Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Republican Party Vs. Women

Dear Madame L,

Why can't people just get over Rep. Akin's remark about "legitimate rape" and abortion? He apologized for mis-speaking, and he won the primary election in his state, so why can't people just get on with the election?



Dear Puzzled,

Are you a man or a woman? Are you a Republican, Democrat, or Independent --- or with no declared party affiliation? Are you pro-choice or anti-choice? Do you think science has generally correct facts about the human reproductive system? 

Madame L asked all those questions not because she thinks they will make a difference in how you think, just as she doesn't think Rep. Akin's so-called apology should make a difference in how anyone thinks about him or any middle-aged white male Republican politician. Because here's the fact: 

What Rep. Akin said about women who have been raped was not a misstatement. It was the truth about how he feels about women. He feels that they are trying to pull something over on men, get something out of the government, and escape responsibility for pregnancy. He really believes the nonsense about how the body of a woman who has been raped can somehow sense that the "product" of that rape should be naturally aborted. 

(For just one of many examples of the untruth of that assertion, please read this article by a woman who was raped. For the fuller picture, please read this abstract of this scientific article on statistics of pregnancy as the result of rape.  Or, if you don't want to follow the link to that abstract, Madame L provides it at the end of this post.)

And what Rep. Akin said about women is a reflection of the Republican Party's position toward all women. One of the official "planks" of the Republicans' platform for the 2012 election is to ban all abortions, for any reason, including rape and incest. 

All the talk about love of family and respect for life are just a screen to hide the Republican Party's war on women. Yes, Madame L used that expression. It's a war on women: on equal pay for equal work, on efforts to end discrimination, and on their own bodies and rights over their own bodies.

Is Madame L pro-abortion? No, she is not, and nor does she know anyone who is. Nobody Madame L has ever talked to, especially women who have had an abortion, thinks abortion is good. It may be the only choice, though, for a woman who has been raped or whose pregnancy is the result of incest. 

And that is why Madame L is pro-choice. And, because she believes women are intelligent and capable of making sound decisions about their lives, their work, their families, and everything they may ever have the opportunity to make decisions about, she believes women are the ones to choose. 

Certainly who is NOT capable or choosing for any individual women or for women as a whole is Rep. Akin or any other privileged conservative male who has never faced the possibility or consequences of being raped.

Does Madame L's pro-choice stance make her un-Christian or a bad member of her own church? No, it does not. Her own church preaches the virtue of "free agency," a right given all humans by God from before the earth was even created.

What about other Christian denominations, or the general American public? Quoting from this article by Mary Elizabeth Williams on Christianity and abortion: " Bill Clinton helpfully once explained, “I have never met anybody that was pro-abortion. That is not what pro-choice means. It just means we don’t want to criminalize the choice.”

Also from Ms. Williams' article: "Christian Barack Obama, who supports upholding Roe v. Wade and says that “A woman’s ability to decide how many children to have and when, without interference from the government, is one of the most fundamental rights we possess. It is not just an issue of choice, but equality and opportunity for all women.” Even Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, who has said that he believes “as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception,” has a consistent record of supporting a woman’s right to choose."

Madame L also notes that some of the conservative Republican men's arguments against abortion may be changed when one of their own family members is raped. For example, Dan Quayle, a firm opponent of abortion, said what he would do if one of his own daughters became pregnant as a result of rape: “My position is that I understand from a medical situation, immediately after a rape is reported, that a woman normally, in fact, can go to the hospital and have a D and C.” (From "Akin is the GOP") 

(Note to Mr. Quayle and all men whose daughters may ever be in this "medical situation": a D and C performed in these circumstances is an abortion.)

Madame L was going to quote Mitt Romney here about sauce for the goose and the gander, but decided against it because his own opinions on these issues seem to have swung from one end of the spectrum to the other, depending on who he's currently courting. And since he's now courting conservative Republican men, he doesn't think women can/should make their own choices.

Sincerely, and also puzzled,

Madame L

* * * * * Abstract of article: Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. Holmes MM, Resnick HS, Kilpatrick DG, Best CL. Source:Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425-2233, USA.

OBJECTIVE: We attempted to determine the national rape-related pregnancy rate and provide descriptive characteristics of pregnancies that result from rape.


STUDY DESIGN:A national probability sample of 4008 adult American women took part in a 3-year longitudinal survey that assessed the prevalence and incidence of rape and related physical and mental health outcomes.


RESULTS:The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.


CONCLUSIONS: Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.

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