Abortion and politics

RH Reality Check had a really great post on abortion yesterday. While I highly recommend you read the whole thing, here are several of the points that stood out to me:

“There were many disturbing moments during the Republican presidential debates last week . . . But what had to be one of the more defining moments of the strange night occurred when the question turned to abortion. The graying, gray or bald white men all seemed to nod in agreement on a breathtaking (though unstated) policy initiative for women: the DIY abortion.

The question posed by the “young lady,” as homey Fred Thompson called the gal, was: If abortion is outlawed then who is the criminal: woman, doctor, or both? This has always been the sticky question for the anti-abortion side. Do they intend to start locking up women for murder? Stunningly, Fred Thompson, National Right to Life’s endorsed candidate, said no. He suggested that some people will be able to perform abortions with no fear of prosecution: women on themselves. Thompson explained his (and one figures, National Right to Life’s) bold new plan that would kick in once Roe is overturned. Said Thompson, “The question is who gets penalized and what should be the penalty. I think it should be fashioned along the same lines it is now. Most states have abortion laws that outlaw abortion after viability and [the criminal penalty] goes to the doctor performing the abortion not the girl, the young girl, her parents, or whoever it might be. I think that same pattern needs to be followed.” Under this plan, apparently a woman is free to perform an abortion on herself, possibly with the help of her parents or “whoever it might be” as long as a physician or a health care provider actually skilled to provide safe abortion care isn’t involved.

The last time the United States banned abortion — pre-Roe — doctors faced only minimal penalties for providing safe care. Apparently Thompson, and every GOP candidate except Rudy Giuliani agree, that policy was a mistake. This time around the crime of abortion, if (and apparently only if) performed by a doctor, will be murder and extreme penalties will apply. It seems clear that the environment post-Roe will be harsher than pre-Roe.

Last time around, a clandestine network of safe abortion services sprung up. This time, if the anti-abortion candidates have their way, the risk for physicians would be too great. And so women who can’t reach safe care will be much more likely to take matters into their own hands, which the Republicans apparently don’t mind.”

I won’t include the rest of the post, but it is really worth your read.

For me, reproductive rights are one of the few (maybe the only?) absolute issues in an election decision. The RH Reality Check post goes on to discuss how anti-abortionists are hoping to expand the concept of abortion to include birth control. This slippery slope is simply an untenable situation. It would put women back a hundred years.

I will start posting more information about candidates and their perspectives on things like sex education, reproductive rights, general educational policy, and other issues that affect teenagers and their sexuality as we get closer to the primaries and the election. (Well, I’ll be posting more about the front runners anyway…there’s far too many of them to talk about them all!)

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. […] Original post by Adolescent Sexuality by Dr. Karen Rayne […]

  2. How do you get to the weird conclusion that Fred Thompson wants women to perform abortions on themselves? It seems to me that Thompson would want to apply penalties to whomever performs the abortion, whether it be a doctor, or even a woman performing the abortion on herself.

    The pro-choice argument stands on its own. There is no need to put words into people’s mouthes. Doing so only makes you look desperate in trying to find a point to prove.

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