Saturday, August 25, 2012

The GOP and the Morality of Rape and Abortion

BY NOW, YOU KNOW Republican leaders agree. They want Todd Akin to shut up and gracefully exit the stage. Party leaders have demanded that he withdraw from the U. S. Senate race in Missouri; and to help him along they have cut off his campaign funding.

If you didn't know better, you'd think he had said something truly outrageous to right-wing minds. You know, like:  "Yes, I believe President Obama has a birth certificate and an absolute right to lead this nation."

Only, Akin is a Tea Party stalwart. He'd never say that.

The real question is this. When Akin says he's against abortion, even in cases of rape, why is his party running away? When he says that's what his religion tells him, when he relies on ridiculous science, when he rambles on about how in cases of "legitimate rape" women don't really get pregnant, why do Republicans blow the bugle and retreat?

We know, in just a few days, that the GOP intends to include an anti-abortion plank in their party platform, a plank without exceptions. Not for rape. Not for incest. Not for the mother's health. No abortions, ever. You can't even get a morning-after pill past these vigilant folks! In fact, only God can stop them, maybe by doing a little smoting of the Tampa Bay region in the form of a hurricane now on the way.

Really, why rap Akin's knuckles when he puts into words what your party embraces? If you have God on your side, go all the way. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, at least, has come to Akin's defense. Now Sharon Barnes, a member of the Missouri Republican Central Committee has tried to add clarity to the debate.

She wants us to know she stands shoulder-to-shoulder with God and Todd Akin. As she sees it, Akin has taken a "'totally, firmly, solidly pro-life' stance." Barnes told reporters from the New York Times that "'abortion is never an option.'" In fact, she believes what Akin believes, that rape almost never leads to a pregnancy. And don't worry if it does!

Because if you are brutally attacked in the dark (legitimate rape), or you are knocked out at a college party by a date-rape drug and assaulted (legitimate?), or if you are twelve and you are molested by your uncle (???), well, look on the bright side. As Barnes explained: "God has chosen to bless this person with a life."
You don't kill it. That's more what I believe [Akin] was trying to state," she said. "He just phrased it badly."

PHRASED IT BADLY?  YOU THINK he just phrased it badly! No:  the question, if you happen to be on the other side in this debate is why Akin and Barnes and so many on the right believe they can force their version of morality down your throat. Because God is on their side? Because they have the Bible to guide them?

What makes one man or one woman's opinion in such matters superior to another's? On this side of the debate, we might need help from a Biblical scholar. But does the Bible even mention "abortion?" It does say something like, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." So, if we accept Akin's position on abortion, when can we expect the GOP to show some guts and include anti-witchcraft plank at the Tampa convention?

Sure. On this side we know the Bible includes wording about gays and abomination. We are humble, though. We admit we might be wrong, but when we read the Bible, we can't find any verse that tells mankind, "Life begins at the instant one of the 250,000 sperms cells released into the vaginal channel during ejaculation penetrates the outer lining of the egg."

We have our doubts. And those of us opposed to the thinking of people like Akin and Barnes and the GOP have our own views about morality and think they're as good as theirs. Some of us are Presbyterian, like Akin, himself. Some of us are Mormon like Mr. Romney. Some of us are Jews or Muslims or Catholics, like Paul Ryan. We just read our religious books differently. Some of us might call ourselves "humble, confused agnostics." But we have our own moral codes and try to live accordingly, just as Akin and his supporters do.

We say, for example, that God created gays. So we think "love thy neighbor" applies to them, too. We say, those of us who are practicing Christians, that when God speaks of helping the poor he means it and think that if Jesus were alive today he'd be for universal health care. Some of us, less religious, think the Bible is only one of many commendable human attempts to come up with a code of conduct. We have no problem with how anyone else chooses to interpret the Bible or how they apply it in their lives. We just aren't as cocksure. We don't see why we have to accept our opponents' interpretation of when life begins, or why they accept the virgin birth, but not birth control. We honestly look at their positions, and wonder why Mitt Romney believes an entirely different religious book, and we're curious to know how is that possible when their side seems to feel it has a corner on truth?

On our side, we come to our own conclusions. We see right and wrong, 95% of the time, the same as people like Akin and Barnes and Romney do. But we honestly believe that a woman has a right (within limits) to choose. We think if our wife gets raped, she should have a chance to be sure she doesn't get pregnant, to purchase a morning-after pill. We believe if our daughter in college comes home distraught, having been drugged and raped at a party, that she is not morally obligated to carry a rapist's child to term. We think you, on the right, Todd Akin, and your family may fairly choose to  bring a child into the world, if ever any of your loved ones fall victim to such a heinous attack. We believe, if Barnes were to be assaulted and raped, a terrible, terrible act, and she might want to see the resulting pregnancy as part of God's plan, a "blessing" in disguise, well, let us admire her as a woman of firmest conviction.

WE'RE SORRY, THOUGH. We firmly believe our attempts to grapple with such questions yield answers as close to the truth as yours do. We don't believe we should be forced to accept the answers you come up with on your own.

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  1. So to be clear I definitely think a woman who has been raped should be able to make the decision to have an abortion. However, I would hope that she has access to someone who can help her make that decision based on more than a gut reaction. It's an awful situation either way, but I'd hate for a woman to have that abortion, deal with the emotional turmoil of her rape, and then deal with the emotional baggage of an abortion.

  2. ... AAAND if she doesn't have access to someone who can help her make that decision (plus people to lovingly and patiently support her through the pregnancy, provide her adequate medical care, and help her parent in a responsible way when she is still coming to terms with a terrible ordeal or assist her in finding a suitable adoptive family, and a good therapist who she trusts and can afford) and recognizes that she is emotionally and mentally compromised by having been attacked and doesn't have adequate resources to handle a child... she not be made to feel even worse by a judgmental society for choosing to have an abortion.

    Because let's face it - life isn't fair, and it is complex, difficult, and infinitely less than ideal in most cases. And that is why it is important for each woman to have a choice and have that choice protected by her government without fear of censure or persecution by people who like to pretend that life is fair, simple, easy, and ideal.