For your own good
The godly gaslighters wouldn't hurt a fly
Maybe you’ve seen this headline — though probably not, because this stuff doesn’t get anything like the coverage it should:
Alabama attorney general steps back on abortion pill prosecution statement
Here’s what Alabama AG Steven Marshall had to step back from: A week or so earlier, his office implied, per the Washington Post, that “a 2006 state law that has been used to punish women for drug consumption during pregnancy” would be used to prosecute abortion by medication:
The abortion ban “does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law — which the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children,” Marshall’s office said in a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday. It was first reported Saturday by 1819 News.
In other words, in a state where surgical abortion is basically illegal, if you were pregnant and got ahold of some mifepristone and used it to stop the supply of hormones that maintains the interior of the uterus without which the uterus cannot support the pregnancy and the contents of the uterus were expelled, the state could arrest you.
Even at that point, you can see the AG’s office knew they had gotten in trouble and that they had better flail and phumpher and insist they didn’t mean what they clearly meant:
Underscoring the tensions surrounding the issue, a spokesman for Marshall issued a subsequent statement in response to The Post that appeared to back away from endorsing the prosecution of abortion seekers. “The Attorney General’s beef is with illegal providers, not women,” said Cameron Mixon, Marshall’s deputy communications director, in response to a request to interview Marshall.
Notice Mixon didn’t say they wouldn’t prosecute the women who took the pills — only that their real “beef” was with “illegal providers,” i.e. doctors helping women in a desperate situation. Clearly Mixon and the rest of the office got caught flat-footed and had to misdirect —but they also had to be careful because once they said they wouldn’t prosecute they would be stuck with that. Better check with the boss!
A week passes and the Contemporary OB/GYN story from which the headline at the top of this post comes suggests the AG has firmed up his story:
Alabama’s attorney general retracted comments he made last week suggesting criminal prosecution for women taking abortion pills for pregnancy termination. He is now saying that only providers who prescribe the pills could be prosecuted.
This apparently refers to comments Marshall made to a local TV station:
“Again, not targeting the woman herself, but in fact, targeting those providers to induce the abortion,” Marshall said. “There is a very specific provision in the law the legislator passed just a few years ago that specifically exempts the woman from criminal prosecution. It does target those who are providers.”
Nice pull-quote — but wait, next paragraph:
He added that prosecution is also possible to those who aid and abet abortion. But again, the mother would not be.
So if you drive her to the pharmacy for the pills, you could end up in prison. Oh, and another next paragraph:
Marshall says Alabama has a separate law involving the exposure of a fetus to certain chemicals. He says if a fetus is harmed by taking other illegal drugs — like narcotics — the mother (in this case) can be prosecuted under the chemical-endangerment law.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting the message that women who take abortion pills have nothing to fear from Alabama prosecutors.
Mind you, those aren’t official remarks, either. At the AG’s site, the only 2023 release related to abortion is dated January 13, in which Marshall and several fellow far-right state AGs make a show of caring very, very much about women who want abortion pills, whom they portray as victims of unscrupulous doctors and the Biden Administration, which has made it easier for the poor dumb creatures to get them:
“The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to abandon commonsense restrictions on remotely prescribing and administering abortion-inducing drugs is both illegal and dangerous,” the attorney generals wrote in the letter. “In direct contravention of longstanding FDA practice and congressional mandate, the FDA’s rollback of important safety restrictions ignores both women’s health and straightforward federal statutes. We urge you to reverse your decision…
“Though the FDA has abdicated its responsibility to protect women’s health, we have not,” the attorneys general conclude their letter. “To be crystal clear, you have not negated any of our laws that forbid the remote prescription, administration, and use of abortion-inducing drugs. The health and safety of our citizens—women and children included—is of paramount concern. Nothing in the FDA’s recent changes affects how we will protect our people.”
Health, health, health and safety! It’s like laws about where you can’t serve alcohol — except it’s everywhere, and to anyone.
The claim that people who hunger to strip all women of any right to an abortion don’t want to harm them, they just want to harm anyone who would help them, is absurd on its face, but it’s a useful strategy because it helps those who can’t bear to accept what’s happening to deny it — to themselves and others.
As I wrote in 2019 about one of the masters of this sort of bullshit, David French (now with the New York Times!), and his defense of a Georgia abortion ban that, in those pre-Dobbs days, frightened a lot of people:
At National Review, David French dismissed the women-in-prison angle rather loftily — which I guess is the smart play when you’ve got Witchfinder General written all over you and every woman in America is freaking out. These ladies were duped by “lurid headlines and fundamentally mistaken premises,” tsked French. “Georgia courts have held that it does not apply to a woman who self-terminates, only to third parties who perform an abortion.” Then he dusted off his hands: “now you know these claims are false.”
I’m sure for many people this was very comforting until Roe was overturned. For other poor souls, maybe Marshall’s creepy consolations still do the job.
But face it: These people want it all. They don’t want an end to some abortions. And they really don’t want women saying yeah, I was pregnant last week and now I’m not, and no I’m not gonna tell you who helped me — what are you gonna do about it, arrest me? Imagine how that will go over with the Party of Abusive Fathers.
Soon enough, when they get their nationwide ban and there’s no refuge for any woman with the misfortune to be stuck here, they’ll drop that final mask because there will be no reason to keep it on.