Monday, August 20, 2012

On Abortion and Rape: Why Are We Talking About This?

So, by now you know all about Representative Akin's remarks regarding abortion and rape.  If you live under a rock, the short version is that he said that women have a natural process which makes it harder to get pregnant when you're raped, so only those who are pregnant by "legitimate rape" should be able to get abortions.  Gah.

So, friend of the blog and twitter buddy @tsrblke who also happens to be a Ph.D. candidate in bioethics and a faithful Catholic sent me his thoughts.  I'll follow up with mine.

The question of abortion is rape is a moral quagmire, and frankly you’re not going to win over either side by trying to split the middle.  Frankly, an exception for rape and incest is a bit internally inconsistent if you truly believe that the product of conception is an innocent human life.  So what to do gets dicey at best.  It’s also a question the Catholic Church has had to deal with for years given its front line status operating hospitals.  So let’s look at the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives (#36 specifically):

“36. Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum.”

Now many people will look at this initial response and go “OMG! Catholic Church!! Birth Control!!!!!!!” but read it again.  The church’s objection to birth control is the separation of the unitive and procreative functions of sex.  That’s really not at issue in rape. Some theologians have gone on to say that in the case of rape the sperm actually represent continued assault and the effect of that should be mitigated to the extent that it doesn’t harm and innocent life.

So how does this apply to the non-Catholic Akin?  The answer is simple.  When presented with the question you simply answer in much the same way: “The question of abortions in the case of rape is complicated. Rape is hard on the victims, but since I believe that life begins at conception it seems wrong to resort to abortion to solve these problems.  Furthermore, it isn’t helpful to rape victims.  The primary concern should be getting rape victims treatment they need, such as emergency contraception, as soon as possible. We need to strengthen systems that encourage reporting and help frontline care in hospitals.  In doing so we can prevent the pregnancies all together and avoid having to make the woman choose between two horrible options.”

Now my comments:  Why the heck wasn't Rep. Akin smart enough to keep his yap shut?  Let's say you believe in a complete ban on abortion.  Why on earth would you advertise that?  It even turns of a fair number of people on your own side.  And then it distracts from what this election should be about.

All due respect to tsrblke, here is my answer:

"Abortion is not the issue in this election.  People have differing views, and most of them are quite sincere in their beliefs.  Rape is a horrific crime, and the perpetrators of such crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.  However, what is more important is that the health insurance law known as ObamaCare makes it harder for women with legitimate health needs- whatever those may be- to get the care they need.  Meanwhile, it balloons the budget beyond levels that are merely unsustainable.  Let us fix those issues, which have very serious implications for our survival as a nation, and then we can come back to the question of when abortion should be allowed versus when it should be disallowed."

Ladies and gentlemen of the GOP- this is an economy election, and as I've demonstrated here, every social issue has some hook that you can use to talk about the economy.

To quote the iconic Yellow Leader: "Stay on target."

1 comment:

  1. While I recognize that the election is about the economy, Akin didn't just volunteer this question. Jaco clearly combed his file and picked a question he knew would get a response that he could air in soundbytes.
    Abortion is still a huge issue in this state for whatever reason, and trying to completely deflect the question isn't going to work. I can assure you they'll just keep hammering it at you, then if you keep repeating your answer they'll put words in your mouth. I tried to craft and answer that would allow Akin (or anyone else with a similar viewpoint) to express their view without being accused of dodging or having to basically lie to appease people.
    You're right the primary aspect of this election is the economy, and Obama's failures, but on the down ticket you can't control the message was well. It's true Akin overplayed to the SoCons and for that alone he should likely just drop out (simply because misses the point of the election.) But if he had given a better answer to an unavoidable question there would be no off target to discuss. (Put another way, the only reason we're off target is because of his crappy answer.)