Editorial: Tongue-tied on reproductive rights

File Photo by Natasha Khan/Cronkite News

Column By John Young

So, how’s that red wave going?

Mumble, grumble, fumble.

And the quest to give state lawmakers and Congress power over women’s bodies. How is that going?

Gnashing, grimacing, throat-clearing.

The red wave forecast for the 2022 election didn’t happen. And what has happened this time? We have a pushback wave tied to abortion rights.

Republicans called for the death of Roe, spouting “pro-life” nothings. Now, they run from the cameras. Or if caught in the glare, they fail miserably in parsing one of America’s most unpopular  — and most oppressive — policy decisions.

On the issue of abortion rights, Republican tongues are fit to be tied.

I’m accustomed to the mumble-fumble of “pro-life” politicians on this subject.

Across 25 years as an editorial writer in Waco, Texas, I interviewed procession after procession of Republican candidates for public office. With each, I studiously pressed for his or her position on abortion rights.

They grimaced and gulped.

“Well, that’s not likely to come up before us, you know, with Roe and all.”

A follow-up: “What if Roe is no more? That’s what your party wants.”

Necktie repositioning. Throat clearing. “Ahem. So, how about those Baylor Bears?”

Republicans can’t change the subject now. Roe is dead; voters are striking back. And the GOP is paying a mighty price for it.

Red state, blue state, purple state. It’s all been a rout – not just with ballot issues regarding abortion rights, but in elections like in Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin when abortion rights were an identifying subtext.

More opportunities are ahead in 2024 for pro-choice voters to strike back by putting abortion rights on the ballot — Arizona, Florida, South Dakota, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Nebraska, Colorado, North Carolina and Missouri.

This is not a good thing for the Republicans. Their everyday pursuit is tamping down voter participation. Abortion rights drive people, especially young people, to the polls.

Inherent in Republicans’ difficulty in defending what their party stands for is that (1) many are not versed at all about the issues at hand; (2) the pitches they have crafted are a demeaning insult to women.

In Ohio, advertisements warned that the issue on the ballot would legalize abortion right up to the point of birth.

This claim is beyond cynical and tips the needle to evil.

Women don’t carry a fetus for 9 months and discontinue a pregnancy for convenience. The exceedingly rare late-term abortions that some Republicans have used as a ploy to stir outrage about abortion only exist in cases where the infant will not survive birth.

Indeed, rather than being a trump card against abortion rights, late-term abortions affirm the self-evident truth that abortion is a medical necessity.

It’s the bottom line of abortion rights. Government should not intervene in delicate medical decisions.

Even with abortion bans that have exceptions for the health and life of the mother, doctors feel handcuffed because their hospitals are gun-shy about running afoul of the law.

Similarly, a ban that includes an exception for rape or incest requires the victim to prove such a claim while the sexual predator’s spawn grows inside her.

Just getting a rape victim to come forward is tough enough. Ask her to go before a judge for permission to abort? You have to be joking.

The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act requires hospitals to treat all medical emergencies, and that includes crisis pregnancies.

The Biden administration launched investigations into two hospitals in Missouri and Kansas that dragged their feet in the face of pregnancies where the lives of women were on the line.

Several red states including Texas are suing to stop its enforcement.

People who support women’s bodily autonomy should remember which party is harming women.

The good thing is that Americans are showing with their votes that they know which party will fight for women and which party will try to change the subject.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.