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Opinion | The most reprehensible moment in the Alabama abortion debate

Josh Moon

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A few years ago, I covered the case of a 12-year-old girl who had been raped repeatedly by an uncle and was pregnant.

Earlier this week, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to force that little girl to carry her rapist’s baby to term, deliver it, and then fight with her rapist over custody.

They did so by passing an outright abortion ban, and then refusing pleas from Democrats to provide exceptions for rape and incest.

And then, as Democrats walked out, the Republicans stood and applauded themselves.

Ah, but I’m supposed to be angry with John Rogers.

I’m supposed to find what Rogers, a Democratic state Representative, said on the House floor this week reprehensible. Because Rogers had the nerve to inject reality into the discussion, to say out loud what so few people are willing to acknowledge or believe.

And I’m supposed to find what the Republicans in the House did so very commendable that it warrants applause. Because they gleefully went on living in this ridiculous fantasy world, where the moral high ground is achieved by forcing birth and then pretending that it’s all rainbows and BMWs.

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Yes, of course what Rogers said — that we could “kill them now or kill them later” — was abrasive and crude. (And whatever ridiculous comments he made on Thursday were just wrong.)

But Rogers’ point — that the state and our very Christian society has done an awful job of caring for children who reside outside of the womb — is one that we have to consider.

If you’re going to force women to give birth to children they don’t want, are you prepared to care for that child? Are you prepared to raise him or her, to ensure a healthy life and a proper education and that there is love and comfort?

But instead of acknowledging such realities, Republicans seem hell bent on pretending that “life is beautiful.”

Sometimes, though, it’s not.

Not for the kids left in trash cans or on the floor of public restrooms. Or the ones born hooked to opioids. Or the ones so deformed from their mother’s drug use that they’ll suffer for their entire lives. Or for the ones who will go their entire childhoods without love.

Those children will be chewed up and spit out by the world. And 18 years after their births, many of these same Republicans will describe them as “animals,” and they’ll dream up ways in which they can legally kill them.

Along the way, these same lawmakers and the voters who support them will move their kids away from these “beautiful lives.” They’ll shuffle these perpetually poor and troubled kids off to one pathetically underfunded school after another. They’ll seek ways to limit their health care and their food expenses. They’ll try to drug test them just so they can eat. They’ll lock them in modern day torture chambers and turn a deaf ear to the screams of pain and suffering.

And then, when one of them becomes pregnant from a rape or because their sex education in their awful school consisted of a pamphlet that said “don’t have sex,” we’ll start this pathetic process all over again for another generation.

This is what Rogers was talking about — reality. And it apparently shattered the comfortable dream world where the anti-choice people reside — a world where everything is black and white, the answers are easy and the choice between good and evil is clear.

That’s not how life works.

In the real world, there are proven ways to reduce abortions to miniscule amounts — amounts much lower than what would occur from an outright ban.

If you cared about reducing abortions, you would push free and reduced-cost contraceptives. You would advocate for better sex education in schools. You would stop the idiotic attacks on clinics such as Planned Parenthood, which have probably done more to reduce abortions through quality health services than all of the abortion protestors combined.

But those things aren’t sexy to voters.

So, instead, we get Terri Collins pretending that her abortion ban bill, which is virtually identical to seven other bills in other states that are all way ahead of her, is some groundbreaking piece of legislation. So she can justify forcing children to have their rapists’ babies, or forcing any woman to carry the emotional toll and financial responsibility of carrying and having a baby in America.

Nothing that happened in the Alabama House this week was more disgusting than that.

 

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