I was born overseas to American missionaries. My father lost his faith by the time I was two and my parents returned to the US for grad school.
My father, his brother, and their father raped and sexually abused all of the girls of my generation. My father saw it as his mission to train me in my job as a woman – to sexually please men. I could go into details about the abuse, but that’s not the point of this post. (I spent my early 20s in intense therapy, up to three times a week, and I can say that PTSD is not a life-sentence.) At age 14 my father impregnated me. I can’t tell you whether it was “forcible rape” or not because while I fought many times, sometimes I just lay there crying. Sometimes I was distracting him from my sister, who seemed more fragile than I; sometimes his threat to ruin something I loved was credible enough that I didn't fight; sometimes I was in too much pain to fight. But it was always rape.
Perhaps my “magical lady parts” hadn’t yet learned the whole “shut it down” trick; perhaps I lived in the real world and not in fantasy land. But in no world and at no time was that fetus a gift from God.
Fortunately for me, my father was only crazy in one way. He liked to have sex with minor girls; he didn’t want them to give birth. He took me to the “abortionist” – my mother had her own insanity and I was clueless about how my cycle was supposed to work – so he realized I was late, he took me to the doctor, he chose not to pay for anesthesia. Lucky me.
Tangent: I have always found the phrase, “exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother” bizarre. Given my experience I tend to think of rape and incest as synonymous. However, I guess siblings who were given up for adoption could meet as adults, fall in love, get pregnant and only then find out about the blood relationship and then want to abort the issue.
Anyway, that God (should s/he exist) allows evil to happen is unquestionable. That does not make it his/her intent – if you accept that God created free will. If you don’t accept free will then I guess that if I go out and castrate every guy with a glint in his eye that I don’t like that would be God’s gift as well. Bullpucky. As a parent, I allowed my children to climb on monkey bars. That my daughter fell and broke her arm was an accident – not my intent and certainly not my “gift” to her. That my son didn’t fall was also an accident – he actually didn’t tend to climb as high at as young an age (he sledded into a fence post for a concussion instead). My actions and intent were the same in both cases - age appropriate supervision of risk-taking and dealing with the consequences of choices and random chance.
In my early 20s I was discussing abortion with my (evangelical, “charismatic”, right wing) mother. I asked her, “Hypothetically, if Dad had gotten me pregnant, what do you think I should have done?” Her response, “I would hope you would have the child and give it to me to raise.” I was stunned. I said, in the most serious tone I could muster, “You need to understand. You would not have saved a life, you would have lost two. I would have died before bringing that monster’s child into this world.” We’ve never again discussed abortion – or anything else since shortly after that I cut her out of my life – but I’ve always hoped that she actually heard me.
I am astounded, far more than I should be, at the inability of some people to consider circumstances beyond their own experience. I wonder, should, God forbid, Mourdock’s wife be impregnated through stranger rape, would he raise that child with love as God’s gift to him? I certainly don’t wish such a tragedy on the woman, but I wonder what it would take for Mr. Mourdock to consider seriously the pain that others live with on a daily basis.
I know that some rape survivors do choose to keep a child due to their own beliefs (or through lack of choice) and I can imagine that it would be possible for such women to take comfort in the thought that this was “God’s gift” to turn a horrible experience into something positive. I would never take that belief from them. I just wish the religious right would do me the favor of giving my experience and beliefs the same respect I give theirs.
My daughter, now an adult, recently said, "I never thought I'd become a single issue voter. But you have to be this year. They are taking away my rights and making me a second class citizen."
Even if I agreed with Romney on many (or any) other issues, I owe my 14 year old self, and all women everywhere, a vote for freedom for women. I only wish I lived in the right place to vote against this Mourdock fellow.