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Republican lawmaker claims he’s ‘qualified’ to ban abortion – because he’s a vet

‘Misogyny in action ― women, animals, it’s all the same,’ one person tweeted in response to remarks by Joel Kitchens

Martha McHardy
Friday 26 January 2024 17:36 GMT
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Republican lawmaker claims as a vet he is ‘qualified’ to ban abortion

A Republican lawmaker from Wisconsin has claimed that he’s “qualified” to ban abortion – because he’s a vet.

While debating a potential 14-week abortion ban on Thursday, state Rep Joel Kitchens said he knows that “abortion is not health care” because of his career as a veterinarian.

“You know, in my veterinary career, I did thousands of ultrasounds on animals, you know, determining pregnancy and that kind of thing,” Mr Kitchens said. “So I think I know mammalian foetal development better than probably anyone here. And in my mind, there’s absolutely no question that’s a life, and I think the science backs me up on that.”

Mr Kitchens was widely slammed for his remarks, with authoritarianism expert Ruth Ben-Ghiat writing on X: “Misogyny in action ― women, animals, it’s all the same.”

MSNBC’s Symone Sanders-Townsend echoed the sentiment, writing, “Women = animals? Mmm.”

It is not the first time a lawmaker has compared pregnant women to livestock.

Last year, Idaho state Rep Jack Nelsen was forced to apologise after he suggested his experience as a “lifelong dairy farmer” gave him some expertise on women’s reproductive health.

Wisconsin state Rep Joel Kitchens during a debate on a potential 14-week abortion ban (WisconsinEye)

“I’ve milked a few cows, spent most of my time walking behind lines of cows, so if you want some ideas on repro and the women’s health thing, I have some definite opinions,” Mr Nelsen joked during a meeting of the state’s House Agricultural Affairs Committee.

Mr Kitchens’ remarks came as Wisconsin Republicans voted to approve a bill for a binding statewide referendum to ban abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Current Wisconsin law prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill passed 53-46, with ten Republicans voting against it. It will now pass to the Senate, who will also have to vote to approve the bill for the referendum to take place.

However, it is unclear if the legislation will make it through the Senate after Republican Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said this month that it would be hard for his caucus to come together around an abortion bill that the state’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers has vowed to veto if it passes through both houses.

“The people of Wisconsin have already made themselves clear on this issue, and so have I,” Mr Evers tweeted. “I promised to veto any bill that takes away Wisconsinites’ reproductive freedom or makes reproductive healthcare (sic) any less accessible than it is today. I’ll keep that promise.”

Democrats in the state have blasted the bill as government overreach, insisting that women should be allowed to make their own choices about reproductive care.

“Politicians should not be making our reproductive health care choices for us,” state Rep Lisa Subeck said during the two-hour debate on Thursday. “These are decisions that are deeply personal. Every pregnancy is different.”

However, Republicans have railed against the concept of abortion, arguing that a vote against the bill would be “a vote against the will of the people.”

In 2022, the US Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe vs Wade, paving the way for states to ban abortion.

Earlier this week, a new study found more than 64,000 rape survivors in the US have become pregnant in states that implemented abortion bans following the overruling of Roe vs Wade.

Fourteen US states have effectively banned abortion since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

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