain how this inquiry would work? Congressman Paul Ryan? Cardinal Dolan? Anybody? We don’t know what conditions would qualify for treatment, how severe they must be, what evidence would be required, and to whom we would make our cases for treatment. To my boss? My plan administrator? A priest? Would there be an appeals process? Insurance plans and health facilities that currently purport to have health exceptions demonstrate that they just don’t work and have harmed women. Given that this problem has received national attention but opponents of contraception have offered no solutions, it seems they are fine with the occasional woman taking prescription painkillers unnecessarily or losing her ovary.