Carroll County Times Opinion

Tom Zirpoli: GOP’s pro-life stance doesn’t apply to mothers | COMMENTARY

Republicans seem to be talking out of both sides of their mouth. They call themselves “pro-life” because they want to save the lives of those yet to be born, but not so pro-life that they want to save the lives of the living. Quite the contrary. According to Republicans, the living — in this case mothers — need to sacrifice their lives to save the unborn they carry.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act of 1986 requires doctors to protect the life of pregnant women having life-threatening, pregnancy-related medical complications. Sometimes, saving the life of women requires an abortion. While Republicans don’t like to talk about these situations, they are a reality for doctors in emergency departments.


Republicans in Texas, however, are suing the Biden administration for enforcing the act and demanding that abortion be considered illegal under all circumstances, including when the life of the mother is a risk. Saving the life of the mother over the life of the fetus, according to Republicans in Texas and other states, would be a “crime” and any hospital or doctor doing so would “risk their licensure under Texas law.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Republicans want to prevent pregnant women from traveling to other states where abortions are legal and safe. Thus, in Texas, for example, a woman dying from a pregnancy complication would not only be unable to receive lifesaving treatment in an emergency room where she lives, but would be prevented from traveling to another state to receive lifesaving treatment. As stated by Kylie Cheung writing in the Jezelbel Newsletter, “Senate Republicans want to trap pregnant people in their anti-abortion states.”


Republicans also want to regulate medications women may receive through the mail preventing them from receiving abortion pills. I wonder, when will Republicans start regulating men’s sexual behavior and their contributions to the abortion issue?

So, who would have thought that the “freedom” party now wants to regulate health care, travel, and the mail of pregnant women? How they will manage all of this regulation and monitoring will be interesting. I guess Republicans will assign pregnant women a state chaperone to be sure they don’t escape and sneak off to another state or order a forbidden pill through the mail.

There was a time when the life of the mother, rape, and incest were fairly universal exceptions for the majority of anti-abortion folks. Not anymore. The recent case of a 10-year-old rape victim, forced to travel from her home in Ohio, where abortions are now illegal, to Indiana, where abortions are legal, is now the reality for people living in states where Republicans rule. At first, Republicans — led by Fox News — tried to sell us on the idea that the entire story was fake news. I guess they didn’t want to be associated with forcing a 10-year-old rape victim to give birth. Then police arrested a 27-year-old man who confessed to raping the young girl.

Republicans in Indiana are now investigating the doctor — not the rapist — who performed the abortion, even though she did nothing illegal. The doctor’s lawyer released a statement that the doctor “took every appropriate and proper action in accordance with the law and both her medical and ethical training as a physician. She followed all relevant policies, procedures, and regulations in this case, just as she does every day to provide the best possible care for her patients. She has not violated any law, including patient privacy laws, and she has not been disciplined by her employer. We are considering legal action against those who have smeared my client.”

When asked about this case, multiple Republican leaders stated that they thought the 10-year-old child should have been forced to carry and deliver the baby even though she was raped, and was only 10 years old! Obviously, it was not their 10-year-old daughter.

Unfortunately, this is not a rare case. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are more than 4,000 pregnancies among girls under the age of 15 each year in the United States. About 44% percent end in abortions.

When Senate Republicans were asked during a news conference if they were willing to consider assistance for these young children forced to care for a newborn, they stated that they did not see this as an appropriate role of the government. Yet, it is, in their minds, the government’s role to force these girls to have unwanted babies.

Meanwhile, Congressman Mike Kelly, a Republican from Pennsylvania, has introduced a bill making abortion illegal everywhere in America, regardless of what state a woman lives in or the wishes of the people in that state. This could very well become law if Republicans take over the majority in Congress after November’s midterm elections.


Tom Zirpoli is the Laurence J. Adams Distinguished Chair in Special Education emeritus at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at