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Welcome To America, Where 10-Year-Old Rape Victims Will Be Forced To Give Birth For Jesus
Thank goodness rightwing media is here to lie about it, at least.
The story of a pregnant 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to travel to Indiana to get an abortion just keeps getting more and more awful, as if "pregnant 10-year-old rape victim" weren't all the horror anyone needed to consider.
The story was initially reported July 1 by the Indianapolis Star as part of a larger story on patients traveling to Indiana to get abortion care because it was now illegal in their home states:
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indianapolis obstetrician-gynecologist, took a call from a colleague, a child abuse doctor in Ohio.
Hours after the Supreme Court action, the Buckeye state had outlawed any abortion after six weeks. Now this doctor had a 10-year-old patient in the office who was six weeks and three days pregnant.
Could Bernard help?
Not surprisingly, the story quickly went viral as an example of what is going to happen in a lot of states whose abortion bans have no exceptions for rape or incest. That's precisely the goal of the abortion bans: Every fetus is sacred, even those carried by little girls who've been raped.
The Cruelty Is Always The Point
Shortly after the story broke, South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem tried to avoid answering questions on CNN's "State of the Union" about her state's similar ban, saying the real outrage is that a sicko raped a little girl and could we please talk about that terrible sick rapist instead of how the little girl would have to carry that pregnancy to term if she lived in South Dakota and couldn't get to another state? Ultimately, though, Noem conceded that abortion is illegal except when a pregnant patient's life is at risk, and that's that.
President Joe Biden mentioned the case last Friday when he issued his executive order aimed at protecting access to abortion, saying it exemplified the cruelty that's going to result from the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
She was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life [...] Ten years old — 10 years old! — raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, was forced to travel to another state.
Biden asked, of the Supreme Court, "What century are they in?" Good question!
Rightwing Backlash: What Girl? What Rape?
By the end of last week, the backlash started, with rightwing media and politicians casting doubt on the story, because after all, it was so horrifying that it might make even some conservatives reconsider the wisdom of overturning Roe . Can't have that!
Besides, there was only a single source for the story — Dr. Bernard, and she's an abortionist! — so suddenly a whole bunch of outlets found themselves outraged at such a breach of journalistic ethics, and please never mind all the single-source stories they regularly run, based on police reports or no named sources at all.
The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial headlined "An Abortion Story Too Good To Confirm," which insisted Bernard had told a "fanciful tale," and proclaimed that "There’s no evidence the girl exists." After all, isn't a pregnancy resulting from the rape of a 10-year-old just too convenient a "tale of woe for those who want to make abortion a voting issue this fall"? Also, shame on Dr. Bernard and/or her Ohio colleague for supposedly not reporting the crime to authorities, which is mandatory. (Oh yes, more on that in a bit.)
The Washington Post's fact check columnist, Glenn Kessler, got in on the act, too, noting that while Dr. Bernard was indeed on the record, there was "no indication that the newspaper made other attempts to confirm her account." He said he hadn't been able to confirm any criminal cases had been opened in Ohio, and moreover huffed that "An abortion of a 10-year-old is pretty rare." Kessler complained that there simply hadn't been enough verification of Bernard's claim, and that "the story has acquired the status of a 'fact' no matter its provenance." Maybe it was true, but there hadn't been any arrests, and who was that Ohio doctor anyway?
The very worst people out there had no difficulty at all just diving in and accusing Dr. Bernard of lying. On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost took to Fox News, telling alleged comedy man and serious reporter Jesse Watters there was "not a whisper" of evidence that any such rape and pregnancy had occurred. He also suggested the story must be fake because he was quite sure neither Dr. Bernard nor her Ohio colleague had reported the rape as required by law, telling Watters, "The doctor in Indiana isn’t in our jurisdiction, obviously. We don’t know who the originating doctor in Ohio was — if they even exist."
Yost went on to tell USA Today's Ohio bureau, "Every day that goes by, the more likely that this is a fabrication." Yost suggested that the whole thing was a terrible libel of Ohio law enforcement, because if the rape had really happened, Ohio's excellent police would have nabbed the rapist.
"What I'm saying to you is there is not a damn scintilla of evidence," Yost told the Gannett Ohio papers. "And shame on the Indianapolis paper that ran this thing on a single source who has an obvious axe to grind."
GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, who's credibly accused of covering up sexual abuse of college wrestlers, retweeted a Washington Examiner story on Yost's comments, adding the comment "Another lie. Anyone surprised?"
Noem triumphantly announcedon Twitter that she'd been vindicated in focusing on the rapist, not the child, because "Now it looks like the story was fake to begin with. Literal #FakeNews from the liberal media."
Oh, They've Arrested The Rapist? Look! MIGRANT CARAVANS!
The universe immediately responded with its own hollow mordant dramatic irony yesterday, as news broke that Gerson Fuentes, a 27-year-old man from Columbus, Ohio, had in fact been arrested for the rape of the girl, and that police announced the man had "confessed to raping the child on at least two occasions." The Columbus Dispatch also reported that for all the flummery about how terrible it was that nobody reported the crime, that wasn't the case at all:
Columbus police were made aware of the girl's pregnancy through a referral by Franklin County Children Services that was made by her mother on June 22, Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday morning at Fuentes' arraignment. On June 30, the girl underwent a medical abortion in Indianapolis, Huhn said.
Huhn also testified that DNA from the clinic in Indianapolis is being tested against samples from Fuentes, as well as the child's siblings, to confirm contribution to the aborted fetus.
Jordan quietly deleted his tweet, without any hint of apology. Kessler added a note to his fact-check saying see, I said the arrest of a subject would be the proof the story was lacking. Noem's tweet is still up.
And Yost issued the very shortest of statements to the media, saying only, "We rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets." Later yesterday, Yost released a second public statement that added a bit of sympathy for the girl he'd earlier said probably didn't exist, saying, "My heart aches for the pain suffered by this young child." He also thanked law enforcement for arresting the suspect.
Could The Girl Get An Abortion In Ohio?
Also too, a word about even more dangerous nonsense from Yost. In his interview Monday, Yost flat out lied to Watters about Ohio's six-week abortion ban, which does not allow abortions in cases of rape or incest. It only includes a narrow exception in medical emergencies, where a pregnant patient is at risk of death or a "serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."
This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her, it breaks my heart to think about it, she did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment.
Presumably that's because of the emergency exception to protect pregnant patients' lives, but as we've discussed previously, such statutes are very narrowly drawn to prevent as many abortions as possible. As a result, doctors are already saying these laws will make their jobs impossible.
As ever, I have to preface this by saying I am not a medical doktor, nor am I a lawyer. But you don't have to be either to know that 1) carrying a pregnancy to term is very dangerous for a 10-year-old, but 2) at six weeks and a few days of pregnancy, the 10-year-old's life probably wasn't yet endangered enough for the pregnancy to count as a medical emergency under Ohio's law.
That's the whole problem with "life of the mother" exemptions, which is why doctors have been protesting abortion bans: Most require an imminent threat, not just the eventual threat that will develop when a risky pregnancy goes forward.
For more on how these state bans all interpret "emergency" and "life of the mother" in the screwiest ways possible, read this excellent thread from an abortion provider on how it's going in Texas. Spoiler: even the new well-intended rules from Biden's HHS requiring abortion care to protect the "life of the mother" are too vague and broad.
Horrifyingly, had the girl stayed in Ohio, she would probably have had to wait until far later in pregnancy to qualify for the exception in Ohio's ban. The girl's doctors would only be covered by the exemption once she was in genuine danger of death or permanent impairment. How very "pro-life"!
And that's it for the moment; in a follow-up post, we'll look at how rightwing media outlets are all apologizing profusely for having doubted the girl ever existed. Haha, we joke: they're being absolute assholes, as you'd expect!
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