An exchange between Rep. Eric Swalwell and “Americans United for Life” head Catherine Foster today was so surreal as to border on farce. Faced with the now provably true case of a 10-year-old child having to travel out of Republican-held Ohio to receive an abortion after she was raped, Foster simply lied her faux-Christian ass off rather than acknowledging the plain facts of the case.
If she had any moral ground to stand on, Foster wouldn’t need to resort to bullshitting during a public hearing of the US Congress. Instead we get this:
SWALWELL: Do you think a 10-year-old should choose to carry a baby?
FOSTER: I believe it would probably affect her, her life, and therefore it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.
SWALWELL: Wait. It would not be an abortion if a 10-year-old, with her parents, made the decision not to have a baby that was a result of a rape?
FOSTER: If a 10-year-old became pregnant as a result of rape, and it was threatening her life, then that’s not an abortion. So it would not fall under any abortion restriction in our nation.
SWALWELL, to next witness: Miss Warbelow, are you familiar with disinformation?
There are of course multiple lies in Foster’s whatever-that-was, so even calling it “disinformation” is being too gentle about it. The definition of abortion does not change depending on who’s getting one or how monstrous you might personally look for opposing a specific one. The Ohio law does not make exceptions for rape, or for the health of the mother, or for the life of the mother, which is why this child had to travel out of state. That is the whole. Damn. Point.
Foster at earlier points in Swalwell’s questioning had already called it an abortion and had claimed the Ohio attorney general would have permitted that abortion (yet another attempt at brazen bullshitting), before then going on to magically rewrite the very definition of the term “abortion” to include Not That One. And this is a dynamic already taking place. Sen. Josh Hawley’s wife testified in a recent Senate hearing that in the case of ectopic pregnancies, “termination of a nonviable pregnancy” is “not an abortion.” Why not? Because you look like shit opposing a lifesaving treatment that everyone agrees is absolutely necessary, that’s why, and nobody wants to look like absolute shit on television. When the cameras are off, though, it’s a different story.
One might naively think that this effort by Foster and others is an attempt to distinguish between abortions that should not be allowed and ones that should go forward; by referring to “necessary” or “good” abortions as some other as-of-yet-not-invented word they fall out of all existing abortion bans and become something else. Ta-da! Problem solved! But there’s no such definition actually being provided, and in practice the dodge is being used to try to skate through public hearings while the actual laws on the ground remain the same.
In fact, the anti-abortion movement’s fury over the 10-year-old child being able to receive an abortion despite Ohio banning it in all cases only continues to grow.
Advocates of forced birth, including the Indiana attorney generalare now targeting the doctor who performed that child’s procedure—in case you had any doubts that those Republicans very much did intend to force this raped child to give birth. One detail that may unfortunately soon become pertinent: Doctor-targeting Fox News host Jesse Watters cut his network teeth as a faux correspondent on Bill O’Reilly’s now-cancelled prime time show; O’Reilly’s most famous contribution to the discourse in all his rancid years was a disinformation campaign against a Kansas abortion provider, repeatedly calling him a “baby killer,” that ended only after an anti-abortion zealot executed that doctor at his church. The Fox News history of being terrorism-adjacent is a long one.
Indiana conservatives are in fact pushing as we speak to write laws that would have blocked the 10-year-old from receiving care. They don’t want a new word that doesn’t mean “abortion.” They want to rape 10-year-olds to have children or die trying.
So yes, these people absolutely want raped 10-year-old children to be forced to give birth to their rapist’s child—or to die from it. That is how the laws are being written. That is how the laws are still being written, even as Republicans and anti-abortion zealots lie brazenly, claiming that the laws don’t do what they plainly do and that if the victim is 10 years old it doesn’t count as an ” abortion” and is fine. They’re gaslighting, bullshitting con artists with no more morality than a dull knife. They don’t care. And now they’re targeting the doctor who performed the abortion they say wasn’t an abortion so that the next raped small child will have no such access.
The far-right Supreme Court intended this. They put no language in, alongside the notes about what misogynistic witch hunters from the 1600s might have thought about all this, differentiating between abortions and “not-abortions.” And Foster and all the others are liars, malevolent gaslighting bullshit artists who don’t even care enough about the facts of each case they’re wading into to keep their stories straight for two minutes at a time.
Fascism is built on such lies. It is premised on remaking history and words both so that whatever the far-right autocracy in charge does can be classified as good and all the things it opposes can be called bad. We’ve seen it in Supreme Court cases that discard the entirety of American history to nutpick historical European errata. We’ve seen it in the Republican attempt to overthrow the government and then, after the effort failed, declare that the ransacking of the US Capitol doesn’t even amount to something that needs a thorough investigation. We see it in every last thing Ron DeSantis says or does.
But the example of a far-far-right anti-abortion movement lying outright to all of America about whether a raped 10-year-old even exists, then declaring that the child could have gotten an abortion in a state that explicitly banned it, then declaring the child who received an abortion did not actually receive an abortion but received an unknown “something else,” then targeting the out-of-state doctor who did care for the child as the rest of these rat bastards went on with their vicious, cruel, lying lives—that’s what all of America will look like under fascism.
You won’t know what the laws are because they don’t care what the laws are. The laws will be whatever they want them to be, depending on who’s asking and why.