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Matt Gaetz implies abortion bans are good for LGBTQ families, downplays sexual assault

The Florida Republican said he’s worried about LGBTQ rights groups becoming a ‘pro-abortion enterprise.’

By Casey Quinlan - July 15, 2022
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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) downplayed the prevalence of LGBTQ people who face unwanted pregnancies after experiencing sexual assault during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday.

He added he is concerned about LGBTQ rights advocacy groups becoming “a pro-abortion enterprise.”

The purpose of the hearing, “What’s Next: The Threat to Individual Freedoms in a Post-Roe World,” was to discuss the far-reaching implications of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade.

Gaetz repeatedly asked Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, to compare the rates of sexual violence against lesbians to the number of adoptions by same-sex couples.

“Ms. Warbelow, what’s the most likely circumstance when a same-sex couple would benefit from abortion access?” Gaetz asked.

“Unfortunately, we have women who experience sexual assault,” Warbelow replied. “In fact, lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to experience sexual assault than heterosexual women, that their pregnancies are often involuntary. And so these are individuals who would need access to abortion care.”

According to a 2018 study on sexual violence and abortion, bisexual women, lesbians, and patients who described their sexuality as “something else” had higher exposure to sexual violence than heterosexual patients. Bisexual and lesbian patients were more likely than heterosexual patients to say they experienced physical violence from the man who got them pregnant.

“What’s more likely, a lesbian woman having an unwanted pregnancy as the consequence of a sexual assault or a gay couple adopting in America?” Gaetz asked.

 

“We have tens of thousands of same-sex couples that are raising families and raising children as a consequence of adoption,” Gaetz continued after a brief exchange with Warbelow. “We know that as a consequence of census data. So, is there any data you’re able to reference that it would be more likely for a lesbian woman to have an unwanted pregnancy as a consequence of rape than the formation of a family through a same-sex couple adopting?”

“It may not be more likely but it’s an important interest if somebody who needs abortion care is able to access it,” she answered, as Gaetz interrupted her.

Gaetz said he cared about the issue of same-sex couples adopting, pointing to legislation he supported when serving in the Florida House. In 2015, Gaetz authored an amendment to a larger Florida adoption bill that included language allowing same-sex couples to adopt as well as allowing foster parents to homeschool children in their care, according to the Naples Daily News. His support of LGBTQ parents’ right to adopt came a few years after the Third District Court of Appeals found Florida’s decades-old ban on same-sex couples adopting unconstitutional.

The Florida Republican — who is reportedly under investigation for possible sex trafficking — has sent transphobic tweets, accused government agencies of being “focused on pronouns instead of the freedom of people”  and has retweeted Libs of TikTok, an account known for contributing to the harassment of LGBTQ people.

“I worry that if the LGBTQ community and the advocacy organizations for same-sex couples somehow reorients to be a pro-abortion enterprise, that could actually result in fewer same-sex couples having access to the family formation that gives them fulfilled lives,” Gaetz added. “Are you concerned about that?”

“What I would be concerned about is forcing women to carry a pregnancy simply to satisfy another couple’s desire to have a child,” Warbelow replied. “There are many methods of family formation, many same-sex couples use fertility treatments, assisted reproductive technologies, in addition to adoption.”

Gaetz then said it is “astonishing” to him that LGBTQ advocates would be in favor of policies supporting abortion access.

The hearing featured testimony from Warbelow along with Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality, Obergefell v. Hodges; Melissa Murray, a professor of law at New York University; and Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. Foster once worked for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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