Before Monday, I doubt anyone at the Huffington Post had heard of Chuck Winder.
The Boise Republican senator took care of that when he argued in favor of his bill to require women to get an ultrasound before an abortion — even in the case of rape.
Said Winder: “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”
Had he tried, I don’t think Winder could have found a more insensitive way to argue for his insensitive legislation. Winder is taking a well-earned pounding, not just on Huffington Post’s national Internet stage, but, closer to home, on his own Facebook page. Yes, he has since backtracked, saying he didn’t mean to question the honesty of rape victims. I’ve known Winder for more than 15 years, and I believe his regret is heartfelt.
But I also think he, however clumsily and unwittingly, has exposed his bill for all its flaws.
He exposed it as the kind of government meddling Republicans normally love to rail about when they get on their “nanny state” high horse. Winder at least implies that the Senate had to approve his bill as written, because women can’t be trusted to know if they’ve been raped. And that’s why 23 senators — 19 men, but also four women — felt the need to pass a bill that lacks even the humanity to make an exception for victims of a violent crime.
Winder also seems comfortable suggesting doctors should act as cops. They’re supposed to somehow find a delicate way to ask their patient if she’s telling the truth. Then they’re also supposed to look at the physical evidence, perhaps weeks after the fact, and figure out what happened. And 23 Republican senators, members of that purported party of limited government interference, endorsed this concept.
To put it mildly, Winder was callous. You would hope, wherever one stands on the issue of abortion, that we could at least agree that this is an agonizing, heartwrenching decision, not something pursued without thought or under false pretenses.
But Winder also was clueless. I don’t think he understands how hurtful and counterproductive his proposal really is. His bill interjects government into a private, personal decision — when all government can do is apply the heavy hand that conservatives (sometimes) decry.
In an interview with KIVI Channel 6 last week, Winder said he was advancing his bill because he believes government should speak up for the unborn, since the unborn can’t speak for themselves. The unborn deserve a more eloquent spokesperson, and a more sensitive advocate.