Donald Trump angered both sides of the abortion rights debate when he stumbled into a statement that women who have illegal abortions should be punished. He actually did us a favor by laying bare the true agenda of the anti-choice movement. Opponents of abortion rights are angry that Trump said this out loud because they know punishing women isn’t an attractive message and they’ve tried to downplay it. But as Jodi Jacobson writes at Rewire, punishment for women is the byproduct of all of their actions:
First, anti-choice legislators pass laws to mandate medically unnecessary waiting periods, driving up the costs of abortion care and insulting the intelligence of women who don’t need to be told to wait to figure out how to deal with their own realities. Then, they pass laws to require clinics to mimic ambulatory surgical centers, though abortion is among the safest procedures a person can obtain and there is no reason not to do them in a clinic. This forces many clinics to close because providers can’t recoup the costs of medically unnecessary building renovations, and in turn it leaves women in large swaths of a state without access to care. Then, having cut off many avenues to legal safe abortion care, lawmakers pass laws to make medication abortion inaccessible, again on medically unnecessary grounds. They also pass laws mandating that only doctors can perform abortions, even though nurses and nurse practitioners are perfectly capable of being trained to perform early abortions safely and effectively, as well as to administer medication abortion. Finally, they pass laws making self-induced abortion a crime. Put these together and the anti-choice movement has made a safe, legal abortion virtually impossible to obtain. So when, in desperation, women go to any length to end an unintended pregnancy, legislators punish them further by making them criminals and putting them into jail.
Punishment is the logical response when you are referring to a medical procedure as murder. And when you smear abortion providers with hyperbolic stories about selling “baby parts,” you can’t be surprised when people react violently to put a stop to what they are told is horrific violence. It’s no coincidence that the year that brought us the deceptive videos targeting Planned Parenthood came with a huge increase in violence and threats against abortion providers:
In the months since a series of bogus sting videos accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, attacks that aim to shut down service at clinics—including arsons, firebombings, and death threats—have spiked across the country. The violence peaked in November, when Robert Lewis Dear opened fire on a clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three people and wounding nine others. Now, in its annual “violence and disruption” statistics, the NAF has tallied just how much damage the deceitful videos appear to have done. The report details an increase in threats made to providers—from a single threat in 2014 to 94 in 2015—and a jump in online hate speech, from 91 documented cases in 2014 to 25,839 in 2015. The number of clinic blockades nearly doubled from 2014 to 2015. And incidents of picketing at facilities, which, according to the report, had been on the wane, increased from 5,402 in 2014 to a record-breaking 21,715 incidents in 2015.
The anti-choice movement can try to rebrand as a warm and fuzzy group trying to help women, but they can’t hide the consequences of their actions.