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Furious Pro-choice activists rally in support of women's rights in front of the US Supreme Court in DC. Photo by Anna-Rose Gassot/ AFP via Getty Images

Fighting Back, Because The Harm Is Ongoing

Abby Zimet

Amidst our post-Roe horrors, it's a modest comfort to see some fighting back against new, vast, stupidly unforeseen consequences of the "unfathomable tragedy" that is a clueless, originalist SCOTUS' anti-abortion ruling - one that, after years of GOP pressure to do what they did, may ultimately prove "the dog has caught the car." The enduring truth: The legal right to abortion is supported by a sizeable majority of Americans - maybe thanks to grim reality, like our previous 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal, often harmful abortions a year, a public health crisis doctors long urged we solve by decriminalizing abortion. Now - thanks Susan Collins - we've gone backwards 50 years. And with anti-abortion fanatics fired up to turn half of America into (often hectored, fugitive) birthing vessels, all righteous hell is breaking loose. In response to widespread rage and ongoing protests and horror stories of unintended ramifications for women miscarrying or pregnant 10-year-old rape victims, the GOP - "We stand for nothing, we lie about everything" - has blindly doubled down. Right-to-lifer (sic) Jim Bopp thinks that 10-year-old should have had her baby; James Lankford blocked "abortion tourism" so "that child in the womb (can) travel in their future"; white crackers argue pro-choicers want to "kill babies after they're born"; extremists try frantically to deny the Dobbs decision is a clusterfuck in the making. News alert: It is. "Make no mistake: Its impact on the ground is already and will continue to be devastating," says Michigan's Mallory McMorrow. "If you're in the half of the population that can give birth, you don't matter to these people."

Ugly proof came in the case of the 10-year-old rape survivor in Ohio denied an abortion because she was six weeks and three days pregnant - three days past her state's barbaric, no-exceptions new law. After her doctor notified a colleague in Indiana, where abortion remains legal (for now), she traveled there and was given an abortion by Indianapolis ob-gyn Dr. Caitlin Bernard. Thus began the grotesque spectacle of what Jezebel memorably deemed a frenzied "dick-swinging contest" between grown men "fighting over who'll force more unwanted pregnancies." First came the "fake news" charges, most from right-wing skeptics otherwise weirdly eager to call anyone who disagrees with them a pedophile. Ohio's anti-abortion A.G. Dave Yost told Fox News he hadn't heard "a whisper" about a story that raised "some serious red flags" and was "likely (a) fabrication," even though experts said a raped-10-year-old was in fact statistically probable, because welcome to our world. Ever-despicable Gym Jordan, credibly accused of ignoring past sexual abuse, called the story "a lie." Multiple media outlets shamefully chimed in. The Washington Post blared it was a "one-source" story. The Wall Street Journal editorial board went as low as they could by slinging the noxious headline, “An Abortion Story Too Good To Confirm,” snidely adding that Biden had told "the story of a 10-year-old rape victim no one can identify," because evidently nobody at these newspapers knows privacy laws exist, the rape of a 10-year-old is not uncommon, most rapists are never caught, and abortion, while JFC never a "good" story, has been a merciful, practical, humane, literally and metaphorically life-saving option for many thousands of females.

In this awful case, the rapist was caught; last week, Gershon Fuentes, 27, was arrested and charged. Because the cynical likes of WaPo and WSJ were so busy trashing the story, a Columbus Dispatch reporter was the only journalist at the arraignment. Meanwhile, the right-wing naysayers hemmed, hawed, deflected. Ohio's Yost, he of the "fabrication," issued a brusque statement: “We rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.” Glenn Kessler, WaPo's fact-checker, babbled it was "a difficult story to confirm" - this from a "fact-checker" - and intoned, "Journalism is an accumulation of facts." The most repugnant response came from Indiana A.G. and rabid pro-forced-birth thug Todd Rokita, whose Twitter feed - "Liberty In Action" - declares "Life is winning!" and quotes sages like Gym Jordan and Lauren Boebert. Zealously entering the dick-swinging fray after Fuentes' arrest, Rokita went on Fox - Chyron: "Illegal Charged With Rape of 10 Year Old" - to launch a fact-free, truly toxic witch hunt against Bernard, along with ostensibly lying doctors, ungodly pro-choicers and much of the free world. He ranted about Biden's "lawlessness at the border," called Dr. Bernard "an abortion activist acting as a doctor" with "a history of failing to report" treatment as legally required, threatened her with “criminal prosecution and licensing repercussions,” and claimed her employer, Indiana University Health, has charged her with HIPAA violations. To this, Fox helpfully added a photo of Dr. Bernard, which wouldn't endanger her at all. "We're gathering the evidence as we speak," he snarled, "and we’re going to fight this to the end."

The end, with its accompanying Karma, came quickly. Within hours, evidence began flooding in - here, here, here, from Fox, yet - that Dr. Bernard had simply, legally, ethically done her job. She "followed all relevant policies, procedures, and regulations." She reported the medication abortion to the state's health and child services within the three-day requirement; she reported the abuse; she complied with patient privacy laws; she has not been disciplined by her employer. It was all bullshit, and many slapped back. Lawyers said Rokita's charges were "pure speculation," "intimidation," and "bullying." On Twitter, the hashtag #eatshittodd was born - "You Hoosier embarassment...You used Kleenex of a human being...I hope everyone has a good week except you." More substantively, Kathleen DeLaney, Dr. Bernard's attorney, sent Rokita a cease-and-desist letter demanding he stop making "false or misleading statements" about the good doctor that "constitute defamation per se"; two days later, she sent a "tort claim notice," the first step toward suing him for "a blatant ethical violation" whose "harm is ongoing." Bernard intends to seek damages for legal fees, reputational harm, and security costs "as she and her family are facing threats," she said, adding that Rokita's charges, still up on his state-run website, "suggest a disciplinary investigation is warranted." Hold my beer, said Lauren Robel, former dean of Indiana University’s Law School, who promptly filed a formal misconduct complaint to investigate Rokita's “inflammatory statements on national television, without due diligence concerning their truthfulness.” The move could lead to suspension of his law license; let it be. And ditto to the rest of these fucking ghouls: Having inflicted so much pain on so many, going after them is the least we can do.

"If he wants to stop abortion in the state of Indiana, there are legal channels to do that. Harassment and intimidation by the chief legal officer of the state is not one of them." - Lauren Robel, on venomous tactics that represent "the opposite of the rule of law."

 

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: azimet18@gmail.com

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