The XX Factor

Republican Who Blamed Pregnant Rape Victims for Not Taking Plan B Tried to Restrict Plan B Access

David Sater once sponsored a bill that would allow pharmacies to not stock emergeny contraception, and now he’s telling pregnant rape victims that they should have taken emergency contraception after being raped.

Photo illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Despite the known electoral dangers awaiting male Republicans who think they know better than rape victims about how rape victims should act and feel, the allure of rape philosophizing lives on. The latest entrant is Missouri state legislator David Sater, who is sponsoring a bill that would extend the waiting period for an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. Naturally, there’s no rape exception, and naturally, Sater’s got some strong words about the irresponsibility of rape victims to justify not including one. “If a woman decides not to go to the hospital and not get the ‘Plan B,’ they’re making a decision to keep that child if they get pregnant,” he said. “If the woman found out she was pregnant three or four weeks down the line, they had made the decision not to do some preventative things like Plan B.”

On the one hand, Sater believes women to be such silly, stupid creatures that they need a full 72 hours to reconsider whether they should go through with the abortion that they already decided to have, because 24 hours is not enough time for the slow-functioning female mind to truly decide what it wants. On the other hand, he also expects women to be so clear-headed that, even after suffering the severe trauma of a rape, they can swiftly organize all the post-rape responsibilities that need to be attended to, and the punishment for failing to fulfill their duties should be severe: forced motherhood to a rapist’s baby. So which is it, Sater? Are women smart and able to think swiftly on their feet, so much so that merely being raped is no excuse for not doing so? Or are women so stupid that they need a full 72 hours after they’ve decided against being pregnant to really, truly know if they don’t want to be pregnant? Apparently, the answer depends on what’s most convenient for David Sater. 

Sater may believe that women need to be swift in their Plan B procurement, but he also apparently thinks that it should be very difficult for women to procure Plan B. In 2010, Sater sponsored a bill that would allow pharmacies not to stock emergency contraception if they don’t want to and prevent women—presumably including rape victims—from suing pharmacies for not doing so. So, rape victims: You’re expected to get it together so quickly post-rape that you don’t forget to take emergency contraception, even though you’re not allowed to expect any pharmacies to actually stock the stuff. (Also, despite his focus on emergency contraception, it appears Sater has no idea that it has a 5-11 percent failure rate, which means that some of those rape victims that he blames for not taking Plan B fast enough did, in fact, do so.)

Sater’s not alone in his state legislature. Missouri is a hotbed of anti-choice activity these days. There are more than 20 bills in the Missouri legislature right now aimed at restricting access to abortion and making it harder to get contraception. One of those bills would make it legal for emergency room workers to deny rape victims emergency contraception. No word yet from Sater on how to reconcile that one.