Jonathan Mitchell, former Texas solicitor general and architect of Texas’s anti-abortion law, just filed a brief defending the same law. In it he makes two very disturbing statements, one of which gives away the game. Here is the first statement:
“Women can ‘control their reproductive lives’ without access to abortion; they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse. One can imagine a scenario in which a woman has chosen to engage in unprotected (or insufficiently protected) sexual intercourse on the assumption that an abortion will be available to her later. But when this court announces the overruling of Roe, that individual can simply change their behavior in response to the court’s decision if she no longer wants to take the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.”
There is a lot of nonsense there, so might as well start at the root of it: Mitchell believes that women are the problem. Those who cannot control themselves – the way Mitchell would like them to do – are ruled by irrational desire. They treat sex and pregnancy with such casualness that, if they get knocked up, they’d just go to the abortion store and order up a fetus suck, much like Eve just plucked the apple off the Tree of Knowledge because she had the munchies. Difference between the abortion harlot and Eve is that Eve was tempted by an evil serpent. In Mitchell’s world, it is the loose woman who is the evil one. Answer to that one is, if women can’t control themselves than Mitchell and the men will control the women – which is exactly what all this is about.
The second disturbing statement is this:
“To be sure, there will also be states that outlaw or severely restrict the procedure, but women who reside in those states can travel to pro-abortion states to get their abortions — and there is no shortage of “abortion funds” throughout the country that are eager to pay the travel costs and other abortion-related costs for indigent women who are seeking to abort their pregnancies. It would also not be surprising to see a wealthy pro-abortion state (such as California or New York) offer taxpayer subsidies to women who travel from other states to abort, especially in response to a decision from this Court that overrules Roe. Abortion will still be available for women who want to use it as a fallback method of birth control, even though it may become more inconvenient for some to obtain.”
Again, Mitchell concocts a casualness and ease about abortion that does not exist. In Mitchell’s imagination the evil temptress has just won an all-expenses paid abortion vacation on the Price is Right. “Honey, I need to go to New York to get an abortion. Let’s say we make a day of it. We can go to MOMA and that little Italian place you like so much.”
Mitchell also clarifies his deranged notion that women use abortion as a “fallback method of birth control.” Does Mitchell know any women other than his mother? Does he really believe that abortion is on any woman’s list of birth control options? Doesn’t he know that because of the stigma, discomfort, emotions, and so many more landmines, most women view abortion as a “In case of emergency, break glass” last-resort and not just a routine medical procedure (which is exactly what it should be treated as)?
No, of course, Mitchell doesn’t understand this. He is a man and for a man to understand anything about women and abortion, he’d have to have empathy towards women and be able to shut the fuck up and listen to what women have to say, without silently formulating argument of why the woman is wrong and needs to be controlled. As much as Mitchell’s arguments are shit, it is good that he presented them as is. Most advocates of controlling women through anti-choice legislation cloak their intentions with “concern” for the “babies” and a bunch of moral rhetoric about the moment “life begins.” Rarely do we get a taste of the anti-abortion mob’s true goal: Controlling and regulating the lives of women.
Certainly, there are people in the anti-abortion movement who are pulled into for reasons of sentiment, emotion and morality. For the most part, these folks are the foot soldiers. The generals in the anti-abortion campaign are men, whose attitudes towards women are scarcely different than those the Taliban’s or the Saudi royal family’s. And if you doubt that, read Mitchell’s brief.