Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) pressed an anti-abortion activist during a hearing Thursday on whether a 10-year-old could or should choose to carry a baby.
The House Judiciary Committee’s hearing came as the case of a 10-year-old rape victim being denied an abortion in Ohio has stoked debate over the consequences the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last month.
“Do you think a 10-year-old should choose to carry a baby?” Swalwell asked Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group.
“I believe it would probably impact her life, and so therefore it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion,” Foster responded.
“Wait,” Swalwell said, “it would not be an abortion if a 10-year-old with her parents made the decision not to have a baby that was the result of a rape?”
“If a 10-year-old became pregant as the result of rape and it was threateneing her life, that’s not an abortion,” Foster repeated, “so it would not fall under any abortion restriction in our nation.”
Swalwell then turned to Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, and asked if she believed Foster’s response was “disinformation.”
“I heard some very significant disinformation,” she said. “An abortion is a procedure, it’s a medical procedure that individuals undergo for a wide range of circumstances, including because they have been sexually assaulted — raped in the case of the 10-year-old. It doesn’t matter whether there was a statutory exemption. It’s still a medical procedure that is understood to be an abortion.”
Swalwell said young girls are becoming victims of right-wing propaganda after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, referring to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-Ohio) now-deleted tweet that the 10-year-old’s story was made up.
“They don’t just want to wage a war on women. They’re now expanding it to a war on little girls,” Swalwell said.
By overturning the federal right to abortion, the Supreme Court has left it up to states to set their own laws on abortion. A number of GOP-led states almost immediately enacted laws banning or severely restricting abortion, though a number of them have been paused by courts amid legal challenged from abortion advocates.
Experts told the Judiciary Committee earlier this week that the Supreme Court’s decision is creating “chaos” in the health care sector as some states see a spike in women seeking abortions and physicians are unsure of their legal rights.
“We are already seeing mass chaos among OBGYNs, emergency room physicians, and quite frankly pharmacists,” Colleen McNicholas, the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told lawmakers on Tuesday.
“We’re talking about people being denied or delayed care for pregnancy and non-pregnancy related conditions.”