The extremism from the candidates for the Repub presidential nomination is mounting. From Sunday's "State of the Union" interview (video below) by Dana Bash of Mike Huckabee:
BASH: Governor, I want to bring it back home and to an issue that's really been percolating in the Republican race, the issue of abortion.
Now, you oppose abortion even in cases of rape and incest. I want to ask about a story, because it's really getting a lot of attention from our readers on CNN.com. A 10-year-old girl was raped by her stepfather in Paraguay, and the government wouldn't allow her to have an abortion, because that's the policy there. The girl, who is now just 11, had the baby.
If you're president, and you have your druthers, that would be the policy here. Some of your Republican opponents say it's too extreme. What do you say?
HUCKABEE: I think what we have to do, Dana, is remember that creating one problem that is horrible -- horrible -- I mean, let nobody be misled. A 10-year-old girl being raped is horrible.
But does it solve a problem by taking the life of an innocent child? And that's really the issue. I know people. I worked for a man for several years, James Robison, who was the result of a rape. His mother went to three doctors in Houston, Texas, in 1943, begged doctors to abort the baby. None of them would do it.
They all refused. Today, his organization feeds, cares for, and brings living capacity for water to hundreds of thousands of people across the world. That would never have happened, Dana.
So, when I think about one horror, I also think about the possibilities that exist. And I just don't want to think that somehow we discount a human life.
BASH: And that's understandable, but the flip side is, looking in the eyes of a 10-year-old girl, saying, you know, you had this horrible thing happen to you, and you're going to have to carry it out for the next nine months. That's also not easy.
HUCKABEE: No, it isn't easy. And I wouldn't even pretend that it's anything other than a terrible tragedy.
But let's not compound the tragedy by taking yet another life. And I always think we sometimes miss the fact that, when an abortion happens, there are two victims. One is the child. The other is that birth mother, who often will go through extraordinary guilt years later, when she begins to think through the -- what happened with the baby, with her.
And, again, there are no easy answers here. And I realize there are some people that will be very different in their view of this than me, and I respect that. I don't want to get into a shouting match with people who think I'm wrong. I respect that.
But I just come down on the side that life is precious, every life has worth and value. I don't think we discount the intrinsic worth of any human being. And I don't know where else to go with it, but just to be consistent and say, if life matters and then that's a person, then every life matters.
Figjam on the Jezebel website commented "As a Republican voter myself, I am endlessly frustrated at the morons taking up valuable airtime from candidates I would rather hear from."
If only it were so. Unfortunately, Mike Huckabee has said nothing much different than what other Repub presidential candidates have said and, intentionally, has promoted two false memes.
Huckabee is not commenting only about a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl, but of American women of whatever age. "When an abortion happens," he says, "there are two victims." Labeling as a "victim" an individual who has made a thoughtful, gut-wrenching decision is glaringly paternalistic, and suggests the decision is made lightly.
The former Arkansas governor also repeats arguably the most commonly claimed myth of the entire abortion debate. He maintains the "birth mother" (actually, a woman rather than a birth mother, given that she did not give birth) "often will go through extraordinary guilt years later."
Not unless "often" means 1 in 5. Inconveniently
According to a new study that tracked hundreds of women who had abortions, more than 95 percent of participants reported that ending a pregnancy was the right decision for them. Feelings of relief outweighed any negative emotions, even three years after the procedure.
Researchers examined both women who had first-trimester abortions and women who had procedures after that point (which are often characterized as “late-term abortions”). When it came to women’s emotions following the abortion, or their opinions about whether or not it was the right choice, they didn’t find any meaningful difference between the two groups.
These findings contradict the notion that women experience negative mental health effects after ending a pregnancy, as well as the idea that later abortions are more psychologically traumatic.
That's right. Conservatives tell women- uh, er, "birth mothers"- that they're committing murder, and most of them, by a wide margin, nonetheless conclude they did the right thing. But it's repeated ad nauseam while little counter-narrative is offered for fear that people will mistakenly think that abortion is being minimized. "Safe, legal, and rare" is a more cautious approach.
There is another advantage to the claim "there are two victims" in the procedure. It enables anti-choice activists and politicians to prohibit as many abortions as possible while absolving women of any responsibility for the act they have enshrined in the law as murder.Tara Culp-Ressler of Think Progress is justifiably angry at the lack of compassion shown women who have been" charged with murder for allegedly seeking to harm their fetuses by attempting suicide, using illegal drugs, or even falling down the stairs." But these are very rare cases, in which women typically have been accused of committing acts illegal apart from abortion.
Aside from these outliers, women in the USA are not considered criminally culpable for seeking an illegal abortion because the political viability of the anti-choice movement otherwise would evaporate. Paternalistically labeling the woman a "victim" is a vital component in maintaining this rhetorical and legal jiu-jitsu.
The paternalism embedded in the myths of the woman sure to have regret after being coerced into an abortion is not peculiar to Huckabee. He is not the first to imply that the woman is an ignorant being we must save from herself. The sentiment was encapsulated chillingly by Justice Kennedy when, in delivering the deciding vote (and majority opinion) in Gonzalez v. Carhart, he wrote
It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound, when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form.
As one individual who responded to the criticism of the candidate as a "moron" put it, Mike Huckabee "is a former governor and Fox television host. He's not making some crazy rant on the internet. He is the Republican Party. He is not a moron. He is a cruel, calculating man" rather than "some fringe person not worth taking seriously."