Mike Huckabee’s statement on Sunday that he thinks a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather should have been denied access to abortion was no gaffe or fluke. In fact, Huckabee was expressing a belief shared by many of his fellow Republican presidential candidates and by the anti-choice establishment.
Even “mainstream” candidates Scott and Marco Rubio came out forcefully against rape exceptions in this month’s GOP presidential debate, with Walker also clarifying that he would not allow abortions that would save the lives of pregnant women.
Major anti-choice groups agree. The head of the Susan B. Anthony List, which has sponsored trainings to teach candidates how to speak about the abortion issue, decried rape exceptions as “abominable” and “completely intellectually dishonest,” and only supports them as a means to the end of passing legislation criminalizing abortion. Similarly, the National Right to Life Committee went after GOP congresswomen who undermined an anti-choice bill earlier this year because they thought its rape exception was much too narrow.
While Huckabee wants to bring Paraguay’s harsh abortion policies to America by granting constitutional protections to zygotes (the same plan proposed by Rand Paul) and possibly sending federal agents to raid abortion clinics, the Guttmacher Institute points out that “highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates.”
Indeed, the World Health Organization recorded [PDF] nearly 3,000,000 unsafe abortions taking place in South America in 2008, or 32 per 1,000 child-bearing aged women, even though abortion is banned in most South American countries. While there is no evidence that laws banning abortions eliminate the procedure, such restrictive laws are associated with maternal death and complications.