Republican Mississippi state Rep. Bubba Carpenter recently gave a callous assessment of a state anti-abortion law that critics have cautioned could close down the state's only abortion clinic.
Abortion rights advocates have protested the measure, claiming that the shuttering of the facility -- brought on by potentially overwhelming certification requirements for practicing physicians -- could force women to turn to dangerous alternatives. This prospect didn't seem to concern Carpenter.
"[Y]ou have the other side. They're like, 'Well, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.' That's what we've heard over and over and over," Carpenter told an Alcorn County GOP meeting in a video flagged by Rachel Maddow's blog. "But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we've decided to do."
Asked by Laura Conaway at the Maddow blog, Carpenter defended his language, but gave no apparent response to the worries of the law's opponents. From Conaway:
I got a chance to ask Representative Carpenter about the coat hanger part today. "That was what a lot of our critics on the House floor said during the debate," he told me. "That was just some language that some of the African-Americans used." A few white Democrats also spoke out about the old "home remedies," he remembered, but in the end the measure passed with support from several Democrats.
Carpenter's trumpeted declaration that, "We have literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi," however, goes beyond what some of the bill's key sponsors had claimed to be intending.
"The purpose of this bill is to stop back-room abortions," state Sen. Dean Kirby (R-Pearl) said during debate last month.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) attempted to lay out a similar argument.
"Even if you believe in abortion, the hypocrisy of the left that now tried to kill this bill, that says that I should have never signed it, the true hypocrisy is that their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb," he said. "It doesn't really matter, they don't care if the mother's life is in jeopardy, that if something goes wrong that a doctor can't admit them to a local hospital, that he's not even board certified."
The bill's backers have maintained that the law, which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and to be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, would prevent dangerous abortion procedures. Others have countered that by possibly closing the only clinic in the state, women seeking abortions would actually be given no further options.
Diane Derzis, who runs that clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, has said she'll file a suit against the law if the facility is unable to meet its demands. The law is set to go into effect on July 1.
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