The Incomprehensible Cruelty Of Those 'Pro-Life' Texas Republicans
Try as I may, I simply cannot comprehend the thinking of Texas Republican officials who forced a 30-year-old mother of two to flee the state to secure a legal abortion to spare the doomed fetus in her womb from terrible suffering, preserve her ability to bear a third child, and possibly her life.
Kate Cox, the Dallas woman who sued the state over its impossibly vague law forbidding her doctors from administering life-saving care, could simply have gotten on an airplane in the first place. But after four emergency room visits due to cramping and pain from her doomed pregnancy—she was 20 weeks along, and her baby had been diagnosed with trisomy 18, a fatal genetic disorder that often kills mothers too—she may have felt she couldn’t risk it.
Or shouldn’t have to.
“I kept asking more questions, including how much time we might have with her if I continued the pregnancy,” she wrote in The Dallas Morning News. “The answer was maybe an hour — or at most, a week. Our baby would be in hospice care from the moment she is born if she were to be born alive.”
But her doctors feared—accurately, as it turned out—that they could lose their medical licenses or go to prison if they terminated the pregnancy.
If Cox were a barnyard animal, a cow say, no veterinarian would have hesitated to relieve her agony. After all, cows are worth a lot of money. 30-year-old wives and mothers, not so much.
Have they never loved a woman? Do they not have wives, sisters, aunts, or cousins? Have they forgotten their own mothers, these stern Texan moralists led by the state’s recently-impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton, a MAGA stalwart? Apparently, they have.
If she didn’t want to suffer and die, Kate Cox shouldn’t have gotten pregnant. Or had sex with her lawfully-wedded husband to begin with. Religious authoritarians of every kind and description, seemingly in every benighted jurisdiction around the world, are always about that.
In Iran as in Texas, shaming and controlling women’s sexuality is always Job One for the holiest among us. Except when they’re getting caught molesting children or indulging in group-gropes, it appears to be pretty much all they think about, the anointed ones.
(Actually, it appears that abortion is legal in Iran to preserve the life and health of the mother. Always supposing she covers her hair, of course.)
Along with petitioning the Texas Supreme Court to reverse the (Democratic) judge who ruled in Kate Cox’s favor, Paxton sent stern letters to area hospitals, warning of dire legal consequences for any institution that dared to interfere with God’s will that she and her baby suffer for her sins.
He reminded them of Texas’ so-called “bounty law,” enabling any private citizen to sue anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion and to earn a $10,000 reward. Theoretically, I suppose, Cox’s husband could be found guilty.
The Texas Supreme Court, as expected, played along, in effect forcing the unfortunate woman to flee the state to relieve her suffering and preserve her ability to have a third child. The Texas Right to Life organization thought the ruling entirely appropriate: “The compassionate approach to these heartbreaking diagnoses is perinatal palliative care,” the organization said “which honors, rather than ends, the child’s life.”
Notice whose well-being isn’t so important? Kate Cox’s. Her two children’s. Her husband’s. Apparently, It’s God’s will that they suffer. As in, say, the Seventeenth Century.
Given that, according to the Mayo Clinic, roughly some twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, variations of Cox’s sorrowful ordeal are playing out in every state that has enacted draconian abortion bans. Facing voter backlash, “pro-life” politicians are hunting cover. "We got to approach these issues with compassion, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on CNN recently, “because these are very difficult issues and nobody would wish this to happen on anybody."
GOP presidential aspirant Nikki Haley, calling herself pro-life, served up this word-salad: "We don't want any women to sit there and deal with a rare situation and have to deliver a baby in that sort of circumstance any more than we want women getting an abortion at 37, 38, 39 weeks. We have to humanize the situation and deal with it with compassion."
Amen to both.
But if you want to know how Florida’s “heartbeat” abortion law works in practice, read “The Short Life of Baby Milo” in the Washington Post. Born without kidneys or lungs as doctors had predicted, Milo survived outside the womb for 99 agonizing minutes. They could have spared him and his mother the agony, but for Florida law.
Ten-year-old rape victims, women compelled to give birth to their half-brothers… The beat goes on. And will continue, it’s clear, as long as it’s politicians, “activists” and judges making the calls instead of women and their doctors.
Gene Lyons is a former columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a winner of the National Magazine Award, and co-author of The Hunting of the President.