Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) doesn’t know the difference between abortion pills and emergency contraception. But even though he doesn’t know exactly what abortion is, Rosendale, who is in his second term, considers it his job to stop “taxpayer dollars” from being used for it.
He made the comment during an appearance on the 24/7 Catholic news channel Eternal Word Television Network’s EWTN Pro-Life Weekly (a MadLibs of rightwing nonsense words) last week, when he was also asked about Walgreens’ abortion pill saga. After the pharmacy said it would carry abortion pills, 20 Republican state attorneys general sent a threatening letter; the company issued a mealy-mouthed backtracking; California canceled a multi-million dollar contract with Walgreens; and then it finally confirmed that it would not distribute the pills in states where they’re illegal. Rosendale said that he’s, predictably, happy with the outcome.
Prudence Robertson, host: I want to start by talking about the issue of chemical abortion. Now, Walgreens, after being put on notice by 20 state attorneys general, has decided to roll back the distribution of abortion pills through the mail and in pharmacies, including in Montana. What’s your reaction to this?
Rosendale: I’m really glad that they have, there is a lot of risk that’s involved with Plan B abortifacients. And not everyone recognizes the danger that it poses to the health of the woman that is taking these things and the reactions that might take place thereafter. And if she’s at home by herself with no one there to supervise what is even going on.
Now, first off, the discerning Jezebel reader knows this, but it must be stated for the record: Plan B is not an abortifacient. The two abortion drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration are mifepristone (the drug at the center of pending lawsuit in Texas) and misoprostol, a drug that can be used alone to induce an abortion. Plan B is the brand name for levonorgestrel, which is designed to prevent pregnancy by delaying (or stopping) the egg from leaving the ovary, according to the FDA’s handy timeline of the drug.
Rosendale’s comments also perpetuate the myth that abortion pills present a danger to the people taking them. (The rightwing group Alliance Defending Freedom is also amplifying this myth in its lawsuit to rescind the FDA approval for mifepristone.) This just isn’t true: Medication abortion is safer than both penicillin and Viagra. Despite the safety concerns, Rosendale isn’t out here trying regulate Viagra and the reckless abandonment of sperm.
He may, in fact, be proud to not know the differences in reproductive medicine, but his comments help further muddy the water. They are a part of a larger push by Republican lawmakers to paint both emergency contraception and abortion as dangerous pills lurking around the pharmacy aisle, ready to kill you as easily as a fentanyl overdose.
It’s paternalistic and stupid. Don’t fall for it.