Let’s Stop Talking About Rape

Rape has become a popular topic over the last two years as we near election day. On November 6th, we will be making a plethora of decisions, from women’s reproductive rights on down to whether or not we get to have a big oil pipeline drilling party. Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over various subjects even though conservatives tend to agree on many of them, taking issue with the messenger rather than the message. At least, they have agreed in the past when bipartisanship was evident and not seemingly unattainable today. One area where they delightfully differ pertains to abortion and a woman’s right to make that painful decision without government interference.

So why on Earth are we discussing rape and with such careless abandon? Well, Democrats are making its women’s rights case by over-emphasizing a worst-case scenario when it comes to anti-abortion legislation while Republicans stick a foot in their mouth time and time again in support of it. Democrats say that if you reverse Roe v Wade, you send women back to the shadows, where seedy men in dirty white coats, armed with hangers and plungers, wait to suck the life (literally) out of us. If abortion were made a crime, even in cases of rape or incest, a woman would be helplessly dependent on birth control or abstinence to avoid becoming a mother or having more children. Republicans, catering to their Christian base, argue that upon being conceived, a fetus is a life. Many conservatives support the Personhood Amendment, a proposal that counters Roe v Wade and is sponsored by Paul Ryan, which stipulates that a fertilized egg is a human being with rights under the law and thus its termination would be deemed murder. Yes, women could actually be interrogated or go to jail for having an abortion.

Rape is the scary word used to provoke women to action when faced with the thought of being forced to carry your rapist’s baby to term — and such a thought is truly troubling. Even more disturbing are the thoughts opined by the likings of Todd Akin, Steve King, Joe Walsh and our latest rape consultant, Richard Mourdock. Let’s not also forget Rep. Roger Rivard and his ‘some girls rape easy’ comment. Cemented in time are the following:

Todd Akin– “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

Richard Murdock– “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Perhaps it is a strategic, I use that word loosely, attempt by conservatives to quieten women’s concerns about the possible criminalization of abortion by inserting religious hyperbole and other medical theories that are not rooted in fact. After all, if God gives you a gift through a rapist, it’s not so bad. Right?

Ignoring the fact that rape is a real fear and the politicizing of it– nauseating to bear, both parties are skimming over the main issue. Women, even those who have been fortunate enough to avoid being raped, should have access to legal abortions if they so choose. No woman, single, married or un-raped should be forced to carry to term a baby they do not want. There are numerous reasons one may find themselves at the precipice of such a decision and it does not come easy. An unborn child may be diagnosed with severe mental and physical disorders. There are single and married mothers whose birth-control fails them and do not want more children. There are teens who are but children themselves, unable to give a baby the proper care it needs. Some women are simply careless or living unstable lives. Some are in situations where the father is disinterested, absent or abusive and do not want to bring a child into a potentially toxic environment. Here’s a novel concept: some women do not view themselves as a walking, talking womb and would be content to never give birth. Becoming a mother is an economic decision as well. Children cost money and women, as household heads, have to take this into consideration when choosing to start or expand their families. This is an intimate, deeply personal issue that is not best left to arbitration between government officials.

If the United States outlaws abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, women certainly have cause to worry. Our elected officials have no right to assert their moral authority upon others. Instead of fixating upon pre-marital sex, rape and ignorant, insensitive old men who know nothing about a woman’s body, we need to study the whole picture. Women may be biologically best-suited to have babies but not all women desire to become mothers. Abortion is currently prohibited when it is determined that the child can survive outside the mother’s womb. Leave it to a woman to decide within the allotted time-frame what is best for her.

It is so easy for a man to be pro-life.

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