Caricature of Todd Akin

Caricature of Todd Akin

During this year’s silly season aka the stretch drive to the November elections, I have been watching the self immolation of various Republican campaigns around the country with a bit of fascination. The topic of rape and incest as exceptions allowing a woman to have an abortion has caused great consternation amongst the chattering classes. From Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” to Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s “pregnancy from rape something God intended” (a variant on Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s rape is just another “method of conception“) to Oregon Washington US House candidate John Koster’s “the rape thing” to Wisconsin State Rep. Roger Rivard’s “some girls rape easy,” the topic of rape and abortion has been making headlines across the nation. But as Mr. Pierce notes, these sentiments are not the exception but:

…close to the mainstream of Republican thinking on the subject of abortion, which it is. (It is precisely the position maintained in the Republican platform, which did away with the exception for rape and incest with much fanfare down in Tampa.)

And of course, we also have Connecticut Senate candidate Linda McMahon chiming in to continue the “short ride” tradition first offered us by Senator Joe Lieberman as supporters of amendments allowing hospitals to refuse to provide emergency contraception for rape victims.

Rape, to me, is one of the three most heinous crimes going, along with Domestic Violence and Child Sexual Abuse. These crimes often go unreported, in many instances because the victim is not believed and is made to feel victimized repeatedly after reporting the crime. I loved my father deeply but I remember him telling me that he had served on a rape trial jury one time probably 30 plus years ago and they found the defendant not guilty because “she was asking for it” and that response always has bothered me.

I am a late middle-aged white male and the odds are pretty good that I will not be raped in this lifetime. But as the NY Times reported back in December:

Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner. One in six women have been stalked, according to the report.

With that information, I can confidently say that I would wager that more than a few of my female relatives, friends, and acquaintances have been raped or assaulted. I don’t know who or how many nor do I want to know as that pretty much fits the definition of a “Nunya.” And this is why I decided I needed to speak out about these idiot statements about rape. As heinous as rape is, the main point to remember about all of these statements is the desire to limit a woman’s freedom of choice, freedom to terminate a pregnancy or not. At this point, rape is a symptom, not the underlying problem. The underlying problem is the on-going, seemingly never ending desire for a bunch of old men to control what women do with their bodies. By even discussing “exceptions” that would “allow” an abortion, we lose sight of the primary issue and that is:

no one should be allowed to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body.

As I noted above, I am a late middle-aged white male. I’m even less likely to become pregnant in this lifetime than I am to be raped. I have no authority or need to tell a woman what she should do. If a woman is raped, becomes pregnant, and decides to carry the baby to term, BRAVA! That is what choice is all about. It is her choice and her choice only. Just as terminating any pregnancy or having a child is the woman’s choice and the woman’s choice alone.

Such a simple concept yet so very difficult for so many to understand.

Update: Fixed state for John Koster. H/t Teddy Partridge

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor. Todd Akin image by Donkey Hotey, licensed under the Creative Commons on Flickr.