Hot on the heels of the leaked draft Supreme Court decision on abortion Monday evening, the Republican Senate campaign arm leaked its response. “Be the compassionate, consensus-builder on abortion policy,” it advised. “Forcefully refute Democrat lies regarding GOP positions on abortion and women’s health care,” it adds. Republicans do not want to take away contraception, mammograms or other health care, and especially “Republicans DO NOT want to throw doctors and women in jail.”
“Mothers should be held harmless under the law,” the memo says. Louisiana Republicans clearly did not get the memo. They’re definitely all about calling abortion homicide and locking up both the doctor and the patient. And while they’re at it, they’re going to ban contraception. It’s definitely not just Louisiana, as Politico finds.
Mandatory minimum sentences for abortion providers in some states will go into effect immediately following the official Supreme Court reversal of Roe and Casey. In all, 22 states have trigger laws not just banning abortion, but punishing doctors and others who either perform or help facilitate abortions, ranging in sentences from one year to 15 years. In Texas, a provider could be locked up for life. That’s not just the provider, by the way: performing, inducing, or attempting an abortion in which “an unborn child dies as a result of the offense” will be a felony punishable by life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
That sure does sound like throwing doctors and mothers in prison. That’s what Alabama and South Carolina intend to do, too, though the punishment isn’t life. Alabama bans abortion and abortion pills and will put the provider in jail for up to 12 months or sentence them to hard labor, as well as fine them up to $1,000. In South Carolina, the person ending their pregnancy by any means faces as much as two years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Christine Pelosi talks about the Supreme Court's leaked decision on Roe v. Wade, and what Democrats are doing now, on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
This isn’t just some dystopian fantasy cooked up by liberals trying to scare women. “People have been arrested and jailed for ending a pregnancy in states as diverse as California, Texas, Georgia and Indiana—a trend legal groups expect to increase exponentially if the Supreme Court adopts the draft opinion.”
California, people. California, where a woman was sentenced to a 11-year prison term for delivering a stillborn baby, a victim of the war on drugs and the war on women combined. She served four years after pleading involuntary manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for murder. Her sentence was overturned in March.
This is reality, and it is about to get a whole hell of a lot uglier. Texas opened the door with setting up their bounty scheme, siccing people on their fellow citizens to get the payout for reporting abortions. Idaho loved that idea so much they upped the bounty, setting up a system in which a relative of a rapist can claim an interest in forcing a resulting pregnancy.
“Even if a bill doesn’t allow pregnant people to be charged directly, we’re concerned about the ways increased surveillance could lead to people being criminalized for an abortion or another kind of pregnancy loss,” Farah Diaz-Tello, the senior counsel and legal director of the group If/When/How, said in an interview with Politico. “These bills create an environment where a person’s private health information, their affect and demeanor and whether they are sufficiently distraught, could all become evidence in a case against someone else. They could still be treated as a suspect.”
It’s, as one lawyer put it, turning “every uterus” into “a potential crime scene.” The trauma of miscarriage and stillbirth, the use of any drug or alcohol during pregnancy, using emergency contraception, using a IUD, or even attempting a pregnancy using in-vitro fertilization in the case of Louisiana—all that could become criminalized under these trigger laws.
This is not what Sen. Mitch McConnell wants anyone to know about. It’s not what he wants Republicans to talk about. He’s done his damnedest to change the subject: “Not a leaked draft, but the fact that the draft was leaked,” he insisted. So much for that.
Meanwhile, his team is plotting federal legislation to ban abortion everywhere, because “states’ rights” isn’t really a thing when it’s blue states. There can be no safe haven for people who don’t want to be incubators, for rape or incest victims, for people who are facing death from an ectopic pregnancy.
McConnell’s plan to make this election about nothing and win back the Senate sure is blowing up in his face. That doesn’t mean a cakewalk for Democrats in November, not if they don’t get really ferocious really quick about protecting our rights. But it sure does give Democrats a fighting chance.