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Idaho Jails Discover Exciting New Potential Guests: Ladies Who Take RU-486

pill-poppers enter here

Jennie Linn McCormack, a single mom from Pocatello, Idaho, was just around when the sister of her friend and the local police department needed someone to blame for McCormack’s abortion, which she induced in late 2010 by purchasing RU-486 over the Internet. The manufacturers and sellers of RU-486 were nowhere to be found, and there were just too many of them, and it was just a hassle. McCormack, surviving on child support checks and already a mother of three, couldn’t afford to pay the $500 to get an abortion in Salt Lake City, where the closest abortion clinic is located, so she turned to her sister in Mississippi, who purchased the pill and mailed it to her. She later confided in a friend about the abortion. Then the friend’s sister called the police. McCormack was arrested for inducing the abortion, which is illegal in Idaho thanks to a 1972 law. Some months later, Idaho and other states enacted fetal pain abortion laws, making it illegal to have an abortion after 19 weeks because it allegedly causes pain to the fetus. McCormack is now suing a state prosecutor, contending that Idaho made abortions inaccessible to her. This makes Jennie Linn McCormack both a social pariah and the poster child of the fetal pain abortion debate. She must be thrilled.

What’s complicating the case is that McCormack underestimated how far along she was in the pregnancy, and after the abortion occurred she wrapped the fetus in a plastic bag and left it on her back porch. She says she was “paralyzed” by the event and didn’t know what else to do. When the police questioned McCormack about the matter, she asked why they were asking her about her “personal stuff.” The police officer responded, “Well there’s legal and there’s personal.”

BUT. Even the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List ladies, of all people, have called the case “not acceptable”!! (These are the words of the group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, who says it’s one thing to prosecute an abortion doctor; it is quite another to “criminalize” a woman for having an abortion). Adding to the complications, this is apparently the first time this 1972 law is being enforced, according to a Daily Beast piece from last year.

Rick Hearn, a lawyer and physician, represents McCormack, and just last week was granted a motion to intervene, not only as a lawyer but as a doctor, in McCormack’s case.

McCormack, having induced the abortion so late, is apparently not the “ideal candidate” to head up a pro-choice debate in the Supreme Court, Slate contributor Will Saletan said, with cautious cynicism (this is “the sort of ghoulish image pro-choice activists try to avoid,” says the Daily Beast, more bluntly). Still, a handful of pro-life groups have filed a brief on McCormack’s behalf. Meanwhile, McCormack has been ostracized in Pocatello. The initial case against her (for which she was also represented by Hearn) was dropped last year due to lack of evidence, but there is the threat that prosecutors will re-file. She lost her job after her mug shot appeared in the local paper, she barely leaves the house, and she’s starting an online business, but is afraid that people will find out that she’s behind it. [NPR, The Daily Beast]

About the author

Liz is a writer. She has written for this site, evidently, and also The Awl, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, The Economist and others. She is the author of a short story collection, Cover Story.

View all articles by Liz Colville
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  1. nounverb911

    Rick Santorum would have had the fetus stuffed, put a wig on it and given it to his daughter to play with.

  2. Antispandex

    As soon as a few more things are illegal, we should have no problem paying off our debt to China with prison labor…I'm never sure about it…is that ironic?

    1. Designer_Radio

      I'm with you on the inevitability of us all being in prison labor camps, but paying down our debt? I'm pretty sure the Republicans will just borrow more money to nuke Antarctica for melting or something.

  3. BaldarTFlagass

    "she wrapped the fetus in a plastic bag and left it on her back porch."

    What, don't they have Mason jars in Idaho?

  4. Goonemeritus

    Have you considered turning the Wonkette into a 24/7 Brangelina blog seriously you are starting to make me cry at my desk. Well cry more than normal in any case.

    1. TanzbodenKoenig

      And I won't forget the men who died, to take reproductive rights from me

      (not me personally, since I was lucky enough to be born with a twig and berries [u jelly ladies?] but you know, speaking out of solidarity and such)

      1. actor212

        It would be like the Scopes Monkey Trials! We need to find a willing defendant and then make sure she swallows several times just to get the point across

  5. vodkamuppet

    "My friends sister heard her friend may have had an abortion after 19 weeks, maybe. Let's ruin her life"

  6. actor212

    I can't possibly be the first one to point out "nice friend," am I?

    Also, great friend this friend has, too. Also. And.

    TIDED: No, I was not. Thanks, DemmeFatale

  7. mavenmaven

    The thought of incarcerating all these poor non-violent women is making the pay-for-prison system people drool.

    1. Antispandex

      It's OK, as long as we don't keep 'em in too long, they can still make for fine strippers and whores when they get out. After all this is America, where everyone has a right to a job!

    2. scvirginia

      Can we raise enough moolah selling crotchety pillows on Etsy to sponsor a martial arts class for the ladies awaiting trial?

  8. BaldarTFlagass

    "McCormack, surviving on child support checks"

    Lucky for her she wasn't ex-married to Congressman Joe Walsh.

  9. el_donaldo

    Odin on a pile of flaming sticks! This woman's situation is too ghoulish for pro-choicers to embrace?! It's a perfect fucking image of the horror of restricting access to abortion and politicizing the whole mess in the bargain. This world makes me sick sometimes.

  10. coolhandnuke

    If my "friend" orders boner pills over the internet and sends them to me, will he be arrested for the interestate commerce of loaded weapons?

  11. anniegetyerfun

    You know it's a sad day when the pro-lifers are, like, "No, this is really tragic and we don't feel like picking on her" but then the government is, all, "Let's arrest the fuck out of this bitch."

    Then there's the Chinese lady who is being charged with murder for losing her fetus after being revived from a suicide attempt.

    1. Guppy

      It's not a "sad day," it's disingenuous. These are exactly the laws the pro-lifers lobbied for, now they're free to stand back and let the gubmint be the bad guy while Pilate washes his hands.

  12. Terry

    Personally, I think the name of the friend's sister (the person who called the cops) needs to be made public for some good old fashioned public shaming.

  13. scorpy1

    Good evidence that you're probably only 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon away from a "kill-em-all"-ish faux-moralist.

  14. ChernobylSoup

    Requesting permission to rip out the eyes and skullfuck whoever fired her after seeing the mug shot.

  15. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    See, this is just what happens when you encourage women to have sex. Rush Limbaugh was right!

    1. Not_So_Much

      Exactly. What he does with his cash and boner pills in the Dominican means he doesn't have to encourage anybody to do anything. The pimps take care of all that.

  16. SayItWithWookies

    Some months later, Idaho and other states enacted fetal pain abortion laws, making it illegal to have an abortion after 19 weeks because it allegedly causes pain to the fetus.

    Pain that may or may not be felt by a fetus? Priceless.
    The pain of tearing a family apart, locking a mother away from her children, leaving said children with no means of support, and permanently stigmatizing the mother because she would have to drive to another freaking state just to get a common and safe medical procedure? Just collateral damage in the great fight to remind women that they're not autonomous beings.

  17. actor212

    Hey, is there any way to find out what online business this woman started? Maybe we could start a campaign to quietly throw a little business her way.

    Personally, I'm hoping it's porn featuring her neighbors…

  18. DrunkIrishman

    Idahoans are ALWAYS coming down to Salt Lake City to abort their little potatoes and then take in a Utah Jazz game. It's been a family tradition since at least the 1970s.

    Fuckin' Idaho!

  19. Generation[redacted]

    "We do not think women should be criminalized. Criminal sanctions or any kind of sanctions are appropriate for abortionists, and not for women.”

    So pro-life groups who have been saying abortion is murder, are now surprised that a woman is arrested for having an abortion?

    Is the logical thinking part of their brain completely dead, or what?

    1. scvirginia

      Yes, the logical thinking part of their brain is completely dead. But it was a spontaneous abortion, honest!

    2. glamourdammerung

      Is the logical thinking part of their brain completely dead, or what?

      LOGIC IZ MURDER!!111!!

  20. BigSkullF*ckingDog

    Fuck Idaho. I have family from Idaho and I have yet to see one redeeming quality in the state. North Idaho is the Alabama of the west coast, but with more heavy metal pollution. Southern Idaho is Utah Jr. Seriously Idaho, fuck off.

    EDIT: okay, one redeeming quality. They have some kick ass whitewater rafting.

    1. Not_So_Much

      As a somewhat recent resident of the state, I really wish I could refudiate your comment…

    2. Lascauxcaveman

      They've got a couple of good ski areas, and lot o' that great outdoorsy natural beauty.

      If you don't run into any locals, it's actually a nice place to visit.

  21. An_Outhouse

    I say we find out the 'sister's friend's' name, publish her address and we'll call it even.

    Fucking cunt.

  22. Redhead

    I really really really really really really REALLY do not get the arrogance that would lead a person to think it is truly okay- scratch that, not just okay but preferable and holy – to punish a woman in this way for having a legal medical procedure over a clump of cells that could one day become a person – and which she might not have chosen to get rid of had these same assholes actually DONE SOMETHING to help people trying to raise unplanned kids on their own (not that her decision about her body and her life should have to be justified to any of these asshole douchebags too busy putting their junk in underage rentboys to learn anything about female anatomy or that women actually leave the kitchen these days).

  23. Clankie

    I thought Roe v. Wade defined fetal viability at 24 weeks. Isn't this type of thing unconstitutional? I am a little rusty on my abortion laws because A) I think they are stupid, and B) as a gay man I am nowhere near ever going to need an abortion doctor for anything. I don't need to know anything about a law that restricts abortion to know that I am against it, although I do believe that there should be some sort of regulation in place to prevent them after the 75th trimester. This does seem like all kinds of unconstitutional, not to mention just plain awful. Also, is the Governor of Idaho really named Butch Otter? I mean, learning that might have actually had a detrimental effect on my sex drive/life. Regardless, if the Supremes eventually uphold the imprisonment and whatnot, wouldn't that effectively give all the other states license to do the same, if they could wrangle such a law, or an even more restrictive one, in place? I'm going to start sending three supreme pizzas a day each to the main residences of Alito and Thomas. Or maybe for Clarence Thomas a big ol' heaping bucket of fried chicken and some Uncle Tom's rice.

  24. gingerland62

    How little work does the police department have, that they can send someone out on an possible abortion call from her cousins best friend's sister(or whatever)?

  25. Wile E. Quixote

    We've come to a point in this country where the right-wing fucks who are jamming all of these bullshit laws up women's vaginas aren't going to understand anything but second amendment solutions.

  26. Negropolis

    to get an abortion in Salt Lake City, where the closest abortion clinic is located

    Really? Honestly? Seriously? For true? I wanted to make a joke like "Forget it, Jake. It's Mormontown."

    1. Clankie

      Looks like it is that or Boise, and Salt Lake City is actually around 60 or 70 miles closer than Boise. Seems like there's a good marked in Idaho for a travelling abortion doctor. Some smart MD with the money to trick out a nondescript RV could make some serious dough.

  27. ttommyunger

    Waiting for the first arrest under pedophilia statutes for any man having vaginal intercourse with a pregnant woman….Oh, it's coming!

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