Ruben Bolling at 8:30 am Wed, Aug 29, 2012
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MORE: abortion • hoo-hahs • politics • reproductive rights • Science • Todd Akin • Tom the Dancing Bug • tomthedancingbug
Ants and Stars: Bruce Sterling and Jasmina Tesanovic visit the Sardinia Radio Telescope in Italy
The Snowden Principle
It’s “science”! Or some facsimile of it. Good enough for ideologues to confirm their sneaking suspicions.
She blinded him with science!
Amusing, but this isn’t Todd Akin’s discovery. A lot of “pro-lifers” have been pushing this line for some time, and some of them even have MDs. Akin got in trouble because he said it to everyone, but for some time pastors of right-wing churches have been using it on their followers who don’t like abortion but don’t think rape victims should have to bear a rapist’s child.
Correction: Think pregnant rape victims are not rape victims. This is an important distinction. Pregnant from that night your dad raped you? You slut!
A little demonizing of the enemy is expected and acceptable in all passionate debate but overreaching that far isn’t productive.
He’s not overreaching that much. When you start with the assumption that a woman cannot get pregnant from rape, then apply that assumption in the case of a woman who is pregnant due to rape, then there are only two logical results: either your assumption is wrong, or the woman lied about being raped.
He did embellish a little bit, though.
“When you start with the assumption that a woman cannot get pregnant from rape…”
Oh. I see where you’re coming from.
I grew up in a deeply religious, fundamentalist christian home. From my (rather broad) experience, only the true nut-job, off-the-deep-end religious types who have completely abandoned reason actually start with the assumption that a woman cannot get pregnant from rape. (That’s not even what Akin said. He said there was a mechanism that tended to make it less possible. He was wrong but not even he was stupid enough to present that theory as an absolute.) Those people are really, really rare.
In general, the “abortion is not justified, even in case of rape” folks believe that abortion compounds a wrong already committed. “It’s terrible that a woman was raped; it’s terrible that she got pregnant because of it, but murdering the child is not a solution to anything” is, traditionally, the position they adopt. They would have the rape victim bear the child while admitting that carrying to term in these cases is most likely traumatic and compounds the crime already committed against the woman. They just think the alternative is worse. Generally, because of the circumstances of the conception and how that might (with complete justification) interfere with the ability of the mother to deal with rearing the child, they would assist the rape victim in finding a home for the baby. There used to be a sign in front of a Catholic church in downtown Houston that said, to paraphrase, “If you have an unwanted pregnancy, we can help. We offer housing, medical care, education, counseling, adoption assistance, financial aid, and other help. The only requirement is that you agree not to kill the child.” That pretty much sums up mainstream christian thinking on the subject.
(In recent years the sign has disappeared. It used to be here: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=houston,+texas&hl=en&ll=29.748679,-95.369464&spn=0.000356,0.000388&sll=31.168934,-100.076842&sspn=8.042808,12.722168&t=h&hnear=Houston,+Harris,+Texas&z=21&layer=c&cbll=29.748679,-95.369464&panoid=U0egEExFqZ5R6jKkGfMY5Q&cbp=12,31.18,,0,-8.01 )
Now, I agree that if you are fighting to keep a theocratically-leaning government from interfering with the way women take care of their own bodies, it’s handy to paint the opposition as idiots who believe that women cannot get pregnant from rape. It makes them look stupid and makes it easier to dismiss any legitimate concerns they may have. It makes it possible to easily dismiss ALL their concerns as, essentially by definition, NOT legitimate simply because those concerns originate from wackjobs.
But doing so is an exaggeration. It’s overreaching. It facilitates bumper-sticker sloganeering and, indeed, encourages the replacement of rational discussion with facile soundbites.
Frankly, both sides of the debate have more in common than they are willing to admit. Both would like to see unwanted pregnancies not happen. Pro-reproductive-rights (Is that PC enough to not offend anybody?) folks understand that unwanted pregnancies are bad for a whole list of perfectly good reasons. Anti-abortion people would like to see fewer unwanted pregnancies because that would lower the number of abortions. If both sides could get together and agree that, despite their different motivations, it would be good to work toward reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies maybe they could make the world a better place. I think it would be worth a try. It’s sure a lot more productive than people holding signs with slogans and screaming at other people holding other signs with other slogans they don’t agree with, or doing the equivalent via internet postings.
Personally, it doesn’t matter what side I’m on. I could be on either side of the question and still think that quality sex ed at seemingly ridiculously young ages; free, basic reproductive health care including condoms and birth control for anyone past puberty without parental notification; full, meaningful state support for anyone who needs it and has an unwanted pregnancy; streamlined adoption procedures; and subsidized, high-quality handgun training for any woman legitimately (under a rather broad definition) at risk of assault would be good first steps.
I’d even volunteer to teach the handgun classes. The best way I can think of to deal with rapists is for their intended victims to put a bullet into them before they can complete their crime. And any country whose laws would deny a woman that right is uncivilized and inferior when it comes to protecting human rights. (I figured after putting all that time into crafting a post designed to be inoffensive, inclusive, and bridge-building I owe it to the trolls to throw them some meat to gnaw on. Right?)
For some reason, I can’t reply to your comment, but I can reply to my own (is there a depth of nesting restriction or something?) Anyways, please forgive the clumsy approach to replying to your comment.
I do agree with a lot of what you say. Most Christians (I being one myself) don’t ascribe to the “You can’t get pregnant from rape” school of thought. In fact, in some studies a woman is more likely to become pregnant from rape, due to the whole “surprise” portion of the crime circumvents a lot of birth control methods. I also agree that Akin did not say that you could not get pregnant from rape, but he did say it was less likely, and from my interpretation of what he has said, he infers that the number of pregnancies due to rape are negligible, and not worth addressing in his legislation. I know that there is room for interpretation, but I’m pretty confident that is his intended statement.
The problem is, Akin writes legislation based on his misinformation. And he has enough support (or rather had) amongst the minority that share his view and the more mainstream pro-life crowd who don’t fully agree, but are (were) willing to look the other way to get a candidate elected that is slightly closer on their own beliefs.
To borrow a phrase, “All that needs to happen for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing”. Now I’m not trying to classify Akin and his beliefs on the topic as evil, merely wrong. And I hope there aren’t enough “good men” (pro-lifers) willing to do nothing (look the other way on this belief) to allow it to happen.
To make it clear, my purpose in pointing out (not making them out to be, an important distinction) the idiocy of the extremist viewpoint is not to demonize the opposition, but to make sure the opposition’s allies realize how idiotic that view is, and that it isn’t the right route to travel in the pursuit of their goals.
You mention a lot of good alternatives to abortion, and I’m for all that as well. Their existence doesn’t supercede the option of abortion, though – it is a discussion which should be held independent of what else might be available (well, short of a teleporter/incubator that non-invasively and immediately removes the fetus and raises it in either an incubator or the womb of a willing surrogate. Just shows we need more money to science education to develop this sort of thing.)
Meh. Ruben’s a Harvard-trained cartoonist, he coulda zinged a lot harder on this one. No one’s a more devoted and appreciative TTDB fan than me, but the long-awaited Akin strip should’ve been epic, and instead we get some rah-rah that could’ve been inked for This Modern World. Anyhow, I criticize because I care, I’m not aksing for a refund or anything, and I look forward to a return to greatness by Mr. Bolling next week.
I thought it was pretty sweet, particularly the thoughtful gazing at the hilarious diagram, and the shelves full of bibles…
I like the exposed locker-room corporeality.
The real joke is that Akin put nowhere near this much time into forming his position.
And I’m talking about the time it took to read this comic.