Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy use their wives' miscarriages to defend abortion bans
When you write about abortion every single day, you come across a lot of unseemly stories involving Republicans. They do horrible things, they say horrible things, and the consequences for real people are—you guessed it—fucking horrible. Given that awful onslaught, I’ve often wondered if I would get jaded at some point. How many stories would it take for my outrage to settle into numbness?
So far, it hasn’t happened. And after finding out that two of the Republican presidential candidates used their wives’ miscarriages to defend their anti-abortion extremism, I think it’s safe to say I’ve stored up enough fury for at least the next hundred years. Because are you fucking kidding me with this?
At the Family Leader Thanksgiving Forum last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis started by talking about his wife, Casey, having a miscarriage during her first pregnancy:
“Unfortunately, we lost that first baby. And it was a tough thing because this is something that we had so much hope for…I think it showed me, one, life has a long and winding road. Keep the faith. But it also told me, you know what, this is special. I’ve got to fight for these kids, and I’ve got to fight for all these kids.”
A few minutes later, Vivek Ramaswamy piped in to relay his wife’s story:
“About three and a half months in, Apoorva woke up she said, ‘I’m bleeding’. She had a miscarriage. We lost our first child. And that was the loss of a life, it was our family’s loss.”
Let’s be clear about what this was: These men, these two politicians, tried to soften their anti-abortion extremism using their wives’ bodies as shields. It’s the post-Roe version of “as a father to daughters.”
In the wake of the GOP’s massive election losses, Republican men are suddenly realizing that their extremism is costing them votes. And what better way to prove that they’re not misogynist monsters than to co-opt the stories of their female loved ones?
Since Ramaswamy and DeSantis care so much about women who have miscarriages, let’s spend a moment looking at what it’s like to have a miscarriage these days.
When Kaitlyn Joshua had a miscarriage in Louisiana, she was turned away from two different emergency rooms because of the state’s abortion ban. The first hospital refused to confirm her miscarriage or advise her on treatment options. Instead, a nurse told her, “we're praying for you.” When Joshua went to another ER the following day, she was bleeding so much that her pants were soaked through. Still, she was denied medication to speed up the miscarriage—or a referral to another hospital that might be able to help her. They wouldn’t even give her discharge papers stating that she was having a miscarriage.
Christina Zielke was filling up diapers with blood when an Ohio hospital discharged her, refusing to treat her miscarriage. Doctors told her they had to prove there was no fetal development and to come back in a few days. Zielke was bleeding so much that she had to sit in the tub; she began taking pictures each time the bottom filled up, “just trying to prove what was happening, because I felt like I wasn't believed.” Then, she said, “I started to feel the world slip away.” From NPR:
“She'd lost so much blood, so quickly, her blood pressure had plummeted. Holeyman watched as her eyes rolled back. Her body went limp—she lost consciousness. He caught her neck so she didn't bang her head against the tub. ‘I thought she was a goner,’ he says.
He yelled to her stepmom to call 911. Then, Zielke's eyes opened again, and he reassured her that an ambulance was coming, telling her, ‘just keep breathing, stay calm,’ he recalls.”
When Marlena Stell had a miscarriage in Texas, she had to walk around for weeks with a dead fetus inside her. “I felt like a walking coffin,” she said. When Snell was finally able to find a clinic to treat her, “there were people with signs yelling at me that I was a baby killer.”
In Arizona, Nicole Arteaga had to step away to sob and call her husband when a pharmacist refused to dispense medication to treat her miscarriage. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…I felt there was nothing I could do and I had no control over my body.” And when Rachel Peterson tried to pick up her prescription, the pharmacist told her “as a good Catholic male” he wouldn’t help her.
This is what abortion bans do to people having miscarriages.
Since DeSantis and Ramaswamy only seem to have empathy for women they personally know—and even that’s debatable—I wonder how they would feel if their wives were treated this way. Shamed and debased, denied basic healthcare. What would they do if they got that sobbing phone call? Because this is the world they’re building for the wives they claim to care about.
Of course, we know that these men don’t have to worry about such things. Their wives will likely be just fine; they won’t be beholden to the laws their husbands pass or push. But the rest of us will be.
That’s why DeSantis and Ramaswamy would have been better off saying nothing at all. Invoking their wives’ experiences only reminds us of all the other stories out there. And these days, thanks to men like them, there are a lot of them.