Tag Archives: Jim Bopp

Another Form Of Rape

Indiana AG Todd Rokita is one of the few politicians in our polarized age who is despised on both sides of the political aisle. His naked ambition has led him into the fever swamps of the far Right, and the most recent example–reported in the linked article from Talking Points Memo–was his effort to smear the ob-gyn who terminated the pregnancy of a raped ten-year-old.

Rokita suggested that the doctor, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, had failed to file mandated reports with the state about the abuse and the abortion. At least, Rokita claimed, he could find no evidence for any reports. Bernard is an “abortion activist acting as a doctor with a history of failing to report,” Rokita told Fox News on Wednesday. “We’re gathering the information, we’re gathering the evidence as we speak and we’re going to fight this to the end, including looking at [Bernard’s] licensure, if she failed to report. In Indiana it’s a crime for … to intentionally not report.”

If Rokita weren’t shameless, he would have apologized after Indianapolis’ Fox affiliate easily ascertained–via a simple public records request– that Bernard had properly filed all required paperwork, and had also reported that the patient was a victim of abuse. (That abuse had also been reported to authorities in Ohio by the girl’s physician there.)

In other words Rokita went forward with a series of defamatory claims and accusations against Bernard and called down a nationwide campaign of harassment and vilification against her apparently without even the most cursory of records checks that were not only available to him as attorney general but members of the public in roughly 24 hours.

Rokita is one of several despicable Republicans who responded to the initial reports about a pregnant ten-year-old with accusations that the incident was manufactured–that the child didn’t exist, and that the rape and pregnancy were inventions of those hated liberals. 

Those attacks were really another form of rape.

I never doubted the accuracy of the report, but–like most Americans–assumed that a pregnancy in someone so young was a very rare situation. I was shocked to learn that it is far less rare than I had supposed.

The New York Times recently reported that  more than 1,000 girls under 15 seek abortions each year.

An article in The New Republic reported  figures from countries with total or near-total bans on abortion.

In Paraguay, where abortion is banned unless it threatens the mother’s life, health officials forced an 11-year-old girl to carry a pregnancy until she could obtain a cesarean section after she was raped by her stepfather in 2015. An 11-year-old girl in Argentina, which had similarly strict laws until recently, delivered a 23-week-old baby by cesarean section in 2019 after officials there refused to allow her to obtain an abortion. The young Argentine girl reportedly attempted suicide twice and begged doctors to “remove what the old man put inside me.”

It’s unclear exactly how often this phenomenon occurs—and even a single instance of it is heartrending—but available numbers suggest it occurs with some frequency. Amnesty International reported last year that in Paraguay, which ranks between New Jersey and Arizona in population, more than 1,000 girls who were 14 years old or younger gave birth in 2019 and early 2020. An analysis this week by The Columbus Dispatch found 50 reports of rape or sexual abuse toward girls 15 years old or younger in Columbus, Ohio, since May of this year. Using data from the Ohio Department of Health, the newspaper also reported that 306 girls who were 15 years old or younger obtained an abortion in that state between 2016 and 2020.

The article went on to quote the truly horrifying reaction to this particular incident by those who have spearheaded the forced birth movement.

Jim Bopp, an Indiana lawyer who serves as the general counsel for the National Right to Life organization, told Politico on Thursday that the model legislation he drafted for Indiana would have required the 10-year-old girl to continue the pregnancy. “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” Bopp told the news outlet.

It seems like the denialism isn’t really about the 10-year-old girl in question but rather about obfuscating the natural consequences of overturning Roe. By eliminating the constitutional right to reproductive self-government and enacting abortion bans without rape or incest exemptions, anti-abortion activists have implicitly created a new right to take Roe’s place. Rapists can now rest assured that if they impregnate their victim, state and local governments will work tirelessly to ensure that the survivor—even if she is a 10-year-old girl—carries that pregnancy to term.

Welcome to MAGA world.

Interim Report on an Interim Committee

As some readers of this blog know, I was appointed to a Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting, convened by the Indiana Legislature. Yesterday was our second meeting;  we heard three presentations and took public testimony.

The first presentation was… interesting. It was offered by Jim Bopp.

For those who don’t know of him, Bopp is an uber-conservative Indiana lawyer on the wrong side of pretty much everything: he was the architect of –and won–Citizens United, and he has argued against same-sex marriage, reproductive choice….He’s pretty infamous in Indiana but until he appeared before the committee, I was unaware that he had any background in redistricting.

Actually, if his testimony reflected his knowledge of the issue, he probably doesn’t know much about it; he just favors anything that keeps Indiana Republicans in control. (In a later presentation, former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm–an expert on the law of redistricting– noted that Bopp had made several assertions that were factually inaccurate.)

Bopp’s basic argument for keeping redistricting in the legislature was straightforward, if bizarre: Since all choices inevitably have partisan consequences, establishing an independent commission to draw district lines would not be any better than the system we have now. (I am not making this up.)

When Senator Lanane asked him if having elected officials draw their own districts wasn’t an inherent conflict of interest, he disagreed, offering a convoluted argument that allowing lawmakers to choose their voters is no more self-interested than letting people vote for a representative whose policies will benefit them. ( I couldn’t make that up!)

I asked Bopp whether he was familiar with the academic literature suggesting that public trust in the legitimacy of the system improved in states that adopted nonpartisan redistricting. He dismissed the public’s opinion as an artifact of a biased media. I wasn’t sure I’d understood his response, so I asked him a follow-up, “Do I understand you to be saying that the public’s attitude is irrelevant?” and his answer was “yes, because the public’s attitude is the result of propaganda, and is wrong.”

So there.

The other presentations were markedly more substantive and informative. Tom Sugar presented his “No Politics Plan” modeled on the redistricting system used in Iowa. (It can be accessed here.) Judge Boehm led us through the thickets of current constitutional law on the issue. (Most of what he presented is included in my paper on Electoral Integrity: How Gerrymandering Matters, which he was kind enough to review for me a while back.)

When it came time for public testimony, we heard from citizens ( some of whom had come from as far away as South Bend), and representatives of statewide civic organizations. Not surprisingly, all of the public testimony urged reform of the current system.

I am convinced that if the Interim Study Committee acts, it will be because so many citizens turn out every time there is a hearing. This one was on a Thursday afternoon, after relatively short notice, and the hearing room could not hold them all; an equal or larger number was in the hall, watching the proceedings on a television. The message was unmistakable: Indiana citizens want change. They want competitive, meaningful elections. They want trustworthy democratic institutions.

Unlike Jim Bopp, they don’t think the players should get to be the umpires.