Among the reasons GOP lawmakers have given for opposing abortion: Male fetuses might be masturbating.
With the seemingly inevitable repeal of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision looming, the longstanding conservative project to deny bodily autonomy for half the nation’s population has reached a crucial — and terrifying — zenith. After decades of vowing to bring about this exact endgame, a right-wing nexus of politicians, religious leaders, and media personalities is poised to impose a widely unpopular ideology on a country that already roundly rejects the abortion restrictions being introduced in states with Republican leadership, restrictions which have been put in place through gerrymandering and fear-mongering in preparation for this exact moment.
Given that the criminalization of reproductive health care is — as the data bears out time and time again — so wildly unpopular among the broader populous, it’s worth questioning just why so much of the right wing is so monomaniacally focused on this. The answer, you see, is not simply that “abortion,” as conservatives will so often insist, “is murder” — at least, it’s not just that. Instead, there is a whole suite of tortured, offensive, deeply unscientific justifications the right has deployed for decades as part of its broader offensive against bodily autonomy. From downplaying rape and incest as potential blessings in disguise, to counterfactual medical claims about fetal awareness, to allegations that abortions are responsible for the collapse of 21st-century society, the reasons are as weird as they are nonsensical.
But don’t take my word for it. Let them tell you themselves:
- “Obviously rape is one of the most egregious acts anyone can ever do to someone … but what is beautiful is the child that could come as a production of that.” —West Virginia state delegate Brian Kurcaba, 2015
- “Rape is a difficult issue and it emotionally scars the individual, all or in part, for the rest of their life — just as child abuse does. But if a baby is created, it is a human life and whether that mother ends that pregnancy or not, the scars will not go away, period. It is a shame that it happens, but there’s an opportunity for that woman, no matter how young or old she is, to make a determination about what she’s going to do to help that life be a productive human being.” —Ohio state Rep. Jean Schmidt, 2022
- “I just think you’ve created an industry now ... a situation where very much, you’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue ... these centers, for purposes of making a profit off it, as you’ve seen in some of these Planned Parenthood affiliates.” —Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 2015
- “Rape is a horrible thing. Let me tell you: Abortion is not going to heal a rape victim. It will only make things worse.” —Minnesota lieutenant governor candidate Matt Birk, 2021
- “Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?” —Texas Rep. Michael Burgess, 2013
- “I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. In lots of different aspects of our life we have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible, but nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation and I would make the argument that that is making the best.” —Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 2012
- “On the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s the consequence of this crime, how does that make it better? You know what I mean?” —Washington Rep. John Koster, 2012
- “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen.” —Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, 2012
- “The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.” —President Donald Trump, 2019
- “I think the combination of porn, abortion have basically created a lonely, isolated generation that isn’t getting married, they’re not having families, and they’re actually not even totally sure how to interact with each other.” —Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, 2021