Today I bring you a special edition Cage Match of Crazy: Alaska vs. Idaho. In one corner, we have Alaska State Representative Alan Dick, who wishes women were required to present a permission slip from the child’s biological father before being allowed to get an abortion. And in the other corner, there is Idaho State Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder, who thinks that women who seek abortions because they were raped maybe need to take some time to think about if they were actually raped, or whether it was just a husband taking what is rightfully his.
First up: Alan Dick (R-Alaska)
He’s concerned about the men in this abortion debate (who isn’t, really?) He would feel much better about this whole thing if a woman seeking an abortion were required to present a permission slip signed by the child’s biological father, authorizing her to undergo such a procedure. I understand that a woman running off and getting an abortion against the will of her loving, supportive, child-loving husband is an upsetting idea, but 1) I’m willing to bet that 99% of women who seek abortions are not in this type of situation and 2) when it comes down to it, a woman should have absolute control over what happens to her own body. I know, I know, I’m crazy like that.
So let’s apply this man’s ideas to reality. Scenario A: A young woman gets pregnant by her equally young boyfriend. Boyfriend has no grasp of reality (we’ve all seen Teen Mom, this isn’t exactly a stretch) and doesn’t think the woman should get an abortion. The woman knows better because she’s the one who actually has to carry the baby , give birth to it, and take care of it for the rest of her life, but even though she knows she’s not ready for a baby, she’s not allowed to get an abortion because her boyfriend won’t “allow” her.
Scenario B: A woman gets raped, and becomes pregnant. If she gets “lucky” then the police will catch the man who did it. Does she send this permission slip to prison for him to sign? And if the man doesn’t get caught, because of lack of evidence, the slow processing of rape kits, or any number of very real problems facing rape victims, who signs her permission slip? Since, through no fault of her own, she does not know the biological father of her child, is she going to be forced to give birth?
“If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…” Yes. WON’T ANYBODY THINK OF THE MEN?
Granted, Dick (I love how the joke writes itself) hasn’t tried to pass any bill to this effect. But just in case you’re telling yourself “no lawmaker is actually THAT crazy,” here’s a story about a little lawmaker from Ohio who, in 2009, tried to pass a similar bill. Oh, and it had a provision for women who might have had multiple sexual partners: they would have been required to “provide a list of names of people who may be the father in an effort to determine paternity. The bill also would make it a crime for women to lie about who the father is.” I feel like there’s a Maury joke in here somewhere. No, the bill did not pass, but my main point here is that there are people in positions of power in this country who actually think this kind of stuff is a good idea. At the rate we’re going, I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this was tried again, and actually passed.
Up next: Chuck Winder (R-Idaho)
What could possibly knock out Alan Dick’s permission slip idea? Let’s see what Idaho has to offer us.
Well first of all, they are jumping on the mandatory ultrasound bandwagon. As sad as it is, those kinds of bills are getting less and less surprising (seven states now require ultrasounds. So what’s special about Idaho?
Ultrasounds can add about $200 to the cost of obtaining an abortion. It’s no secret that many women seeking abortions are from lower socioeconomic classes. What do Idaho legislators propose to do about this unfair burden? They’ll be super nice and provide you a list of places that provide free ultrasounds. Sounds great, right? Wrong. The list of places they provide to the women are “Limited Pregnancy Health Centers,” or crisis pregnancy centers. These centers are almost entirely anti-choice, religious-based groups that masquerade as reproductive health centers, when what they do is bombard women with misleading information about the health risks of abortion and try and convince the woman to keep her baby. The cherry on top? Many of these ultrasound centers don’t meet the legal and medical requirements to be considered a qualified ultrasound center, so a woman who got her ultrasound there for free would have to turn around and still pay upwards of $200 for a “legally acceptable” procedure. This bill is a thinly-veiled attempt to trick women into going to a pro-choice organization and being emotionally bullied into keeping her baby.
Where does Chuck Winder come in to all of this? Well for one, he’s the author of the bill (SB 1349, for those of you making Legislation Voodoo Dolls), but additionally, he just stumbled into the spotlight by making horrifically insensitive comments about rape victims who maybe don’t want to have to go through the emotional trauma of a forced ultrasound before aborting their rapist’s baby. The quote:
“Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this,” Winder said on the Senate floor. “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”
The implications of this statement are pretty jaw-dropping. It seems that he is trying to justify mandatory ultrasounds for rape victims because some women might be lying about being raped in the first place. Especially if they are married (apparently married women can’t get raped – who knew?) So if a married woman goes to her doctor with a “rape issue” (it’s like a skin issue, but with extra sexual assault), the doctor should sit her down and ask her if she’s really sure she was raped, or that was just regular sex with her husband and her ladybrain got all confused (you know how we are, amirite, ladies?) I go into all kinds of rage spasms when I really try and think about how offensive that statement is. Jezebel does a pretty good job of explaining that as a rule, women don’t run around claiming they were raped (of course it happens, but the majority of us are aware of how serious rape is, and don’t use it as an excuse). The article also points out that if Senator Winder thinks that women are going to lie about being raped to get around the bill, then his bill must be pretty darn awful. And then there’s the fact that maybe a married woman was raped by someone who wasn’t her husband. Oh, and it’s possible for husbands to rape their wives, despite what you seem to think, Winder.
And the winner is…
So on one hand we have a man who thinks women should have to get permission from their menfolk to have a medical procedure performed on them. On the other, we have a man who thinks women who claim rape probably don’t really understand what rape is, and therefore should take some time to think about it by being subjected to invasive and emotionally abusive procedures, performed by unqualified pro-lifers with ulterior motives.
So who is the winner? Trick question. We all lose.