We were supposed to be talking about something else in class that day, but my high school English teacher had decided to have a fight about abortion instead.
Catholic high school. Class of about 15 fairly sheltered, almost entirely white kids who didn’t always show up armed for his rhetorical feats of strength each morning. Door open, so anyone walking down the hallway could hear.
A bumper sticker in the parking lot had set him off, that day. Sometimes it was a story on the atrocious local news or something dumb he’d overheard us talking about on our way in, but that day it was the entirely predictable pro-life organizational bumper sticker that was making him insane.
“Abortion stops a beating heart!” he thundered, raising his fist mockingly.”So does swatting a mosquito!”
We gasped. How dare he? What an awful thing to say! A baby was nothing like a mosquito, how could he reduce it to that level?
“If that’s your argument,” said this man, who went to church every single day of his life and took Scripture more seriously than anyone I’ve ever known, “that’s the response you deserve.”
I’ve never forgotten that lesson and I thought of it again this week, when Donald Trump, as is his custom, opened his barbaric yawp and said something that made logical sense in the context of his adopted party’s dogma and yet was anathema to everyone in the GOP who heard it.
Mr Trump’s campaign has been in the midst of crisis since Wednesday, after he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that women who undergo abortions should face “some form of punishment” if the procedure were outlawed.
Because: If you believe abortion is murder, and that a woman and her doctor have conspired to commit that murder, well, that woman SHOULD be punished. Examine the argument absent its subject. Pretend for a minute it’s supposed to make sense. If I hire a hitman to kill somebody, I’m just as culpable as the person who pulled the trigger.
Of course there has to be some form of punishment. She’s stopping a beating heart. She’s swatting the mosquito.
If that is your argument then yes, women should be thrown in jail for having abortions. Targeting doctors, which radical anti-abortion groups love because they can argle-blargle about profiting from selling baby parts and all that other stupid nonsense, becomes secondary.
However, you’re not supposed to just SAY THAT. You’re not supposed to take the argument to its logical end. It would interfere with the vague idea of “compassionate conservatism” that the Republican brand has been trying to rub all over them until recently, and it would also interfere with the three morally permissible Republican abortions:
So you have to ignore how the argument logically ends. You have to talk about outlawing abortion and acting like there are no consequences to that. Consequences like this (graphic descriptions and photos):
The doctors and nurses at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin cried with them, but said because of Texas law HB2, they could not help speed Taylor’s labor. Technically, the baby was healthy and the mother was healthy, so to induce labor would be an abortion, and to do it at this stage in the pregnancy would be illegal.
The Mahaffeys were sent home to wait for their baby to die or for Taylor’s labor to progress.
Maybe that’s not enough punishment yet. Maybe there’s some other form Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans would like to impose.