Medieval martyrdom in the 21st century

Medieval martyrdom in the 21st century

by digby

One of the more fatuous notions among the liberal left is that it's really great that the right wing is showing its craziness because it will show the public once and for all that they shouldn't lead the country. "Heighten the contradictions." In reality, what happens far more often is that the political center just moves to the right.

There is no more obvious illustration of that phenomenon than what we are witnessing on the issue of abortion. Setting aside the Planned Parenthood nonsense, there is something even more insidious going on that last night's debate vividly brought home. Irin Carmon has the details:

Moderator Megyn Kelly asked Scott Walker how he could justify opposing an exception to an abortion ban in cases where a woman’s life was in danger, though he did sign a bill with such an exception. Then she turned around and asked Marco Rubio how he could support exceptions in the case of rape and incest if he believed abortion was murder.

Kelly’s question to Walker pointedly played from the left: “Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion, and with 83% of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election?” She took the opposite rhetorical position in questioning Rubio: “If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?”

Walker, who asked the Wisconsin legislature for a 20-week abortion ban that had no exceptions for rape and incest but ultimately decided not to heed the anti-abortion activists who begged for a no-exceptions bill, replied, “I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.” The claim that an abortion is never needed to save a woman’s life is a common one in anti-abortion circles. Medical experts disagree.

As for Rubio, he denied he had ever advocated for such exceptions. “What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” he said. “In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.” In fact, Rubio was a cosponsor on a 20-week abortion ban that contained rape, incest and life endangerment exceptions.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee did him one better and actually named which amendments of the constitution he believes already ban abortion. Specifically, the fifth and fourteenth.

Even for the party long aligned in opposition to the procedure, the issue of exceptions has been politically challenging. Though the Republican party platform calls for a ban without exceptions, previous GOP presidential nominees Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush generally said they favored such exceptions. The politics around rape and the specter of a woman dying are considered too toxic for a general election.

Still, in a presidential debate in 2008, John McCain put “women’s health” in scare quotes and sneered, “ ‘Health for the mother.’ You know, that’s been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America to mean almost anything. That’s the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, health.” The party’s last vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, once said of another abortion bill, “The health exception is a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it.”

On Monday night, that impulse won out.

It's been a long time coming and those who track this issue closely have been sounding the alarm for a while. Presidential candidates for one of America's two major parties are explicitly saying that a fetus is more important than the live woman inside whom it is gestating. If they had to choose, they would not choose the woman.

I don't know how they can make their misogyny more obvious. Whatever reverence they have for fetuses is equalled by their disdain for women as anything but human sacrifices.

Here's just one example of how they are framing this:
When Elizabeth Joice found out she was pregnant, she was overcome with joy because doctors told her she would never be able to have children. But doctors then told her that she would be forced to make a decision to take the live of her unborn baby to begin cancer treatment or put her own life in danger by forgoing it.

Joice pondered whether she should join a club of other courageous women who decided to protect their unborn babies. Ultimately, saving her baby was an easy decision.

“Having a kid was one of the most important things in the world to her,” her husband Max told The Post at the time. “She said, ‘If we terminate the pregnancy and it turns out I can’t have a baby [later], I’ll be devastated. She knew this might be her only chance.”

Ultimately, Liz was only able to spend seven weeks with her daughter before she passed away.

"A courageous woman who decided to protect her unborn baby" --- by choosing to die. That was her choice and her right, of course. But it's a choice these people don't want anyone else to have the right to make. Indeed, they are fetishizing the deaths of women like this as medieval martyrs. It's sick.

The lesson here is that anyone who takes their rights for granted is a fool. It's all well and good to say "it's over" and now we can put all that unpleasantness behind us. But we are dealing with primal issues here and they do not change easily. Don't ever assume that we can't go backwards. We're watching it happen before our eyes.