Opinion | The Political Dead-End Abortion Foes Should Avoid
It might seem like a contradiction for those who oppose abortion, but its the only way to avoid a disastrous political dead-end.
Protesters demonstrate against abortion pills outside of the Supreme Court on April 21, 2023, ahead of an abortion pill announcement by the court in Washington.
Protesters demonstrate against abortion pills outside of the Supreme Court in April, ahead of an abortion pill decision by the court. The availability of mifepristone forces Republicans to answer an uncomfortable question: Who is the criminal when a woman induces her own abortion? | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
Opinion by JAMIE CORLEY
07/25/2023 04:30 AM EDT
Jamie Corley is a former Republican press secretary in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. A fifth generation Missourian, she lives in St. Louis.
Soon, women in states that have placed restrictions on abortion may find it easy to just order abortion pills by mail. And a Supreme Court ruling a few months ago allowing the abortion drug mifepristone to remain legal and on the market for the foreseeable future means a national ban is unlikely.
These developments are a political gift to Republicans. They should take it that way and refrain from pushing for new restrictions on medication abortions.
For Republicans who oppose abortion, this might seem like a contradiction: If abortion is bad, then shouldnt we push to restrict the use of abortion pills? But doing that will steer Republicans straight into a political dead-end that could backfire spectacularly. Heres why.
Reactions to abortion drug ruling are split
SharePlay Video In 2017, when many of the current abortion trigger laws were starting to take shape in conservative states across the country, medication abortions accounted for only 39 percent of abortions. The vast majority of abortions were done in a clinic by a physician. Today, just a few years later, the majority of abortions in the U.S. are self-induced through medication and facilitated at home. For a myriad of reasons, including the rapid rise of telemedicine during the pandemic and the ability to receive medication through the mail, the proportion of abortions induced through medication continues to rise rapidly.
This presents a conundrum for anti-abortion advocates. For the past five decades, the anti-abortion movements strategy has been dependent on a scapegoat: Planned Parenthood. Politically, this has allowed anti- abortion messaging to focus on prosecuting whats depicted as a predatory system of abortion providers while painting women as victims of it. While working to overturn Roe, the anti-abortion coalition worked state-by-state to chip away access to in-person abortion. Thats why we see so many states with onerous laws requiring 72-hour waiting periods and multiple in-person clinic visits before an abortion procedure can be performed. The punishment for performing a procedure usually targets providers, often referred to pejoratively as abortionists, who can face felony charges, prison time and loss of their medical license. Women seeking abortions are portrayed as innocent, lost, in crisis and easy targets of pro-abortion institutions.
But that strategy has become much less effective now that abortion medication, which can be taken privately at home, is the primary way to terminate a pregnancy. The problem facing abortion opponents is three- fold: Abortion pills can be discretely mailed; the provider is easy to conceal and almost impossible to prosecute; and in some states a woman can be subject to punishment for self-inducing her own abortion.
To deal with and downplay this dilemma, anti-abortion groups are trying to turn CVS and Walgreens into the bad guys. A group of attorneys general from states that restrict abortion has sent warning letters to pharmacies saying that mailing abortion pills is illegal and to be on notice that states will [U]se every tool at our disposal to uphold the law if broken.
But what happens if I call my friend in California and ask her to mail me medication? Who gets punished if I consult one of the many websites that assist women in obtaining abortion pills? Is the attorney general in Missouri going to bring charges against one civilian in California? That would be a gross misuse of government resources, not to mention legally questionable, particularly since many blue states have passed shield laws that protect providers. Perhaps the police in anti-abortion states will step in to stop an illegal underground drug ring. For Republicans sake, I sure hope not. The juxtaposition of using taxpayer money to raid womens health care while the country faces a raging opioid and fentanyl crisis does not exactly scream tough on crime. Nevertheless, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, insists that, Everyone who is trafficking these [abortion] pills should be in jail for trafficking.
Click for Full Text!