A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which meant it was left up to the states to legislate abortion laws for their own territories. This led to many states immediately restricting abortion access — even, in many states, in cases of incest and rape.
This is obviously upsetting for a lot of reasons, one of which is that the lawmakers now in charge of deciding abortion law in the states they represent seem to understand very little about uteruses, pregnancy, and abortion.
In fact, many of them have made grossly uninformed comments that suggest they not only shouldn't be in charge of legislating women's bodies, but should probably go back to middle school and get a sex ed lesson. Here are just a few of the horrifyingly inaccurate and offensive things they've said and asked.
1.Karianne Lisonbee, one of Utah's members of the House of Representatives, suggested last month that women can control their intake of semen during sex.
You can watch the clip here.
2.Alabama senator, Clyde Chambliss, sponsored a bill in 2019 that more or less banned all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. However, in defending the bill he said that not to worry, women could still get abortions — until they know they're pregnant.
3.He also said, “I’m not trained medically, so I don’t know all the proper medical terminology and timelines ... but from what I’ve read, what I’ve been told, there’s some period of time before you can know that a woman is pregnant. … It takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that."
4.When asked about the fact that medical professionals cannot tell a miscarriage apart from someone who's taken an abortion pill, Chambliss said, "the burden of proof would be on the prosecution," which suggests he believes women who have miscarriages should be investigated and potentially go to trial to prove it was actually a miscarriage.
5.Oh, and he suggested that life begins when an egg and sperm (along with their chromosomes) combine to create a zygote, but that fertilized eggs at IVF clinics don't apply because "it's not in a woman. She's not pregnant." Which goes to show you this was never about life, it's about women's bodies.
6.Finally, when questioned about his knowledge of pregnancy, he said, "Senator, I don't know if I'm smart enough to be pregnant, so I appreciate the wisdom of our heavenly father."
7.Former Ohio state representative John Becker sponsored a 2019 bill that banned most private insurance coverage of abortion. But not to worry — in the case of ectopic pregnancy, where the egg implants in the fallopian tube rather than in the uterus, making the pregnancy not viable and dangerous (even fatal) for the mother — his bill included provisions for a procedure to move the egg into the uterus. However...that procedure does not exist.
8.The bill also banned coverage for “drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum," which could affect IUDs and birth control. When confronted with this, Becker said "that’s clearly not my area of expertise” and suggested drug manufacturers could "reformulate" birth control so that it would be allowed under the bill.
9.Earlier this year, Montana senator, Steve Daines, in arguing against abortion, compared women to sea turtles. “If you were to take or destroy the eggs of a sea turtle — now I said the eggs, not the hatchlings, that’s also a penalty, but the eggs — the criminal penalties are severe: up to a $100,000 fine and a year in prison. Now, why? Why do we have laws in place that protect the eggs of a sea turtle or the eggs of eagles? Because, when you destroy an egg, you’re killing a preborn baby sea turtle or preborn baby eagle. Yet when it comes to a preborn human baby, rather than a sea turtle, that baby will be stripped of all protections ... Is that what the American left wants?”
You can watch the clip here:
10.Former Texas representative, Jodie Laubenberg, in sponsoring a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, said there was no need to have exceptions for rape because "In the emergency room, they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out."
In case you didn't know, rape kits are used to collect evidence of sexual assault to be used in court if the victim decides to report the crime. They have nothing to do with preventing pregnancy.
11.Former Texas state representative, Dan Flynn, thinks you have to cut into a woman's body — presumably, their stomach? — for an abortion.
When Flynn was called out on this inaccurate statement (most abortions don't require surgery — many are done through the abortion pill or through dilating the cervix so a vacuum aspiration tube can be inserted), his response was, "I'm not a doctor."
You can watch the clip here:
12.Former Washington House of Representatives member, John Koster, (who retired in 2017) continually referred to rape as "the rape thing" leading up to his appointment. "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 a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?” he was recorded saying.
13.Idaho representative Vito Barbieri seems to think the vagina is connected to the stomach and the anus. In an argument regarding a bill that banned doctors from prescribing abortion bills through telemedicine, Barbieri asked if women could receive a remote gynecological exam by swallowing a miniature camera (as can be done with colonoscopies). He actually had to be told that if you swallowed something, it would not end up in your vagina.
You can listen to a clip here:
14.Former Georgia senator P.K. Martin said brainwaves and pain response prove fetuses are separate people (for the record, pain response doesn't develop until the third trimester, if fetuses can feel pain at all). He also called arguments for women's rights "compelling" but "incomplete and result in injustice and the oppression of the weakest people."
15.Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee claimed in 2014 that insurance plans should not cover birth control because it was insulting to women. "If Democrats want to insult women by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it," he said. By "Uncle Sugar," he is referring to former President Obama.
You can watch the clip here:
16.Former Republican Representative Henry Aldridge said in 1995 that when women are raped "the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work, and they don't get pregnant." Defending his comments, he later said, "To get pregnant, it takes a little cooperation. And there ain't much cooperation in a rape."
17.And in case you're going "okay, but that was 1995," many Republicans have made similar statements. Like former Missouri Representative Todd Akin, who said in 2012, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
18.Another example is the current Republican congressional nominee, Yesli Vega, who just won the primary. She said in leaked recordings this year that in her work as a police officer, she's only seen one case where a woman who was raped got pregnant. When someone asked her if she'd heard the (false) claim that women who are raped are less likely to get pregnant, she said she wouldn't be surprised. "It’s not something that’s happening organically, right? It's forcing it," she said, though she acknowledged, "I haven’t, haven’t, you know, seen any studies."
19.Another current nominee, this time for the Ohio Senate, J.D. Vance, called pregnancy resulting from a rape simply inconvenient: “It’s not whether a woman should be forced to bring a child to term; it’s whether a child should be allowed to live, even though the circumstances of that child’s birth are somehow inconvenient or a problem to the society."
20.Maine Representative Lawrence Lockman has made a number of horrifyingly offensive comments about rape. "If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn't a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?" Lockman wrote in 1990. "At least the rapist's pursuit of sexual freedom doesn't (in most cases) result in anyone's death."
21.Former Texas congressman, Ron Paul, said of rape, "If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room, I would give them a shot of estrogen." Just so you know, a shot of estrogen after rape would not prevent pregnancy. It's also unclear what Paul meant by "honest rape."
22.At a hearing debating her proposed anti-abortion bill, Ohio Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt was asked about a scenario in which a raped 13-year-old would have to carry their attacker's baby to term. She replied, "It is a shame that it happens, but there is 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."
You can watch the clip here:
23.Former Illinois Representative Joe Walsh said you don't need to add exceptions in anti-abortion laws for pregnancies that are dangerous to the mother, because “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” where an abortion was necessary to save a woman's life.
24.Former Arizona senator and Republican presidential nominee, John McCain, similarly used air quotes when discussing cases where abortion should be allowed because the health of the mother is at stake, saying the definition of those situations has been stretched.
25.And finally, this isn't exactly about abortion and women's health, but I had to include it...Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said it was incorrect that the GOP wages a war on women: "The whole thing of the 'war on women,' I sort of laughingly say, 'Yeah, there might have been — but the women are winning it" because women now make up more than half the student body of medical and law schools.