During a House Judiciary Committee hearing, pro-birth activist Catherine Glenn Foster, the head of the anti-abortion law firm and advocacy group Americans United for Life, stunned listeners after she claimed it “would not be an abortion” if a 10-year-old rape victim got pregnant and had to get an abortion.
Glenn Foster's answer, which had been in response to questioning from California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, was a reference to last month's account of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and forced to leave her home state of Ohio to get an abortion.
The young girl and her family were forced to travel to Indiana for the procedure and the case has underscored the harsh reality for Americans who can get pregnant in the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that once protected a person's right to choose reproductive healthcare without excessive government restriction.
You can hear their exchange in the video below.
When Swalwell asked her if she thinks "a 10-year-old should choose to carry a baby," Glenn Foster replied that the procedure, which in Ohio is banned as early as six weeks into pregnancy and only permitted in cases of extreme medical emergency, "would probably impact her life and so it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion."
An incredulous Swalwell then asked whether "it would not be an abortion if a 10-year-old, with her parents, made the decision not to have a baby that was a result of a rape," to which Glenn Foster said the following:
“If a 10-year-old became pregnant as a result of rape and it was threatening her life, then that’s not an abortion, so it would not fall under any abortion restriction in our nation.”
Following Glenn Foster's response, Swalwell turned to another committee witness, Sarah Warbelow, the current legal director for the Human Rights Campaign.
When asked by Swalwell to affirm whether or not she had just "heard disinformation," Warbelow affirmed that she had:
“Yes, I heard some very significant disinformation."
“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 or not there is a statutory exemption. It is still a medical procedure that is understood to be an abortion.”
Warbelow's response highlighted that while Glenn Foster is not wrong to say that a 10-year-old whose life is threatened would likely be able to terminate the pregnancy, the procedure that would need to be done to terminate that pregnancy is by definition an abortion.
In Ohio, however, there are no exceptions that would qualify a person for an abortion – not even in cases of rape of incest – and the draconian nature of these laws is what prompted the 10-year-old and her family to cross state lines to get the procedure.
Glenn Foster has been widely criticized for her statements.
The House Judiciary Committee's hearing has garnered attention for other oddball exchanges.
Earlier this week, Georgia Republican Representative Jody Hice had viewers scratching their heads after he said that he opposes the right to an abortion on the grounds that women give birth to humans and not a "turtle" or a "taco," a declaration that exposed him to mockery immediately.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's own hearing has also made headlines, notably after Khiara M. Bridges—a law professor at the University of California Berkeley—called Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley "transphobic" to his face after Hawley objected to her reference to "people with a capacity for pregnancy" as being affected by abortion rather than women.
Hawley seemed visibly upset when she said she wanted to “recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens up trans people to violence.”