I’m sure most of you have heard that the new congress failed to pass their anti-abortion bill Wednesday:
They almost made it, but then the GOP coalition fell apart—not on wavering opposition to abortion overall, but on the technicalities. Like many such proposals, the bill would have allowed for exceptions in a few limited cases, such as rape. This bill made rape an exception, but only if a woman reported it to law enforcement. As Ed O’Keefe reports, that set off alarms for a bloc of female Republican lawmakers. They worried that the rape-reporting restriction was too strict, and that the bill would alienate young voters and women from the party. And so Wednesday evening, GOP leaders abruptly yanked the bill. Instead, the House passed a less restrictive bill Thursday, permanently banning federal money from going to pay for abortions. A ban already exists, but it has to be renewed every year.
The rape exemptions always mystify me: if fetal life is worth preserving, then isn’t all fetal life worth saving, regardless of the circumstances of its conception? Why should we hold innocent fetuses responsible for their fathers’ crimes? I have taught at more than one Catholic university, so I’ve heard and seen it all when it comes to “pro-life” arguments, but this question always struck me as really, really simple: if you’re “pro-life,” how does a rape exemption make sense unless you believe somehow that fetuses are evil and deserve the death penalty because their fathers are rapists? (Most Americans gave up on original sin, like 200 years ago or so. Get with the program, “pro-lifers!”)
A friend of mine who’s a historian of the contemporary religious right explained it to me once several years ago: the religious right live in the world the rest of us live in, and they don’t want to force rape victims into bearing children they don’t want and didn’t chose to have, because that’s just as brutal and as heartless as it sounds. Moreso, probably. Well, that’s nice–but don’t call your movement pro-life if you’re not into making rape victims suffer to give birth to “life” they didn’t choose.
If you’re not into making rape victims give birth to their rapists’ children, then just admit your real political position: pro-choice.