Why I’m Against Exceptions for Rape and Incest

Photo by Alexandra Lee

Politicians hone the art of the non-answer. The stock—often flippant—thing they say when asked a direct question; their go-to platitudes. For example: “What would you do about the war in Afghanistan?” Answer: “Listen to the commanders on the ground.” Translation: I wouldn’t DO anything. Another fave is saying, “I’d leave it up to the states.” It’s a way to not give your opinion and display a basic knowledge of civics. Slavery, segregation and later miscegenation were all state laws—but the “up to the states” verbal tic still sounds reasonable when said by a name on a yard sign.

But perhaps the worst, due to its lack of challenge in the stenographic media, is the answer on any abortion question: “I’m against it except for instances of rape, incest or the life of the mother.”

This (at least sometimes) is Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion. It wasn’t his running mate, Paul Ryan’s, until he joined the ticket. But Romney, after being staunchly pro-choice disclosing his family friend, Ann Keenan, died of an illegal abortion in 1963, now says he’d like to see it illegal once again. Except, he says, for women who are victims.

Romney and victims: It’s becoming a theme. If you worked at one of the companies Romney took over at Bain, Texas Governor Rick Perry called you a victim of “vulture capitalism.” Romney assesses a whopping “47 percent of Americans see themselves as victims” and the only way to get a medical procedure legally in Romney’s America is, yes, to be a victim.

What sounds like a not-so-extreme position on abortion rights is actually much worse than an outright ban.

If there are exceptions for ending a pregnancy requiring the recipient prove she was raped two things happen:

  • Just as with total criminalization—abortion goes back underground.
  • Rape is trivialized.

The accusation of rape has always been plagued by the counter-accusation of an ulterior motive. “She’s trying to destroy a good man.” “It’s just the remorse talking!” “This is blackmail.”

Or as Paul Ryan-endorsed Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard put it last week, “Some girls rape so easily.”

To put this into perspective, think of what Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s victims had to endure to get justice: Sports fans rioted on campus after they came forward.

In order to terminate a pregnancy women who are raped will have to defend themselves against yet another charge: She just wants to get an abortion.

An exception for rape means not only ending legal abortions, it means profoundly changing rape.

As with anything, if abortion moves out of the light, it will find its place in the shadows, and then we’re back to where Mitt Romney’s family friend, Ann Keenan, found herself in 1963: bleeding to death from a botched back alley abortion.

Abortion rates don’t change with legality. A 2007 study by the World Health Organization found the same number of women who want abortions get abortions regardless of whether or not they’re legal. What changes is the numbers of women who die of unsafe procedures. In fact, the study noted, in Ethiopia abortion was completely illegal and also the second leading cause of death among women in that country. If you want to save lives—you want legal abortions, sex education and widely available birth control.

This rape clause is horrible public policy. This is not anything remotely resembling how a free country functions. This is not valuing life. It’s valuing easy answers to viscerally complicated issues.

tina dupuyYou can morally disagree with abortion and then I suggest you don’t get one. But to nationalize women, to make their bodies legally akin to public incubators, is not the kind of country we want to live in.

It’s a country we should keep in our rearview. Abortion needs to stay legal and most importantly—private.

Tina Dupuy
Editor, The Contributor

Posted: Thursday, 18 October 2012

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. Ryder says

    If a woman is raped, and has the child anyway, can she change her mind, and kill that child in order to not have to raise the child that resulted from rape?

    Just wondering where you people draw the line.

  2. harry wood says

    It is hard to force a person to buy a slave, I do not want one and will not buy one. However, no one buys a rape but a person can be forced to be raped. I find it hard to locate the logic in the Heckmann post. While I am not in favor of abortion, I do not want to force some to have one nor do I want to force them not to have one. The only place force was used happened when the rape occured. Having said all this, I am not in favor of abortion for many reasons like I made a mistake, the child growing inside is of the wrong sex, etc; but would support it for rape, etc. Tax payers pay for all of them now and I wonder why I shoul pay for something I did not cause.

    • twocrows says

      Please explain to me how tax payers pay for abortions? Never having had one, I may be misinformed, but I have always been under the impression that the person who wants a medical procedure that is not included on her insurance pays for it herself. At least, that’s how MY life has functioned. If I’d known I could get tax payers to pay my medical and dental bills I probably would have done so by now.
      Next month, when I enter Medicare, things will change. But I paid for my parents’ and grandparents’ procedures so it’s only fair that the next generation pays for mine, n’est pas?

      jfwiw, it is explicitly stated in the Hyde Amendment that tax payers DO NOT pay for abortions – even the medically necessary ones.

      Nice try, though.

      • Ross S. Heckmann says

        California taxpayers are forced to pay for abortions through the Medi-Cal program. See the California Supreme Court’s 1981 decision in “Committee to Defend Reproductive Rights v. Myers,” 29 Cal.3d 252, Insurance generally pay only for “medically necessary” abortions but does the insurance co. really scrutinize each claim to confirm that an abortion was, or was not, “medically necessary”? If a mother’s doctor says that the abortion was “medically necessary” for a mother’s psychological health, wouldn’t that be the end of the matter? If somebody has done a study on the percentage of claims that were denied because the insurance co. determined that the abortion was not medically necessary, it would be interesting to know.

      • harry wood says

        Explain why you think we do not? There have been several things happen which should not have happened. a down grade and 4 dead people.

  3. Ross S. Heckmann says

    Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. (However, you will be forced to pay for abortion through your taxes or insurance premiums, whether you believe in it or not.) That’s like saying, Don’t like slavery? Then don’t own one. Does that make any sense? Abortion should not be merely a private matter any more than the killing of any other human being is merely a private matter.

    • twocrows says

      wronnnnnnngggggggg. Ever heard of the Hyde Amendment? It’s still very much alive and well. Abortions are not [repeat: ARE NOT] paid for by our taxes. Never have been [the amendment was totally unnecessary grandstanding] never will be.

      And I see that you are a male. I sincerely hope no woman you love ever needs an abortion because you will surely shun her – even if she did it to save her own life. Believe it, don’t believe it – – many abortions occur for that reason and that reason alone. aamof, ALL third trimester abortions [the ones the conservative call ‘partial birth abortions’ are performed only to save the woman’s life. But a live infant that is likely to die is to be preferred to a dead woman AND a dead fetus, I suppose. At least that seems to be the prevailing logic these days.

      • Ross S. Heckmann says

        California taxpayers are indeed forced to pay for somebody else’s “private” choice of abortion. The decision is private, but somehow it ceases to be private when it comes time to pay the abortionist. See above citation the Myers case decided by the Cal. Supreme Court in 1981. There are exceedingly few abortions done to save the life of the mother. I have read that not a few 3rd trimester abortions are done because the mother is in denial and doesn’t make a decision until very late in the pregnancy, not because her life is at stake. You are out of line in stating how I would react in a personal situation.

        • Ryder says

          Right, but he paid for your public education, so he thinks he owns part of your personal decisions… which apparently means he can tell you how you will react :)

          lol

    • Ryder says

      Well, if abortion IS the killing of another human being, then it is the same thing exactly. So you are right… if it is killing someone, then it can not be a private matter. End of story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *