A valedictory speech like no other.
June 3, 2021 8:20 AM   Subscribe

The heartbeat law recently signed into law by the Republican governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, outlaws abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy as soon as a heartbeat can be detected and before many women are aware they are pregnant. The Texas bill joins at least a dozen other states that have enacted measures designed to ban abortion in early pregnancy. Unique to the Texas bill is a provision that would allow private citizens to file civil lawsuits against anyone (doctors, staff, family or friends) who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion. The people of Austin Texas protested, but what’s getting the most press is Paxton Smith, Dallas area valedictorian who ditched her approved speech: "I couldn't keep my mind on the project. My mind kept wandering to the 'heartbeat bill' and what it meant. So, I started making some notes," she told The Associated Press. The speech she gave is one for the ages.
posted by bluesky43 (88 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
 
i heard about this. transcript?
posted by j_curiouser at 9:00 AM on June 3




It's a very good speech. I wonder whether she's thinking about going into politics.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:06 AM on June 3


As a non-American, I was dimly aware of the valedictorian speech tradition from TV and movies, but I must say that the idea that an academic institution would invite the highest academically performing student to give a speech at a ceremony, but would feel that it needed to approve that speech in advance, seems... IDK.. odd? Authoritarian, even?

That being said, Paxton Smith is all kinds of awesome, and you should all be proud. I imagine that took some serious guts.
posted by Harald74 at 9:10 AM on June 3 [21 favorites]


The way she delivered that speech was powerful. Made me cry.
posted by fikri at 9:18 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


the idea that an academic institution would invite the highest academically performing student to give a speech at a ceremony, but would feel that it needed to approve that speech in advance, seems... IDK.. odd? Authoritarian, even?

Yep, that's U.S. high school. That aspect of it hasn't changed since I was a girl 40 years ago.
posted by JanetLand at 9:20 AM on June 3 [55 favorites]


Sure would be nice if the left treated it as a war. The right sure as hell is.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:25 AM on June 3 [69 favorites]


What a badass
posted by Windopaene at 9:25 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]


Can't wait for edgy right pundits to start the abuse train.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:35 AM on June 3


Calling it the "Heartbeat Bill" accepts the emotionally charged framing of the right, and we need to be playing that game too. We should be calling it the Coathanger Bill, or the Rapist Rights Bill, or the Fatal Sepsis Bill.
posted by theodolite at 9:36 AM on June 3 [102 favorites]


It's just simply disgusting that if you have a uterus you're now ultra-responsible for knowing exactly when baby is in there because it's your duty to the government to allow that thing to grow, use your bodily resources, and burst out of you, no matter what it costs you physically, emotionally, or financially, you owe this to the government. It's absolutely insane that this is the country we have.
posted by bleep at 9:42 AM on June 3 [56 favorites]


you owe this to the government

And, like the deadbeat dad, it wants and takes no responsibility after the baby is born.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:46 AM on June 3 [42 favorites]


Nah, neither the government nor the right care about the baby. They care about keeping control of women. Of reducing the workforce competition for good jobs. Of making sure that there's a ready-made pool of desperate people who will beg men for food and shelter in exchange for literally any utterly degrading task performed because they have no alternative. It's just more slavery in all but name. The harder the cis-het-right-white-men push down on everyone else, the better their world becomes. It really is war.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:47 AM on June 3 [59 favorites]


Remember, this from the "the government can't tell me what to do" guns and no masks party. The blatant hypocrisy is nothing new, but good lord I hate those fuckers so much.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:48 AM on June 3 [78 favorites]


Calling it the "Heartbeat Bill" accepts the emotionally charged framing of the right, and we need to be playing that game too. We should be calling it the Coathanger Bill, or the Rapist Rights Bill, or the Fatal Sepsis Bill.

A thousand times this! Why are we so bad at it?
posted by treepour at 9:56 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]


Republicans are too obsessed with abortion....if they focused on property taxes and so on they would be more viable....if someone has an abortion, who cares?

Enough of this stuff
posted by Broncos 1999 at 9:58 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


It's just simply disgusting that if you have a uterus you're now ultra-responsible for knowing exactly when baby is in there

This is what I was thinking - 6 weeks? Pregnancies are back-dated (I can't remember, is it back-dated to the last period?). So it's nearly impossible to even know you're pregnant until you have missed a period (assuming you have regular ones) and therefore are already 5 weeks. Are people supposed to take a pregnancy test every week, then?
posted by kitcat at 10:01 AM on June 3 [11 favorites]


Calling it the "Heartbeat Bill" accepts the emotionally charged framing of the right, and we need to be playing that game too. We should be calling it the Coathanger Bill, or the Rapist Rights Bill, or the Fatal Sepsis Bill.

I keep waiting for the US left to learn this lesson in a broad and enduring way. You win by lifting the heart or punching for the gut, so the messaging always needs to be visceral. Dull appeals to reason are a perennially losing strategy.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:04 AM on June 3 [27 favorites]


So it's nearly impossible to even know you're pregnant until you have missed a period (assuming you have regular ones) and therefore are already 5 weeks. Are people supposed to take a pregnancy test every week, then?

Exactly! That is what this bill requires! They should be calling it a Missed Period Bill because the government is now requiring you to track your periods to the day if you're someone who can't handle building a whole person right now.
posted by bleep at 10:06 AM on June 3 [25 favorites]


And lord help you if your periods are irregular like mine! I wouldn't have any idea I was pregnant until the thing started to show.
posted by bleep at 10:07 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]


A thousand times this! Why are we so bad at it?

I don't know! It drives me crazy. My guess is that people on the wonky-technocratic-liberal side of the spectrum have misguided faith that voters respond to facts and evidence and logical arguments rather than emotional appeals, and people on the activist-anticapitalist-left are suspicious of anything that smells like marketing or intentionally crafting language that appeals to conservatives.
posted by theodolite at 10:07 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]


I have never actually heard anyone making the arguments about what this actually, physically means for people. It's like, civilization malpractice or something.
posted by bleep at 10:09 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]


It's horrifying to see multiple states effectively banning abortion (as a non-American I wasn't aware of the recent state laws until now). And yes, a 6 week cutoff is very close to being a total ban given the facts of test detection limits and when symptoms typically appear. It's an extra layer of disgusting that it's typically decided by people with zero risk - let alone experience - of being forced to endure the misery and health risks of pregnancy and birth. It's unpleasant enough when you do it willingly... being forced into it is inhumane.

Kudos to Paxton for the very brave speech.
posted by randomnity at 10:10 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]


In Missouri's case, we had a health director keeping track of women's periods in a spreadsheet. So gross.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:12 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I like the sound of this Texas

(Paxton Smith's Texas, that is. Fuck the other Texas.)

Also: The Kids Are Alright
posted by chavenet at 10:18 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


Kudos is right. I don't know if today's adekllny has the composure and thoughtful presence-of-mind to write and give that speech. I sadly know for sure that 17yo adekllny driving to graduation would have just kept driving instead of standing up like Paxton did. Guts.
posted by adekllny at 10:22 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


I can’t help but feel a major reason for these laws is that white men like the governor want to make sure that white women are having babies—by any means necessary. Not that they won’t enjoy punishing women of color also, but I’m sure white demographics are a part of this somehow.

These guys have lost their goddamned fucking minds in their quest to hold on to power. They must be fought. We must fight them. Paxton Smith gets this.
posted by droplet at 10:30 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]


if someone has an abortion, who cares?

A substantial enough block of single issues voters that pandering to them is enough to maintain control of many of the political structures that give unbalanced power to rural areas.
posted by Candleman at 12:04 PM on June 3 [25 favorites]


I can’t help but feel a major reason for these laws is that white men like the governor want to make sure that white women are having babies—by any means necessary. Not that they won’t enjoy punishing women of color also, but I’m sure white demographics are a part of this somehow.

This. I sincerely believe much of this is a bunch of white supremacists terrified of not having enough white babies.
posted by thivaia at 12:15 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Just, wow.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:33 PM on June 3


Kind of surprised they didn't cut off her mic.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:35 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


brava
posted by j_curiouser at 12:39 PM on June 3


Republicans are too obsessed with abortion....if they focused on property taxes and so on they would be more viable.

Considering the abortion issue has made a significant number of white Christians Republican voters no matter who is running on what platforms, and effectively led to many Republican electoral victories at the national, state, and local levels for the last 50 years, I dunno how much more "viable" they could be.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:44 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]


The republicans have been waging war on LGBTQIA+ rights, women's rights, voting rights, basic decency, transgender safety, people who need assistance, transgender children, civility, rule of law, democracy itself, the lower class, minorities, truth, honesty, morals and ethics for all my adult life. This is not my surprised face.
posted by Jacen at 12:45 PM on June 3 [16 favorites]


This endgame in Texas should frighten all of us elsewhere.

In Canada this week, 82 Conservative MPs voted in favour of Bill C-233, which sought to ban doctors from performing an abortion based on the sex of a fetus. You might think well, I mean, people shouldn't abort on the basis of sex...but that's the playbook, it's getting the wedge in there that it's okay to start making those decisions. It's also very interesting to look at how media covered it:

Global News: Conservative MP’s abortion bill defeated 248-82 as Liberals blast O’Toole over free vote
Toronto Star: Majority of Erin O’Toole’s Conservative caucus back bill seeking to ban sex-selective abortion
Catholic Register: Sex-selective abortion bill defeated in House of Commons

Perhaps most oddly: I searched CBC.ca for coverage and couldn't find any that was recent (I may have missed it, but wow, that new Conservative-packed board is something else.)
posted by warriorqueen at 12:58 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


Kind of surprised they didn't cut off her mic.

I was too! And yet, if an unsympathetic school administrator had done that, it would have become an even bigger story. I like to think that perhaps this inspiring young woman had considered this.
posted by mochapickle at 1:01 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]


Her voice shook a little: she knew she was daring them to shut her down. And yet they didn't! What a boss. It's sad that it takes having a young person who recognizes the stakes and begs for her future to these nasty Republican bastardss. Kids, I am so, so sorry.

It sounded like there was noise coming from the audience, but I couldn't make out whether it was supportive or not. Anyone know?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:25 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Wow, what a thoughtful and exceptional speaker. Thank you, Paxton Smith.

On one hand, I want to say "I look forward to what we hear from her in the future" and on the other hand I don't want to put that pressure on her. Surely each of us should speak up when we have the opportunity, without it being an obligation to future work.
posted by Lexica at 1:37 PM on June 3 [14 favorites]


It's entirely possible the people with the power/ability to cut her mike aren't a homologous group of proto facists. The official statement from the board was certainly wish-washy enough.
posted by Mitheral at 1:44 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Calling it the "Heartbeat Bill" accepts the emotionally charged framing of the right

I'd rather engage the logic head-on, that a heartbeat is not what makes us human. Cells in a petri dish can develop a heartbeat. Any dumb animal has one, including, say, rats and mice. At 6 weeks the fetus is the size of a pea.

For me, the whole argument around abortion hinges on whether the fetus is a person yet, and at 6 weeks it seems fairly easy to argue that it is not. It seems valuable to actually be explicit about this.
posted by anhedonic at 1:49 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]


It sounded like there was noise coming from the audience, but I couldn't make out whether it was supportive or not. Anyone know?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:25 PM on June


At the end of the video there's a shot of the student audience (many clapping) and then of the podium (also some clapping presumably employees of the HS).

Update: LHHS valedictorian ‘overwhelmed’ with messages after graduation speech on reproductive rights
posted by bluesky43 at 2:04 PM on June 3 [4 favorites]


The argument around abortion actually hinges on whether or not the government can threaten you with prison if you don't successfully pass a watermelon out of your pee hole on command.
posted by bleep at 2:18 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


I am so proud of this young woman. It was very courageous to do what she did.

As for Rapists Rights Bill itself ... oyyyy. When I think about it, all I can see are women wearing red robes. Gilead, here we come. :(
posted by zooropa at 2:19 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Such a brave young woman, I can't even imagine being strong enough to do something like this at that age -- or even at my current one.

As to the naming conventions for bills, as has been noted, it's ridiculous that the Dems can't come up with similar names and rallying cries, and like many here, I'm so goddamn done with the Republican party naming the bills that The Heritage Foundation drafts for them "Life" or "Heartbeat" or "Right to X" or "X Freedom/Freedom of X" and then having both the Dems and the American press go along with pretending these bills truly grant rights and freedoms to the American people -- when what they really almost always do is oppress the poor, women, and minorities while funneling public money to the Republican's private industry pals.

And even beyond that, there's the fact that if I as a person on the left were to propose gun control legislation and then said something like "We must regulate the number of magazine rounds 9mm Colt 45s can hold," I'd be laughed out of existence and kicked off any relevant committee.

But be an old white conservative cishet dude who demonstrates that you know fuck all about women and reproductive biology and you're treated as a right honorable noble and wise Lord whose word must be obeyed when you make laws on abortion.

This has got to stop. Nuff respect to Paxton Smith.
posted by lord_wolf at 2:21 PM on June 3 [13 favorites]


Visceral is the right word. I have spent most of my adulthood thinking about what makes abortion so hard to discuss. As a former anti-choicer, I try to extrapolate from what I learned about people on that side of the issue.

And I now think the single most driving force for many of those people is reflected in what one of them said when I innocently asked why we didn't support contraception. Surely we would want to use a tool that so effectively reduced abortion?

Her response: "But then they get away with it!"

It, in this case, means being a woman who freely makes sexual choices and does not suffer from them. Pregnancy was the punishment that they shouldn't be allowed to escape. The babies were never important in themselves, just a handy club.

That's what gets a lot of these people going. It's hard for liberals to accept that, we want to use facts and logic. And on fringe anti-choicers, like I was, it can work.

But for people who love to have a Two Minute Hate, accusing women of being whores willing to murder babies really hits that sweet spot of despising someone while praising yourself for doing so. Because you love babies.
posted by emjaybee at 2:27 PM on June 3 [51 favorites]


And yes, a 6 week cutoff is very close to being a total ban given the facts of test detection limits and when symptoms typically appear.

It is a total ban. Even if you catch the pregnancy before the time limit, you still need to arrange an appointment that is immediately available but also fits with your work schedule, have or arrange transportation in that same tiny window, and have the money on hand to afford missing work, paying for the appointment, paying for transportation, and possibly paying for lodging if you had to travel a long distance. Does TX also have that rule where you have to have the appointment and then wait another 48-72 hours to "think about things," have a second appointment, and THEN they give you pill? Because that's basically a week off from work, since the pill can cause physical symptoms bad enough that going to work the next day is not doable.

There simply isn't access to legal abortion in Texas now, and this law is going to spread like rich-white-man VD across the country.

Oh, and now let's talk about how it's basically impossible for a woman to get her tubes tied in many parts of the country. "You'll change your mind. What about your husband?" and in my case, "you'll be entering menopause in a few years so there's no point." My grandmother had her last child when she was 47. I'm still waiting on that menopause, thanks.
posted by tllaya at 2:41 PM on June 3 [22 favorites]


Sure would be nice if the left treated it as a war. The right sure as hell is.

A fair chunk of the left doesn't actually see women's reproductive rights as important, or at the least as less important than economic issues. I remember leftists right here telling me back in 2016 that women should give up feminist issues and concentrate on working for the Revolution. Leftists have told me they flat out didn't care about the Supreme Court and reproductive freedom.

To be completely honest, ask yourself how many of the vocal leftists out there would be willing to trade away women's reproductive freedom for universal health care and basic income?
posted by happyroach at 2:43 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


The messaging around abortion is the single most infuriating unforced error by the left that I have ever observed in American politics.

For decades the right has been permitted to frame this issue in ways that benefit them -- conflating the spectre of late-term abortions, described in the most gruesome possible way, with the stereotype of pro-choice women as selfish and uncaring people who want to have promiscuous sex without consequences and want to be allowed to kill babies whenever they feel like it to avoid being inconvenienced.

We know that this framing is idiotic. People with unwanted pregnancies generally want to stop being pregnant as soon as possible, so they generally have early-term abortions -- unless they're prevented from having them because access has deliberately been made difficult. And they wouldn't need to have abortions at all if they had access to proper sex ed and contraception -- but of course the right doesn't want that, because the whole point of this is to control the terms under which women are permitted to have sex.

We know that late-term abortions are incredibly rare and performed predominantly for medical reasons when something has gone horribly wrong with a wanted pregnancy. We know that strict laws against late-term abortions, which are the result of the right's successful manufacturing of a problem where no problem exists, impact women who are already going through a horrifically traumatic experience, and make it additionally traumatic for no reason, and possibly put their lives in danger (or in fact actually get them killed).

But every single time someone with an iota of sense tries to draw attention to this -- and these are facts, not some kind of clever spin to make a progressive argument more palatable to conservatives -- there's always some complete fucking pedant who pops up to say "Well, actually, that's not the point, because even if a woman wanted to abort a perfectly healthy foetus at nine months because it was Tuesday and she felt like it, she should have the right to do that, and that is the most important thing!"

What are you doing? Seriously? You're embracing someone else's ridiculous strawman and making it the flagship of your argument, because... you think that unless you prioritize the defence of the least defensible case, while ignoring minor details like the actual statistics, you are compromising the purity of your position?

This is complete and utter political incompetence, and I don't see it getting better anytime soon. This is one of the main reasons that I would never in a thousand years consider living in the US. I'm watching the lives of half the country's population being legislated away by one faction while the other faction flails around uselessly.
posted by confluency at 2:45 PM on June 3 [25 favorites]


One thing that has always puzzled me is the large percentage of women who are supportive of these laws. I understand that there will always be naysayers. The bottom-line for me is that there were about 10 percent of women who were anti-suffragist, if I remember my reading on it. But with abortion; it is closer to 40 percent, I think. Moreover, in the time I have been in this country (since the early 90s), the restrictions that are being passed and debated about have become more and more appalling. It went without saying that incidents of Rape and Incest were always excluded when it was being debated in the 90s. But even that is gone by the wayside now. And the women who support the restrictions on abortion are usually okay with these not being excluded anymore.
posted by indianbadger1 at 2:47 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


That is the most important thing though. If you make it about the baby you will never get around to the person carrying the baby.
posted by bleep at 2:47 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


Women are supportive of these laws because they think it's about babies. It actually has nothing to do with babies. These things are not babies until they're born. Until they're born they're a thing that can kill you, and the government can force you to die from it.
posted by bleep at 2:49 PM on June 3 [12 favorites]


As always, there’s a perfect West Wing moment to memorialize this.

“I’m tired of working for candidates who make me think that I should be embarrassed to believe what I believe, Sam! I’m tired of getting them elected! We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said, “Liberal’ means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on Defense, and we’re going to tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn’t have to go to work if they don’t want to!” And instead of saying, “Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave it to Beaver trip back to the Fifties....!” We cowered in the corner and said, “Please. Don’t. Hurt. Me.”

No more.”

posted by zooropa at 2:51 PM on June 3 [19 favorites]


Over on fb, there are a chorus of complaints about her speech. Chief among them is the ol' "That was neither the time or place for that speech!"

Paxton Smith clearly thought about it and covered the time and place issue quite well in her speech:

"And I’m talking about this today, on a day as important as this, on a day honoring 12 years of hard academic work, on a day where we are all gathered together, on a day where you are most inclined to listen to a voice like mine, a woman’s voice, to tell you that this is a problem, and it’s a problem that cannot wait."
posted by bz at 2:52 PM on June 3 [30 favorites]


This shit is why I got my tubes out. I would have my whole uterus out if that was an option. I don't want to get pregnant and in this country there is a whole section of society that thinks that getting pregnant is my job and if I were to accidentally become pregnant they would do everything in their power to make sure I gave birth. The moment after I woke up from surgery was one of the most revelatory of my life because I'd finally taken control of my body away from the government.

You shouldn't have to get sterilized to keep control of your body. You shouldn't have to go that far to ensure that a bunch of fascists can't turn you into a baby factory. This country is sick.
posted by schroedinger at 3:19 PM on June 3 [40 favorites]


For me, the whole argument around abortion hinges on whether the fetus is a person yet,

For me, it's whether I can make decisions about my own body. I have the right to not be pregnant. And the government has absolutely no business telling any of its citizens what medical procedures they can have.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:09 PM on June 3 [18 favorites]


This shit is why I got my tubes out.

Thank you for sharing this. I have been casually involved with supporting Planned Parenthood for years in Ohio, which in many ways has been trying to be the Texas of the Midwest when it comes to reproductive politics. I have seen the end of Roe coming for ages because of closely following what's been building for years in states like Ohio, and have been trying to figure out how to pursue permanent sterilization once that happens (love my IUD, still trying to figure out what has a lower failure rate than even that and is also permanent).

I don't think enough people are aware of the prevalence of trigger laws, and it's time to make your post-Roe preparations now. This goes for everyone - even if you don't have reproductive capacity, you still need to make preparations for everyone else in your life that might need abortion care in the coming years.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:10 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]


This is an evil bit of legislation but I believe people here are misunderstanding it. This is not seriously meant to become actual law. It is so very flagrantly unconstitutional that officials will be enjoined from enforcing it, and that decision will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which will strike down Roe v. Wade. That's the objective, which is why it is so absurdly written, creating a private right of action for anyone to sue anyone else who contemplates having, performing, or assisting an abortion. You wouldn't do that with laws meant to dissuade actual criminal acts. This is moon legislation, performative nonsense that it is just there to let a dubiously-appointed court reverse inconvenient judgments.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:25 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


"They're just passing this to get Roe v. Wade struck down" is the least reassuring argument you could possibly make. So they strike it down, and THEN what do you think is going to happen? Daises and roses?!
posted by schroedinger at 4:44 PM on June 3 [29 favorites]


Yeah no worries you dumb idiots, they're not actually going to ban abortion, they just want to ban abortion.
posted by bleep at 4:49 PM on June 3 [15 favorites]


Oh geez, I didn't know we were misunderstanding this law! Golly gee, good thing we know the score now!
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:01 PM on June 3 [13 favorites]


Plus! Hey! This is "moon legislation" as you say, that hurts people now. That restricts fundamental human rights now. Not at some point in the future where they overturn Roe. Plenty to be upset about.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:11 PM on June 3 [15 favorites]


Joe in Australia > Read the room better next time. Telling people not to worry is equal to saying “Sit down and calm down.” Not gonna happen.

One of the saddest parts of all is that this is essentially going to create the situation that the “pro-lifers” are supposedly fighting to prevent: back alley abortions, subpar medical care, and an increase in babies born and then given up.

That, in a nutshell, is what proves the argument that this is not about ensuring the life and welfare of the baby. It’s about control over women. Period.
posted by zooropa at 5:35 PM on June 3 [17 favorites]


"They're just passing this to get Roe v. Wade struck down" is the least reassuring argument you could possibly make.

Oh for goodness' sake. My comment should literally be the opposite of “less threatening” because this law isn't just an attack on Texans, but on America as a whole. As Mostly Vowels points out above, once the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade it will immediately trigger dormant legislation in a bunch of other States and abortion will be criminalised across much of the USA.

So while concerns about the present effect of the law are entirely valid, those effects are secondary to the legislators' actual goal. This law has been designed as a tool to let them eliminate the constitutional right to abortions; and without Supreme Court reform it's very likely to succeed.

Focusing on specific details of the bill like the 6-week trigger is missing the point: those things are primarily intended to make it easier for some private organisation to win a private prosecution against e.g. Planned Parenthood, a doctor or a pregnant person, which will be appealed, and the appeal will reach the Supreme Court. That's why the bill is so crazy: the people behind it aren't leaving a prosecution up to state officials; they're going to do it themselves, and they don't want an argument over things like “was the fetus viable” or “just how far along was the pregnancy”. Pretty much any person performing any action connected with any abortion can be privately sued at basically no cost to the person or organisation bringing the action. They're happy to immiserate their targets, but their real plan is to attack everyone and the any real defense will have to take place in the White House and on the floor of the Senate.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:14 PM on June 3 [11 favorites]


I have reasons for staying on birth control even though I haven't in forever. Y'know....just in case anything happens.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:25 PM on June 3


We are lucky enough to live in a state that has trigger legislation that if Roe v. Wade is overruled or abortion is otherwise de-legalized at the federal level, a state law kicks in that not only guarantees its legality, but provides state funds to replace federal funds and charitable funds.

HOWEVER, we'd been dallying on permanent birth control measures after finishing having kids, when Trump got elected, and my husband made that appointment LICKETY SPLIT. I literally could not survive another pregnancy -- my uterus ruptured with the last one, and the Catholic hospital we delivered at was clear that my death risk with another pregnancy was VERY HIGH and my possibility of carrying past 32 weeks was VERY LOW, not that we wanted more kids, just that EVEN CATHOLICISM thought we should not have more -- and we were very afraid that, even in a liberal state with a trigger law to PROTECT reproductive rights, we might not have access to adequate birth control measures that would ensure I could see my children grow up.

We would never have chosen abortion for ourselves unless the fetus's defects were incompatible with life -- we discussed it thoroughly before we tried to get pregnant (I have two degrees in theology! I taught college ethics for five years! honestly we discussed it pretty clearly before we even had sex, although the convos got more comprehensive when we were "trying"), and our obstetrician initiated that conversation with us when we first got pregnant the first time. We opted against genetic testing when I had a "geriatric pregnancy" (I was 38, that made me geriatric) because we knew whatever it showed wouldn't affect our decisions. But after more than 13 "official" years in the Christian ethical space (as an undergrad, grad student, and professor), where abortion is a major driver of ethical debates, I cannot reconcile the necessary autonomy of the pregnant person with a so-called "pro-life" position. It seems insane to insist that a fetus, as a "person," has rights, but that a pregnant person does not. And when you drill down to it, it's never about anything but the fact that the pregnant person (i.e., "woman") dared to have sex while having a uterus, and gave up her rights either by having a uterus or by having sex while having a uterus.

My students (who were mostly deeply evangelical Christian) always told me that when I was pregnant, I'd feel differently, and "feel" like my fetus was a person, and I always told them I'd report back. And when I WAS pregnant, I would 100% have thrown myself in front of a bus for that fetus (had that not been totally counterproductive). But I never "felt," throughout any of my pregnancies, that the fetus was a PERSON like I was a person. And it struck me as so strange that my students thought my FEELINGS should govern my moral logic. Like, I definitely think feelings ought to inform one's moral logic (I'm a philosophical feminist!), but the idea that pregnancy should convince me that personhood appears at conception is FLATLY BIZARRE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:41 PM on June 3 [30 favorites]


When my wife got pregnant at age 40, less than a year after her cancer diagnosis, we had a conversation about what she would choose should something go wrong with the pregnancy. She was firm that she wouldn’t want an abortion. And I told her that, as selfish as it may be, if there was a situation where only one person would survive the pregnancy I would choose her every time.

As it turns out, the Fates made the choice for us. We learned at the 20 week ultrasound that our daughter had died. We were then faced with a choice* — did we want to induce labor or have the doctor perform a dilation & extraction to remove the remains?

Reader, this where I tell you that dilation & extraction is a late-term abortion. I did not know that fact before that horrible day.

I grew up in a large Catholic family. I’d been told many times growing up, in specific detail, what they imagine abortion feels like for the fetus. Never — not once! Did they discuss what it means for the woman. Frankly, women were never considered except as objects of derision for their wanton and selfish behavior.

Before the doctor can perform a D&X, the cervix must be dilated. This is done by packing laminaria around the cervix. This causes the muscles to start contracting and open the cervix.

It’s a long night.

The next morning, the D&X is performed with the woman under mild sedation. It is a simple procedure that takes about 45 minutes in and out of the OR. Afterwards, the woman is given a supply of the World’s Biggest Feminine Napkins and advised that there will be a lot of blood for 2-3 weeks. Oh, and your body just went from Pregnant to Not Pregnant so hormone production is going to be out of whack. So be prepared for a rotten month.

I say this because it’s important to recognize how hard this is physically on a woman. This is not a choice undertaken lightly. Rather, it is the choice you make when the alternatives are even worse. The women who are faced with this situation deserve some goddamned respect.

Prologue: I go occasionally to the cemetery and contemplate what life would be like raising a daughter. It fills me with more than a little sadness if I dwell on the idea for too long. But if it came down to it, I would still choose my wife.

*I say “we” but truthfully the choice was always hers. My role was simply that of the dutiful husband. I had to be strong, even though my world was collapsing around me.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:19 PM on June 3 [54 favorites]


paxtonsmith

Good tag to add to My MeFi favs

done
posted by filtergik at 1:16 AM on June 4


The harder the cis-het-right-white-men push down on everyone else, the better their world becomes.

What puts this particular strain of socially transmissible mental illness over the line into genuine tragedy is the fact that that isn't even true.

These deluded bastards would have better lives than they already do if they didn't need to keep pushing.
posted by flabdablet at 6:06 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Focusing on specific details of the bill like the 6-week trigger is missing the point:

The innocent people who get caught up in this will also agree a 6 week trigger is missing the point.
posted by bleep at 8:51 AM on June 4


I also have another question.

Assuming that Roe v Wade gets struck down, which is entirely possible with the appointment of Kavanaugh and ACB; this means that the laws revert back to the states.

Which in turn means that there's going to be a real variance in terms of how both the pro-choice and anti-choice (I refuse to call it "pro-life") are going to be implemented in various states. Will this be grounds for getting this back to the Supreme Court on the basis if equal protection? I cannot imagine how the fact that if you are pregnant in Illinois, you will be treated vastly differently than say Indiana (I am sure those troglodytes are waiting to curb choice); be judicially okay under the equal protection clause of the constitution?
posted by indianbadger1 at 9:13 AM on June 4


For decades the right has been permitted to frame this issue in ways that benefit them

My biggest beef is with the phrase "unborn babies." That's an oxymoron. By definition, babies are humans that have been born.

Do they also think of very old people as "undead corpses"?
posted by binturong at 9:51 AM on June 4 [15 favorites]


I can’t help but feel a major reason for these laws is that white men like the governor want to make sure that white women are having babies—by any means necessary. Not that they won’t enjoy punishing women of color also, but I’m sure white demographics are a part of this somehow.

Can confirm. I was memorably told by my anti-choice in-laws that my husband and I (both white) should have babies because otherwise all these immigrants' babies were going to overrun the country. The kicker? I am an immigrant. I said, "any baby we have would be an immigrant's baby," and they said, "you know what I mean," and I said, "I'M AFRAID THAT I DO," and my husband dragged me into another room before a fight broke out. I still wish that I had had some better response.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:53 AM on June 4 [30 favorites]


Seems like an excellent response to me, joannemerriam!

Which in turn means that there's going to be a real variance in terms of how both the pro-choice and anti-choice (I refuse to call it "pro-life") are going to be implemented in various states.

There are already huge variants among the states in how accessible abortions are, how safe they are when you need one (ie: has your doctor been well trained? and/or does your state require medically erroneous statements to be delivered to you or medically unnecessary wait times?), and what the specifics are around this kind of maternal care. Between this and vast differences in voting methods and rights, what we have here is a whole country that has been gerrymandered and will continue to become even more so. Most people really don't know what is allowed in their state on either of these issues until it becomes relevant to them and most people also don't know what other states are doing. There are states that I now won't move to because of their anti-woman healthcare stances and insane voting rules. Those states also drive out people like me who feel that they can find a better world in another state. Those states will get "redder and redder" and that's what they want. It's working pretty well and that's just one reason that the abortion debate just keeps giving and giving. The people who push these bills also will never be affected by them...or so they assume. It's pressure on the villagers to fight it out or leave.
posted by amanda at 10:45 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


These deluded bastards would have better lives than they already do if they didn't need to keep pushing.

This statement presumes that, for many of these bastards, the chance to punish and control Others isn't precisely what makes their lives better.
Or, more succinctly, 'the cruelty is the point'.
posted by myotahapea at 11:58 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


There are states that I now won't move to because of their anti-woman healthcare stances and insane voting rules.

Seriously, in this vast beautiful land I feel like the majority of states are just unsafe to raise a family in due to these horrible anti-woman, anti-voting, anti-LGBTQ, anti-children, anti-germ theory, anti-union laws I see popping up everywhere. Entirely unsafe, unlivable country.
posted by bleep at 12:53 PM on June 4 [8 favorites]


And I know lots of countries are even worse but that's not really helpful or comforting. If I had a daughter and lived in Indiana and she went to jail for having a miscarriage I would consider that my fault for putting her there.
posted by bleep at 12:54 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Assuming that Roe v Wade gets struck down, which is entirely possible with the appointment of Kavanaugh and ACB; this means that the laws revert back to the states.

Until a Republican Congress and President pass a national abortion ban, which Kavanaugh and Barrett and whoever that Republican president picks to replace Stephen Breyer would uphold.
posted by Gelatin at 1:08 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The people who push these bills also will never be affected by them...or so they assume.

Oh they are, they just will never admit to it. See all the other social control laws they pass.
posted by happyroach at 3:28 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


The people who push these bills also will never be affected by them...or so they assume.

They assume correctly. They know perfectly well that their power and influence will always shield them from the consequences of breaking the laws that they are inflicting on the peasants. Those laws have never been and never will be for them.
posted by confluency at 2:30 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Do they also think of very old people as "undead corpses"?

I think that this is disingenuous. A 9 month old foetus is infinitely closer to a day-old baby than a dead old person is to a living old person.

One of my frustrations with the pro-choice conversation is the seeming taboo on any acknowledgement that this is the case, and that it is reasonable and rational for people to think of a late-term foetus as a baby and to find the idea of killing one to be upsetting. As far as I can tell this taboo exists purely for meta-argument reasons -- there is a perception that if we do acknowledge this, we'll be leaving "them" an opening for banning late-term abortions, and from there increasingly broadening the ban.

First of all, this is like arguing over a hole in the fence when the front and back gates are wide open and trucks are driving through them. Second, I don't think that the meta concerns hold water. We don't have to pretend that a late-term foetus is magically completely unlike a baby, or to endlessly re-litigate the issue of the personhood of a foetus, to believe and to legislate that a foetus must be legally different to a baby. I believe 100% that it must be, and that pregnant people must have the unconditional right to terminate any pregnancy, because of the one fundamental difference between a foetus and a baby, which is that a foetus is still inside a person's body. And even if a foetus is at some point legally considered a person, no person should ever legally be forced to be a life support system for another person.

Thirdly... I'm conflicted about even including this, but I think it makes "us" look unreasonable and callous. It's something that makes me personally uncomfortable, and I think that I have a disproportionately low emotional response to babies. This makes it impossible to form any kind of rapport or compromise from which it would be possible to argue for the necessity of particular legal changes. I realise that this is partially also a meta argument, and I understand if not everyone finds it compelling.

We should absolutely push back against using this kind of language to describe extremely un-baby-like early term foetuses, because it's factually incorrect. And we should push back against attempts to impose stringent checks on late-term abortions, both because of the potential for abuse inherent in any legal system that could be used to adjudicate whether a particular pregnancy threatened the mother's life or health "enough" to qualify, and because the need for these checks is a completely imaginary problem -- like widespread voter fraud, or welfare queens, or cis male abusers pretending to be trans women. I know that analogies are fraught with peril, but I genuinely believe that these are all very similarly constructed conservative bogeymen created to justify the need for damaging laws. But this bogeyman is the only one whose reality I don't see routinely challenged, apparently because any such challenge is seen as undermining the cause.
posted by confluency at 3:12 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I think that this is disingenuous. A 9 month old foetus is infinitely closer to a day-old baby than a dead old person is to a living old person.

I've personally known dead old people who became living old people. They managed to make it into the Social Security Death Index, even. Turns out that death certificates can be revoked, but getting the Social Security Administration to believe it is a much lengthier and frustrating process.

I have some snarky things to say about the disingenuousness of strawmanning about late term abortion (and the stats show that it is and has always been a complete straw man), but I'll keep that to myself.
posted by wierdo at 5:02 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


As far as I can tell this taboo exists purely for meta-argument reasons -- there is a perception that if we do acknowledge this, we'll be leaving "them" an opening for banning late-term abortions, and from there increasingly broadening the ban.

No. There's no "taboo" - what there is is the FACT that "9 month old fetuses" DON'T GET ABORTED.

The whole thing is a political construct by the right wing to imply (or outright claim - a total lie) that women are just ripping out viable fetuses because they get bored or something.

From the Washington Post: "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.3 percent of abortions were performed at or greater than 21 weeks of gestation in 2015. In contrast, 91.1 percent were performed at or before 13 weeks and 7.6 percent at 14 to 20 weeks."

(Notice what's not in there? Abortion at 36 weeks. Or, y'know, 9 months.)

Dr. Omar Hamada: I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt.

I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies.

There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.


It's something that makes me personally uncomfortable, and I think that I have a disproportionately low emotional response to babies.

By even considering the issue this way you've demonstrated that the propaganda has worked on you. You've accepted - consciously or not - the conservative narrative that there's some significant numbers of viable "late-term" almost-born almost-babies being aborted, and thus the pro-choice side needs to acknowledge the potential/theoretical emotional impact of ACTUAL BABIES being aborted.

But the reality of the anti-abortion side is that THEY DON'T CARE how "old" the fetus is. ALL abortion is wrong in their eyes, trying to parse some fine line of where and when abortion goes from "acceptable" to unacceptable for them is a fool's game.

The pro-choice side isn't holding to some "taboo" for theoretical slippery-slope reasons. What we're doing is refusing to take the conservative bullshit narrative as based in fact.

You want a suspect analogy? I got one. What you're suggesting is like if a member of the Flat Earth Society is really really mad that they can't see the curvature of the Earth, then in order to allow geometry to continue to be taught we need to not only acknowledge how mad they are but ALSO engage in a discussion of how far away something has to be in order to begin to consider if the Earth is round or not.

Fuck that. The Earth is round, 9-month-old fetuses don't get aborted. We ain't holding to some meta "taboo", we're refusing to take horseshit and lies seriously.
posted by soundguy99 at 10:53 PM on June 5 [14 favorites]


I agree that third trimester abortion is extremely rare for any reason (and never done lightly by anyone involved) and highly restricted in most places anyway, but based on the followup tweets, that particular quote appears to be from an anti-choice doctor protesting a law allowing nonviable third trimester fetuses to be aborted, rather than an objective statement about abortion frequency.

It's important to maintain access to legal third trimester abortions not for the strawman of people aborting perfectly healthy babies "for fun", but to avoid horrible situations like being forced to bring a baby into the world who will die quickly and sometimes painfully. Many people in that position are forced to travel to a different state to end their (usually very wanted) pregnancy, adding more stress to an already terrible situation - and that's if they can afford it in the first place.

Lots of sad stories out there, for example. These people need access to legal abortion just as much as someone aborting in the first trimester.
posted by randomnity at 7:40 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


based on the followup tweets, that particular quote appears to be from an anti-choice doctor protesting a law allowing nonviable third trimester fetuses to be aborted, rather than an objective statement about abortion frequency.

Well, shit. My bad, apologies for not catching that.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:53 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


about 1.3 percent of abortions were performed at or greater than 21 weeks of gestation in 2015. In contrast, 91.1 percent were performed at or before 13 weeks and 7.6 percent at 14 to 20 weeks."

(Notice what's not in there? Abortion at 36 weeks. Or, y'know, 9 months.


36 weeks is greater than 21 weeks and would presumably be part of the 1.3%

There are states that I now won't move to because of their anti-woman healthcare stances and insane voting rules.

A recent Financial Post scaremonger story about the looming Canadian brain drain because of expected US immigration easing sparked a typical reddit thread on /r/canada with a heavy majority seeing no down side to moving to the US. And I'm like "Uh, reproductive rights?", "Legal Weed?", "A disturbing trend to authoritarianism?".

Frankly I'm worried the US is going to go full fascist and Canada is going to play Poland to the US's Germany
posted by Mitheral at 10:55 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


And yes, a 6 week cutoff is very close to being a total ban given the facts of test detection limits and when symptoms typically appear.

It is a total ban.


I have no idea how this isn't being said more loudly but YES! 6 weeks is a total ban.

OTC pregnancy tests work no sooner than 1 week after a missed period. Assuming you are among the 13% of people aged 15-50 who have a 4 week cycle, that still gives you only 1 week after a positive test to find an abortion provider, book your appointment, and complete the procedure. And what if you fall in the 87% of people aged 15-50 who DON'T have a 4 week cycle? What if you fall in the 22% of women aged 15-50 who have a 5-week-or-longer cycle length? You experience a total ban even without factoring in the date of availability of abortion.

Assuming the pregnancy has proceeded normally (i.e. not ectopic, not miscarried), ultrasound can only detect the pregnancy AFTER 5 weeks. This means a surgical/vacuum aspiration abortion is only possible if you have already hit week 6 so that the doctor can find the pregnancy on an ultrasound to verify it is there, and use an ultrasound later to verify it is gone. The quickest (15 minutes), most effective (lowest rate of failed abortion attempt), safest (fewest side effects), and least painful method of abortion is no longer an option in Texas.

The only available method prior to 6 weeks is a "medical abortion", where you take pills to induce a miscarriage. Frequently, this method is ALSO not available prior to 6 weeks because the medication has not been shown to work at clinical levels of effectiveness at such an early stage. There are studies which show medical abortions are effective "AS EARLY AS 42 days" into the pregnancy i.e. at 6 weeks - no sooner!

Even if doctors are willing to contravene guidelines and provide these pills to you at 5 or 5.5 weeks pregnant, medical abortions are still an undue hardship. They are painful and take a very long time to work - 6-8 hours of strong cramping akin to labor. Medical abortions also fail for anywhere between 1% to 5% of pregnancies. (It was the case for me, personally, that I sat through 8 hours of incredibly painful cramps in vain. The pills did not work.) If it fails for you, you're sol.

A tangentially related mindfuck: 6 week pregnancy means 4 weeks embryo age, i.e. 4 weeks since fertilization, i.e. 4 weeks since the pregnancy has actually existed. The sperm that fertilized the egg had not even been manufactured yet 6 weeks ago, the sperm didn't even exist yet, but according to your doctor, the pregnancy had already begun! We uterus-havers are all walking around 2 weeks (or more!) pregnant at all times. Even if we're having a period right that second, hey, it could be implantation bleeding. We're all perpetually a minimum of 2 weeks pregnant. This Is What Doctors Actually Believe [TM].
posted by MiraK at 11:49 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Do they also think of very old people as "undead corpses"?

Of course not! Very old people can be men, and men cannot be disrespected so.

Hell even corpses have more rights over their bodies than pregnant women* do. Nobody is allowed to take organs from a dead body without their consent, even if those organs will save the life of that dead person's biological fetus. Why? Because the dead person could be a man, and men's bodies can never be violated for the sake of their unborn children. A pregnant woman's uterus, otoh, all her blood, bones, skin, muscles, breasts, nutrients, etc. can be commandeered by the government against her will to serve her fetus, because she is merely a woman after all.

(*The government does not recognize trans people's validity.)
posted by MiraK at 11:58 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


A fair chunk of the left doesn't actually see women's reproductive rights as important, or at the least as less important than economic issues. I remember leftists right here telling me back in 2016 that women should give up feminist issues and concentrate on working for the Revolution.

Oh but it wasn't just the Bernie people, it was from the traditional leftists too! For every time that Bernie attacked Planned Parenthood as "part of the Establishment", or threw his weight behind anti-choice candidates who kissed his ring, or said shit like:
"We have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can't exclude people who disagree with us on one issue."
... we also got Nancy Pelosi saying:
“But let’s not spend too much time [on reproductive rights]. It’s kind of fading as an issue. It really is.”
... and Joe Biden announcing his explicit support to ban federal funding for abortion.

It's mass gaslighting, I sometimes think, the way everyone has been brainwashed to think the fight for women's rights has already been won, it's old news, that was then, feminism has already saved us, etc.
posted by MiraK at 12:28 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


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