Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why have a "rape exception" for abortion bans?

This is an interesting legal article that I think nails the answer to the question above. The religious, particularly Christian fundamentalist, view of pregnancy as a punishment for the "sin" of having sex.

I think I stated this before, but I recall having a heated debate about abortion way back in undergrad with someone of the very conservative persuasion. During the debate I suggested the solution to abortion was, when ever someone was pregnant wanted to terminate, the baby would just be transplated from that person to a pro-life person who would then be responsible for carrying the baby to term and raising it (or paying child support if they did not retain custody). This received an almost violent (well, verbally violent) response against the idea. It soon became clear why. This upset my conservative friend because it allowed the pregnant woman to escape the consequences of her actions. What actions were those? Why, having sex, of course. Not that he would have allowed the use of contraception.

I pointed out to him that if the pro-life position was about it being a baby, then he should support my idea because a baby is a human being, not a punishment. He simply could not accept that, and it became clear that he wanted pregnancy to exist as a punishment for the "immoral behavior" though he never quite came out and admitted it outright. As the article points out, the "rape exception" really only makes sense if you see pregnancy as a "punishment" for "sinning" by having sex.

I think this reveals the moral bankruptcy of the position. One can at least have a certain degree of respect for the consistent position of 'no rape exception' - after all, if you see it is murder, murder is murder, regardless of how the person got there. (Of course, that respect for consistency of conviction only remains if that pro-life person is also anti-war, against the death penalty, etc.) Given the strong correlation between Christianists and pro-lifers, it seems clear that this moralistic nonsense is at the heart of the movement, though obviously one should not claim everyone with a particular position feels a certain way. Such absolutes are almost always wrong.


Jivin J said...

I'm curious to why you think "this moralistic nonsense" (which I assume you're referring to "the childbearing as punishment for sex" idea) is at the heart of the prolife movement when the leading prolife organizations don't have exceptions for rape.

If it was technologically possible I would also assume these organizations would favor the solution you suggested in your undergrad days since that solution would closely resemble adoption which is strongly favored by those organizations.

Erin said...

There is a great Bill Hicks bit (a couple, actually) about pro-lifers, and how they should spend more time being civil to the people that are already here, rather than worrying about all the ones who haven't gotten here yet. Anyway, I can't do proper rhetoric today, but wanted to add something to the discussion.

DBB said...

I'm referring to the prolife political movement, mostly expressed in the GOP.

As I stated in the post, I don't think it applies to all pro-life organizations or people. But I've heard it pretty consistently from the pro-life people I've talked to.

DBB said...

Bill Hicks - I recall he had a great many good bits on various political topics. I wonder if they are out on utube now.

But it is an interesting point that the pro-life position does not include much interest in what happens to a person after they are born - i.e. issues in education, poverty, etc. I guess that would be whole-life, not pro-life?

Erin said...

*dryly* Yes, I'd say the holistic approach is not really the focus of the Christian Conservatives. I think they see it as their responsibility to make sure you get born, then you're on your own. If you're "good enough" or show the proper work ethic or practice the right faith, or whatever, God will provide for you from there, I suppose. And if He doesn't, well, you can't say you didn't at least have the chance.

armagh444 said...

There's a a whole bunch of Bill Hicks stuff up on You Tube.

Setting that aside . . . good post. You'd be startled (or perhaps you wouldn't) at how few people actually make the connection and realize that for a lot of anti-choicers it's about punishing women for having sex.

Anonymous said...

What i find amusing is the same arguments that a derided by some are then used word for word when talk of "male abortion" comes up.

male abortion as in the man to give up or parental rights and responsibilities (no child support and no contact).