During a U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday on the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz made the bizarre argument that the availability of abortion makes it harder for LGBTQ+ people to become parents.
The Human Rights Campaign’s legal director, Sarah Warbelow, was testifying about the threat to individual rights because of the recent Supreme Court decision and others that may follow, as conservatives have targeted marriage equality, contraception, and more.
Gaetz, who has never shown any support for LGBTQ+ people before (he has a zero rating from HRC), said to Warbelow, “I worry that if the LGBTQ community and advocacy organizations for same-sex couples somehow reorient to be a pro-abortion enterprise, that could actually result in fewer same-sex couples having access to the family formation that gives them fulfilled lives. Are you concerned about that?”
“What I would be concerned about is forcing women to carry a pregnancy simply to satisfy another couple’s desire to have a child,” Warbelow replied. She pointed out that LGBTQ+ people form families in many ways, through assisted reproduction as well as adoption.
Gaetz also asked if there are fewer lesbians who become pregnant through sexual assault than same-sex couples who want to adopt, again trying to make a case against abortion rights. “I think that’s impossible to know,” Warbelow replied.
She went on to call Gaetz out on his misleading statements about bisexual women, as he claimed, “If a woman is with men and women, then they’re bisexual, right?” Warbelow pointed out that being bi is a matter of attraction — a bi person can be in a monogamous relationship with a person of one gender while still being attracted to other genders.
He further conflated lesbians and bi women, asking Warbelow, “You’re saying that lesbian women are also capable of being into men?” She replied that she was talking about bi women, not lesbians.
In another exchange, Warbelow said that Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, which opposes abortion rights, had put out “some very serious disinformation” when Foster told the committee that if a 10-year-old who is pregnant due to rape has an abortion to save her life, that’s not an abortion. A 10-year-old rape survivor recently traveled from Ohio to Indiana to terminate a pregnancy because of Ohio’s restrictive abortion law, and Warbelow confirmed that the procedure was indeed an abortion.
In her prepared testimony, Warbelow underlined that abortion is an LGBTQ+ issue. Loss of abortion access is devastating to women, including lesbian and bisexual women, transgender men, and nonbinary people,” she said. “Contrary to popular belief, many members of the LGBTQ+ community need access to abortion care. Data derived from the National Survey of Family Growth shows that LGBTQ+ women who have been pregnant are more likely to have had unwanted or mistimed pregnancies than heterosexual women and are more likely to need abortion services as well. Lesbian (22.8 percent) and bisexual (27.2 percent) women who have been pregnant are more likely than heterosexual women (15.4 percent) who have been pregnant to have had an abortion. Furthermore, their pregnancies are more likely to be the result of violence. Reproductive rights are LGBTQ+ rights. LGBTQ+ people need and deserve access to the full range of family planning and reproductive health services — including access to abortion, contraception, and fertility services — so they can decide if they wish to become parents and when to do so. All told, it will take years to fight through, untangle, and unwind the damage that this decision is causing across numerous states.”
She went on to note that in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion, said the court should revisit other rulings that relied on the concept of “substantive due process,” including Obergefell v. Hodges, which established marriage equality nationwide; Lawrence v. Texas, which upheld the right to private consensual sex; and Griswold v. Connecticut, upholding the right to use contraception.
“Justice Thomas invites legal challenges from every corner,” she said. “A domino effect could occur imperiling numerous rights that Americans take for granted if a majority of the Court were to be swayed by his analysis. … In light of Dobbs, we are already witnessing many state legislatures enact abortion bans that are both emboldening increasingly extreme restrictions (e.g., upon the constitutional rights to interstate travel or to speech) and also having chilling effects on medicines and procedures that are not even used to conduct an abortion. … Should the constitutional imperatives reflected in Lawrence or Obergefell be abandoned or undercut by the Supreme Court, state legislatures will be sure to redouble their anti-LGBTQ+ attacks to include efforts to recriminalize intimacy between consenting adults and undermine or undo marriages of same-sex couples.”
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