Quote of the Day: The baby is “the largest organ in the body”

Alabama state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin is pushing a new TRAP bill that could shut down all five of the state’s abortion clinics. According to her, the strict regulations are necessary because abortion is a major surgery. In fact, she claims:

“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body. 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.”

little fish in hand

Image via Feministe.

A few questions for Rep. McClurkin:

1) Wait, is a fetus an organ or a person?

2)  Almost 90 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester. At that point, the fetus is roughly the size of this fish. On what scale is that considered big?

3) A first-trimester surgical abortion takes about 10 minutes and usually doesn’t even require general anesthesia. Less than .5 percent of patients have serious complications. I have had a baby-organ removed from my uterus. I have also had a couple wisdom teeth removed from my mouth. Both things, coincidentally, were approximately the size of a blueberry. The dental surgery seemed way more invasive to me. Why do you think you know better than medical professionals what regulations are necessary to ensure patient safety?

4) What did the liver ever do to deserve this erasure?

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/mercedes/ Mercedes Allen

    This is more in response to the conversation I’ve been seeing about this quote, than about what you’ve written here, so don’t take it as directed at you.

    Is it just me, or would we not have been correcting McClurkin with the argument that it’s a *foetus* or in a usually early stage of development, twenty years ago, given that we’re talking about abortion? And now, all the left-wingers are shouting back that it’s a baby / person. Seems to me that no matter how idiotic the original statement is as presented, the reply is still allowing the far right to control the conversation, and the language of the debate.

    The original article has only this quote. I’ve been interviewed enough to know how cherry-picking the one weak sentence can radically change one’s message and intent. So I tend to suspect that this was just a brainfart on McClurkin’s part (i.e. that she intended to compare the severity of the medical procedure), but I’m concerned also about how peoples’ responses to it plays into the anti-abortion / personhood game.

    • http://feministing.com/members/pamelawatters/ Pamela Watters

      This comment by Mary Sue McClurkin was not “cherry picked”. I was present at the Statehouse in Montgomery, AL, last Tues. when the TRAP Bill that she sponsored was debated. She was unable to answer simple questions about her own bill. Then she said that she was a strong supporter of women’s rights. A Dem. rep quizzed her about that & McClurkin admitted that she did not know what the Violence Against Women Act was & she did not support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. (I got the impression that she didn’t know what the Ledbetter Act was, either) McClurkin is also the state chairman for ALEC.
      In Alabama last year, pro choice women & like minded men were successful in blocking 15 of 16 women’s anti-reproduction bills. They have come back at us with a vengeance this year with a TRAP bill & Personhood.

  • http://feministing.com/members/wombwisdom/ Keeffe

    As a doula, I was taught that the placenta is the largest ‘disposable’ organ in the body – meaning you can, and will, survive without it. The placenta is passed by the mother, or removed safely and gently by the midwife or doctor. It is peaceful, relatively painless, and non-invasive. If the placenta, a real and true organ, passed gently or retrieved by singular medical staff, receives so little attention, then why should the fetus-organ be any different? They are both highly personal experiences, moving something that was within you – out, and just as no one is trying to capitalize by demanding the placenta stay in-utero, no one ought to speak on behalf of the woman and her fetus-organ.

  • http://feministing.com/members/amariko/ Ally

    What about the skin?? What did it do to be left behind?

  • http://feministing.com/members/jenni/ jenni

    Well if they are saying it is an organ then at least they are saying it is the pregnant woman´s body part not a separate person?

    When I had my abortion it was a medical because it was in Sweden and they said they recomend that method as having less of an impact on the body even though they gave me the choice of surgical. Whatever came out was a bit of blood, a little more than when you´re having your period.

    As I´m not a doctor I don´t know if surgical abortions are sometimes better, and I know medical can only be done very early on in the pregnancy, but one major benefit of medical abortions is that they can´t try to convince you that a little suffering baby has just been snatched out of you and that any thing other than what happens in a normal first trimester miscarriage has happened, because you see it.