Now Republicans Are Trying to Redefine Abortion Itself
Oct. 2, 2023
By Jessica Valenti
Ms. Valenti publishes the newsletter Abortion, Everyday.
In the year since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Republican Party has tested out constantly changing talking points and messages on abortion in an attempt to make its anti-abortion policies sound less extreme. Conservatives are even considering moving away from the term “pro-life,” fearing that voters have newly negative associations with the label.
With post-Roe outrage showing no sign of waning, strategists are pushing a new lexicon on abortion — medically, legally and culturally. Some Republicans have abandoned the term “ban” when speaking about anti-abortion legislation, for example. Now they’re pushing for a 15-week “standard” on abortion — which, to be clear, would be a ban. Americans overwhelmingly oppose strict abortion bans, so Republicans are moving away from the term.
Republicans hope that by changing the way Americans talk about abortion, it might help change the way they feel about abortion — which is, right now, very pro-choice. A record 69 percent of American adults say abortion should generally be legal in the first trimester, and anger over bans has Republicans losing election after election, from ballot measure initiatives in Kansas and Kentucky to the State Supreme Court in Wisconsin.
It makes sense. After all, Americans have now seen a woman vomit before testifying about watching her newborn take pained last gasps for air — the result of being forced to carry a doomed pregnancy to term in Texas. The cruelty of abortion bans is revealed with every new story of a woman being allowed to slip into sepsis or a raped child being denied care.
But rather than change the policies that are causing so much suffering, conservatives seem to believe they can talk their way out of the problem not just with political messaging but also by manipulating medical and legal language.
This summer, for example, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a “Glossary of Medical Terms” instructing doctors on what “life affirming” language to use. Under their guidance, a woman whose fetus has a fatal anomaly would be told not that the condition is terminal but that it’s “life limiting.” Similarly, if someone’s water breaks months before her due date, she would be informed not that the pregnancy is nonviable but that it’s “pre-viable.” The goal is in part to persuade women to carry doomed pregnancies, which can be emotionally and physically catastrophic.
Republicans are even trying to redefine abortion itself, claiming that they are doing so to clarify matters for doctors and patients. In truth, these are deliberate efforts to ensure that fetuses’ rights trump women’s rights, no matter the cost to women. And increasingly, that cost is very high.
To anti-abortion groups, mandates like this aren’t just acceptable; it’s what they lobbied for. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists even recommends that in cases of dangerous pregnancy complications, like a massive placental abruption, women should be made to labor for up to 24 hours — even if they must be treated with blood transfusions in intensive care — in lieu of being given an abortion, in order to deliver “an intact fetal body.” In situations like this, women’s health and lives are endangered the longer they remain pregnant. To groups that seem to value a fetus’s survival above all else, that’s a risk they’re willing to take.
I follow Ms. Valenti on TikTok. I think everyone should, because she connects all the dots from the different states. Her stories define and create the complete picture of post-Dobbs America for women in Red States. I believe that the MSM is failing in this. They are not connecting the dots. The dots of maternity deserts being created in states. The dots of there actually being NO EXCEPTIONS, all the while forced-birth people lie that there are exceptions. The dots of the increase in maternal mortality, which should be obvious, but, now, have those anti-abortion states lying about how they collect maternal mortality statistics, or deciding not to collect this public health data. The dots of coming for birth control. The dots that it was all a phucking lie – letting it be ‘states rights’, when they are going for a nationwide ban. The dots of Red State Attorneys General trying to get MEDICAL RECORDS of women who had healthcare done OUTSIDE OF THEIR STATE.
Ms. Valenti connects those dots, and someone on cable should have her on weekly to tell the nation-wide horror stories of life post-Dobbs for American women.
2024- Women need to make their voices heard about the loss of body autonomy and how that’s unacceptable.