Life is full of tough moral quandaries we must confront. Former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and current Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has also faced many such dilemmas, like the time he prosecuted an anti-abortion activist who drove his car into a reproductive health clinic and tried to set the place on fire.
The Guardian reports that when Whitaker was interviewed by a selection panel for Iowa’s state Supreme Court in 2011, he was asked to give an example of a time his personal beliefs clashed with his duties as “an officer of the court.” Whitaker cited the aforementioned 2006 incident in which David McMenemy drove into Edgerton Women’s Health Care Center in Davenport, Iowa. The Quad City Times reported at the time that, “when the car did not immediately burst into flames as he may have expected, police said he took gasoline that he had poured into a Gatorade bottle and spread it over the interior” before surrendering to local firefighters.
McMenemy believed the clinic performed abortions, though it didn’t. Whitaker said that McMenemy violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which Whitaker apparently takes issue with in some way he failed to elaborate on.
“So that’s one clear example where my own personal beliefs may be inconsistent but I had no problem following the law and enforcing the law,” said Whitaker in the interview. But according to the Guardian, McMenemy was only charged with arson. Whitaker must simply feel some kind of way about a federal law that protects people attempting to obtain reproductive health services.
Like so many others in the current administration, Whitaker is a rabidly anti-abortion. He’s been a strong advocate for personhood bills, which aim to give constitutional recognition to fetal tissue, and the Des Moines Register reports that when Whitaker ran for U.S. senate in 2014, he said he was “100 percent pro-life” with the one exception being the life of the mother.
With Whitaker at the helm of the Department of Justice, Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, and a rapidly regressing Health and Human Services, the threat to abortion under President Trump is quickly devolving into a wet dream for an extremist like McMenemy.