Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) is, unfortunately, talking about abortion bans again. Mace, who’s previously talked about her experience as a rape survivor in support of rape exceptions to abortion bans that she otherwise supports, has previously and intensely sparred with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on the issue. But Mace’s most recent comments on abortion on Sunday’s Meet the Press remind us she’s hardly an abortion rights hero.
As states across the country rush to ban abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Mace told NBC’s Chuck Todd “it will be an issue in November if [Republicans are] not moderating ourselves—that we’re including exceptions for women who have been raped, for girls who are victims of incest and certainly in every instance where the life of the mother is at stake.” She then cited white women’s favorite show for erasing oppressions that already exist and always have for people of color: “The Handmaid’s Tale was not supposed to be a road map, right? This is a place where we can be in the center, we can protect life, and we can protect where people are on both sides of the aisle.”
Republicans should absolutely be worried right now that they are far out of the mainstream on abortion. Nearly two-thirds of American voters disapprove of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe and would prefer to have kept the abortion rights we’ve had since 1973. And Kansas voters sent a very clear message to Republicans last week in overwhelmingly rejecting a ballot measure that would have removed abortion rights from the state constitution.
Mace, despite appearing as a voice of reason to do damage control for her party, is still very much out of step with the rest of the country on the matter. She described herself on Sunday as “staunchly pro-life” and expressed support for 15-week abortion bans—which, notably, are still abortion bans, still deny pregnant people bodily autonomy before the fetus would be viable outside the womb, and very much endanger those who experience pregnancy complications.
Citing The Handmaid’s Tale—a Hulu show set in a futuristic dystopia—is a pretty easy way to pretend that abortion bans, with and without exceptions, aren’t already reducing pregnant people to incubators. Mace somehow believes this can be done in a reasonable manner through specific, theoretical exemptions that pit “good” and “bad” abortions against each other, and require abortion seekers—who are, indeed, sometimes traumatized rape and abuse survivors—to jump through dehumanizing hoops for care.
Mace’s perspective as a rape survivor is deeply important, yet the idea that some abortion bans can be more reasonable than others is nonsense and a waste of everyone’s time while pregnant people are fighting for their lives, and doctors are scrambling to avoid prison sentences for providing care. Abortion access is essential to survivor justice—being denied care increases someone’s risk of experiencing domestic violence, and forced pregnancy itself is gender-based state violence.
Instead of actually helping survivors who experience rape-related pregnancy, politicians who support abortion bans with rape exceptions have pretty much only used these exemptions to further their agenda by making their bans appear reasonable—which seems to be exactly what Mace is doing. Meanwhile, the vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement, which most rape exceptions require.
Contrary to Mace’s claims that we can “protect life” and protect women and pregnant people simultaneously, I’d love to hear how according fetuses personhood isn’t inherently at odds with pregnant people’s personhood. The “guardrails” and compromises for which Mace advocates have long been putting pregnant people in jail for their pregnancy outcomes or self-managing their abortions.
Mace has made many of these arguments before, even stating back in May when news first leaked that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe that “the vast majority of Republicans” actually support rape exceptions. In reality, nearly all trigger laws that have gone into effect lack rape exceptions. Her sentiments are about as wrongheaded and unhelpful as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) once claiming he would “eliminate rape” when confronted about how Texas’ ban lacks a rape exception.
On paper, Mace may take a different stance from Abbott and Greene, who’s called Mace “trash” and “pro-abort,” on rape exceptions. But in reality, their stances aren’t really so different from each other. There’s only one way to protect survivors from being forced to carry their rapists’ babies, and Mace, Abbott, and Greene all oppose it: keeping abortion legal and accessible for everyone.