One Weird Trick for Feminist Approval

An Idaho man is awaiting trial for kidnapping a child and transporting her secretly across state lines to coerce her into aborting a baby he had fathered.

Kadyn Leo Swainston is charged with rape, second-degree kidnapping, and three counts of producing child sexually exploitative material (i.e., child pornography). His mother, 42-year-old Rachael Swainston, is likewise charged with second-degree kidnapping, as well as other charges linked to her apparent career in trafficking meth and fentanyl. (It has been reported that the elder Swainston also made a habit of supplying meth to their 15-year-old victim.)

I first became aware of the Swainstons and their crimes through a mass email from a left-wing activist named Caitlin Seeley George (she/her). Ms. George is a graduate of Oberlin College and a key player at Fight for the Future, a liberal “digital rights” advocacy group. That crew is worried that charges against these upstanding citizens—“another devastating case”—are indicative of the rise of “draconian anti-abortion laws” in post-Roe America. 

“Restricting people’s rights to abortion and their ability to travel is dangerous,” George writes, “especially when paired with the extensive surveillance infrastructure that allows for our every movement to be tracked.”

This is an apparent reference to Idaho’s “abortion trafficking” law, which makes it illegal to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of butchering her child without the knowledge and permission of her own parents. In fact, the subject line of George’s email is “First arrest under Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law,” although this is a blatant falsehood. As noted above, both Swainstons were charged with second degree kidnapping, and the abortion trafficking statute has not been employed at any point in their case. 

Erin Tognetti, the prosecutor involved, confirmed to the Idaho State Journal that neither the abortion trafficking law in particular nor the issue of abortion more broadly is a component of the case against the Swainstons. If Fight for the Future sent out a correction, I have not received it.

The refusal to employ the trafficking statute is of interest in itself. It suggests the law may be a weak one, even an effectively symbolic one: Is there any case of abortion trafficking that could not also be prosecuted as second degree kidnapping? If not, will any prosecutor ever even bother with the political headache of bringing charges under the former statute? For all the feminist fear-mongering about the criminalization of abortion, it seems very little is actually being done toward that just and necessary end. 

Recall the case earlier this year of Celeste Burgess, who, along with her mother, plotted the killing of her unborn child, then burned her baby’s corpse before burying it in a field outside of town. Celeste Burgess’s daughter was thirty weeks old, but the crime of killing her did not produce the sentence such a heinous act would merit. Ninety days for the desecration of her corpse was all that little girl received of justice.

We are supposed to feel for Burgess, and for the handful of others whom the state has had the courage to take to account for brutal crimes against their own progeny. Also this week, the pro-abortion legal advocacy group If/When/How released a report detailing 61 cases in which someone was arrested or charged for attempting to carry out an illegal abortion between 2000 and 2020. In 30 percent of the cases where an offender had other children, the elder siblings were temporarily removed for their own safety. This common-sense measure, we are told, is “especially concerning as over half of people who seek abortions are parents”—a figure that is not technically incorrect. What’s more, If/When/How claims to have discovered a whopping 11 more cases of “self-managed abortion” arrests from 2020 onward, for a total of 72 in the new millennium. 

Which is to say that in a nation of hundreds of millions, across 50 states and more than 20 years, the forces of justice have intervened fewer than one hundred times in the most outrageous cases of infanticide. We are supposed to take this as evidence that, while Ohio circa 2002 was a theocratic tyranny, the road ahead is even darker for the women of this country.

No one person has done more to craft this Handmaid’s Tale narrative than Jessica Valenti, a terminal feminist and author of, among other works, Sex Object: A Memoir. Since the overturn of Roe, Valenti has been writing a Substack chronicling the modest attempts of deep red states to ensure the most basic rights of their most vulnerable citizens. “Abortion, Every Day” is at the vanguard of baby-killing radicalism—a generation ago, “Safe, Legal, and Every Day” did not poll well in focus groups, but they can be more straightforward now. It was a post on that blog that first brought the Swainston case to national attention—and, apparently, that originated the false understanding that the abortion trafficking statute was involved. All the crimes alleged in the Swainston case are waved away—even the age of consent is barely glanced at, and the word “rape” receives a single passing mention. The most Valenti can bring herself to admit is that “It’s also clear that [the 15-year-old victim] was treated poorly by her boyfriend and his mother.”

Valenti is the vanguard, yes; but if she is any indication of where the left is heading, the next few years in America will be moral anarchy. “Safe, Legal, and Rare” was never convincing; now it just seems laughable. If Jessica Valenti is willing to stick her neck out for Kadyn Swainston—a man credibly accused of raping and kidnapping a 15-year-old child in order to coerce her into an out-of state abortion; who denied her even the tiny allowance of speaking to her parents before this was done to her; who threatened to evict her from his mother’s home if she would not comply—then it really seems that the position is that anyone can commit abortion at any time for any reason. Further, and confoundingly, it seems that the very involvement of abortion wipes away guilt for every other crime. What other factor could possibly get progressives up in arms against a common-sense anti-trafficking law? Would Jessica Valenti be rushing to the side of an Idaho meth dealer and her predator son if the list of their crimes did not include infanticide?

At the very bottom of the Swainston defense, Substack suggests other top installments from “Abortion, Every Day,” the last of which is titled “Consequences Are Good, Actually.” It is from last June, discussing a viral New York profile of a teenage boy named Diego, who was shamed by his classmates for sharing nude photographs of his girlfriend (who, like himself, was underaged at the time). In the earlier post, Valenti raged at progressive journalists who “coddle boys who hurt girls, telling them that they’re the real victims.” 

She was right then; a stint in prison might have done Diego more good than a fawning profile in New York Magazine. How much harsher should our judgment be on Kadyn Swainston, or those who wield the scalpels, or any offender whose crimes cost not just pain but blood, whose sins cry to heaven for vengeance?

Originally found on American Conservative. Read More

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