Most of us have seen the video of Indiana State Rep. Eric Turner (R) expressing his “concerns” with the rape exception for HB 1210, which would make most abortions illegal after 20 weeks. He stated,
I just want you to think about this, in my view, giant loophole that could be created where someone who could — now I want to be careful, I don’t want to disparage in any way someone who has gone through the experience of a rape or incest — but someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest.
Basically he is afraid that some slutty woman is going to want an abortion at 24 weeks and she is going to use the rape loophole to her advantage. The feminist world was rightfully outraged. Or were they?
I’ve been thinking about this since the story broke. We know that women have died to get an abortion. Women self-aborted or had abortions by unlicensed practitioners in back alleys before abortion was legal. Even while legal, but often prohibitively expensive or with numerous hoops to jump through, women have died in unsafe clinics like ‘Dr.’ Kermit Gosnell’s in order to obtain an abortion. We know that a desperate woman will do anything to get an abortion – including risking her own life. Place yourself in the shoes of a woman in Indiana who finds out at 16, 17 or 18 weeks that she is pregnant and she needs an abortion. Maybe I didn’t know, maybe you ignored the signs because you were desperate for it not to be true. Somehow you’ve gotten to 20 weeks and abortion is only legal in 2 circumstances: rape or incest. Now you have a few choices: 1) carry to term, 2) self-abort and risk your life, 3) say you were raped. Option 3 gets you what you need without risking your life. Damn right you are going to do whatever you need to do to get that abortion; damn right you will say you’ve been raped.
In a way, Turner isn’t wrong. Women are likely to use this exception to their advantage. What Turner was horribly wrong about is the reason these women will use this exception. These are not women who have gotten to 25-30 weeks and just ‘decide’ they don’t want to be pregnant any more. These are going to be desperate women who cannot, for whatever reason, be pregnant. These are women that, without this exception in the law, will risk their own lives to abort. These are women who should not have to jump through yet another hoop to get the medical care that they have a right to. The fetus doesn’t feel pain until, at earliest, 24 weeks. Even after 24 weeks an abortion is far less painful for the fetus than birth. Women deserve the right to safe, legal abortion at any stage of the pregnancy. Women who are denied this by right-wing religious men & women have every right to use exceptions in the law to their advantage. These women have the right to say they’ve been raped so they can get their required abortion without risking their lives.
There is certainly a concern when a woman falsely claims she was raped as a tool get an abortion, but we certainly shouldn’t be judging her. We should be judging the laws that lead her to do so. Most women would rather just tell the truth and get their abortion but when the government creates a situation that backs a woman into a corner, such as these laws, women will do whatever they need to do to protect themselves. Even lie about rape. I doubt these women would point to anybody as the rapist but rather claim it was a stranger since the only goal is the abortion. We must support these women who falsely claim rape because they are doing so to save their lives. We cannot demonize them because they are only doing what the state has forced them to do by making medical decision best left to a woman and her doctor. We must look at the government and say it was their fault this woman lied about being raped because they were the ones that made medical decision best left to a doctor!
We can get into thousands of “what if” scenarios, such as “what if the woman blames an innocent man,” but that resolves nothing. The solution to the ‘problem’ of women lying about rape is to let women make their own medical decisions. Turner you are certainly right: some women will use this exception to get an abortion after 20 weeks. But you are also so very wrong; these women deserve their abortion and they don’t deserve old men like you telling them what to do with their bodies. They deserve to make their decisions like adults without the morality of the state, or anybody else, imposing cruel laws on their bodies. They deserve to lie about rape to save their lives.