‘Pro-life’ politicians sell a fantasy. Here’s reality

Pro-life politicians are the world’s best salesmen.

They sell the fantasy of every baby born perfect, with 10 fingers and 10 toes and scrunched pink faces and chubby little fists. They sell the idea of perfect traditional nuclear families and paint women seeking abortion as young, reckless and irresponsible who need to live with the consequences of their actions without “killing” their babies.

They’ll say that there are exceptions for rape or incest or minors — except when there’s not, like in the case of the 10-year-old Ohio girl who had to travel to Indiana to abort her rapist’s child.

They convince pro-life voters that there shouldn’t be exceptions for fetal abnormalities, because then selfish mothers might abort a baby just because it has indicators of Down syndrome or other developmental disorders.

When they sell you on their anti-abortion laws, they don’t want you envisioning women like Kate Cox. The blonde 31-year-old Texas woman is a married mother of two who found out that her much wanted third pregnancy is a baby girl with Trisomy 18. Most of these pregnancies won’t last the full term or will result in stillbirth. The ones who are born have congenital heart failure, kidney disease and respiratory failure. Most will live only a few hours; 90% survive less than one year.

After long discussions with her husband and health care providers, Cox decided an abortion was in her and her daughter’s best interests. Continuing with the pregnancy would jeopardize Cox’s life and future fertility.

Anti-abortion salesmen will promise you that there are exceptions for women like Cox. Only, there aren’t. At 20 weeks pregnant, Cox had to sue the state of Texas for the ability to get an abortion. The Texas Supreme Court denied her an exemption. She must now travel out of state to have the procedure.

Anti-abortion lawmakers usually promise to include exceptions to save the life of the mother, but nearly every hospital’s lawyers agree those exceptions are written so vaguely that doctors must wait until a woman is actively dying before they can provide care or else there’s a good chance they would violate the law.

Those same pro-life policymakers will sell the idea of fetal personhood and heartbeat bills. They’ll scare people into supporting bans on dilation and curettage (D&C) or dilation and evacuation (D&E) with horrifying images of full-term babies being dismembered with scalpels and pulled or sucked out one severed limb at a time and thrown in the trash. Which is not an accurate depiction of either procedure.

They won’t tell you that D&Cs and D&Es are the safest, most common ways to treat and clear the remnants of miscarriages. They won’t tell you that not removing the tissue of a dead fetus can cause infection (even sepsis) or loss of fertility.

They’ll also promise they’ll never prosecute the mother. Except when they do, like Ohio is doing to 33-year-old Brittany Watts.

Watts, a Black woman, was told at 21 weeks pregnant that the baby would not survive and she would miscarry. Then she was sent home.

A week later, Watts did what millions of women have done and will do: When her body told her it was time, she sat on the toilet at home and passed the remains of the dead fetus. When it was over, she flushed the toilet.

Hours later, Watts had to go to the hospital because she was still hemorrhaging from the miscarriage. Someone alerted the police, who went to her home, removed her toilet and recovered what was left of the miscarriage that had gotten stuck in the pipes. Then the state of Ohio decided to charge her with abuse of a corpse, punishing her for one of the most common, natural, heartbreaking and traumatizing experiences a woman can have.

“Pro-life” politicians   sell the fantasy of “saving” the lives of perfect, healthy babies who would be destroyed by heartless monsters. Then, once in office, they   strip away every facet of a woman’s bodily autonomy, regardless of circumstance.

Too many people bought the fantasy, and now we are living with the reality. Trump promised to deliver a Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, and he did. “Pro-life” lawmakers promised “protections” for the unborn, and technically, they delivered — but it was more than voters bargained for.

This is why your vote matters. Voters in Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio and Montana chose to support reproductive rights when given the choice. But many state governments won’t give an opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative. Lawmakers will say the mere fact they are in office proves that what they want is what the voters want. When that happens — when politicians put their desires over the desires of their constituents — vote them out.

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