Being ‘Pro-Woman’ Isn’t What it Used to Be for Democrats

In a recent television interview about last week’s March for Life, I was asked if President Trump risked alienating suburban women with his administration’s aggressive pro-life agenda. No, I replied, because most Americans are actually fairly moderate when it comes to abortion—which is strikingly at odds with the extreme abortion agenda of the Left.

The guest opposite me, Democratic pollster John Zogby, scoffed in response. No Democrat candidate, he said, has taken extreme positions on abortion.

Zogby may want to call his office, because his view is about 20 years out of date. True, Democrats were once the party of “safe, legal, and rare” abortion. But no more. In fact, in 2012, national Democrats excised the word “rare” from their official platform, preferring instead “safe and legal” abortion.

Just four years later, in 2016, national Democrats yanked their support for the formerly bipartisan Hyde amendment, a funding rider that has been included in every federal spending bill since the passage of Roe v. Wade to prohibit the direct federal financing of abortion. Joe Biden, apparently unaware of his party’s passage into Wokeness, was forced to condemn his decades-long support for the Hyde amendment after coming under fire from liberal feminists.

It should have come as no surprise when Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, a former pediatrician, offered his support last year for a bill in the Virginia legislature that would allow a woman to seek an abortion even as she is about to give birth.

“I think this was really blown out of proportion,” he said in response to the horror and outrage that followed the introduction of state delegate Kathy Tran’s bill. He went on to describe in medical terms how an infant with “severe deformities” could be murdered after birth if that was what the family so desired.

Democrats and their allied media outlets amplified Northam’s message. Just two months later, 44 Democrats in the U.S. Senate went on record opposing federal legislation that would have required infants born alive after an attempted abortion to be given lifesaving care.

Safe, legal, and rare? More like unlimited, unrestricted, and unregulated.

That abortion is a tragedy for the mother, and certainly for the baby, no longer seems to be a controlling narrative on the Left. Or a narrative at all. Pro-abortion advocates now encourage women to “shout” their abortions. To celebrate them. While accepting a Golden Globe in January, visibly pregnant actress Michelle Williams proclaimed that none of her success would have been possible without the right to abortion.

Abortion, for progressives, has become synonymous with empowerment. Women are told that access to abortion, like finding a good mentor and selecting the right power suit, is crucial to their professional success and personal satisfaction.

For “Women’s Health”? No Longer

It’s ironic because the pro-abortion cause, in accelerating past any concept of abortion as a heartbreaking choice, has actually become far less about caring for women.

Planned Parenthood, the self-declared “women’s health organization,” recently fired their president for being too focused on—wait for it—women’s health.

“I came to Planned Parenthood to run a national healthcare organization,” Dr. Leana Wen said in her resignation letter. “The new board has determined that the priority of Planned Parenthood moving forward is to double down on abortion rights advocacy.”

And despite claiming that any congressional effort to revoke their millions in federal subsidies would put American women in jeopardy, Planned Parenthood recently announced it will spend $45 million to elect more Democrats.

Women’s health, indeed.

This hypocrisy will be on full display in March when the Supreme Court hears arguments in June Medical Services, LLC v. Gee. The case centers around a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Abortion advocates call these “TRAP” laws, for “targeted regulation of abortion providers,” and insist that they are only there to throw up more logistical hurdles to accessing an abortion, and thus must be opposed at all cost.

But it’s worth taking a look at what these advocates are fighting to protect, and who they are willing to put at risk, to cover themselves in the glory of unfettered abortion.

Rather than simply seeking to restrict access to abortion, Louisiana’s law appears to be trying to protect women from many of the state’s abortion clinics which have a disturbing record of substandard medical care and doctors who have been professionally disciplined—some numerous times—by the state.

In its review of the case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals observed a “horrifying” history of health and safety code violations as well as “generally unsafe conditions and protection of rapists.”

June Medical Services, the named petitioner in the case, has been cited repeatedly for violating basic health and safety requirements. These include failing to monitor each abortion patient’s level of consciousness and respiratory status during abortion procedures, or even the amount or length of time nitrous gas was administered. Patients were sent home without even cursory checks to ensure they were medically stable. Instruments used in procedures were found to be unclean and not properly disinfected.

The Delta Clinic of Baton Rouge, also a petitioner, has been cited for operating with unsterilized equipment, and not having emergency intravenous fluids available for a surgical abortion patient—which led to the patient requiring a full hysterectomy. This same clinic performed an abortion on a minor patient without obtaining parental consent, in violation of the state’s law.

Abortion advocates also want to protect Louisiana’s abortion doctors, whose blatant disregard for human care evokes a Mengele-esque quality.

Dr. James Whitmore, who serviced the Delta Clinic, was cited for using instruments that were rusty, cracked, and not sterile. If he did “sterilize” them, it was with a solution that was “infrequently changed and visibly unclean.” After performing one second-trimester abortion, he allowed the patient to bleed for three hours before finally sending her to the hospital, where she was found to have a perforated uterus, a lacerated uterine artery, and required a complete hysterectomy.

Not to be outdone, Leroy Brinkley, who operates both the Delta Clinic and a women’s health care center, employed the infamous Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell is the Pennsylvania abortion doctor who routinely delivered viable babies and then murdered the newborns by snipping their spinal cords with scissors. He was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and for the manslaughter of a patient. Brinkley frequently sent women seeking late-term abortions in Louisiana across state lines to Gosnell’s shop of horrors.

These are the doctors and clinics that abortion advocates want to protect from a law that would simply require admitting privileges at local hospitals. In their discussion of the case, they don’t even mention the status of the clinics, or the women who have been harmed. Rather, they toss out phrases like “sham laws” and “second-class citizens,” as if a law designed to ensure the safety of women seeking abortions will send us spiraling back to the 1950s. It’s unfounded nonsense.

All of this makes plain, however, that abortion activists, and the Democrat party generally, have shed any pretense of being for women—their well-being or their care. Rather, progressive pro-abortion activists and candidates are far more interested in spreading the lie that personal fulfillment requires pain and tragedy, and that success is only possible if a life is snuffed out first. Pro-woman? Hardly.

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About Rachel Bovard

Rachel Bovard is senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute and Senior Advisor to the Internet Accountability Project. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Il.), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). She is the former director of policy services for the Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelBovard.

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