Tags: Feminism • Journalism • Politics
This is a few weeks old, but I think it’s important to sort this out as the Presidential campaign season continues. Anderson Cooper interviewed Debbie Wasserman-Shultz on his show and claimed that she, “lied” when she claimed in fundraising letters that Mitt Romney does not support a rape victims right to get an abortion. His basis for this claim is that Romney has, in the past said that he thinks abortion should be legal in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s health or life are threatened. However, he has also said many other things.
As Rachel Maddow reports, Romney has gone back and forth on the idea of a health exception and also a rape exception. So if Cooper wants to say that Wasserman-Shultz is “lying” because she has only included Romney’s most extreme statements, he’s being obtuse. Language lawyering here is incredibly clueless when you consider the policy implications of even the most generous pro-choice interpretation of Romney’s position(s).
Wasserman-Shultz was correct in pointing out Mitt Romney’s support for personhood amendments, as it is in direct contradiction with his statement that he favors any exceptions at all. And she was also correct in tying him to his party’s platform. Cooper’s balking at this is nonsensical. If political party platforms are to be disregarded, then the parties themselves are meaningless. Does Anderson Cooper really think there are no policy differences between the two parties? How could that be possible? By rejecting what Debbie Wasserman-Shultz said about the Republican party’s official stance on abortion, Cooper is picking and choosing what statements he will and won’t hold Mitt Romney to. Why would someone do this? The only reason I can think of is that “Liberal Democrat Woman caught in lie!” is a bigger story than “Mitt Romney flip flops again.” That kind of intellectually dishonest pandering is a great disservice to viewers.
Beyond the obvious, what Andersoon Cooper is missing is that rape exceptions are bad policy by design and are pretty much written so that Americans in the mushy middle can sleep at night, but in reality don’t actually allow rape victims to get abortions. This is yet another reason why Debbie Wasserman-Shultz wasn’t lying. A country where only rape victims can get abortions does not exist on this Earth. As Jesse Taylor explains, such a policy is unenforceable and would not work at all. The same is true for health and life exceptions. They end with women dying horrible deaths from sepsis. In South America, for example, if a woman has an ectopic pregnancy, the doctor cannot abort the pregnancy it until either the fetus dies or the fallopian tube ruptures.
Upon closer examination, the “exceptions” Cooper is insisting Mitt Romney advocates for don’t exist in reality, even when they are stated as a goal by politicians. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is right that Mitt Romney’s position is extreme and would take away women’s access to abortion in almost all cases. Anderson Cooper owes her and his audience an apology.