“I’m a reasonable person, and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I’ll listen,” Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson told NBC’s “Meet The Press” in an interview discussing everything from the presidential hopeful’s desire to overturn Roe v. Wade to his plans to replace Medicare.
When prompted about the complex situations surrounding a woman’s decision to abort a fetus, such as pregnancy-related health complications, Carson conceded, “That’s an extraordinarily rare situation, but if that very rare situation occurred, I believe there’s room to discuss that.”
Cases of rape and incest, according to the candidate, are not as negotiable. “Rape and incest? I would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way, and all you have to do is go and look up the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest.”
Carson then goes on to liken the relationship between mother and fetus to that of a slaveholder and a slave, but eccentric historical comparisons are among the least concerning issues plaguing G.O.P. rhetoric in this campaign season.
After claiming that civilian access to firearms could prevent a holocaust and that the Ferguson riots were inspired by the women’s liberation movement of the ’60s, the doctor’s commentary has essentially been disregarded as nonsensical by both sides of the partisan divide.
What really incites alarm is the reality that each of the Republican front runners’ platforms proposes drastic cuts in federal funding for women’s healthcare, not only targeting Planned Parenthood and local health clinics, but also disenfranchising minority populations with limited access to aid and affordable care options.
At a recent Southern Baptist Convention event, Sr. Jeb Bush remarked, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” referring specifically to the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Bush immediately came under fire for the statement, both from Democratic opponents and other members of the G.O.P. struggling to repair the reputation of their party among female voters, and scrambled to save face by clarifying that he was discussing only Planned Parenthood, not women’s healthcare as a whole.
However, Bush’s slip of the tongue isn’t merely a matter of careless phrasing–it’s indicative of a longstanding pattern of the right wing’s subordination of female bodies through the stifling of healthcare reform and the perpetuation of institutional suppression of women’s rights.
This ‘war on women,’ mocked as leftist propaganda by Republicans, is not a fabricated campaign tool. It is a valid evaluation of the state of legislation regarding reproductive health over the past decade, and one that reflects the sudden onslaught of ideological attacks in partisan discourse as well as the infiltration of religious dogma into national law.
Texas’ announcement of its plans earlier this month to cut funding from the state’s Medicaid program to Planned Parenthood has come as yet another reminder of the G.O.P.’s vehement and unwavering objection to female autonomy.
By restricting access to birth control, screenings, preventative care and the other crucial services that Planned Parenthood provides to the public, or more notably, women who face financial strain and depend on these resources, Republicans are effectively depriving thousands of people of quick and affordable care. The state attributes the act to the controversial footage released of the organization’s executives selling aborted fetus tissue for profit, but considering that its legislature had already been doggedly pursuing the defunding of Planned Parenthood for years, it’s unlikely that the highly discredible videos were the catalyst for its decision.
Now, Texas and other G.O.P. dominant states are rallying to cut funding at the federal level, threatening to further subject women to the strain of institutional oppression.
—Emily Sayer ’18 is the Opinions Editor of The Miscellany News.