More Chipping Away at Roe

[Content Note: War on agency.]

Anti-choice legislators in North Carolina have a reprehensible new trick up their sleeves: They're trying to legislate the prevention of medical students from even learning how to perform abortions.
Tucked deep in HB 465, an anti-abortion bill that would restrict the procedure in several different ways, is an obscure provision that stipulates that "no department at the medical school at East Carolina University or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shall permit an employee to perform or supervise the performance of an abortion as part of the employee's official duties."

According to the GOP lawmakers who proposed the bill, this particular section of HB 465 will help ensure that taxpayer dollars don't go toward abortion services. Because East Carolina University (ECU) and the University of North Carolina (UNC) are state schools, abortion opponents don't want any of their instruction time to be spent on the procedure. But this complicated effort to separate taxpayer money from abortion services could have huge implications for the medical field.

"It takes several steps to get to the point of the regulation," Elizabeth Nash, the senior states issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that closely tracks abortion-related legislation, told ThinkProgress. "It takes you a couple steps to understand that this would eliminate — or, at the very least, drastically reduce — the abortion training programs that are in place."

That would have particularly big consequences for UNC, which is ranked as one of the country's top five OB-GYN residency programs. UNC's medical school is currently home to a Ryan Program — a national initiative intended to address the growing shortage of abortion providers by providing more opportunities for doctors to be trained in pregnancy termination. Residents can also pursue a separate family planning fellowship that includes opportunities for abortion training and research. If HB 465 is enacted into law, both of those programs could be placed into jeopardy.

"It raises a very serious issue: Who's going to be training the OB-GYNs at UNC to do abortions, if faculty can't do them?" Dr. David Grimes, a retired abortion doctor and researcher who completed his own residency at UNC, told ThinkProgress.

...It also threatens to influence the care that women may receive in emergency situations. Pregnancies sometimes go wrong, and the so-called "miscarriage management" that takes place in a hospital often isn't any different than abortion in a practical sense. But if doctors haven't been trained in that area, where does that leave women who need immediate medical attention?
It has long been obvious that abortion opponents who enact abortion restrictions under the auspices of "women's health" are full of shit, but this really puts paid the lie that they care even a little bit about the health, safety, and welfare of pregnant people.

Despite their rhetoric about abortion being "murder" committed by flaky, irresponsible sluts who hate babies, abortion is a crucial reproductive healthcare procedure that is not merely necessary to give people control over their reproduction but also necessary in many cases to save pregnant people's lives.

A decade or so ago, even anti-choice legislators felt obliged to acquiesce to abortion exceptions when the life or health of "the mother" was in jeopardy. Slowly, health exceptions have fallen away, and now there are elected legislators who don't have compunction about opposing exceptions even in cases where a pregnant person's life is at risk.

And here we are: Now they openly admit they don't give a single fuck about having healthcare providers who are trained to save pregnant people's lives, if saving those lives depends on aborting a fetus that will not live anyway.

I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.

Anti-choicers love fetuses. And they hate people.

Because fetuses don't come with the complications of living human beings. Fetuses are perfect, flawless, sinless. Clean slates. No dents, no dings, no scars, no fuck-ups, no evidence of living a mortal life, nothing to judge and find them wanting.

Only they are worthy of protection, because only they have done nothing to justify apathy, neglect, disdain.

It's no coincidence that the same people who are seeking to audit and shame people on government assistance, and undermine wage protections for workers, and defend institutional oppressions of every description, and wage wars, and justify all of it on the basis that those people fucked up and they deserve whatever we've determined should be coming to them, are also the same people who are willing to let human beings die to protect fetuses.

Fetuses deserve our love and protection, because they haven't made the terrible mistake of being born and living a human life.

Of making choices that can be held in judgment by punitive-minded sanctimony machines, who lay in wait to find reason to use those choices to harm the people making them.

Even after they limit those people's choices to no good ones, only bad and worse ones.

People fail, and people struggle. Right in plain view, where it can make other people uncomfortable. Fetuses do neither.

They are the only "people" worthy of anti-choicers' love, because they are the only ones who don't need it.

Their god-fearing hearts, just overflowingly full of love for perfect little potentialities, who have no need or expectation of love. Or protection, or empathy, or compassion, or help. Unlike human beings, contemptible in all our messy humanness.

This expansive love for fetuses—it's all just a ruse, a cunning mask to hide the cavernously profound lack of love for living, breathing people.

It's so much easier to care for "the voiceless," and have to answer to no one but a distant, absent god. There's no one who makes it hard to love them, by being flawed and complicated, and no one to tell you you're wrong.

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