Forget Trump, Anti-Choice Republicans Already Punish Women For Abortion

This is a commentary from RMuse.

When Donald Trump remarked, in an appeal for the religious vote, that there must be some kind of punishment for women who opt for an abortion, while some Americans were appalled, anti-choice Republicans saw a chance to profit. No, they were not lashing out at Trump and condemning anyone who would ever think women choosing a perfectly legal medical procedure should be punished. Instead, they portrayed themselves as ultimately compassionate for women’s reproductive rights and betrayed their alleged respect for a woman’s dignity by calling them victims.

As bad as Trump’s anti-women remark was, and it was inordinately bad, it paled in comparison to “the wickedness of the response from every other anti-choice religious Republican and organization.” Every last one who used Trump’s “misspeak” to lie and feign compassion for women’s plight they have wholly supported and perpetuated at every possible opportunity. And just for the record, American women are already being severely punished for opting to abort a pregnancy in the states Republicans expressing phony compassion represent; maybe it is why the Donald uttered his little misspeak.

Ted Cruz reacted to the Donald’s ‘misspeak’ by stating that “Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world. On the important issue of the sanctity of life, what’s far too often neglected is that being pro-life is not simply about the unborn child; it’s also about the mother and creating a culture that respects her and embraces life.

Except that Cruz, more than any other Republican does not respect women or the sanctity of their lives and he knows it. His ardent religious support for Texas’ anti-women’s laws and Republican-controlled Senate attempts to ban abortion, contraception, and eliminate women’s healthcare provisions inform he is a dirty liar; and far and away much worse for women than Donald Trump.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon noted, “Anti-choicers are using Trump’s comments to frame as ‘moderate’ their deeply misogynist view that women are too stupid to be allowed to decide against giving birth.” Marcotte’s point is spot on; anti-choicers have always portrayed women as victims who are incapable of making their own reproductive healthcare decisions. It may be a nuanced position in statements responding to Trump, but it is a universally accepted position by the anti-women’s rights cabal.

It was not just Republicans implying women are victims of their own inability to function autonomously, the Susan B. Anthony List wrote that, “punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of life and the grave wounding of another.” March For Life tweeted, “No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion. That is against the very nature of what we are about.” And Americans United for Life wrote, “Pro-life Americans agree; the woman another victim of abortion industry should not and never has been punished.”

Now, for religious-oriented groups, these anti-choicers are blatant liars. It takes just a few seconds on any search engine to find myriad examples of their anti-choicers supporting all manner of tactics to punish women who even consider an abortion. It is also a deceitful ploy to claim they care about women while calling a woman making their autonomous health choice “a victim.” A victim of what? The Constitution that allows a woman to make their own reproductive choice, or a society that is finally coming to grips with the fact that women do not exist to birth children?

Americans in most Republican states know there are already religious laws on the books to punish women who opt to abort an unwanted pregnancy. And, they are laws written and avidly supported by the same groups claiming they are compassionate towards women in responding to Trump’s misspeak.

For example, in Georgia a 23-year-old woman is facing a charge of “malice murder,” a crime punishable by death, for allegedly terminating her pregnancy by taking abortion-inducing medication that she purchased legally. It is worth noting, yet again, that a fetus is not a living being according to the Christian bible’s god, so the idea of terminating a fetus equating murder of a living human being is just beyond the absurd.

In Idaho, a young woman was charged with murder last year under a bizarre religious Idaho law for ending her pregnancy with RU-486.  And last September in Pennsylvania, a 39-year-old mother of three started serving a 9-to-18 month jail sentence for the crime of ordering pills online to induce a miscarriage to terminate an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.

All of these cases, and many, many others in 38 mainly Republican-controlled states, represent just the latest examples of American women being arrested, criminally charged, convicted, and punished with incarceration for making the choice of taking or ordering pharmaceuticals to induce an abortion.  It is noteworthy that even though so-called “compassionate” pro-life advocates say women should not be punished for attempting to end a pregnancy, and yet they were and are ardent supporters of Republican laws criminalizing even seeking a legal medical procedure.

There can be little dispute that Donald Trump is no friend of women or their rights; he is a typical misogynistic pig. But he is a fierce advocate for women compared to any Republican, especially Ted Cruz and John Kasich, or the so-called “pro-life” organizations. Where Donald Trump was attempting to appeal to the evangelical anti-women’s movement vote, the other Republicans hold deep-seated anti-women’s rights beliefs with documented attempts to punish women for making “the wrong choice.”

It is an old tactic, but what anti-choice Republicans and their religious activists are claiming is that unlike the Donald, they are looking out for women’s rights and well-being. And they are doing it by forcing them to give birth to “affirm her dignity and honor the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world;” by punishing them for not exercising that “incredible gift” annually. As many women’s rights activists have claimed, “Nothing says ‘dignity’ like being told you’re just an incubator whose own life, desires, and autonomy just don’t matter.”

Yes, Donald Trump is a misogynist cretin. But compared to Ted Cruz, John Kasich and the religious pro-life movement he is a saint who was pandering for evangelical votes in front of a camera. The rest of the Republican field does not have to say women should be punished for seeking an abortion because they actively participated in enacting laws that are punishing women under the guise of “affirming their dignity to bring life into the world.” And if a woman does not want to bring life into the world, in Republican states they get punished and Donald Trump had no say or vote in the matter.