Reproductive rights advocates have long warned that women would die if abortion were banned again—that children would be forced to give birth to their rapists’ babies. I’ve been covering abortion rights for over a decade, and I expected these horrifying, dystopian stories to trickle out over the next six months to maybe a year, forcing people to acknowledge a reality that had long been just hypothetical.
Instead, the stories have sprayed out like a firehose: A 10-year-old rape survivor had to travel to another state to get safe abortion care, and politicians immediately went after the doctor who helped her; a Texas hospital let a woman with an ectopic pregnancy bleed until she almost died to avoid getting sued; Idaho Republicans overwhelmingly voted to let women die before giving them health care. The dystopia is upon us, and it arrived faster than anyone expected.
No one wants to read a dissertation on this. No one wants to hear my opinions about it. Here’s what happened in three weeks, for those of you who aren’t super online but want to keep track of where this country is right now:
Child rape survivors must give birth
A 10-year-old rape survivor had to travel from Ohio to Indiana to have an abortion. Indiana’s Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, went on Fox News to say that he was investigating the abortion provider to see if she reported the rape to the state. “We’re gathering the evidence as we speak, and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at her [medical] licensure if she failed to report,” Rokita told Fox News host Jesse Watters, before Fox showed a photo of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the abortion provider.
Bernard, it turns out, had reported the rape in accordance with state law. She had previously been alerted about a kidnapping threat against her daughter.
Tina Vasquez, a reporter for Prism, later confirmed that it’s relatively common for child rape and incest victims to seek abortion, and our new laws are threatening their ability to do that:
Women are being threatened with death
Women suffering from life-threatening ectopic pregnancies are no longer getting the immediate care they require. Per the Washington Post:
A woman with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy sought emergency care at the University of Michigan Hospital after a doctor in her home state worried that the presence of a fetal heartbeat meant treating her might run afoul of new restrictions on abortion.
At one Kansas City, Mo., hospital, administrators temporarily required “pharmacist approval” before dispensing medications used to stop postpartum hemorrhages, because they can also be also used for abortions.
And in Wisconsin, a woman bled for more than 10 days from an incomplete miscarriage after emergency room staff would not remove the fetal tissue amid a confusing legal landscape that has roiled obstetric care.
Then in Texas, a hospital refused to save a woman’s life until her ectopic pregnancy ruptured, because the fetus still had a heartbeat. Texas, meanwhile has sued the Biden administration for the right to let pregnant people die rather than save them in these situations, and Idaho Republicans voted overwhelmingly this weekend to reject a “life of the mother” exception from its abortion platform.
Pregnant women in Missouri can’t get a divorce
Meanwhile, pregnant women in Missouri are barred from getting a divorce, as state law does not recognize the fetus as a person—meaning a mother has to wait until the baby is born to deal with custody rights. You read that right: Republicans, who are trying to argue that fetuses are people, do not recognize fetuses as people when that means that it would accidentally give a woman freedom to leave her husband. Heads I win, tails you lose.
Republicans are going after Plan B and IVF
Republican politicians are now openly acknowledging that their worldview recognizes fertilized eggs as people (except in Missouri, as noted above, when it might allow a pregnant person to leave her husband). That means emergency contraception is on the chopping block, as well as IVF.
“Ultimately, we believe that all human life is valuable and deserves our legal protection from that beginning moment of fertilization, whether that occurs through normal means or through IVF. And so certainly we want those embryos who are created through the IVF process protected,” Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, told a local Texas news outlet on Wednesday.
Women can’t even travel to other states to get legal abortion care
Senate Republicans have blocked a bill that would protect pregnant people’s right to travel to states where abortion is legal to have the procedure.
There’s not much to add about this, except that if lawmakers ever tried to block an American from traveling to any other state to access a legal right that’s not abortion (say, to buy a gun), Republicans would absolutely melt down.
Republicans have long said they wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade just to kick abortion back to the states to decide. Now, the goal is clear: Force raped children to carry their pregnancies to term and let women die, with the goal of upholding this pseudo-“Christian” ideology that flies against the will of the people.
More horrifying stories will pour out over the course of the next year, but we’ve certainly seen enough. Republicans want to relegate women and pregnant people to property of the state. It’s never been about “life;” it’s about control. And it’s entirely unclear how many more sickening stories we’ll have to witness before we rebel against the reality that the U.S. Senate, Supreme Court, and state legislatures are rigged against the majority of the population.