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.
\u201cSwalwell: 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 rape?\nRepublican Witness: That\u2019s not an abortion\nSwalwell: Are you familiar with disinformation?\u201d— Acyn (@Acyn) 1657813416
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.
\u201cIt\u2019s abortion when its rape, it\u2019s abortion when it\u2019s treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, it\u2019s abortion when it\u2019s family planning, it\u2019s abortion when a person decides they don\u2019t want to be pregnant JUST BECAUSE.\nNo matter the reason, abortion is healthcare and must be accessible\u201d— Kelly Bowes (@Kelly Bowes) 1657831168
\u201cSo...an abortion is not an abortion when they don't want it to be an abortion. \n\nLike an insurrections is not an insurrection when they don't want it to be an insurrection. \n\nWTF would you call a medical procedure that ends a pregnancy? I mean, other the what it's already called\u201d— Michelle says "We're not going back" (@Michelle says "We're not going back") 1657831503
\u201cThey are liars who can't even lie very well. Look at this hypocrite. Chances are you know someone like her. Call them out.\u201d— Wonder Woman \ud83d\udc1d Demands Justice (@Wonder Woman \ud83d\udc1d Demands Justice) 1657834642
\u201c"Now that we've finally banned abortion we're going to deny we've banned abortion" seems like where this was always going to end up.\u201d— Seth Masket (@Seth Masket) 1657835886
\u201cRepublicans get abortions but they don\u2019t want to call them abortions. They call them \u201cprocedures.\u201d Republicans are willfully delusional. And they\u2019re barbaric.\u201d— Kimberley Johnson \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@Kimberley Johnson \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1657856340
\u201cA new Republican Big Lie:\n\nTo hide the deadly cruelty of their abortion bans, Republicans claim words don\u2019t mean what they mean, medical procedures aren\u2019t what they are, and an abortion is not an abortion when the patient is a 10-year-old-rape victim.\n\n#VoteBlueToProtectChildren\u201d— THEE (((L'EtatC'estMoi))) #BlackLivesMatter \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@THEE (((L'EtatC'estMoi))) #BlackLivesMatter \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1657827348
\u201c"It's not an abortion if it's politically embarrassing for us" is a hell of take.\u201d— Patrick S. Tomlinson (@Patrick S. Tomlinson) 1657825475
\u201cRepublicans are outright lying. This is exactly what abortion is. Also, rape of young girls is not rare. Abortion for young rape victims is not rare.\n\nAdvocating against abortion is advocating to force 10-year-old rape victims to give birth, which UN says is a human rights abuse.\u201d— Sarah Reese Jones (@Sarah Reese Jones) 1657825729
\u201cThe liar here is named Catherine Glenn Foster @cateici and she has just employed the "no true Scotsman" rationalization:\n\nWe are holier-than-thou anti-abortion, even for child rape. This is abortion is unavoidable. Thus this child rape abortion, is NOT an abortion.\u201d— Keith Olbermann (@Keith Olbermann) 1657825881
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.”