The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Silence on Criminalization Speaks Volumes - Reproductive Freedom for All

Formerly NARAL Pro-Choice America


The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Silence on Criminalization Speaks Volumes

Every day we see the harm caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the GOP’s dangerous abortion bans. Anti-abortion extremists are making clear that they want more—more extremismmore harmmore surveillance, and more criminalization.

This is why the anti-abortion extremists’ silence in response to the criminalization of a mother and daughter in Nebraska—where prosecutors weaponized state laws in order to punish them for a self-managed abortion—speaks volumes and exposes their hypocrisy.

Despite more than 70 anti-abortion groups signing a letter in May 2022 opposing the criminalization of pregnant people for abortion, their silence now shows once again that their efforts to portray themselves as compassionate and concerned about the well-being of pregnant people and families are disingenuous.

People who experience miscarriage or stillbirth, self-manage abortion care, or struggle with substance use continue to face criminalization with the implicit endorsement of anti-abortion activists.

Anti-abortion groups’ continued silence on criminalization is glaring. Their true goal has always been to control and criminalize women and pregnant people.

As reported by Jessica Valenti in Abortion, Every Day:

“In the wake of a Nebraska teenager being sentenced to 90 days in jail after self-managing abortion, it’s worth asking: Where are all the anti-abortion activists?” They’ve said again and again that they don’t believe in arresting women for abortion. Over 70 anti-abortion groups even signed onto a 2022 letter claiming to oppose the criminalization of pregnant people.

So why aren’t they speaking up? Could it be because they’ve always known people would be arrested for abortion and that that is the point?… The truth is that these organizations and activists always knew that pregnant people were going to be criminalized; and no matter what they say to the contrary, it’s exactly what they want.”

During the 2023 state legislative sessions, GOP lawmakers in Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, and Georgia all proposed bills that would criminalize people on homicide or other criminal charges for having an abortion.

If these bills were to be enacted, they would endanger 13.6 million women of reproductive age and compound the criminalization already disproportionately experienced by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; LGBTQ+ people; immigrants; and people with low incomes. This does not include people who can get pregnant but do not identify as women—if we factor in that population, the harm is even greater.

Now, these extremists are peddling a nationwide abortion ban and pushing disinformation in a desperate attempt to make themselves appear reasonable—but their silent endorsement of criminalization shows that they are anything but.