Anti-Abortionism: One Part Fanaticism, One Part Cynicism

And let’s take a look at the cynical part. Jen Gunter describes the reality of ‘life of the mother’ anti-abortion legislation (boldface mine):

I was asked to perform an abortion for a very sick pregnant woman in her first trimester. She had a medical condition that was deteriorating much more rapidly than expected because of her pregnancy. She was not seconds away from dying, but her medical specialists were concerned that, in the next day or two, she would be likely to develop kidney failure.

While kidney failure can be managed with dialysis, preventing that from happening is the best medical course. Not only in the short term, but saving my patient’s kidneys also would prevent a cascade of medical events that could end her life prematurely in the long term….

My patient’s specialists believed that, if she were not pregnant, they might be able to avoid dialysis. Ending her pregnancy would not save her life that day, but it might next week or next month or in five years…

But that year, the Kansas legislature had passed a law banning abortions on state property, which included the medical center where I worked. But under the law, an abortion would be allowed to save the life of the pregnant woman.

So when I received a call asking whether I could help this patient, my next phone call was not to the operating room to make arrangements — instead I called the hospital’s attorneys. They did not know how to interpret the law either. Unless my patient was actively dying — for example, we were running a code for a cardiac arrest — an abortion would most likely be illegal. If I did the procedure, I would be fired.

To reconcile our disagreement, the hospital’s attorneys felt the only course of action was to get the opinion of the legislator who wrote the law. An attorney set up a conference call with this man so that I could plead my patient’s case.

I began to explain the medical situation, how ill she was. He interrupted me after a few seconds: “Whatever you think is best, doctor.”

My patient got the abortion and her health improved as a result. But I was furious. How dare some legislator applaud this monstrous law in public all the while deferring to a doctor’s expertise in private.

Many of them are true believers. But a fair number of those who promote these laws are deeply cynical, and are pushing these laws for political gain.

It’s worth noting another reason why laws like this are passed: performative morality. The law is supposed to make a statement of principles, as opposed to being something that actually works in terms of governance. Think of it as the legislative equivalent of the sarcastic joke, “I do not believe in abortion, except for the life of the mother, incest, or me.”

The worst among us.

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