Feminist Media Backlash: Abortion Legislation ‘Punishing Women’

Feminist media lament 20-week abortion ban.

Abortion affects only one person – the woman – according to feminist media. 

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, in a 242 to 184 vote on May 13. In response, the feminist media like Slate and Salon accused the bill of “punish[ing] women” while also bashing the bill’s argument – that 20-week unborn babies feel pain. 

In January, the House vote on a similar bill that caused a political fight over rape victim exceptions was cancelled. The now-passed bill states that victims of rape must seek medical care or counseling at least 48 hours before an abortion.

For her critique in Slate, Amanda Marcotte wrote a piece entitled “House Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban With Exciting New Hassles for Rape Victims.” 

Marcotte whined about the “entirely symbolic attack on women's rights” proving “the religious right still wholly owns the Republican Party.” 

“This bill's goal isn't to protect fetuses; as with all attacks on reproductive rights, the goal is to punish and control women,” she argued. 

Even the science was wrong, according to Marcotte. 

“Republicans say this bill is necessary because fetuses after 20 weeks of development can feel pain,” Marcotte argued in it. “This is, of course, an entirely false claim.” 

Like Marcotte, RH Reality Check’s Emily Crockett likewise commented that, “While supporters said the bill is necessary because 20-week-old fetuses can feel pain, medical experts disagree.”

For her part, Lauren Barbato listed “3 Appalling Details In The 20-Week Abortion Bill That Would Only Hurt Women” for Bustle.

Jezebel’s Marie Lodi decided the bill “would take away a woman’s right to make her own personal health decisions at an extremely crucial time.” 

Government leaders, she added, “seem to be working harder than ever to make themselves the dictators of our bodies.” 

For Salon, Katie Mcdonough wrote about the bill – or, as her headline called it, “odious garbage.” 

“The GOP wants to punish women,” she complained, “they just don’t want to get punished at the polls for it.” 

Joining the other feminist media, she criticized fetal pain at 20 weeks by calling Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the bill’s author, the “chief pretend medical expert on ‘fetal pain’ at 20 weeks” for saying “The medical community has reached a clear consensus that unborn children at this stage, and perhaps even in earlier stages, can feel pain.” 

When the LA Times published an article in April touting “Abortion restrictions relying on 'junk science,' rights advocates say,” James D. Agresti, president of Just Facts, told MRC Culture, “As documented in Just Fact's research on this issue, clinical facts from multiple scientific journals indicate that humans can feel pain from 20 weeks or earlier.” 

“I don't know the motivations of author and editor of the LA Times article,” he said, “but they paint a grossly misleading picture by leading readers to believe that this is a contest between medical facts and the unproven claims of ‘abortion foes.’”

“The exact opposite is true,” Agresti added. 

The day of the vote marked the second anniversary of the conviction of abortionist Kermit Gosnell who was found guilty of first-degree murder of three babies. Media initially censored the story and the trial in which witnesses described baby abortion survivors “swimming" in toilets “to get out.” 

The vote came shortly after a study by The New England Journal of Medicine found that babies born at 22 weeks, with medical treatment available to them, survived with few health implications– another story the media hesitated to report.

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.