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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
We know Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson favors banning abortion in most cases. But what happens after that?
Hinson’s Democratic opponent in the 2nd District, state Sen. Liz Mathis argues that the congresswoman is seeking to “criminalize” abortion. (In the interest of full disclosure, my older daughter is an intern for the Mathis campaign.)
As an Iowa House member in 2018, Hinson voted in favor of the so-called “heartbeat bill” that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. It does include exceptions for rape, incest and medical necessity. It also includes language saying the law cannot be construed to impose civil or criminal penalties on women who have an abortion.
In Congress, Hinson in March signed on as one of 163 co-sponsors of the Life Begins at Conception Act, which conveys constitutional protections to human persons at all stages of life, starting at fertilization. That bill also says it can’t be construed to “authorize prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.” But the bill provides no exceptions for rape, incest, etc.
So Hinson doesn’t support prosecuting women who have abortions. She would end accessibility to abortions for most women and would force them to give birth under most circumstances. But, hey, she won’t throw them in jail. Feel better?
But the bills are silent on what would happen to doctors and others who help a woman obtain an abortion.
A Gazette Fact-Checker published Saturday testing Mathis’ claim found Hinson has made no public statement on the possibility of criminal penalties for others involved in an illegal abortion. And the broad scope of the Life Begins at Conception Act suggests penalties are a distinct possibility. It gave Mathis’ claim a “B” grade, allowing for the uncertainty.
Team Hinson sprang into change-the-subject mode. Naturally, it bashed the media.
Hinson tweeted that the fact-check was “full of misinformation.” Her campaign manager, Sophie Crowell, insisted the fact-checkers “lied,” “because their objective is to constantly attack conservatives.” Hinson’s chief of staff, Jimmy Peacock, said the fact-check team is “An extension of the DCCC.”
Team Hinson claimed that the fact-check said she supports prosecuting women. It did not say that. In fact, it said the opposite. Her campaign also claimed it did make a June 24 public statement on. But the statement from Crowell makes no mention of the possibility of criminal penalties for doctors and others. I pointed this out on Twitter.
“The only response from the Gazette after lying to their readers is from their openly liberal columnist,” Peacock tweeted back.
Clearly, a constructive dialogue.
Hinson could clear the whole thing up by simply saying where she stands on potential penalties beyond shielding women who have an abortion. But going after the media is the go-to strategy fro GOP candidates.
And this fuzziness is by design. Hinson can run on being pro-life and saving “unborn lives” without having to explain the messy, politically unpopular details of what that will really mean. The notion that a federal abortion ban, if one ever passes, would include no penalties for a violation doesn’t pass the smell test. Other red states are taking draconian approaches to enforcing their abortion bans, including looking for ways to make it illegal to obtain an abortion in states that allow the procedure.
Bottom line, Hinson favors broad restrictions on abortion. But she somehow wants credit for not being the most extreme abortion extremist. Comforting.
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