Nutso Lawmaker Wants to 'Out' Women Who Have Had Abortions

One Missouri Republican lawmaker is demanding a list of women who received abortions between 2010 and 2015 in his state. See, he's running for attorney general and thinks that harassing women who had legal abortions might gin up support among conservatives. The real tragedy is, he's probably right.


Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer of course isn't just going to come out and admit he wants to shame women who had abortions for political purposes. Nah, too straight forward. Instead he's using the flimsy excuse that he wants to independently investigate whether Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit -- an allegation that has already been completely debunked by the current Missouri attorney general and other law enforcement agencies.

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Is he serious? It almost doesn't matter.

Simply the act of trying to publicly shame women who received legal abortion services is enough to win him favor with the hardest core anti-choice crew -- you know, the ones who stand out in front of clinics to shout at women. The ones who publish lists of doctors and their contact information so they will be harassed, even murdered. The ones who aren't satisfied that not having an abortion themselves makes the appropriate statement and who instead work to limit the rights of other women to control what happens to their own bodies. Apparently, those are your Schaefer voters.

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As cheap political stunts go, demanding abortion lists is about as low as a public servant can get, and Schaefer preying on women who are simply exercising their constitutional right to receive medical care is something that every voter should find disgusting, regardless of his or her position on abortion.

There's a law, called HIPAA, that protects patient privacy. As Schafer is a lawmaker, one would have to assume this is a fact he is well aware of. So the real intent of his demand for an abortion list can only be political theater of the most disgusting kind.

Schaefer isn't likely to get the list, but his point has been made. He's going to rack up a few extra votes by trying to bully and shame women and treat them like criminals. And they haven't done anything illegal.

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The good news for women everywhere is that you can bet Planned Parenthood and its CEO Cecile Richards will fight Schaefer's request to the bitter end. Because it's not about whether you are in favor of a woman's right to choose or not. It's about whether women's rights are up for debate any time the election winds blow in a particular direction. I'd like to think my right to access medical care and privacy is equally as important as a man's right to testosterone and erectile dysfunction medication. Maybe one day that might actually be true.

In the meantime, I'd like to extend a hearty "Suck it!" in Schaefer's direction. Bullying women out of their rights is a pretty rotten way to score a promotion. Even in this contentious election year.


Image via Jim Bowen/Flickr

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