Ohio Governor Who Denied 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Abortion Is Pretending to Care About Her Amid Backlash

Gov. Mike DeWine's abortion ban forced a child to travel to Indiana for care. Now he's calling her situation "gut-wrenching"--but standing by the law.

Ohio Governor Who Denied 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Abortion Is Pretending to Care About Her Amid Backlash

On the same day the Ohio Supreme Court voted to uphold the state’s six-week abortion ban last week, thanks to the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last month, a 10-year-old rape victim in the state was reportedly denied an abortion because she was past six weeks pregnant. She was forced to travel to Indiana to receive abortion care, thanks to Ohio’s ban that lacks rape and incest exceptions.

On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) finally fielded questions about the child’s harrowing story and his own role in subjecting her to such unthinkable trauma. DeWine’s response was about as offensive and brain-wormed as you’d expect from the man who signed this draconian abortion ban into law, in the first place.

“First of all, I have no more information than you do or anybody does, reading in the paper, it came as, you know, from a story out of Indiana from a doctor over there,” DeWine began, immediately unhelpful. He went on to make the story about himself, and his Very Important feelings as “a father and grandfather,” all while doubling down on his support for police and prisons:

“This is a horrible, horrible tragedy for a 10-year-old to be assaulted, for a 10-year-old to be raped. As a father and as a grandfather, it’s just gut-wrenching to even think about it. We have out there, obviously, a rapist. We have someone who is dangerous and we have someone who should be picked up and locked up forever.”

I’ll just say what we’re all thinking: We live in hell.

Guess what, Mike: This story is “gut-wrenching” to every decent person out there, not just self-righteous fathers and grandfathers like you who have wielded their tremendous state power to retraumatize and further violate a literal child rape victim by forcing her to remain pregnant, and nearly forcing her to give birth.

DeWine also took a page from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) playbook of making the devastating impacts of abortion bans on rape victims about why we need more police—you’ll recall that last year, Abbott justified the lack of rape exception in Texas’ six-week abortion ban by claiming he would simply eliminate rape by ramping up policing. Sure, dude! If this is going to be the go-to talking point Republican governors deploy when their abortion bans inevitably lead to more and more rape victims—particularly child rape victims—being denied care, please shoot me from a canon to the moon already, and do so expeditiously.

Because apparently this needs to be said, police have a long history of making rape victims’ lives substantially worse, either by perpetrating sexual and domestic violence themselves, giving cover to abuse victims, generally retraumatizing victims with their dismissiveness and incompetence, or literally criminalizing victims. Cops—the same people who will be enforcing abortion bans by continuing to arrest people for their pregnancy outcomes—are hardly the solution to the impending crisis of child rape victims being forced to birth their rapists’ babies.

Given DeWine’s utterly useless word vomit from Wednesday, you’d think his press secretary, Dan Tierney, would have more to say when he shared a follow-up statement to the Ohio Capital Journal on Friday. He didn’t. “You have access to DeWine’s recent comments on these issues, including that the only information available on the Indiana matter was from Indiana media reports,” Tierney said in an email to the outlet. Is it just me, or does it sound like DeWine’s press secretary is suggesting this is all some attention-seeking stunt from “Indiana media”?

DeWine’s toothless comments come as, last month, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) admitted his state’s abortion ban, which also lacks a rape exception, could force child rape survivors to carry their rapist’s babies. But, he also effectively refused to do anything about it: “I would prefer a different outcome than that, but that’s not the debate today in Arkansas.”

I’m honestly just exhausted by all the ghoulish, idiotic things anti-abortion politicians have to say about rape victims and abortion at this point—the overtly icky comments, the toxic positivity of calling pregnancy from rape “an opportunity,” and now, from DeWine, total deflection with nodes of copaganda. The fact of the matter is, if anti-abortion politicians cared remotely about rape survivors, they wouldn’t be banning abortion in the first place—with or without exceptions that oft hinge on the off-chance that someone reports their rape to police.

Abortion access has always been and always will be essential to the safety and dignity of survivors, and all pregnant people. Do not let DeWine, Hutchinson, Abbott, or any other governors who have banned abortion convince you for even a moment that they give a shit about the child rape victims they’re subjecting to lifelong trauma.

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