On July 6th Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed the “Pro-Information” bill into law and gave a speech about it in front of a Baptist Church. During the speech he made a statement comparing women seeking abortions to criminals that sparked controversy among pro-choice advocates.
The “Pro-Information” bill (HB 586) was introduced by Rep. Frank Hoffman and stipulates that abortion providers must hang signs that inform women of their rights when it comes to pregnancy. Specifically that they cannot be forced to have an abortion, that there are organizations that can help them carry to term as well as provide for a child once born, that the father of the child is responsible for child support even if he offered to pay for the abortion, and that the law permits adoptive parents to pay for medical coverage during the pregnancy and birth. The signs must also provide a link to a website for more information and resources. The stated purpose of the sign is to ensure that women deciding to have abortions know all of their options in case it changes their mind. Apparently Louisiana lawmakers think women are incapable of making decisions about what is best for their lives without being force fed on a conservative agenda.
The part that really got people talking was a statement Gov. Jindal made about informing women of their rights:
“We already make sure criminals know their rights. Before police arrest someone they inform them of all their rights under the law, so it’s only common sense that we would do the same for women before they get an abortion…”
Pro-choice activists are concerned this may have been an intentional analogy intended to imply women seeking abortions are equivalent to criminals and that he himself feels they should legally be considered criminals. Defenders of the bill think this concern is based on a misconstrued interpretation of what Gov. Jindal said and that the statement was merely intended to show that women deserve to know their options.
I doubt the statement was intentionally meant to be offensive. Gov. Jindel likely uses speech writers, as do most politicians; he probably read the speech and didn’t think twice about the comparison. Even if he wrote it himself, he probably just took the first comparison he thought of and ran with it. It is that lack of concern that is the problem. Had this bill been pro-information for Veteran’s Rights, it is unlikely anyone would have considered comparing Veterans right to knowledge with a criminal’s right. It would have been deemed, at a minimum, unseemly. Maybe even all out rude. The group being equated wasn’t veterans though, it was women seeking abortions, and that seems to make it ok to put them in the same category as criminals. At least as far as Gov. Jindal and his speech writers are concerned.
Whether the comparison was intentional or not, it speaks volumes about how little Gov. Jindel thinks of the women of the state; that they do not even warrant the time to find a less sensitive analogy.