Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rape, Abortion, and Other Fine Topics

One of the most bizarre things that has occurred over the course of the 2012 campaign is the seeming endorsement of rape by the Republican Party.  Todd Akin talks about "legitimate rape," which he then clarified as "forcible rape" - and states that a woman can't get pregnant from rape (which, of course a woman totally can).  Paul Ryan and the other Congressional Republicans tried to change the Federal definition of rape.  And, of course, the Republican Senate candidate from Indiana, Mourdock, says that pregnancies from rape are "God's will." 

All this leaves me to wonder, what the hell is going on? Well, that's not exactly true.  If you've read this blog before, you know what has happened - the bedrock conservative base of the Republican Party has completely taken over.  So, what was once considered okay - exceptions for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother's life was in danger, are now fair game.

With that said, I will say that Mourdock's comments regarding rape were far less despicable than Todd Akin's - or at least less misogynistic.  If Mourdock had to say it all over again, I'd imagine he'd say something like:

Rape is a truly awful, horrible, thing, and I hope that the victims of rape get all the counseling and treatment they need.  I also hope that the perpetrators of rape are caught and sent to prison for as long as the law allows.  I do not, in any way, support or condone rape.  But, when a pregnancy results from the rape, I do not support aborting that fetus.  After all, the fetus cannot control how it was conceived, or how it was brought into the world.  It is an awful situation, and all we can hope for is that God has a plan for that child beyond our comprehension.  

Even that statement, which is somewhat sympathetic to Mourdock's point, is still problematic.  Why should a woman be forced to carry her rapist's child to term?  What if the rapist gets out of prison early, does he get parental rights?  But, at least I understand his point.  Rape bad, abortion bad.  So, his concern seems to be preventing abortion because he wants to protect the life of the fetus.  Of course, I could be wrong, and he could be saying that the rape was also God's will (but I hope not).  

Todd Akin, on the other hand, is purely misogynistic.  In his mind, a woman can't get pregnant if she is really and truly raped, and so there should be no exception in the case of rape, because those pregnancies never happen.  Akin's view, in contrast to Mourdock, is that women should carry fetuses to term (whether they want to or not) because they are sluts and should be punished. 

Now, the interesting thing about these two statements by Mourdock and Akin is that they may represent the two wings of the "Pro-Life" (anti-choice) movement.  Akin certainly represents the "pregnancy is God's punishment to sluts" wing, and is the poster boy for what Pro-Choice types think the Pro-Life movement is all about.  Mourdock (and again, I'm not entirely sure of this), appears to represent the actual pro-life, or at least pro-fetus, wing of the pro-life movement.  

Interestingly, though, both Mourdock and Akin hold a position - opposition of abortion even in the case of rape - that is way, way, way, outside of the mainstream.  Most Americans (80-90%), even if they generally oppose abortion, will support the right of woman to have an abortion when she has been raped.  In the long run, I wonder how this will play out.

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