When asked about women who have recently gone to jail for giving themselves an abortion, Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) said they deserved it.
A freshman Republican lawmaker from Texas was caught on camera saying that women who have abortions should be convicted of murder and sent to jail.
"Of course they should," Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) said when asked on camera whether women should go to jail for having abortions. "They committed murder."
The video was released by Reproaction, an abortion-rights organization.
When reached for comment by the Dallas Morning News on Thursday, Wright tried to deny that he believes what he very clearly said in the video. "My remarks were directed to those who perform abortions," he said. "Those who perform the abortions should be held responsible."
His denial doesn't pass the laugh test. In the video, Wright is having an extended conversation with the person holding the camera about the many women who have gone to jail in recent years for allegedly giving themselves abortions.
When asked if it concerns him that those women have gone to jail, Wright replies, "As far as I'm concerned, they committed murder." When pressed on whether he thinks those women should be "punished" for that, Wright says, "Of course they should."
And when asked if women in general "should be punished for having abortions," Wright replies, "Absolutely."
Wright also says on camera that he is opposed to abortion in all instances — a position far out of the mainstream of the American public, which overwhelmingly believes women have the right to an abortion.
Republicans have long been on a crusade to ban abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that guarantees a woman the right to an abortion.
A number of Republican-run states have passed extreme laws in recent weeks that ban abortion before many women know they're pregnant, do not include exceptions for women who got pregnant as a result of rape or incest, and also impose criminal penalties on doctors who perform the procedure.
A number of Republicans, including House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, have come out in favor of the extreme bans — which are an effort to get the abortion issue before the Supreme Court. Republicans believe that if this happens, the court's now-conservative majority will be willing to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Yet polls consistently show that overturning Roe v. Wade is deeply unpopular with the American public.
What's more, a new poll out Friday found that 60% of Americans do not believe abortion should be criminalized, as Wright wants. And 71% of Americans oppose recent laws in states like Alabama that impose criminal punishments on doctors who perform abortions.
The poll also found that just 9% of Americans share Wright's view that abortions should "never be permitted under any circumstance."
Wright's views on jailing women are extreme — but they also represent the ultimate goal of anti-abortion activists, according to Erin Matson, co-founder and co-director of Reproaction.
"The logical consequence of abortion bans is putting people in jail, and Congressman Wright’s reprehensible comments supporting jail time for women who have abortions lay bare the true agenda of the anti-abortion movement," Matson said in a statement to Shareblue.
Wright's desire to see women jailed for abortion isn't even the most extreme view in the GOP.
Texas Republicans considered a bill in the last legislative session that would have classified abortion as homicide, a penalty that in Texas is punishable by death.
Matson said that her organization wants to continue to expose anti-choice activists who are trying to make abortion a crime — but who, like Wright, also want to pretend that this isn't their real goal.
"The problem for those who seek to ban abortion and overturn Roe v Wade is not message discipline," Matson said. "The problem is that discipline is their message."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.