Republicans’ lies-as-distraction strategy was on full display Wednesday during a House Judiciary committee hearing titled “Revoking Your Rights: The Ongoing Crisis in Abortion Care Access.” The questions Republicans asked the Democratic witnesses—abortion provider Dr. Yashica Robinson, Texas activist Aimee Arrambide, and law professor Michele Bratcher Goodwin—were insane even for them.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) asked Dr. Robinson about whether she’s ever stored “baby parts” like arms or legs in freezers or Pyrex dishes (sorry to Pyrex). Then Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) posed the two following hypotheticals: “Do you support the right of a woman who is just seconds away from birthing a healthy child to have an abortion?” and “How about if a child is halfway out of the birth canal—is an abortion permissible then?” When Dr. Robinson responded to the first by saying “I won’t entertain theoreticals,” Johnson snapped “It’s not a theoretical, ma’am...it’s never happened in your practice, ma’am, but it happens.”
The lone Republican witness Catherine Glenn Foster, the president and CEO, Americans United for Life, swung for the fences in repeating an absolutely wild claim made by the activists who had 115 fetuses in their possession—that medical waste companies take fetuses from abortion clinics and burn them to make electricity. This is not true, but it didn’t stop her from saying it in the hearing.
Foster also blithely advocated for a radical position: fetal personhood in the constitution. This is the stunning notion that every fertilized egg has a right to life, a stance that would not only criminalize abortion nationwide, but also limit miscarriage care, IVF, and several forms of birth control. Foster referred to this in her prepared statement where she said that AUL has spent more than 50 years “advocating for comprehensive legal protections for human life from fertilization to natural death.”
“Pro-abortion members of Congress who are out of step with the American people,” she said in the hearing. “It is a biological reality that a pre-born child is a member of the human family. We want a true Constitutional order that equally protects all members of the human family.”
In fact, a huge majority of Americans support the right to abortion. Nearly 60 percent of people say abortion should be legal in most or all cases and a similar amount oppose bans on abortion early in pregnancy. By a margin of about two to one, Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, something the captured Supreme Court looks prepared to do in the next six weeks.
For years, Republicans and anti-abortion activists have spouted noxious lies or conjured wildly misleading scenarios, including that Democrats are advocating for abortions up to birth and even support killing healthy, full-term babies after birth. Neither of these things happen, of course, but the fact that Republicans are resorting to these extreme hypotheticals means they know public opinion is simply not on their side.
They’ve also repeated more comforting lies, like suggesting that overturning Roe wouldn’t ban abortion—it would simply leave the matter up to the states. But about 12 hours before the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe, the Washington Post reported that lawmakers are already plotting how to pass a nationwide abortion ban if they retake power.
Overturning Roe would pave the way for a Republican-controlled Congress to pass a fetal personhood law. But they wouldn’t even need to do that as they could just engineer a lawsuit to land in the lap of the six Federalist Society Justices on the Supreme Court. It’s revealing, then, that Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) willfully ignored this possibility on Wednesday. He fell back on that comforting lie in summarizing the leaked draft: “The court said ‘we’re not going to even make an ultimate decision, we’re just going to leave it to the respective states.’”
The insidious and disgraceful end goal—of giving more rights to an embryo than living American women—is precisely what Republicans are hiding when they trot out their salacious lies about murderous doctors who toss fetus parts in incinerators for electricity. They’ve absolutely lost in the court of public opinion, but the Supreme Court is another matter entirely.