The anti-abortion movement’s Big Lie
The core premise of arguments for total or near-total abortion bans is that the photo below contains a picture of a “baby”:
This is a six week pregnancy.
It has more rights than the women of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. pic.twitter.com/ABkBkWH70l— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) November 18, 2022
It is, frankly, a ridiculous claim, but it will be used to inflict a regime of violence and surveillance against women and medical professionals in a substantial portion of the country. This is the present American opponents of abortion want:
After her water broke, Amanda’s doctors sent her home and told her to watch for signs of infection, and that only when she was “considered sick enough that my life was at risk” would they terminate the pregnancy, Amanda said.
“My doctor said it could take hours, it could take days, it could take weeks,” she remembers.
Once they heard “hours,” they decided there was no time to travel to another state for an abortion.
“The nearest ‘sanctuary’ state is at least an eight-hour drive,” Amanda wrote in an online essay on The Meteor. “Developing sepsis – which can kill quickly – in a car in the middle of the West Texas desert, or 30,000 feet above the ground, is a death sentence.”
So they waited it out in Texas.
On August 26, three days after her water broke, Amanda found herself shivering in the Texas heat.
“We were having a heat wave, I think it was 105 degrees that day, and I was freezing cold, and I was shaking, my teeth were chattering. I was trying to tell Josh that I didn’t feel good, and my teeth were chattering so hard that I could not even get the sentence out,” she said.
Josh was shocked by his wife’s condition.
“To see in a matter of maybe five minutes, for her to go from a normal temperature to the condition she was in was really, really scary,” he said. “Very quickly, she went downhill very, very fast. She was in a state I’ve never seen her in.”
Josh rushed his wife to the hospital. Her temperature was 102 degrees. She was too weak to walk on her own.
Her temperature went up to 103 degrees. Finally, Amanda was sick enough that the doctors felt legally safe to terminate the pregnancy, she said.
“But even national efforts need to be especially concerned with what happens inside the existing pro-life states. Can their life-of-the-mother exceptions prove flexible and humane?” asked Ross Douthat recently. No matter how many times the question is asked we know the answer, and indeed given the nature of abortion bans in practice the question answers itself.