No means no --- exceptions
What's really important about the Todd Akin controversy isn't his moronic belief that women who get raped can't get pregnant. It's so stupid that even the wingnuts are disavowing him. And the "legitimate" rape comment (or "honest rape" as Ron Paul called it) is horrible, but it doesn't get to the underlying principle. The real problem is that his "no exceptions" belief has become mainstream in the Republican party. Recall:
[T]he big news to come out of the forum was the rightward shift in Rick Perry’s already very conservative position. In the past, Perry has been committed to banning abortion with very narrow exceptions. But last night, he said he’d changed his mind, and now doesn’t support any exceptions at all. “This is something that is relatively new,” he said, citing a meeting with Rebecca Kiessling, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA who was adopted after her mother, a rape victim, tried and failed to abort her. “Looking in her eyes, I couldn’t come up with an answer to defend the exemptions for rape and incest,” he said. “And over the course of the last few weeks, the Christmas holidays and reflecting on that…all I can say is that God was working on my heart.”That's bad enough, but as David Frum says in his piece, the anti-abortion belief that life begins at conception makes that morally logical, even though they have not admitted that until recently. What is even more worrying to me is the fact that they are starting to push the idea of no exception to spare the life of the mother, which presents a much different moral question.
Frum explains Akin's beliefs on that:
As for life of the mother, Akin explained his view on that issue well: he urged doctors to "optimize" life, ie, sometimes to choose the mother, but sometimes to choose the child when the child's life seems more optimal.Perhaps they can take a vote in the operating room to decide which life seems more "optimal."
To the best of my knowledge saving the life of the mother has never been a controversial exception. After all, even anti-abortion zealots have to admit that a woman is a "life", right? Well, this is where we get into the question of innocent
life and they tend not to see the woman in the more favorable light in comparison to a fetus.
Unfortunately, questioning whether or not the life of the mother is really "worth it" isn't rare. Recall this Republican candidate for the Senate in Colorado in 2010:
QUESTION: How do you feel about abortion? Are you for abortion, against abortion, are you for it? In what instances would you allow for abortion?
BUCK: I am pro-life, and I'll answer the next question. I don't believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. I believe that the only exception, I guess, is life of the mother. And that is only if it's truly life of the mother.
To me, you can't say you're pro-life and say -- if there is, and it's a very rare situation where one life would have to cease for the other life to exist. But in that very rare situation, we may have to take the life of the child to save the life of the mother.
Well, maybe ...
No exceptions in the case of rape or incest was fringe as recently as a decade ago and it's made its way into the mainstream of GOP leadership quite quickly. And now this notion that there is a decision to be made to "optimize" life by determining which life is more worth saving is working its way into the dialog. And it's chilling.
And lest you think this sort of thing is way out on the fringe
[T]he GOP-led House of Representatives, with the blessings and encouragement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and extremist religious groups such as the Family Research Council, passed a bill in a vote of 251 to 172 that would, among other things, allow doctors and hospitals to "exercise their conscience" by letting pregnant women facing emergency medical conditions die.
Just last week we heard about
the case of a pregnant girl in the Dominican Republic (where all abortion is banned) who was denied an abortion and chemotherapy and died from hemorrhaging from her inevitable miscarriage. And there is this sick new movement making pro-life martyrs out of women
who chose to die rather than abort their fetuses.
These people are changing the terms of the abortion debate before our eyes. The rape and incest exception is fast becoming the official GOP Party line. And now we have these fringy characters pushing the "no exceptions" to even possibly mean to save the life of the mother. I'm sure the majority of the public is appalled by that. But I wonder how long it will be before this becomes the position of the pro-life movement at large and therefore, the Republican Party? It's how they roll.