' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The GOP stand on abortion is hollow at the center

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The GOP stand on abortion is hollow at the center

Thinking cap
The inference that the Romney-Ryan camp has the moral high ground regarding abortion is baloney. Their tacked-on exceptions that make abortion allowable in cases of rape and incest belie their stance that preserving life itself is the crucial factor. One can include the exception to "save the life of the mother," in this analysis, but rape and incest? That doesn't fly.

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!

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.

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."

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.

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
See also:
I was raped and I gave a baby up for adoption. Guess which was worse.

Previous post:
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  
also:  http://www.abortion.com/ 

*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.


  1. For the record, the Catholic Church is also opposed to in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm donation, surrogacy, and other "artificial" means of creating life, as well as being opposed to the death penalty and euthanasia. No exceptions for rape, incest, or saving the mother's life either. So their stand is morally consistent, if harsh in the real world, given that they also still oppose contraception as well. And of course, practicing Catholics mostly ignore these prohibitions when it comes to real life choices.

    You are quite right that the Catholic laity does not go along with this extreme stand, especially on birth control, some assisted reproduction, and the death penalty. There are many other official policies of the Church that are way out of line with the laity, and they are losing members and support in droves. Need I mention the pedophile scandal and financial mismanagement? Rome and the Bishops are way out of touch with Catholics in the Western World. Ireland has the morning-after pill available without prescription, although they do not have legal abortion.

    Much as I can't stand the Republican stand on most things,I can't really say that the idea of abortion exceptions for rape and incest are so hypocritical. I am pro-choice, but with the hope that abortions be done early, that birth control be freely available to all (what cuts down the number of abortions? Free birth control!)and that the choice be taken seriously as the taking of a life, but for good reason and as the lesser evil. Lives are taken in battle, and by the state. I also believer personally in choice about death for the hopelessly terminally ill and suffering, but this too is very complex and only to be decided by the person and family.

    I have to say that for myself much as the thought of abortion is repulsive, I think I would go that route if I had been raped. Incest, no question at all. I do not feel that having given up a child enters into my views on this subject, because I never considered abortion with any of five pregnancies, one of which sadly ended in early miscarriage, which I do grieve, but no longer grieve my living son because I know him. This is all just my personal view, not a prescription for how others should think or feel.

  2. You're right, Maryanne, of course about the Catholic church being against assisted reproduction, but you don't have a Catholic candidate being against abortion as a proscription for everybody, or trying to exclude birth control from the insurance policies of any Catholic organization, which is what the bishops are arguing for. In many cases, telling the woman who works in the cafeteria or the man who cleans bathrooms simply to get another job doesn't work because in many areas, the hospital is the Catholic hospital, and it is the largest employer around. There is "other job."

    Yet we have Republican candidates against abortion while ignoring all those dead "souls" that simply go down the drain at fertility centers or are destroyed however they are. While they turn a blind eye to that, abortion in their scheme is not permitted no matter how early. The wealthy will always have access to abortion, however.

    What the Romney-Ryan ticket says is hypercritical. They say one thing for all but deal with their own fertility issues quite differently, even if it means getting rid of all those embryos in private. You can say it is different to throw out embryos, but if "life" was created, the difference is a matter of convenience.

  3. Just to clarify, I think that the Catholic stand on not wanting to pay for contraceptive health care for its employees is appalling, disgusting, any other word you want to use.

    Mormons of course are a whole other ballgame with a theology too convoluted and bizarre to even begin to understand. I would think they would be for assisted reproduction to get as many spirit children waiting in heaven get born into good Mormon families, by whatever means.

    And I would never vote for Romney and Ryan for numerous reasons, including their stand on universal health care which every other civilized country already has. As to abortion, I do not think Roe v. Wade will ever be repealed, and that candidates who come out with anti-abortion as part of their platform are just cynically pandering to the the one-issue voters on the Religious Right, without any intention or power to really do anything about that issue but spew hot air.

  4. I think you are missing a key point in this post. If a woman is raped or a victim of incest, she had no say. When a woman has consensual sex, even if she is using birth control, she knows that she is risking a pregnancy. The pro-life people who make exceptions for rape, incest, life/health of the mother, believe that women need to take responsibility for their actions but should not necessarily be 'punished' further for being a crime victim.

    Many on the pro-life side don't support any exceptions at all. I think politicians support the exceptions because it could be too hard to get elected otherwise.

    I do wonder though how this would work. Do women have to somehow prove they were raped? Does there have to be a police record on file? A hospital visit? Or is her word good enough.

  5. If you live in state where the nearest abortionist is in the next state, and it requires an overnight stay, and an ultra sound, and you are seventeen and you need your father's signature and you know he will beat the bejeezus out of you if he discovers you are pregnant...Roe v. Wade does not have to be repealed to make abortion impossible for you to get.

    Robin, you are right, I did not cover that aspect of the impregnation strongly enough, I merely hint at it in the third or fourth graph; but I was trying to keep the post from not getting too long; later this morning, I'll go back and include a fix.

  6. The republicans stance on abortion has always confused me. For all of their "less government" platform, they have no problem subjecting more government into our personal lives. It makes it very apparent how their religious views are guiding their policy making in these areas.
    For what it's worth, we have always loved Olivia on Law and Order. So much so that my daughter named her relinquished daughter after her. Her adopters changed her name, but to us she will always be "Olivia".

  7. It is true, the name we give our children before they are adopted is had to erase. I so commend the people who adopt and keep the name the first mother gave the child; I know they are truly trying to do the right thing by everybody.

    I did not name my daughter but I would have named her Sarah. I do not know what is on the OBC and I assume I will never know. I was so freaked out about keeping the birth secret and out of the papers, etc., that I am not even sure that my real name is on the OBC. Yes, that's how paranoid I was. I doubt she ever would have been able to find me.

  8. I will always be for safe legal abortions the alternative is to horrible to imagine.

    I do think that the timing to go after Roe vs Wade is suspect - seeing it has always been a plank of the Republican party but yet they waited until now - a time when those Doctors who had to do their best to patch up women after an illegal abortions aren't around anymore to speak to the horrors they dealt with.

  9. I am going to say it here because this is something that we sometimes admit to each other but rarely. I am sorry that I did not have an abortion. The grief that giving up my child caused, even after reunion, makes me feel this way. She found me, now she won't talk to me. I often wonder if I would have had other children. I had one, but I don't have a daughter.

  10. @Anon 9:03,
    Are you sorry that you didn't have an abortion or are you sorry that you didn't keep your child?

  11. Another problem with the republican party, is that they want to take away welfare, food stamps, and government housing from families. To the point that everyone who is poor, may have to surrender their child for adoption. People can't seem to think of the consequences of all of this and just parrot everything the media tells them. I know one girl right now, who will only vote for the candidate who is only pro-life and nothing else matters to her. And she herself is raising her child on welfare, government housing and food stamps etc. She doesn't seem to think she'll lose all of that. Or it could be that her child is to old to adopt now and doesn't care what happens to anyone else. As long as she got take advantage of the system when it was there, that could be all that matters to her. But who's to say she still can't have her child taken from her, if she loses all of that and ends up out on the streets.

  12. AnonymousOct19 9:03 andRobin 9:37 I am happy I had my baby and sorry beyond words that I gave him up This is the only place I've heard firstmothers say they wish they had an abortion I also know what it's like to be pushed beyond my limits If I hadn't been trained to be pro-life by my family and religion, I wouldn't be here now The details are better left unsaid, but when I was overwhelmed with negative emotions (fear,anxiety and anger at my son's father, sleeping in my car for a few days and not able to think I had to reach for something to pull me through and it all came down to one word"life" and my Dad's words "Being is better than non-being" Laugh all you want but I wish I had been aware of benefits -welfare and medicaid sooner Where I came from and with parents who grew up during the Depression, "relief" as they called it was to be avoided at all costs I've since changed my mind It's bad enough to have a lot of desperate people but desperate and hungry is far worse Things have changed for the better and I still shake sometimes when I think about(not too often) how close I came

  13. Actually the word is "love" but even though I like being corny a lot of people don't so I'll shut up I'm outta here for awhile Good luck to all

  14. Why do people who use government handouts vote against the candidate who would give them the help they need? It's crazy but they do it.

    I wish we could expose the pro-life movement for what it is: pro-birth. After that, you're on your own, and BTW, there is such a nice couple who would like to have your baby.

    For the record, given the grief at the time of my daughter's birth, and the grief of giving her up, and then joy of reuniting followed by grief of having her push me away, and the grief of knowing her screwed up life, and throw in never feeling I should have another child, I am sorry I did not have an abortion.

    Maybe I would have had a child I could have kept, someone who would be less screwed up.

  15. http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/10/25/a-fan-letter-to-certain-conservative-politicians/

    Here is a scathing satirical letter composed from the point of view of a rapist thanking conservative politicians for helping him out. NOT A REAL RAPIST, this is satire. At its cynical finest and well deserved by GOP blowhards.

  16. Maryanne: Brilliant!

    I just left a comment there.
    I may sneak in a short blog based on it.



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