I Wish

This post was triggered by my Facebook newsfeed. It’s Facebook’s fault that I’m writing this because without Facebook I wouldn’t even know this idiocy existed. Really, I wouldn’t, especially not today because I’m writing this from a room with no TV. Unfortunately the room has free wifi, so I blame my Facebook newsfeed. You can blame Facebook too if you want. Too bad we’d all be wrong for blaming Facebook, when the reality is that people really don’t think very long before they talk – or maybe the problem is that they really did think about what they were going to say and didn’t realize how problematic it was.

What I’m talking about is Paul Slansky’s blog post in the Huffington Post that publicized (because he said no one had yet) a recent interview that Paul Ryan gave in which he describes rape as a “method of conception.” Here’s the post and it includes the video so you can hear it for yourself.

I posted a comment about it on my Facebook page and a friend commented “he did NOT say that.” A couple of other friends, including me, also responded with various versions of “Oh yes he did!” I went out for dinner and thought about it some (again because I was in a place with no TV) and came back to my TV-less room, listened to the clip again, and responded to my post with two really LONG comments that were just too long for Facebook. I liked what I said (hey, if I don’t like it why on earth would you and why would I bother sharing it??), so I decided to make it my blog post for today. It’s not what I was going to blog about today, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

I listened to Paul Ryan again because my friend who contended that he hadn’t said that really actually is a friend and I like her, so I wanted to try to connect with where she was coming from (I’m what Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger,  Tarule call a “connected knower” in their book Women’s Ways of Knowing). So, I listened again and tried to hear Paul Ryan through my friend’s ears (a friend who identifies herself as “NOT pro-choice” but she’s not necessarily a Paul Ryan fan I don’t think but she doesn’t like people’s words to be twisted – I get that; I don’t like that either).

Here’s what I posted after listening to it again:

“Just listened to it again. In response to a question specifically asking about his stance on whether abortions should be legal in cases of rape, he said, “I’m very proud of my pro-life record and I agree that [no matter what or maybe it was regardless of] the method of conception, the [definition of life] is the same.” So, yes, his comment was directed explicitly to explain that he believes, as a pro-lifer, that life begins at conception regardless of how the fetus was conceived. However, the statement also makes rape pregnancy morally or ethically equivalent to consensual sex pregnancy by focusing on the ends and not distinguishing the means. In Ryan’s world, the ends (a life is created) justify the means (“regardless of method of conception”). This is what I and others find so odious about his comments and the stance of this segment of the pro-life movement (I recognize that not all “pro-lifers” have such extreme views).”

The quote isn’t exact because my memory misses stuff and I refused to put myself through listening to it yet again. I can only tolerate so much foolishness and my mom told me that foolishness is contagious. Anyway, I let my comment get posted and then thought of something else to say. I’ve got that below with some additions for clarity in brackets:

“In other words, no, Ryan didn’t actually say that rape was an acceptable method of conception [he wasn’t talking about rape as much as he was talking about how he defined when life begins]. But by refusing to condemn rape AND ALL ITS [POTENTIONAL] OUTCOMES, his comment can be read in that way. And I don’t think that reading is unfair either to him or to what he said. Maybe I’m wrong for that, but that’s where I am with this right now. [I am pro-choice but] I wish abortion didn’t exist. [But far more than I wish abortion didn’t have to exist, I wish] that women’s access to birth control was not eroded, esp for poor women. I wish far more that our protections and safety net for babies put up for adoption and placed in foster care were as strong and deep as some want them to be for fetuses who have just been conceived. I wish far more that the quality of women’s lives mattered enough to allow women the room to make decisions for their own bodies. I wish far more that ppl who call themselves pro-life fought as hard for lives already here who are hungry, unhoused, terrorized by poverty, unemployment, gun violence, police brutality, and the prison-industrial complex as they do for the lives they want to bring here [and some do]. I wish far more for a world where rape and all of its consequences were recognized as the horrific breaches of human dignity, worth, and self-determination that they are. I wish far more for the world my mother’s generation thought they had already [given] to us and now I see slowly being destroyed.”

This is what I wish for today.

I appreciate my friend’s challenge because it made me go back and think more deeply about why I was so angry by what Paul Ryan, Todd Akins, and others have said over the past week. I think some deeper thinking is necessary all around this issue, quite frankly. I guess that’s another wish.

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Rape, Pregnancy, and Non Sequitors

*WARNING: You’ll likely be ticked off by the end of reading this by something I’ve said. If you are deeply wedded to life-begins-at-conception beliefs, you really won’t like this. So, if you don’t like having your beliefs and the ways you’ve always read your Bible challenged, then you should probably stop reading now. And if you are going to be annoyed because they are not a bunch of links to allow you to verify what I’m saying, then you might want to stop reading now also. I figure it’s late, I’m tired, and you are fully capable of Googling all this if you doubt its veracity. I don’t mean to sound mean or hostile, I just want you to be prepared. Smile.*

Rep. Todd Akin, who is running for a Senate seat in Minnesota Missouri and sits on the House Science committee, went on record last week saying that in cases of “legitimate rape” the female body has ways of shutting down to prevent pregnancy – ergo there’s no need for a rape or incest exemption from more restrictive abortion laws. While the Republican Party is fighting like hell to get Akin to drop out of his Senate race and is distancing the party from Akin faster than Usain Bolt from his competition on the track, the reality is that Akin’s ideas are not that different than the Republican Party platform. Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick, co-sponsored a bill with Todd Akin that would drastically redefine rape to be limited only to “forcible rape.” Moreover, the Republican Party platform will announce abortion policy that would make abortion much more difficult to access while NOT exempting rape and incest.

My outrage over this has been building since Akin’s comments went viral over the weekend, but what provoked me to write this post was Mike Huckabee’s, former candidate for president, response to Akin. He has claimed that since there are people who’ve done great things that were the product of a rape, there shouldn’t be a rape/incest exemption because we don’t know what “God” might do with that life to redeem the horrible circumstances under which they were created. Sigh. I’ve got 4 issues with this that I’ll run down right quick. These four issues are in addition to the idiocy and ignorance that led to Akin’s comment in the first place. Basically, I find these comments to be about as ludicrous as the DirecTV commercials but not nearly as comical.

Issue 1: I take issue with the ideology that every conception is a blessing because God is present at every conception. Okay, I know I just lost about half of you. Hear me out, please. In the Bible, it is written that when 2 or 3 are gathered together in my Name [God’s], there am I [God] in the midst. Well, I simply do not believe that rape –any kind of rape, stranger, date, forcible, deception, manipulation, incest, incapable of consenting – sets up the conditions that meet the criteria for God’s abiding presence. Just saying. Therefore, every conception isn’t necessarily a blessing. Besides, blessings don’t just exist inherently. To name an experience, event, circumstance, or situation is a blessing or not is to engage in constructive meaning-making of that experience, event, circumstance, or situation. Basically, what may be a blessing in my eyes, may not be a blessing in yours and I can’t push my interpretation on to you.

Issue 2: I take issue with the ideology that says that the ends justify the means. To make it sound religious, I’ll use a phrase I grew up hearing: “God writes straight with crooked lines.” Now, I just lost about a quarter of the rest of you still reading this. If you’ll bear with me, I think you’ll see what I’m saying. I do believe that good can come out of evil, however, that is not a justification for abetting the evil. You do not use what *might* happen that could be positive as justification for continuing to victimize the woman who’s been raped. She did not consent to the sexual act, she therefore did not consent to the pregnancy, and therefore she should not be forced to consent to give birth. Period.

Issue 3: Now for the other half of what’s wrong with this idea that if you abort the fetus that is the result of rape, you might be depriving the world of its next great thinker, scientist, freedom fighter, etc. I have three words for you: Get. Over. Yourself. Let me expound. As much as I have grown to love the movie, I blame “It’s a Wonderful Life” for this narcissistic belief that the world would be irreparably damaged if you (or anybody else) weren’t born. One thing I do know is that God will find someone else to fulfill your role in His divine plan (if there is such a thing – personally I just think that the grand plan is to get us to treat each other with justice and equity and we experience things that we can choose to allow us to push toward greater equity and justice or push us away from it). Besides, in the movie “The Butterfly Effect,” it’s eliminating someone from Ashton Kutcher’s character’s life that finally sets everything right.

Issue 4: I take issue with this ideology that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose what happens with her own body and more so that she should not elevate her needs over that of the fetus inside her. In the words of moral development theorist Carol Gilligan, higher levels of moral development centered around an ethic of care, involve women seeing themselves as morally equivalent to others instead of continually sacrificing themselves for others when doing so results in self-harm. What I see in the Republican Party’s anti-choice platform (because let’s be real, they’re not pro-life), is a denial of women’s moral equivalency. And that is just oppressive.

P.S. – I know I’m missing a #higheredWed post, but that will have to come tomorrow. I’m still trying to get the hang of keeping to my writing schedule while I’m doing my archival research. :/