No doubt, NewsCorps CEO Rupert Murdoch has had a busy few days explaining to the homophonically confused among the outraged that it was Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock from Indiana, not he, who said that rape-induced pregnancies were “something that God intended to happen.”
Presumably, Mr Mourdock was referring to instances of illegitimate rape only, for, as fellow Republican Todd Akin from Missouri had pointed out to us back in August, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” anyway—a medical news flash that came as a great relief to all the Marjories of the world: no more need for going through the trouble of locking a would-be rapist into the fireplace, at least not for fear of getting knocked up.
Obviously, the two conservative gentlemen’s opposition to abortion extends into spheres where more moderate GOPers will allow for some concessions, such as when it comes to instances of rape or incest, or where the life of the prospective mother might be at risk—the life, mind you, not the health of the prospective mother, since a risk to “health” these days includes bouts of self-reported depression and inherently unverifiable tales of suicidal ideation, which means that the inclusion of any “health of the mother” exception amounts to a de-facto blanket legalization of abortion all the way up to term in all cases; for if, in order to obtain an abortion, all a woman has to do is to do is tell her doctor that being pregnant has triggered fantasies about jumping in front of a freight train (a claim that cannot be disproved), and if making such claims is her only chance of having the procedure done short of attempting the friend-with-a-rusty-clothes-hanger-in-the-basement thing, then that’s precisely what she will say; this, of course, being the reason for the pro-choice camp’s eagerness to have the term “health of the mother” added to any list of legitimate reasons for having abortions in areas where the procedure is otherwise prohibited by law, and the pro-life camp’s eagerness to keep it off any such list, as both camps are fully aware that inserting that little “health of the mother” clause makes for virtually unfettered access to abortion no matter what, period.
Now, individuals that are pro-life generally believe (a) that life and personhood begin at conception, (b) that abortion, therefore, is the premeditated taking of a human life, i.e., an act of murder, (c) that the most helpless, vulnerable, and innocent in society deserve to be protected the most—in fact, that any society ought to be judged by how it treats its most defenseless members, (d) that the unborn are the most helpless, vulnerable, and innocent among us, and (e) that God seeds life and it is not given to man to nip divine creations in the bud.
My aim here is not to debate the validity of these beliefs. What puzzles me, though, is how anyone who sincerely holds them can endorse exceptions to their anti-abortion stance, as many (including many public officials) do—how can they have it both ways?
Let’s take the notion that God creates human life, a religious core tenet. If you believe that, then how could you possibly disagree with Richard Mourdock’s assertion that pregnancies resulting from rape are the will of God just like all others? Because if you do disagree with it, you are essentially saying that God creates some human life but not all human life. To call this an tanglefooted position to defend would be an understatement; it’s like arguing that sometimes God simply isn’t paying attention to what He’s creating, and then He goes, “Oops, I messed up, so now I’ll permit humans to abort what I erroneously created.”
I suppose one could conscript Satan into the mix and claim that children conceived by force are the devil’s spawn and that God played no part their creation. This, of course, would mean there are two kinds of people populating our planet: those commissioned by God, and those commissioned by the Prince of Darkness. (Wouldn’t it be interesting to conduct a scientific study on personality traits among the two groups to find out whether, on balance, the former tend to be nicer and more loving and creative, and the latter more evil and given to violence and destruction?)
So next time an overtly religious politician espouses the divine-origin-of-human-life thesis and then proceeds to list rape as among the valid reasons for terminating a pregnancy, I’d like to hear them elaborate as to whether they believe either (a) that God doesn’t create all human life after all, or (b) that although God does indeed create all human life, man nevertheless ought to reserve the right to overrule the will of God anytime man thinks he knows better than God.
I’d be very curious to see an exceptions-endorsing but otherwise staunchly pro-life candidate hem and haw and stutter his way out of this one.
Moreover, with respect to the “life of the mother” exception frequently approved of by those who argue that life begins at conception, given their belief that the unborn are persons just like the “walking-around” people, what exactly justifies their privileging the life of the mother over the life of her unborn? In an either/or situation where life for one person means death for the other, what’s the rationale behind suggesting that the more innocent, vulnerable, and helpless of the two (i.e., the unborn) be sacrificed? Except for the fact that the unborn don’t vote and that scaring females of reproductive age would be bad politics, what might be an avid pro-lifer’s reasoning behind considering a grown woman’s right to life to be greater than her unborn’s right to life?
And then there’s the common exception for incest, which usually means rape with the added “bonus” of an increased risk of birth defects due to inbreeding. In other words, the unborn conceived through incest are probably the most vulnerable and defenseless segment of society imaginable—yet aborting them is OK? Whatever happened to judging a society by how it treats its most weakest members?
As much as Mr Mourdock’s comment may grate on the sensibilities of those who, at least once in a while, manage to pull their noggins out of the Old Testament and put on their thinking caps, one can’t really denounce the comment yet at the same time adhere to the pro-lifer’s cookie-cutter edifice of beliefs without that edifice beginning to crumble precariously upon reflection—a type of reflection unlikely to be engaged in, let alone publicly, by the average talking-points-spewing politician.