With the U.S. Supreme Court quite possibly on the brink of abolishing federal reproductive rights and returning abortion policy to the states, it’s alarming to note that the anti-abortion movement is becoming even more radical about what it intends to do with that power if it gets it. Most notably, the once-standard exceptions for victims of rape and incest are disappearing from the state abortion bans that would leap to life if SCOTUS permits them to. Both the Texas and Mississippi laws before the Court this term have no rape or incest exceptions.
Supporters of these bans, particularly if they are candidates or elected officials, don’t usually like to talk about them; when they do, they certainly don’t like to talk about forcing a victim of rape or incest to carry a pregnancy to term. But in what is perhaps a sign of the times, Missouri Senate candidate Mark McCloskey — better known as the lawyer who pointed a rifle at Black Lives Matter demonstrators passing his mansion last summer — went out of his way to position himself as an abortion extremist by talking about banning abortion for a teenage victim of incestuous rape, as the Kansas City Star reports:
He made the comments in response to an audience member’s question at a forum in Osage Beach. “There’s a lot of candidates that say they’re pro-life, but really they’re not completely pro-life,” the woman in the audience said, according to a video of the event posted on Facebook. “There’s a lot of, ‘Well in this case, it would be allowed.’”
McCloskey, a St. Louis personal-injury attorney, responded that he doesn’t “believe in any exceptions.” “We were down in Poplar Bluff a couple of months ago, and somebody asked me that question, ‘So you would force a 13-year-old who’s raped by a family member to keep that baby?’” he said. “And I said, ‘Yes, and more than that, I’ve got that client.’ I’ve got a client who was raped by an uncle when she was 13 years old, had the child; she finished high school, finished college, and got a master’s degree.
McCloskey seems to be very firm in his belief that teenagers should be forced to carry pregnancies to term in all cases, making this unusual analogy in the same appearance:
He said it had bothered him “as long ago as when I was in grade school” that some death-penalty opponents also support abortion rights. His comments received applause from the audience. “The justice of the Supreme Court in the most heinous crimes don’t have the right to decide who should live and die,” he said. “But every 13-year-old girl on the street should be able to decide the fate of the life of their child?”
Clearly, McCloskey thinks male Republican lawmakers should have that power. But he barely stands out among his rivals for the Republican Senate nomination. Disgraced former governor Eric Greitens calls himself “100 percent pro-life” and boasts that he forced the legislature into a special session on abortion. Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt has been defending his state’s own extreme abortion law (which also has no rape or incest exceptions) in court. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is a favorite of the hard-line anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, and Congressman Billy Long is another “100 percent pro-life” Republican who has specialized in fighting publicly funded abortions. Nary a “moderate” in the bunch.
It’s all a bit amazing since Missouri provided one of the most graphic illustrations of the political perils of anti-abortion extremism in 2012, when Senate candidate Todd Akin blew up his candidacy while defending his own position against rape exceptions for abortion bans. Akin famously tried to argue that any woman who had experienced “legitimate rape” wouldn’t get pregnant, implying those who did must somehow have asked to be raped. But even he didn’t blithely go for the crazy-train trifecta of commandeering the bodies of 13-year-olds raped by their own family members. That takes a special chutzpah, but Mark McCloskey is up to the task.