Although the right to have an abortion is a fundamental and crucial one, the actual procedure itself is very painful, both physically and emotionally. And yet on Tuesday, an Alaska lawmaker said that actually, some women are 'glad' to get an abortion, because that gives them an excuse to travel to places they wouldn't otherwise be able to go. Yup. He said that.
“We have folks who try to get pregnant in this state so that they can get a free trip to the city," Republican Rep. David Eastman told the Associated Press. Eastman doubled down on his comments later, telling Alaska Public Media that some women are "glad to be pregnant, so that they can have an abortion because there’s a free trip to Anchorage involved."
Where to begin with this? To be sure, there are plenty of reasons why a pregnant woman might seek an abortion. Perhaps she doesn't feel ready to raise a child, or would face health complications if she were to give birth. Perhaps she became pregnant through sexual assault, and doesn't want to be a parent to the child of her rapist. Or maybe she simply doesn't want to have children. Any number of those factors might compel a woman to make the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy.
But to suggest that women are intentionally getting pregnant in order to score a "free trip" to abortion clinics is beyond absurd. It completely ignores the financial, logistical, emotional and physical costs that come with both becoming pregnant and having an abortion. This is the the kind of thing you say when you've never bothered considering what the experience of having a pregnancy terminated might actually be like.
Alaska state rep claims that women get pregnant so they can get a free trip along with their abortion https://t.co/XPX6aa7SqF— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) May 4, 2017
Of course, it's not uncommon to hear Republican men say ignorant things about pregnancy and abortion. In 2012, Senate candidate Todd Akin argued against abortion rights even in cases of rape and incest, incorrectly claiming that "if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down." During his ill-fated presidential run, Sen. Marco Rubio insisted that Planned Parenthood has "created an incentive for people to be pushed into abortions so that those [fetal] tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit." In actuality, Planned Parenthood doesn't sell fetal tissue for profit.
Several of Eastman's colleagues have demanded that he apologize for his remarks, and Democratic Rep. Geran Tarr, who called the comments "deeply offensive," says she might seek to censure Eastman.
In any event, let's make this entirely clear: Nobody intentionally gets pregnant so that they can have an abortion because they want a free trip to the city where the abortion clinic is located. That's not how it works.