By Norma Nyhoff, Field Intern
On July 27, hatemongering anti-abortion group Operation Rescue cheered as the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA) filed an 11-count petition recommending that Dr. Ann Neuhaus face disciplinary action for late-term abortion referrals she made for Dr. George Tiller before his murder last year. The petition, based on a complaint originally filed by Operation Rescue Senior Policy Advisor Cheryl Sullenger in 2006, could result in the revocation of Neuhaus’ medical license.
Among the 11 cases for which she faces discipline is one in which Neuhaus recommended a 10-year-old girl for an abortion, supposedly without “adequate patient interview,” “adequate patient history,” or “adequately evaluat[ing] the ‘behavioral or functional impact’ of the patient’s condition,” among other charges. That is, Operation Rescue believes that Neuhaus acted prematurely in allowing a 10-year-old girl to obtain an abortion. They dare to suggest that this child, doubtless a victim of pedophilic rape, could have carried her pregnancy to term without compromising her health.
When I was a 10-year-old, I was focused on collecting glitter pens and memorizing the state capitals for social studies class. I didn’t know how to navigate pregnancy or sexual violence or legal statutes because 10-year-olds are children. How could a 10-year-old process the horrific reality of her own rape, likely perpetrated by an adult male whom she once trusted, only to then be further punished for the crime that he has committed against her? How could a 10-year-old ever be prepared for pregnancy or motherhood? How could she be expected to sacrifice her childhood at the altar of “pro-life” ideology?
Kansas law requires proof of “substantial and irreversible” harm to the health of the woman — or in this case, girl — in order to obtain an abortion past 22 weeks’ gestation. Precedent has dictated that this include both mental and physical health. Even if the body of a 10-year-old child were somehow developed enough to avoid permanent physical harm through pregnancy and birth (a prospect that I find highly unlikely), Operation Rescue’s original complaint and the subsequent charges by the KSBHA suggest that a 1o-year-old rape victim will not be psychologically harmed by being forced into carrying a pregnancy to term. After all, according to the petition, there is insufficient evidence that the young girl’s pregnancy had a clear “behavioral or functional impact” on her.
Operation Rescue leaders should be ashamed of themselves. In so clearly prioritizing their anti-abortion agenda over the life, health and happiness of a 10-year-old girl, they have demonstrated themselves to be lacking in basic human levels of compassion and decency. Operation Rescue and its ilk seek to strip girls and women of their autonomy and basic reproductive rights under the guise of “pro-life” sentiments, but fail to value human life outside of the womb. Join NOW in denouncing Operation Rescue’s hypocrisy and hate not only in the name of women, but in the name of girls everywhere.