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Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) made national news Sunday by coining the macabre phrase "legitimate rape," then doubling down with the still-stranger assertion that the bodies of rape victims mystically could ward off pregnancy. But Akin's real contribution to the nation's political discourse was to advance a truly consistent anti-abortion view: If abortion is the taking of life, then of course there can be no exception made in the case of a rape victim. (Or the victim of "legitimate rape," in now-famous Akin-speak).

The Romney-Ryan team lost no time rushing out a statement assuring Americans that its administration "would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." National Review Online, calling for Akin to "step aside," opined that "only a small minority of Americans opposes abortion in cases of rape."

Really? Can somehow please explain the logic in this? If it's undeniable fact that human life begins at conception and thus abortion is murder -- as "pro-lifers" argue so passionately -- then why on earth should an innocent unborn child lose its life merely because of the circumstance of his or her conception? If a fetus is a person, how can those who cherish life countenance its "slaughter" simply because its creation was the result of a rape?

The answer to those questions is that there is no answer, at least not a rational one. Were this the subject of legitimate inquiry -- say, at a presidential debate -- there is simply no way to square the unforgiving rhetoric of "life" and "murder" with the reality that pro-lifers (in large numbers) can live with exceptions to their own absolutes. Even a cursory discussion would reveal that the vast majority of Americans who are troubled by abortion simply feel it's wrong, not that it's the taking of human life. That's a big difference, because if this is not truly about life (and it isn't), the entire abortion issue is just a matter of opinion. And if it's just a matter of opinion, it should be a matter of choice for women.

The subject would become still murkier if "pro-life" advocates such as Romney and Ryan were asked to explain how their laws against abortion would actually be carried out. Who would determine if a rape had occurred, and how? Such an adjudication could hardly wait until the outcome of a rape trial, so approval of an exception -- most lethal to the unborn child -- would by necessity be made quite hastily. Again, the rhetoric cannot withstand even a cursory level of intellectual challenge.

So hats off to Todd Akin for bringing the issue to the fore. Now all the nation needs is a pro-choice side willing to carry the fight, and a national media willing to ask even a handful of simple questions. Politicians who indulge in the harsh rhetoric of "life" should be expected to back up their incendiary language with consistency, just like Akin did.

Without exceptions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Easy answer.... (7+ / 0-)

    Life begins at conception, and the fetus should not be punished for the sins of the parents.

    I have heard this almost verbatim from the religious right.

    Still put it out there, loud and clear.  I think more people will be turned off by that answer.

    After the Republicans burn down the world, they will prove the Democrats did it.

    by jimraff on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:27:12 PM PDT

  •  thanks for the clarity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Judge Moonbox

    I'm going to ask this question of my RW siblings.

    Nuance is lost upon those who choose not to look.

    by poliwrangler on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:30:49 PM PDT

  •  I agree (7+ / 0-)

    There is no valid justification for the rape exception. And those who support it are never pressed to explain. If they were, they would have a very hard time doing so.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 06:32:17 PM PDT

  •  jimraff is right. I have asked it many times. They (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scioto, jan4insight, BachFan, grover

    return to the fetus and treat women like they are not there.

    These people are the same ones that would rather see a woman die than get an abortion. This is true even if the fetus is not viable.

    The fetus is all that counts. Even if a non-viable fetus, let's say a tubular pregnancy, means the mother and the fetus die. That is God's plan.

  •  There Exists No Exception in Their Religious (3+ / 0-)

    doctrines, Catholic or Evangelical.

    Which means the rape exemption is a domino.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:16:06 PM PDT

    •  It's a card they never intend to play. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LeighAnn, UnionMade

      Once they get a ban with a rape exception, the hurdles will be so high to prove a rape occurred, it will be the same as a total ban.

      They're playing rhetorical games, and the media and far too many well-meaning moderates (who are uncomfortable with abortion) are not only falling for it: they're being played as fools. They truly believe that somehow abortions would be allowed for rape victims.

      After all these years, too many on our side are still trying to negotiate in good faith while forced pregnancy zealots are playing for keeps-- human fallout be damned.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:07:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Exactly (5+ / 0-)

    I've posted comments before to that effect.

    I'm actually watching Rachel right now, and she seems amazed that people would oppose rape/incest exceptions.   She seems not to fathom that a logically consistent position for those who believe life begins at conception is no exceptions.

    I think the pro-choice side is at an advantage if the debate is between choice and an absolute ban, rather than between choice and a ban with rape/incest exceptions.

    •  the rape exception is still a CHOICE to be made. (0+ / 0-)

      Make them stick to the hard line of "you're taking a life" even if it came from rape. Otherwise, give everyone the choice. Is Santorum out of the game or can we still talk about the choices he & wife made when she was pregnant and needed anti-biotics? It's a far cry from the young woman who just died from cancer while putting off her treatment because of a pregnancy they wouldn't let her terminate.

  •  Though it would be a high risk strategy the (0+ / 0-)

    same could be argued for those "pro-lifers" who consider abortion to be murder/genocide yet do not consider violence justified.  The only way to logically get around that is if abortion is something other than murder or if they are actual pacifists like the Quakers.

    (In case it needs to be said it is probably not a good idea to try that argument, even though it is valid, as it could very well lead to a massive increase in domestic terrorism)

    There is no saving throw against stupid.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 07:45:34 PM PDT

  •  Life begins at conception (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grover, phonegery

    This is their mantra, and it's plainly a theological belief. There is no constitutional basis for using it to support legislation. Citizenship is defined by the Constitution in terms of birthplace. The founders clearly had no intention of protecting zygotes,

    Besides, their mantra is wrong. The egg and sperm were clearly alive before they united. In fact, life is an unbroken chain dating back about 4 billion years. To be sure, conception involves some very interesting biochemistry, but there is no evidence that anything supernatural happens.

    Occupy is the symptom. Fundamental reform is the cure.

    by Tim DeLaney on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:43:06 PM PDT

  •  There's no reason to ask them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    because the rape exception is bullshit.  Abortion is legal and has been found to be a fundamental Constitutional right.  Period.  We don't need their twisted logic.  Asking the question moves closer to legitimizing their notion that abortion should be illegal because you must first accept their premise if you want them to explain how they get around it.

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