Except for the life of the woman?


With the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision throwing the right to an abortion to the whimsy of state legislators, many Republicans are more than happy to embrace this new authoritarian power. Anti-abortion activists argue this is just the beginning. Their belief that personhood is bestowed when the egg and sperm fuse means that all abortion must be eliminated because this is plain and simple murder. Furthermore, any contraception that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterine wall is also murder.

With this world view, there is no reason to expect that exceptions for rape and incest will be part of the agenda because the fetus is agnostic to the way in which egg and sperm were brought together and the victim simply has no choice but to suffer with the consequences. Criminal investigation and incarceration of any woman suspected of having an abortion is another natural consequence of this world view.

It is likely that exceptions will be retained in most states for “the life of the woman,” but this is an undefined criterion, forcing healthcare providers to delay procedures to make sure that the woman’s life is in enough danger before intervening. To do otherwise opens providers to the risk of criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits depending on how states like Texas and Idaho empower relatives of the fetus to sue anyone involved in an abortion.

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