The story of the 10-year-old Ohio girl who had to leave her state for reproductive care made national and international headlines, and for good reason: She was the victim of a gut-wrenching crime who couldn’t be treated in her own home state because of Republican-imposed restrictions.
But as heartbreaking as this story was, it had a broader political significance in part because of the underlying question: Do Republicans support using the government to force children impregnated by rapists to take their pregnancies to term against their wishes?
One of the original questions from the right was whether the story about the 10-year-old girl was real — and too many GOP voices said it was not. Reality soon proved otherwise. But it was that root question that still deserved an answer. Either Republicans support using the government to force raped children to take pregnancies to term or they do not.
As voters head to the polls in the fall, it’s hardly unreasonable to think voters should know where candidates and officeholders stand. It was against this backdrop that a leading Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan weighed in on the subject. The Washington Post reported:
Tudor Dixon told interviewer Charlie LeDuff on his podcast, “No BS Newshour,” that procedures needed to save the “life of the mother” should be the only exception to abortion bans. “Do you think you can win with that?” LeDuff asked. He dug in: “The question would be like, a 14-year-old who, let’s say, is a victim of abuse by an uncle, you’re saying carry that?”
Dixon, at times speaking over the host, responded, “Yeah, perfect example … okay … because I know people who are the product — a life is a life for me. That’s how it is.”
In case this isn’t obvious, Dixon is not an obscure figure. On the contrary, recent polling suggests that she’s likely to be the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nominee in the fall.
And as far as she’s concerned, if a 14-year-old Michigan girl is impregnated by a rapist, the government should force that girl to go forward with that pregnancy, regardless of her wishes.
This is, as Dixon put it, a “perfect example” of her beliefs on the subject.
She’s not alone. On a recent episode of “Meet the Press,” NBC News’ Chuck Todd asked Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson what would happen if a 13-year-old in his home state were impregnated after getting raped by a relative. “Are you comfortable with that?” the host asked.
As regular readers may recall, the Republican governor grudgingly conceded that if a 13-year-old Arkansan is impregnated after getting raped by a relative, that pregnancy could not be voluntarily terminated. Before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, an abortion for that child would’ve been a legal option, but not anymore.
Around the same time, Philip Gunn, the Republican state House Speaker in Mississippi, considered a similar question and said abortion should be illegal even for a 12-year-old who’d been raped by a relative.
South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, took the same line earlier this month when asked if her state would “force a 10-year-old in that very same situation to have a baby.” Noem ultimately replied, “What I would say is, I don’t believe a tragic situation should be perpetuated by another tragedy.”
To be sure, each of these GOP officeholders and candidates are entitled to their beliefs. It’s a free country — maybe not quite as free as it was before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but these Republican are welcome to make their case to the electorate.
And therein lies the point: Dixon’s comments were striking, especially to those who support reproductive rights, but they were also clarifying in the context of a political and policy debate.
In the United States, will our government force raped children to take their pregnancies to term against their wishes? A growing number of prominent Republicans — holding or seeking statewide office — believe the answer should be “yes.”
Do other Republicans agree? It seems like a question candidates should answer.
Do American voters weighing their 2022 choices agree? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.