Erick Erickson—Concerned for Women’s Health?

In the wake of the passing of the Texas abortion bill, which requires that abortions only be performed in ambulatory surgical centers and proponents claim was designed in the name of protecting women’s health, I came upon this tweet by RedState founder Erick Erickson:

The text reads “Dear Liberals, go bookmark this site now” and the link leads to a store supply warehouse website selling coat hangers. (Erickson now claims he was not being serious, and was just trying to mock liberal hyperbole. Because apparently coat hanger abortions are something to poke fun at.)

Some would probably just have us dismiss this sort of thing as something that isn’t characteristic of the larger movement to ban abortion. What I find ironic along those lines is something Erickson said several years back in a post called “Ashamed To Be ProLife”:

My wife came home to tell me what she saw. I just saw it again on the news.

As she drove down a major highway she saw a sign that said something along the lines of “Warning: Pictures of American Injustice Ahead.”

There on the street corners, just up from an elementary school, were anti-abortion protestors with massive pictures of aborted fetuses all up and down the road. These, to me, weren’t “prolife” supporters. They were anti-abortion supporters.

People like this give the prolife cause a bad name and lose credibility. They may think they are getting their message out — but I just want to beat the hell out of them. Abortion is not a right or a choice in my mind, though I might have made an exception for these people.


Right, because poking fun at coat hanger abortions is totally pro-life. Erickson may deny it all he likes, but it’s actually remarks like his that give the “pro-life” cause a bad name and make it lose credibility.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Ryan Hite

    This is exactly the reason why the issue should have died out in 1973 with roe v wade. Abortion is legal, you don’t have to get one… Just like gay marriage. Don’t hold people up to your moral standards.

  • Christine

    Aside from the general douchebaggery of the response, the hypocrisy inherent in it is astounding. If you are trying to restrict/ban abortion you must, aside from thinking that it’s wrong (whether from a “killing babies” or magical “women’s health” POV), believe that restricting/banning it will stop it. To follow a “we have made it difficult/impossible to get an abortion” with “you’ll have to go do it yourself”, makes it really damn difficult to claim that you believe you’ve stopped the abortions from happening.

  • Joykins

    The wonder, of course, of twitter is that without the necessary context, it’s impossible to tell if Erickson is mocking rhetoric about these life-threatning abortions or making the suggestion that women actually should start performing coat hanger abortions. Erickon gives himself the benefit of the doubt, no doubt, but both are reprehensible.

    • Lolly

      Possibly only liberal women are encouraged to perform coat hanger abortions, to rid the world of liberal women and their offspring, because, you know, so vereh, vereh “pro life”. Somehow rwnj’s have the bizarre impression that their DNA contain only republican genes and uteri are republican factories for Jesus, which is why having more and more babies to sway future elections is such a weird, but popular, concept.

  • katiehippie

    Erickson is creepy as hell. Yuck.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    I’m still waiting for evangelicals to explain away why abortion was OK when Roe V Wade was being decided…

    • The_L1985

      My father’s not an evangelical, but he seriously thinks it’s better for women’s health to be up to the individual states. This is the reason he’s given me for disliking the Roe v. Wade decision.

      No, really. He apparently feels that women who need an abortion should sometimes have to cross state lines in order to have a life-saving procedure performed. This isn’t the only bizarrely sexist thing I’ve heard him tell me, but it’s one of the most repugnant.

      • gimpi1

        The operative word might just be “he.” Many men can’t seem to understand just how risky pregnancy can be. He jests at scars who has never felt a wound.

  • Renee Martin

    I am sickened and scared about all the anti abortion bills being passed. WHY are these forced birthers winning? Are they just better organized? 1 in 3 women will get an abortion, so how are they able to make such crazy laws?

    Its also pretty telling that the GOP spends all its time pushing restrictions on women and cutting programs for the poor, instead of doing anything positive or worthwhile.

    • AndersH

      First off, remember that Republican politicians (even more so than Democratic) respond mostly to the interests of the middle and upper classes, and that the state legislatures only have around 20% women (as a result of the social structure combined with the American voting system).

      It is passed based on the belief of the people that Republicans care about that “those” (poor, minorities, liberals) women are subverting sexual morality and the social fabric, and that they need to be punished for that or brought into line. For anti-abortion men it’s often that simple – they do sometimes claim to have sincerely held beliefs about the ensouled nature of zygotes, but it seems to me that you have to make a real effort to believe that kind of thing.

      For anti-abortion women it’s partly a belief that they are not like “those” women, and they live in communities where these problems have always been silenced to death – before abortion became legal you went/sent the woman to a discreet doctor (again, the people whose interests Republicans respond to are generally richer and have had more access to doctors in their social circle) or to relatives for the year and then kept quiet about forcing her to give the child up for abortion.

      Today, I think a lot of them are also subconsciously aware that they’ll be able to afford a trip to a blue state if they really need to.

      In other words, they believe that it’s not a policy that affects them, and they assign whatever negative effects the law will have to the moral failings of “them” (women, poor, minorities, liberals). So they’ll whip people because they don’t care about their suffering and think it will make them “better” (the way they define it) and chose to ignore that the world doesn’t work that way.

      • brbr2424

        I’m in CA and I have always taken solace in knowing that choice will always exist for myself and my daughters. But, then the incident in Ireland happened. That poor Indian woman was a captive of the zealots. She could not escape to a place where doctors could practice medicine ethically and do what was best for the patient.

    • brbr2424

      After 8 years of Bush, and the lack of instant gratification when Obama came in, voters were confused, bewildered and stayed home in 2010. The wingnuts came out to vote in 2010. Also, some of the confused hopped on the “throw the bums out” bandwagon and bought into the Republican rebranding as the Tea Party. The Tea Party ran on jobs, jobs jobs. Once in, they came out of their Trojan horse and set to work on their anti-choice bills.

      Christian Dominionists advice their followers to get into office stealthly. Don’t let on what a nut you are until you get in.

  • KarenS

    At least he was being honest about what he really thinks of women.

  • Feminerd

    This is the best response I’ve seen:

    I don’t think Mr. Erickson has any idea what he’s really advocating, and he needs to.

    • wmdkitty

      Ow. I think my cervix glued itself shut as I read…

      • Feminerd

        Yeah. That was a terrifying read.

    • Sophie

      Getting my IUD fitted was one of the most painful hours of my life, and I regularly take high dose opiates for my chronic pain. I cannot even begin to imagine how much it must hurt to go through what is described in that article. Only a desperate women with no other options would ever try that. It makes me sick that that man thought that was funny.

      • Feminerd

        Yeah. The thing is, he didn’t think about what a coat hanger abortion actually means. It’s all an abstraction to him, not real women with real lives and real pain.

      • Sophie

        I would think that would apply to most pro-life people especially those who are involved in legislature. Maybe I have too much faith in humanity, but I can’t imagine that those people would be so pro banning abortion if they knew the reality of illegal abortions.

      • Feminerd

        One can only hope. I think that’s true for a number of them, but I think there’s a number who wouldn’t care. It only happens to “those” women, after all, and they probably deserved it.

      • Sophie

        Alas I know that you are most probably right, there are people who would believe that that pain and suffering from a backstreet abortion were fitting consequences for the woman. I really wish that more people in the pro-life movement would realise that their leaderships’ motives have nothing to do with saving babies. If enough of them finally got that then maybe they could wrest back their movement and do some good. More likely they’d become pro-choice and the pro-life movement will get all the nuttier.

      • Feminerd

        Yeah. Smaller and less powerful along with nuttier, though. You can’t change everyone’s mind, but you can control the legislature …

      • gimpi1

        I actually shared this view with a profoundly anti-choice friend, and it was a factor in changing her views. People can learn and change.

  • smrnda

    Any more part of being right wing is being an insensitive ass and then offering a non-pology by saying ‘I was *joking!*’ The problem with that defense is that it isn’t like jokes aren’t meant to convey meaning. I’ve always felt that nobody really laughs at anything that they don’t feel expresses a truth on some level.

    The other problem is that the standard right wing ‘joke’ is to belittle or demean someone you don’t like, and as this usually comes from a privileged person and is aimed at the less privileged it just doesn’t work.

    • Ibis3

      The problem with that defense is that it isn’t like jokes aren’t meant to convey meaning.

      Yeah. Like, what, it’s funny because its true?

  • TLC

    Here’s another great response from a physician who’s seen coat hangers, and much worse:

    Isn’t it amazing that these people HATE health care reform because they think their right to choose a physician, specialist or doctor will be taken away? And that they’ll lose their privacy? But they have no problems putting a wall of regulations between a pregnant woman and her doctor.

    This tweet shows just how low these people will stoop. Shameful indeed!

  • Hat Stealer

    This man is sick. To acknowledge that coat hanger abortions are a reality, and wishing that they were the reality, all the while flippantly joking about it is the mark of a deranged, sick, lunatic, who has either had the empathy drilled out of him by Christianity, or was simply never born with any.

    • Katty

      “deranged, sick, lunatic”

      Not that I don’t agree with you that Erick Erickson is THE WORST, but the language you used implies that mental illness = evil. As E.E. demonstrates, it is totally possible to be a total scumbag with $-signs and power hunger where his empathy should be while (afaik) not suffering from a mental illness, just as it is totally possible to suffer from mental illness (be “deranged” or a “lunatic”) without being a bad person.
      I understand that words like deranged or crazy are often used to express shock and strong disagreement (and I’m sure I still sometimes use it that way myself), but it’s a problematic use of language and I thought you might be willing to bear this in mind.

      • Hat Stealer

        I don’t believe in objective evil. I would not describe someone with autism, or even someone with schizophrenia as “deranged” or “a lunatic.” Those are descriptions that I would apply to a serial killer, as well as Erickson, because I find their actions to be deranged and highly dangerous. Lunatic is a word that can be used to describe people with wildly foolish, often dangerous ideas.

        As far as Erickson goes, there are many extremist Christians in our country who I would say are mentally ill, simply because of the way religion has altered their brain chemistry. It is not socially disabling, but I would be willing to describe their lack of empathy – a very basic human emotion – as an illness, the same as I would a serial killer.

  • belgianchic

    So sick and insensitive.

  • brbr2424

    I loved watching Meagan Kelly, from faux news, get the better of this milktoast.

  • Composer 99

    A few days late coming in, but in my opinion the most polite response to Erick Erickson involves one or more, shall we say, Anglo-Saxon epithets.