Political Animal


July 02, 2012 3:44 PM A Moment of Near-Honesty on Abortion

By Ed Kilgore

Perhaps the most useful aspect of the peculiar legal battle going on in Mississippi over efforts to use a new “health” regulation to shut down the state’s lone abortion provider is that it shows the complete irrelevance of “health” or “safety” or “informed choice” or any other alleged rationale that anti-choicers deploy to restrict reproductive rights. The sponsors of the law in question, including Mississippi governor and “personhood” advocate Phil Bryant, make no bones about their intentions: making Mississippi “abortion-free,” or, to put it another way, a rogue jurisdiction where the exercise of constitutional rights is effectively prohibited.

As Irin Carmon points out at Salon, even if Bryant and company get their way Mississippians themselves will not be “abortion-free,” since anyone with the resources will simply go out of state. The practical impact, then, is to force to term pregnancies by the very poor, of which Mississippi has an abundance. Moreover, since making abortions less convenient will often delay them when it does not prohibit them, it will likely increase the number of later-term abortions. But for all their crocodile tears about late-term abortions, most anti-choicers of the “personhood” variety make zero moral distinctions between a fertilized ovum and a month-old child—or between a woman using the most common forms of contraception and someone committing infanticide.

So it’s all the same to Phil Bryant and his friends whether they are wreaking havoc on the choices available to women. Denial of choice is the whole idea. And the concept of abortion “restrictions” as a compromise between “extremes” on abortion policy is largely a crock.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on July 02, 2012 4:16 PM:

    Well, they can make abortion as difficult as possible, and they can even make it illegal, but they can't stop if from happening - as long as there are coat-hangers, and chemical or herbal abortifacients, available.

    That is THE point behind contraceptives - to prevent pregnancy.
    And the point of having the choice of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, is to keep the abortions and the women safe, and to prevent a child, who, for whatever reason is unwanted at THIS time, from being born, and becoming a child who is potentially unwanted, and un-or-under loved and cared for.

    I suggest we start calling Governor Phil Bryant, "The Back Alley Butcher of Mississippi."

  • Doug on July 02, 2012 4:47 PM:

    There's just one word to Bryant and people like him: pro- abortion.
    Use it, I do.

  • TCinLA on July 02, 2012 4:58 PM:

    a rogue jurisdiction where the exercise of constitutional rights is effectively prohibited.

    Isn't that pretty much what Mississippi has been since the first slaveowning scumball killed the first Indian whose property he was there to steal?

    Here's to the state of Mississippi
    Where underneath its waters
    Nameless bodies you can find
    Mississippi - find yourself
    Another country to be part of!

  • SP on July 02, 2012 6:31 PM:

    And, because these states won't expand Medicaid, women who are the working poor will go into debt to deliver a baby, or make medical choices based on cost, such as forgoing an epidural because it is too expensive.

    I recently gave birth, and was lucky to have an insurance policy that covered it. For my care, the providers billed upwards of $40,000, and I had a complication free, natural delivery with no pain medications. I can only imagine what it would be if I had a c-section.

    Many of the women on the pregnancy forum I followed were distressed during pregnancy to find that they earned $20/month too much for Medicaid. They worked, were married, but didn't work at a job that paid benefits. In fact, some of them were given less hours after they got pregnant, so could afford even less care.

    I don't get it. If you are pro-life, you could at least expand the choices for people who are supposedly making the moral choices you want: married, working, not getting an abortion. I don't see how it's fair that there is such a diversity of out of pocket costs for pregnancy and delivery. If you're very poor, medicaid covers you. If you are a salary employee, you probably have good health care and maternity benefits. If you are an hourly employee, you are barely scraping by and pay more out of pocket than people who earn much more than you. If you are self-employed, it's probably been very hard to find any insurance policy that covers pregnancy at all in a cost effective way.

    From where I sit, I'm super happy that the health care bill passed. I don't like everything about it, like specifically, I'd prefer to pay into a government plan than give private insurance companies money. But I can't wait for the exchanges to happen and to be able to switch plans.

    And another thing. People talk about how maybe people who have insurance plans at their employers might not like the plan or not be invested in it. As a salaried employee, my share of my health plan went up every single year that I was employed, effectively giving me a pay cut every year, even if I got a measly raise. It has been the same for everyone. Plus, many people might not leave a job they hate because of health insurance. The conservatives who speak about liberty might want to think about how many people are enslaved by the current system.

    Not that they will, because they actually care more about their team winning than any ideal such as freedom.

  • mb on July 03, 2012 12:02 AM:

    Seems to me the clinic has basis for a restraint of trade claim. FWIW, I live about 1/2 mile from this the one and only clinic in the entire state.

  • CharlieM on July 03, 2012 7:59 AM:

    No matter how bad it gets in GA, I can at least say "Well...at least it ain't Mississippi."