Alabama conservatives’ decision to nullify a woman’s right to choose has galvanized the pro-choice movement, in no small part due to the draconian level of cruelty shown by (predominantly) male lawmakers. The new law makes performing an abortion illegal after a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected. This “heartbeat” can be detected around 6 weeks—long before many women even discover they are pregnant. One of the distinguishing aspects of this new law is that Republicans made sure that there were no exemptions for rape or incest. Republican Rep. Terri Collins told reporters, “I have prayed my way through this bill.” Didn’t pray hard enough for my liking.
But this nod to praying and God is something that has driven every aspect of the convoluted conservative Christian position on abortion laws throughout our country. And Republicans across the country have frequently professed their distaste for women and women’s rights, specifically surrounding sexual assault for a very long time. So the fact that conservatives in Alabama are outlawing abortions across the board should come as no surprise. Here are some reminders of what conservatives think about rape.
There was the Republican from Maine, Lawrence Lockman, who explained that if a woman had a right to an abortion, then rape wasn’t rape.
“If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”
The logic is mind-blowing. Don’t forget, it’s not just eastern seaboard Republicans. Colorado conservative Darryl Glenn knows that God’s special gift to women is sometimes rape?
If you want an abortion, don’t ask me to pay for it. That’s not something I’m gonna agree with. That’s a gift from God. There are no exceptions with that. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to pray for you.... That’s a life, regardless of how it got there, and I’m going to pray for you.
Glenn’s opinion on the matter is one that many Christian conservatives hold. Since God is all powerful, letting women get raped is part of some cosmic plan. It’s God’s way of testing us, like Job, not to allow women the right to choose what they do and do not do with their bodies. Just ask Michigan Republican state Sen. Kim LaSata, who explained that abortions should punish the women getting them, saying, “Of course it should be hard! And the procedure should be painful! And you should allow God to take over!! And you should deliver that baby!" She’s just following in the footsteps of Glenn and Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock. Mourdock once opined:
I believe life begins at conception. The only exception I have for to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.
This strange God-loves-rape apologetics is something many loud political parishioners must tangle with. Former somewhat important Republican Rick Santorum explained how tough it is to be a good Christian while having to believe all of the things a “good Christian” has to at least say they believe.
“Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice, I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter and son was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or she doesn’t, it will always be her child, and she will always know that.
“And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you. As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life we have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible, but nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation and I would make the argument that that is making the best.”
Rick Santorum is a real King Solomon over here. Santorum’s general faux ambivalence is subterfuge for a general ignorance surrounding women’s health and bodies. As Republican Rep. from Missouri Todd Akin once explained to KTVI-TV back in the summer of 2012, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The act of a woman getting pregnant nullifies any chance that she was actually raped. In fact, maybe she liked it? That is clearly the only explanation of women impregnated by rapists—according to Republican Akin’s “medical” theory.
And underneath all of this lack of education on women’s health, is a coarseness about women’s lives. There’s a bootstrapping ignorant coldness to it all. Nothing illustrates the lack of empathy and intellectual curiosity better than former Republican Texas House of Representatives member Jodi Laubenberg, who once compared rape kits—the evidence preserving instruments used by medical and law enforcement professionals to collect evidence post allegations of sexual assault—to abortion procedures, while debating the same kind of amendment that Alabama passed.
Laubenberg: In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.
When this argument was put forward on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives in 2013, Rep. Laubenberg had just previously been the chair of Texas’ House Committee on Public Health. That’s power and stupidity and religion. That equation has only led to tragedy throughout human history. Below you can check out the “GOP Rape Advisory Chart” made by community member Brainwrap back in 2012.