By Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, Staff Attorney, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
Yesterday, a video leaked of Mississippi Representative Lester “Bubba” Carpenter gloating that he and his anti-choice cronies had passed a bill that could effectively put an end to safe, legal abortion in the state of Mississippi. The money quote:
It’s going to be challenged, of course, in the Supreme Court and all — but literally, we stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi, legally, without having to — Roe vs. Wade. So we’ve done that. I was proud of it. The governor signed it into law. And of course, there you have the other side. They’re like, ‘Well, the poor pitiful women that can’t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger. That’s what we’ve learned over and over and over.’
But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere.”
And now everybody’s reaching for their smelling salts because, oh my, a politician trying to outlaw abortion doesn’t care if women die. You know what I say? Finally. Finally, someone willing to speak the truth. Finally, someone is willing to drop the bullshit about health, safety, and a “culture of life” and admit that he’d rather women die than abortion remain legal.
Instead of wringing our hands, we should be thanking Bubba for the much-needed history lesson; for reminding us that you cannot ban abortion without killing women. We should be grateful to Bubba for being honest about where he wants to take his home state of Mississippi — back to a time when women and young girls filled emergency rooms with serious complications, like perforations of the uterus, retained placentas, severe bleeding, cervical wounds, rampant infections, poisoning, shock and gangrene; when as many as 1.2 million women had illegal abortions every year.
But this shouldn’t just be about Bubba. He may be crass (and, perhaps, a little reckless about what he is willing to say on camera) but it would be a huge mistake to think Bubba is some sort of outlier. There is no kinder, softer abortion ban. There is no abortion ban that protects women. There is no abortion ban that will not kill our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. Bubba knows it, and he’s not alone. Every politician, candidate, and activist who would ban abortion knows it. And it’s time the rest of us do too.
So, I say: Where Bubba leads, let us follow. Let’s demand that politicians seeking to ban abortion tell us what they really think of women, families, and the sanctity of human life. Make them admit (like Bubba) that if they get what they want, if abortion is made illegal, then women will die and that is a price they are ready to pay. And if you don’t like their answer, if Bubba’s morals are not your morals, then whatever your views on abortion, maybe it’s time to rethink whether we want to give politicians like him the power to make these decisions for us.