Donald Trump is a walking mass of misogyny in a skin suit, but it'd be easier for me to deal with seeing him everywhere if his bloviating on issues near and dear to my heart was better informed. During an MSNBC town hall hosted by Chris Matthews today, Trump came out swinging against women’s rights, saying that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women seeking abortions if the procedure were to be banned.
Let’s get one thing straight: as someone who works as an escort at an abortion clinic on a weekly basis, I can confirm that women are already being punished for their abortions, and in a big way. If you think his comments are a pie-in-the-sky exaggeration along the lines of “let’s build a wall and make Mexico pay for it!”, you’re mistaken.
To start with, the idea that abortions are so easy to get that we only have to talk about illegal abortions in a hypothetical sense is so far off-base it’s in a different playing field. Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming have one abortion clinic each. In 17 states, abortions are not covered by Medicaid unless those pregnancies are the product of rape, incest, or endanger the life of the mother, so, screw your rights, poor women. Between 100,000 and 240,000 women in Texas, a hellhole as far as abortion access goes, have tried to self-terminate their pregnancies. Illegal abortion is happening, and if the legislative trends of the past few years continue – states enacted 231 new abortion restrictions between 2010 and 2015 – it will be on the rise.
It’s also not as though women attempting DIY abortions are currently being praised for their industriousness, either. “Fetal homicide” is a crime in 38 states, including Tennessee, where the law only exempts women who get a “lawful medical or surgical procedure performed by a licensed medical professional” (that’s a legal medical abortion, which are only available in Tennessee up to 12 weeks). What happens when you combine the restrictive TRAP laws that abortion opponents love with fetal homicide laws? Cases like Anne Yocca, who tried to self-abort at 24 weeks, and was charged with attempted first-degree murder. Or Idaho’s prosecution of Jennie Linn McCormack, who ended her pregnancy with RU-486 she bought off the Internet. I could keep listing cases like this, but really, Trump should already know better.
But, fine, let’s ignore poor and rural women who can’t get legal abortions for a second, since lawmakers think that’s an okay thing to do. Even women seeking legal abortions are being punished, if not directly with jail time or whatever sentence Trump thinks is appropriate. Women have to listen to scientifically inaccurate scripts warning them of the risks of abortion, including an increased risk for breast cancer (blatantly false), “post abortion syndrome” (a. not real, b. have you heard of post-partum depression?), and death (the mortality rate for abortion is 0.67 per 100,000 people. The mortality rate for pregnancy is 8.8 per 100,000 people). They have to wait 24 or 48 or 72 hours. They have to walk through legally-protected mobs of protesters who try to deceive them into thinking they work for the clinics, feed them granola so they can’t go under anesthesia, film them and put them on YouTube, and write down their license plate numbers for who only knows what.
Oh, and if you’re a drug addict trying to end a pregnancy? Your fetus can get a court-appointed lawyer to strip you of your rights to abort it!
I’d love to think that Trump’s ignorance as far as punishment for women seeking abortion is indicative of his lack of care for this issue, but I can’t be reassured by thinking he’s just trying to placate his base. Frankly, things are already bad enough.