Akin's ignorance has upped the debate over whether abortion is ever palatable to some, because all he really did is state what true anti-choice zealots believe: that all and any abortion (and that includes the Morning-After Pill and IUDs) methods, regardless of the timing, are Go-directly-to-hell wrong.
Akin said that in cases of "legitimate rape," a woman's body knows that there is a problem and "tries to shut the whole thing down" to prevent the pregnancy, thus saying it was highly unlikely that a woman who was "legitimately" raped (i.e., forceably) will get pregnant.
Would that it were so.
A MOTHER'S YEARNING DESPITE...
I myself tried to obtain an abortion in 1965 when I was pregnant--though not by rape--and wrote about this openly when I published my memoir, Birthmark, in 1979. But the desire for an abortion did not translate into less love for my baby once I knew she would be born, nor lessen the bone-deep desire I had to keep her fast to my breast and raise her. Yet the times were so different then, I was a different person then, and I made the incalculable error to relinquish her for adoption, and live to rue that day. My desire to have kept her turned me into a passionate supporter of open records for all--adoptees and natural mothers--and someone who is virulently anti-adoption and pro-choice. Having lived this life for all these many years, I know full well the cost I and the other women like me paid in tears and guilt for having relinquished our children. I have made peace with my life, but there it is: a life I wish never had any brush with adoption.
And just as I loved my daughter once she was born, so do woman who give birth to children conceived in rape and incest. Maine adoptees have access to their original records today largely due to the unflagging advocacy of Roberta Beavers, a legislator who gave birth after a rape, relinquished her child to adoption, and reunited with him. Later she became an advocate for adoption reform and got herself elected to the Maine legislature. Bobbie Beavers is not alone as a once rape-victim who welcomed back her child, innocent of all crime related to his conception.
WHAT OF CHILDREN OF RAPE?
But what of the children born after a rape? One of our friends and favorite bloggers, Amanda at Declassified Adoptee, has this to say:
"Without fail, someone, somewhere, throws individuals conceived from rape, and our mothers, under the bus. Every single time.Liberals have to stop nodding knowingly when these exceptions to abortion are factored in seemingly to not make the anti-abortion edict so harsh. But they should not be a handy place for conservatives to duck behind. With abortion, let us be either up or down: a young teen or a woman has a right to control her own body, or she doesn't. No one should have to have another make a decision about one's body. No one should force another to have a child grow in her body against her will. As Gloria Steinem once famously wrote: If men had abortions, it would be a sacrament.
When a Conservative says, 'I believe we should outlaw abortion because I respect all life and I think fetuses are people....Oh, except in the case of rape!' what they are saying is that fetuses are life and are people--except in the case of rape."
When I see slogans such as "Adoption not abortion," I want to scream and rip them down. The difference between the two is not a matter of a few letters, but the difference between a lifetime of guilt and one not mired in unanswered questions and lingering sorrow and desire to know, to raise, to love as one's own because he is one's own, a child. As a women who went to 12 years of Catholic school, I know that one can have an abortion and go to confession and be absolved of what Catholics consider a sin; as a woman who relinquished a child, I know that leads to a lifetime of hell on earth.
ABORTION VS. GIVING UP A CHILD
While the Republican position has pretty much always been anti-abortion, it came to a head once before, under GOP President Ronald Reagan, when he directed his Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, to write a report about the supposedly negative long-term effects of an abortion. Koop refused, but a report was issued anyway under the directive of Reagan in 1989, with Koop's name on it. Thought he has tried to disavow himself from it the report, the Koop Report is what people generally remember. It would be better called the "Republican Ronald Reagan Report."
While certainly women who wanted to have the child will grieve if they choose abortion, but the psychological impact cannot be compared to the lifelong guilt and sorrow that giving up a child for adoption wreaks upon a woman's life. I remember a Park Avenue psychologist who was dating a friend of mine once saying to her: "You don't want to end up like Lorraine, do you?" She was pregnant with his child; she had an abortion instead of "ending up like Lorraine." He knew whereof he spoke. I speak here only with my personal experience, but the women I know who have had abortions have experienced only relief when it is over. I am sure that an abortion, any abortion, is a sobering experience, but women must have the right to control their own bodies and fates. For most, an abortion will be just that: a sobering experience, not a lifelong psychological burden that impacts every aspect of their lives.
THOSE HAPPY-DAPPY ADOPTION BLOGS
Even the "I LOVE ADOPTION" blogs written by first mothers who are conservative and religious emanate no great calm or quietude about their missing children. At the same time they are proclaiming their good fortune or, "I love adoption" as one recently wrote to us in a comment, or how at peace they are with their decision to give up a child, they confess to wonder and worry--How is my Johnny? How am I doing today? His birthday is next week. Unless these women are truly missing the mothering gene--and it does happen in the animal kingdom, why not us?--their fervent denials and happy-dappy outpourings ring false. If these bee-mommies were so totally at peace with losing their children to adoption, they wouldn't be blogging about it.
Akin may yet yield to political pressure from his own party and quit the race. I hope he stays put because we women will tromp him. It is worth noting that Akin and Ryan jointly have their name on an anti-abortion bill Yet despite the party's urging Akin to bow out, despite the Romney campaign's recent announcement that the Romney/Ryan ticket supports abortion in cases of rape, even though Ryan previously opposed the exception. However, CNN is reporting that the Republican platform once again is anti-abortion, no exceptions. No mention of rape or incest. At least that is the honest approach. And if that's the case, there is no reason for Akin to bow out.--lorraine
Late addition: Akin missed the deadline for dropping out of the race on Tuesday evening; it would now take a court order to get him off the ballot. He made the round of morning shows on Wednesday stating that his is staying in the race. Veep candidate Ryan may be muzzled on this issue, but he authored a "personhood" bill with Akin that affirms that from the moment of fertilization onward, “every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” It then says that Congress and the states have the “authority” to protect all human beings — again, defined as human life from fertilization onward — residing in their jurisdictions. By that logic, a rapist who impregnated a victim could have the right to sue her if she decided not to carry that baby and to have an abortion.
See Declassified Adoptee: Dear Senator Akin ALL Rape IS Violence
"...Any adoptee who has the emotional wherewithal to want to see how the mother who gave them life may have felt about it should read this book."--Amazon
From FMF: Response to The Adoption Option
For an analytical look at how politics shapes adoption and abortion:
Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States is a thorough feminist history of public policy on abortion since Roe v. Wade, as well as a reconsideration of recent political strategy.
Rickie Solinger also advances a troubling economic thesis about adoption, defined roughly as "the transfer of babies from women of one social classification to women in a higher social classification or group." Bracing and well-researched, Solinger's arguments should be considered by anyone working for women's and children's rights. --Regina Marler
Solinger's third book on reproductive rights hinges on a crucial semantic shift in the 1970s from "abortion rights" to the softer, less direct "choice" and "pro-choice," itself an attempt to shake off the awkward "pro-abortion" tag. While "rights" are undeniable, Solinger asserts, "choice" is a market-driven concept. "Historical distinctions between women of color and white women, between poor and middle-class women, have been reproduced and institutionalized in the "era of choice," she continues, "in part by defining some groups of women as good choice makers, some as bad."