Ahead of a Thursday vote on a bill to ban abortion at roughly six weeks, which ultimately failed, Nebraska State Sen. Steve Halloran (R) mused aloud, “We’ve been in a state in our country where, for 50 years, abortion has become normal, and phrases such as ‘forcing women to be pregnant’ are used.”
He added, “No one’s forcing anyone to be pregnant. Pregnancy’s a voluntary act between two consenting adults.”
“We won’t go into details, we’re all adults here and there may be some children here, but no one’s forcing anyone to become pregnant,” Halloran said, in footage of his floor remarks shared by Heartland Signal.
I can only assume that Halloran was in a room full of pacifists, because no one punched him. Abortion bans like the one he was arguing for force people to be pregnant, by definition. And I thought this would be stating the obvious, but apparently some people need it spelled out: Consenting to sex is not the same as consenting to pregnancy! If someone has sex, becomes pregnant, doesn’t wish to remain pregnant, and is denied abortion, then they are, in fact, being forced to be pregnant and subjected to state gender-based violence, whether Halloran likes those words or not. Advocates and survivors have likened abortion bans and their impact on survivors to “a second rape.”
Further, sexual intercourse—you know, the thing that actually is ideally a “voluntary act between two consenting adults”—is, in plenty of cases, unfortunately not at all “consenting,” and many sexual assaults result in pregnancy.
But Halloran seems to take greater issue with the words people use to talk about forced pregnancy than the actual, devastating impacts of abortion bans, which have resulted in case after case of people experiencing severe pregnancy complications being denied life-saving abortion care. Tragic stories continue to emerge from every state with an abortion ban: a child rape victim in Ohio forced to travel across state lines for care; an Oklahoma mother of three told to wait in a hospital parking lot for her cancerous pregnancy to worsen before doctors could legally provide care; a six-hour ambulance ride out of Tennessee to the nearest state without an abortion ban as a woman faced life-threatening pregnancy complications.
The toll of abortion bans has been immeasurable, but Halloran seems only concerned with abortion rights supporters stating the obvious: that people are being forced to be pregnant. That, and/or he just…doesn’t know what sex is.