If the purpose of opposing abortion is to "save the life of the unborn,"--how does the poor soul conceived through rape or incest, or both, count for less? He or she didn't do the rape, commit the incest. Innocent little sperm cells and an ova got together on a date with fate with nary a thought about whether it was a good "idea" or not.
The embryo is the innocent victim here, no matter how you dice the logic to find an acceptable exception that allows for a woman to make her own reproductive choices. That makes the product of a rape or incest responsible for the emotional health and well-being of the mother, as if the embryo is down there saying, OMG, I got here through rape (or incest), I'd better call it quits. Call for the doc!
A MORAL STAND ON ABORTION OR ILLOGICAL OBFUSCATION?
What the Romney-Ryan fiddle-faddle on abortion exposes is that the public is more repulsed by the idea of a pregnancy that results from a reprehensible act than it is interested in saving a "life." If you are impregnated by rape or incest, that is, if the sex was forced and not consensual, then you retain the power to decide your own reproductive future--to carry and give birth, or not. Yet get pregnant because of simple sex, the Romney-Ryan ticket would have the government step in and take over the decision-making power. This is from the party that is supposedly about shrinking government, yet the only thing the GOP really wants to shrink is aid to the poor, health care for all--and that would include a lot of women who opt to keep their babies rather than give them up for adoption. A great many women are pushed into having "somebody's else's" baby, to borrow from a reprehensible TV reality show, because of lack of money, lack of good health care, lack of support.
The trouble with the rape and incest exceptions is that most women who are raped do not report it, and neither certainly do a great many kids. Say you are raped but want to forget about it. Say then you find out several weeks later that you are pregnant? What then? How do you go about getting that abortion? A month later charge the rapist? The police are going to look at you with dim eyes and send you on your way.
The other problem with the "rape or incest" exception is that perfectly fine people will be born regardless. One of our favorite bloggers, Amanda at The Declassified Adoptee, was the child born after a rape,* and wrote about this earlier. Ethel Waters wrote about being the child of rape in her autobiography. Although Olivia on Law & Order SVU is fictional, frequent fans know that she is a product of a rape. And what fan doesn't love Olivia?* As for their mothers? Our first-hand encounters with first mothers who bore children due to a rape inform us that they generally experience the same sorrow, longing and sense of loss that the rest of us do. Admittedly, incest is different. Since inter-breeding may cause deformities and weaknesses, such children are less desirable in the adoptable-baby pool. If the truth is told about their paternity, they will be hard to place.
When I was growing up as a Catholic in a parish school, what we learned about abortion was that it was wrong unless it was the only way to save the life of the mother. If in the course of preserving her life, the fetus had to be sacrificed, it was permissible. But the current hysteria over abortion has led Catholics to back-track even on this.
EMBRYOS DON'T COUNT IN THEIR FUZZY THINKING
A few years ago a Catholic nun was excommunicated by her bishop for authorizing an abortion to save the life of a woman at a Phoenix hospital; she was later quietly reinstated in the Church. Today some bishops are making a fuss over whether politicians, such as vice president Joe Biden and New York governor Andrew Cuomo ought to be receiving communion. Both Catholics, they do not believe in imposing their view on others; nor are they attempting to turn back Roe v. Wade. Fortunately, some Catholic thinkers are writing that the church ought not to be trying to influence public policy this way, but their voices are being lost in the current ack-ack over abortion.
Paul Ryan, also a Catholic, is flying under the bishops' radar on this, but for no good reason: the Catholic Church does not make exceptions for rape and incest. It is a neat little hat trick but it doesn't hold the test of logic. If you believe that a soul was created at the time of conception--not even Thomas Aquinas did--then every abortion is wrong, right from the moment of conception. Thomas Aquinas, incidentally, wrote that ending a pregnancy was wrong only after the "quickening," which has been taken to mean, after movement. And in the early days of the church, abortion was not considered a sin before that "quickening."Oddly enough, or perhaps not surprisingly, it is generally accepted that Catholics today get abortions in the same number as do others.
The other problem with the phony moral high ground of the anti-abortion crowd is their utter silence on the random killing of supposed souls that regularly occurs at fertility clinics: excess embryos, especially the ones that appear weak, are dumped; some embryos are expected to not stick to the womb and slip out and die; embryos are frozen for years, and forgotten; women who have more than one embryo implanted frequently opt for a "selective" abortion when more than one takes. Yet each of these little blobs have as much "life" as a embryo created through intercourse, without tubes and hormone shots. But no one is arguing to save those "lives."
LDS RULES DON'T APPLY TO THE ROMNEYS?
In May, Romney's son Tagg became father of twin boys thanks to help from IVF and a surrogate mother. Tagg's son Jonathan was also produced this way. Two of Tagg's brothers reportedly have struggled with infertility issues and resorted to IVF as well. As one of our astute readers noted at the previous blog, no one is picketing the fertility clinics. That huge Romney clan of 18 grandchildren? According to Mother Jones, Romney's son Tagg became father of twin boys in May thanks to IVF and a surrogate mother. Tagg's son Jonathan was also produced this way. Two of Tagg's brothers reportedly have struggled with infertility issues and resorted to IVF as well. The Mormon faith of the religious Romney clan is strongly opposed to IVF and surrogacy. We assume that an exception was made for the Romneys because they are, well, the Romneys, and do whatever pleases them, in and out of their church.
We do not pretend to understand Romney and his faith, yet we do wonder how many souls were destroyed on the way to creating the children they desire. It is only when mere women make their own reproductive choices that the conservatives and the Romney-Ryan team step in and want to limit them.
CHILDREN WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN
We understand that writing about abortion at FMF is always tricky because some of our readers surely would have chosen abortion. Some other readers, adoptees, likely would have been aborted themselves. Yet for a great many of our readers, like myself, the trauma of relinquishing a baby to be adopted by others over shadowed all other concerns about having another, and our lost child is the only child. The child we gave away ended the thought of any child we might conceive.
We so firmly believe that women must have the right to control their own bodies, to decide whether to carry a fetus to term or not, that this is not an issue to ignore as we are only weeks away from a presidential election. If the anti-abortion crowd is elected--and that includes the moron Todd Akin in Missouri to the Senate---women's reproductive choices will continue to be eroded. There will be no grand plan to help impoverished women keep and raise their babies. The opposite will be even more true than it is today as "balancing the budget" will supersede aid to women and children in need. As abortions, and even contraception for young women, becomes harder to get, the number of women who feel forced to relinquish their children to adoption will rise. And they will be writing blogs like this in the years to come.--lorraine
I was raped and I gave a baby up for adoption. Guess which was worse.
Romney's convenient stand on abortion: Flip. Flop. Loop holes.
Sources: Ryan Sponsored Abortion Bill That Would Make Romney's Kids Criminals
Pro-Lifers Should Stop Being So Skittish About Their Own Beliefs
If Roe v. Wade Goes
Paul Ryan, Catholic Dissident
*from Declassified Adoptee: Finding out you Were Conceived from Rape
**Yes, we know the character who plays Olivia, Mariska Hargitay is an adoptive mother. We remember hearing her being quoted as saying that the mother of one child she was about to adopt changed her mind and kept the child, and Mariska was pleased.
Reading to consider:
Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood before Marriage
"This is the most important study ever written on motherhood and marriage among low-income urban women. Edin and Kefalas's timely, engaging, and well-written book is a careful ethnographic study that paints an indelible portrait of family life in poor communities and, in the process, provides incredible insights on the explosion of mother-only families within these communities."--William Julius Wilson, author of The Bridge over the Racial Divide
Ethel Waters's His Eye Is On The Sparrow: An Autobiography (Quality Paperbacks Series)
stands as perhaps the greatest autobiography of a black female performer, capturing both the horror and the joy of the African American woman's experience through the often bitter yet always forgiving voice of an indomitable spirit. This edition is supplemented with a new historical preface and over a dozen photographs. Click on jackets or titles above to order.