Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Republicans Propose Nationwide Compulsory Women-Maiming Law

It's abortion/privacy week right now in my Constitutional Law class (Griswold and Roe today, Casey and Dobbs on Thursday). After class this morning, a student came up to me and showed a headline regarding the new Republican proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks. He was surprised, since all the judicial rhetoric he had read thus far had been emphatic about "returning the issue to the states" -- how was that consistent with a federal ban? I answered, as politely as I could, that anyone who actually believed anti-abortion activists would settle for "leaving it to the states" once Roe was overturned is someone I'd like to sell bridges to. And, in fairness, that makes sense from their vantage -- if you think abortion is murder, you're hardly going to be content with allowing some states to murder to their heart's content.

That being said, as philosophically unsurprising as a federal abortion ban may be for anti-abortion activists, it seems like political suicide under circumstances where abortion is already supercharging Democratic intensity. Yet say what you will about the GOP bill, it dares venture boldly into new domains of terrorizing women and girls.

Authored by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican bill not only bans abortions after 15 weeks, it does so without any exemption for the health of the mother. While "life-endangering" pregnancies are exempt, those which only risk severe bodily injury to the pregnant vessel person remain subject to the ban. The bill also goes out of its way to clarify that "emotional" or "psychological" harms cannot be the basis of labeling the pregnancy "life-endangering". In circumstances where there is an extreme suicide risk, the Republican law's mandate is apparently "let her die". A nationwide abortion ban with no health exemption is, stunningly (or not), being cast as an attempt at "unifying Republicans" who have been placed on the back foot after finally catching the car that is overturning Roe. After all, views may differ on whether government is permitted to murder pregnant women, but Republicans are united behind the principle that they can be maimed without consequence.

Other exemptions in the bill, most notably for rape and incest are highly circumscribed. Rape victims, for instance, must have obtained government-approved counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion proceeding. Child victims of rape or incest must have reported the incident to government authorities in advance. On that point, the statute helpfully gives the parents of said minor rape/incest victims the right to sue if such reporting does not happen -- a fantastic provision that I have no doubt will not at all be used to help chill and retaliate against child victims of sexual violence.

Those who do not consent to compulsory federal maiming of women face up to five years of jail time. This is the new, nationwide GOP policy on abortion. And it is on the ballot in November.

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