What Happened Last Night In Des Moines
I've been trying to keep politics off the main feed, because with two degrees in Political Science, sometimes my nerd brain runs amuck and I find myself talking about it way too much. So, most of it (if you're interested) is over on Minds, where I'm trying to become more intentional and more focused with my writing about politics. I don't know how successful it's been so far, but I'm trying.
I know, I know, right at the outset: politics, religion, and abortion are three things that always lead to sane, sensible, and civil discourse in our society. I'm also a dude talking about abortion and when dudes talk about abortion we have this unfortunate tendency to talk out of our own assholes, so I'm going to do my utmost to avoid doing that. Obviously, I've never been faced with that choice as a woman. Obviously, I have no idea how agonizing that can be for women in those situations. Obviously, I've never faced medical discrimination because of my gender.
My initial gut reaction to all of this was "I'm glad we're done having kids." I've been snipped, the shop is safely closed down, and save for three random vials of my man-batter sitting in a freezer somewhere, we're done having kids. I don't know why I've been holding onto those vials-- part of me wanted to pretend it was some weird connection with my sense of self-worth as a man and have some viable man-batter on ice somewhere. The other part of me was pretty convinced that if they weren't billing me for them, I was perfectly happy to keep them out of sight and out of mind.
But the more I sat with that gut reaction, the more I realized that it was kind of hypocritical. I don't trust the way these laws are written and the GOP's inability to answer even the most basic of questions about what was in a bill that they are proposing is both enraging and worrisome. Laws on this stuff should be crystal clear because if they're not, hospitals and insurance companies are going to come down on the side of liability every single time and that will be at the detriment of their patients.
I can't say "I'm glad we're done having kids" because of this new law and then keep my man-batter on ice, just in case. Even if (and I'm not rooting for this, mind you) tragedy struck and I found myself a widower and have an appropriate mourning period lasting a year or two or three or five and get remarried, I would not want any future partners to be pregnant under laws like this one either.
So, we're starting the process. We're going to spring my man-batter, thaw it and the Missus wants to bury it and put a plant on top of it.
Unless the Governor has some sort of stroke before Friday and changes her mind, this will be law by the end of the week. Abortions will be prohibited after six weeks.
It's worth pointing out that a lot of women don't even know they're pregnant at that point- which to me, makes the law unreasonable in and of itself. You're expecting people to obey a law they might genuinely not realize applies to them- not because of a willful choice on their part, but because of biology. They genuinely might not know they're pregnant. You know how Conservatives love to play that clip of Ben Shapiro telling that college kid, "Facts don't care about your feelings." Well, as it turns out, biology doesn't care about your so-called facts either.
There's language referencing 'fetal heartbeat' throughout the text of the bill- but at six weeks, the embryo doesn't even have a heart. More like some tissue and electrical impulses that sort of sound like a heartbeat. Ten weeks you get an actual structure and apparently, ten weeks is where the embryo becomes a fetus, which to me, would make a lot more sense for a line to draw, but the Iowa GOP doesn't ask me about what makes sense and what doesn't.
There are 'exceptions' written into the bill for rape and incest. You can still get an abortion if you've been a victim of either of those, but you've got to tell someone about your rape within 45 days or your incest within 140 days, because as you know, those are two things that victims are eager to report.
The lives of mothers apparently matter a bit more, because abortions can be done in medical emergencies:
"...means a situation in which an abortion is performed to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy but not including psychological conditions, emotional conditions, familial conditions, or the woman's age; or when the continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman."
That's pretty clear... right?
Pregnant women also have to sign a paper indicating that they've heard a heartbeat which is just infuriating because as a man, they wouldn't make me sign a goddamn thing. No, it's all on the woman. She's pregnant. She's got to figure that out and she's only got like 40 days to do it if she's been raped and a whopping one hundred and forty if she's been the victim of incest all to satisfy a law that is absolutely based on bad science and religious dogma instead of anything resembling reality.
So, now what?
It's easy to say, "Get mad, get organized and vote," so I'm not going to do that. That should be expected at this point. If you don't get to the polls in 2024 to make your voice heard about this tire fire, then I don't know what to tell you. Voting ain't hard. You know when the day is months in advance, so you've got plenty of time to plan.
I think the State Democrats are slowly getting the picture. Probably slower than I'd like, but Sarah Trone Garriot was excellent yesterday on Twitter. Jennifer Konfrst was saying all the right things. Ryan Melton, who is running again in Iowa's 4th District has a thread on Twitter that is your must-read for the day. There are growing signs that they get it- which makes a stark contrast from the inside baseball shenanigans of a month ago. That's good. I'm glad-- I'm not particularly Democratic by any stretch of the imagination, but I am not about this one-party rule shit either. I want compromise and consensus. I want policymaking that isn't driven by ideology whether it's from the left or the right.
Melton mentions this in his thread (seriously, click that link) but it's worth repeating: in 2022, there were well over 30 House races where a Democrat didn't even run. The goal for next year should be to have that number as close to zero as possible. You may not win, but you can't even play if you don't show up.
State Democrats need to tattoo the words "Iowa doesn't stop at I-35" on their foreheads. It might take a decade or more to see some results over there, but you can't grow corn if you don't plant seeds. (Hey, by the way: please take a LOUD and VOCAL position on eminent domain and carbon pipelines. Folks aren't best pleased with the State GOP on this issue and Democrats seem to be letting it slide by.)
Most importantly of all-- especially given what just happened: hold them accountable. Make them defend their words. Make them defend their actions. Make them defend this. Because defending the indefensible is hard to do.