Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R) is pushing legislation that would impose restrictions on abortion clinics -- a move that she argues is necessary because the procedure is a major surgery that removes the largest "organ" in a woman's body.
“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin told the Montgomery Advertiser on Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
A "child" is not a bodily "organ." Indeed, children have organs of their own. The largest human organ is actually the skin. According to National Geographic, adults carry about eight pounds of skin, which is slightly above the average weight of a newborn baby.
McClurkin's argument actually undermines the "personhood" bills being pushed around the country by other like-minded Republican lawmakers. Those pieces of legislation argue that undeveloped zygotes are people too and should therefore be given full legal rights, thus making abortion -- and even certain forms of birth control -- illegal.
McClurkin's bill would impose stringent requirements on abortion clinics that could make it hard for them to keep their doors open. It would, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, "require physicians at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony -- punishable by up to 10 years in prison -- for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications."
There are five remaining abortion clinics in the state of Alabama. McClurkin and her allies have argued that the bill is not meant to stop abortions, but rather to make sure that patients who do undergo the procedure are kept safe.
Opponents, however, note that studies have shown that abortion is already safe, and McClurkin's bill would likely shut down clinics.
"The real purpose of this bill is to make safe and legal abortion in Alabama unavailable under any circumstance," Nikema Williams, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, told the Montgomery Advertiser.
Hospitals, for example, aren't required to extend admitting privileges to doctors at abortion clinics, which would make it impossible for those doctors to comply with the bill's restrictions. According to Williams, Mississippi physicians were rejected at seven hospitals.
In the 2012 elections, the Republican Party stumbled after some of its candidates put forward unscientific claims in order to argue against abortion. The most high-profile, of course, was former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) -- then a candidate for U.S. Senate -- who said that women are physically able to stop themselves from getting pregnant after a "legitimate rape."