Abortion, exceptions for rape, and giving feminists a bad name
August 22, 2012 Leave a comment
All Slate edition. First, Weigel has a nice piece about the fact that Akin’s policy view– no exceptions ever– though, quite unpopular among the public is not a fringe view, but quite accepted among Republican elites:
National Review‘s house editorial on Akingate made a cynical point, and made it rather poorly.
For the very same reason this issue offers Democrats a political opportunity, however, it is only a theoretical one: No state is going to ban abortion in the case of rape even if Roe v. Wade is overruled — and even if Akin were elected to the Senate. Everyone knows this.
Not everyone! In Louisiana, a “trigger law” signed by the state’s last Democratic governor would ban all abortions in the state if Roe v. Wade was overruled. In North Dakota, a“personhood” law gives human rights to “any organism with the genome of homo sapiens.” In Virginia this year, a new “personhood” bill sailed through the Republican House of Delegates — it got gummed up in the Senate, but that took some doing.
Here, let Irin Carmon explain.
Several states have already passed absolute bans on abortion after 20 weeks, well before viability, without exceptions for rape and incest, and the stated intent is to keep moving that line closer and closer to fertilization. Even if voters rejected “personhood” amendments in Colorado and Mississippi, that hasn’t stopped the movement from trying again and again, down to spreading falsehoods that common forms of birth control are tantamount to abortion.
Carmon also points out that when rape exceptions have been employed in the U.S., they don’t work. The Hyde Amendment bans federal funding for abortion, with a rape exception, but surprisingly few women that are eligible for government-subsidized abortions actually get the funding they’re entitled to.
And what if we were to enact a widespread ban on abortion, with the incest and rape exceptions? The general ban on abortion would mean that finding doctors and clinics who can and are willing to offer the service under the narrow restrictions would become nearly impossible. It’s not about the skills so much as it would be the environment of fear. If you can get thrown in jail for performing an illegal abortion, you’re going to err on the side of not allowing any abortions at all. Sure, this rape victim in front of you seems like she has a legal claim to abortion, but what if some grandstanding prosecutor down the line decides to challenge her story and therefore charge you with a crime?
These aren’t just hypothetical questions. Throughout Latin America, there are abortion bans that have exceptions built in for certain emergencies, but women who legally qualify for the exceptions find that no one is willing to put their necks out for them.
Very important points indeed, insofar as this is a genuine policy debate, but why does Marcotte have to be so bullheaded in her characterizations of those opposed to legal abortion:
Believing that rape is a “legitimate” reason to abort may make you slightly less horrible than Todd Akin, but you’re still a misogynist who thinks that having sex requires forced childbirth as punishment.
So, if you think abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape and incest you are automatically a misogynist. Now, that’s not my personal position, but I find Marcotte’s suggestion damn offensive. I’ve got a good friend who is an ethics professor and quite a feminist, I love to quote her formulation on abortion: “if you think it is an easy issue, you haven’t thought about it enough.” There are plenty of people who oppose abortion for deep-seated moral beliefs, that does not make them misogynists and it gives the pro-choice crowd a bad name to suggest that this is the case.