It seems like months ago when Donald Trump accidentally let it slip that women who have illegal abortions should be punished somehow. In reality, it's only been two weeks since Trump said what most anti-choice conservatives have secretly known all along -- that if abortion is murdering a human life, then the murderer and the murderer's accomplices should be punished according to laws against, you know, murder.
In the wake of Trump's remarks, though, conservatives lined up to deny the idea, knowing that Trump's remarks were too extreme, even for radical anti-choicers, many of whom don't want exceptions in cases of rape or threats to the life of the mother. Think about that: almost no one, at least no one who's serious, stood up in support of Trump's crazy idea, and his is a party that prides itself on extremism and crazy ideas.
For example, let's take a look at anti-choice extremist Kurt Schaefer, a Missouri Republican (of course) who happens to be the chairman of the Sanctity of Life committee in the Missouri state Senate. Yes, they have a Sanctity of Life committee in Missouri's upper chamber. We can only imagine the unpasturized insanity that takes place during a typical hearing.
Actually, no. We don't have to imagine at all.
Schaefer, this week, demanded that Planned Parenthood of Missouri turn over a list of every woman in the state who's had a legal abortion in one of its facilities, even though federal law, specifically the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, as well as basic morality forbids it. Worse, the committee has issued subpoenas to various Planned Parenthood officials, demanding they turn over the lists.
Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and James Miller, owner of Brentwood-based Pathology Services Inc., have been issued subpoenas and could face contempt proceedings as early as this week if they do not comply.
In other words, Planned Parenthood officials will very likely be tossed in jail for contempt because Schaefer and the other members of the GOP gestapo in Missouri don't give a flying rip about federal statutes, nor do they value the privacy of women who visit Planned Parenthood under the umbrella of confidentiality.
But, naturally, Schaefer is exploiting the existence of fraudulent Planned Parenthood sting videos produced by a scam-artist who's been indicted in Texas. Despite the fact that nearly a dozen or so state-level investigations, as well as a federal probe have collectively exonerated Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing whatsoever, including the alleged selling of fetus parts for profit, Schaefer is conducting his own investigation.
Missouri, however, has already joined the list of states that've cleared Planned Parenthood, following an investigation by the attorney general there. Put another way, Schaefer continues to impugn the organization even after his attorney general found that Planned Parenthood didn't do anything illegal.
Plus, the list.
If there was any doubt as to whether the GOP was interested in punishing women as part of its anti-choice crusade, wonder no more. Even before arresting anyone or, in the near term, making the names of abortion recipients a matter of public record, Missouri has been gradually closing the noose around the necks of women via restriction after restriction. Here's just a sampling of anti-choice laws already on the books there:
- A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two separate trips to the facility.
- Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
- Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion when the woman’s life is endangered.
- Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment.
- The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
- The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
- Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
And just last month, the Missouri House passed a bill requiring that underage girls receive parental consent from both parents before having an abortion (current law demands only one parent). Again, both parents. So, single-parent girls or girls who simply wish to maintain privacy over their bodies are out of luck.
Adding insult to injury, both Planned Parenthood and its patients are facing further punishment because Mr. Schaefer says so. So, then, anyone who still insists that Trump was way out on a limb needs to take one good look at Missouri and Senator Schaefer. Trump's alleged "gaffe" is already happening for real.
One last thing. Do we really need to say anything about political leaders who compile lists of names?