Is there a Republican war on women? Paul Ryan, the GOP candidate for vice president, mocked the idea of any such thing when he made the following comment at a private fundraiser in Florida last week: “Now it’s a war on women; tomorrow it’s going to be a war on left-handed Irishmen or something like that.”
Ryan may think his party’s “war” on women is a topic of humor…something to be derided. He may perceive things like a woman’s right to determine what is best for her own health and well being differently from the way many of us of women do. After all, Ryan did cosponsor personhood, ultrasound, and “Let Women Die” legislation. He also supported the Blunt Amendment.
Ryan is not the only Republican politician who has brought his party’s comments and positions on women’s issues under scrutiny. Not long ago, Todd Akin, a senate candidate from Missouri, was skewered by the media when he made a claim that women who are victims of “legitimate” rape can’t get pregnant. And just last week, a comment made by Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois about abortion brought the whole issue of the Republicans’ anti-woman attitude into the limelight once again. After Walsh’s debate with Democrat Tammy Duckworth the other night, he claimed that there is never any reason for a woman to have an abortion—even to protect her health or save her life.
Walsh said—and I quote: “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.”
There you have it…straight from the mouth of Rep. Joe Walsh: Women today can never suffer any adverse effects of a pregnancy or die from complications of pregnancy because of “advances in science and technology.” Unfortunately, Walsh never mentioned what those scientific and technological advances might be.
It appears that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists may not be aware of all the newest scientific and technological advances that Rep. Walsh spoke of. That’s probably why the organization said that remarks like his are one of the reasons why it feels politicians need to “get out of our exam rooms.”
The organization said:
“Contrary to the inaccurate statements made yesterday by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), abortions are necessary in a number of circumstances to save the life of a woman or to preserve her health. Unfortunately, pregnancy is not a risk-free life event, particularly for many women with chronic medical conditions. Despite all of our medical advances, more than 600 women die each year from pregnancy and childbirth-related reasons right here in the US. In fact, many more women would die each year if they did not have access to abortion to protect their health or to save their lives.”
It seems there are others in the medical community who are also unaware of those scientific advances. Mark I. Evans, president of the Fetal Medicine Foundation of America and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, said that Walsh’s claim was “absolute nonsense. This is scientific and political malpractice.” Lawrence Pratt, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles and the director of the Center for Fetal Medicine and Women’s Ultrasound, said that abortions can save the lives of pregnant women who suffer from different medical conditions—including an ectopic pregnancy, “in which a fetus develops outside of the normal location in the womb and can cause the uterus or tube to rupture, leading women to bleed to death.” He added that pregnancy can also “worsen the conditions of women suffering from heart, lung and kidney diseases, among others, that can lead to death.”
Dr. Carrie Terrell, an ob-gyn and chief of staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, said that there “are innumerable potential instances wherein a termination of pregnancy would be indicated to save a woman’s life.” She added that some of those “instances” included such serious conditions as the following:
• chorioamnionitis in pre-viable pre-term premature rupture of membranes (a bacteria-related inflammation of the fetal membranes),
• severe pre-eclampsia and other hypertensive (high blood pressure) disorders,
• certain forms of cardiomyopathy (a disease that weakens and enlarges the heart),
• various maternal cardiac and pulmonary anomalies,
• severe nephrosis,
• severe cancers,
• infections with sepsis, and
• multi-organ failure.
Terrell also said that “she sees pregnant women with these kinds of conditions several times a year”—and that in some cases the women who choose not to terminate their pregnancies “die as a result.”
I’ve been trying to figure out if politicians like Todd Akin and Joe Walsh really believe the things that they say about women, rape, pregnancy, and abortion—or if they are just attempting to tell their constituents what they think they want to hear. What do you think?
From CBS News–Walsh backtracks: Abortion to save a mother’s life is up to her
Walsh, Duckworth clash on Medicare, abortion (WGN Radio)
Paul Ryan Mocks ‘War On Women’ At Private Fundraiser (Huffington Post)
Congressman Walsh Says Abortion Not Needed to Save Lives (Business Week)