No, this is not a post defending Todd Akin. I, in no way endorse the concept (which Akin himself refutes at this point) that "legitimate rape" is a phrase that should ever have entered the American lexicon. In the light of a new day I wanted to offer some final thoughts around how things unfolded yesterday and what it revealed to me.
When I found out what Akin had said yesterday, one of the first phrases I heard was "magical uterus" which I'm told began with S.E. Cupp discussing Akin's colorful way of describing a traumatic miscarriage. Given my enduring faith that Akin is more of an idiot than an insane person, I still choose to believe he was speaking about the body miscarrying a pregnancy following a violent or traumatic event. I could be wrong. That said, having had four children with my wife and speaking to doctors about the importance of being cautious and the dangers of miscarriages, it's a bit jarring to see people running around laughing about magical uteri when, from what I can tell, they don't have a clue what they are talking about.
Either way it's irrelevant to what I learned yesterday.
What I learned was about a fracture within the movement that I didn't know existed. I got into some vicious arguments on twitter yesterday with people that I'm friends with. People who came across my twitter feed mistakenly believed that I was defending Akin or that I was defending his comments. In actuality, it had become abundantly clear to me fairly quickly that aside from Akin's ridiculous comments, many people were simply offended that he thought rape didn't justify abortion. That alone was a ridiculous notion to many. This was news to me.
One person (incidentally, who disagrees with me) in an email said that we don't discuss these issues privately enough and as a result "people get the sense that their ideas are much more universally shared than they actually are." This is certainly true, we clearly don't discuss it enough. But my shock at the pushback on rape abortions has nothing to do with how much we discuss it, it has to do with philosophical consistency. To be prolife with exceptions requires you to believe that there are some instances in which a choice must be granted. Whether people like it or not this is simply a more restrictive pro-choice perspective. And yes, I'm aware that offends others.
We as conservatives have always prided ourselves on our ability to objectively look at uncomfortable truths and accept them for what they are. The majority of people who proclaim themselves to be prochoice, have circumstances they believe a person should have a choice and circumstances in which they shouldn't. This is identical in practice to the "prolife with exceptions" believer with the only differences being which circumstances are permitted.
As Aaron Gardner noted yesterday:
You see, I also believe murder is murder, and parsing and qualifying and slicing up what types of murder we are talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people, and certainly doesn’t make sense to me. The left and President Obama parse, qualify, and slice up what types of abortions are murder and which ones are legitimate ways of relieving a “burden” with nary a peep coming from the media.
The view that Aaron notes is agreed upon throughout the prolife and conservative movement as far as I knew. However, it seems that for many, they believe that all the way to the point that they decide the circumstances warrant changing their mind.
I have stood beside countless conservatives screaming that abortion is baby murder, seen them tweet at planned parenthood or march on the Capitol all in the name of saving the unborn. Saying things about "innocent life," and "protecting the least among us." I have yet to have someone adequately explain to me how this changes when the circumstances surrounding the conception are tragic or evil.
I've been prolife my whole life and have been in more debates on this topic than I can recount. In my experiences, there are (generally) four kinds of views on abortion that I've seen:
1. Fetus is a living human being from conception and therefore must be protected as any other human would be (that's me).
2. Fetus is not alive until much later in pregancy so early abortions are akin to removing a tumor. (much of the prochoice movement)
3. Fetus is alive the whole pregnancy but that doesn't mean abortion is wrong. (radical prochoice movement)
4. Fetus is alive the whole pregnancy so we should minimize the necessity of aborting whenever possible. (Many on the right as revealed yesterday)
I had believed that most who called themselves "prolife" fell under category 1 above. If you're saying abortion is murder and a fetus is an innocent human life, it seems like it would be nonsense to have exceptions, whether it's rape or incest or whatever. If a fetus is as alive as a 5 year old, then the 5 year old's rules should apply. And if the fetus is not as alive as a 5 year old then what the hell are we fighting to defend? A lump of cells? I'm still having a hard time accepting it, but the only logical conclusion is that many of our allies believe murdering an innocent life is justifiable if the event is traumatic enough. The fact that I find that appalling will result in countless emails about how I can't sympathize or understand what it would be like to suffer those circumstances.
They're right. I can't. But others can.
Abortion is a choice. The only times that it is not a choice is when the life of the mother is in danger or some other medical emergency. The intellectual cartwheels one must undertake to look at the decision to abort a baby for no reason other than the fact that its existence is not desired and compare it to the tragedy of an eptopic pregnancy, is something I can't understand and frankly, find deplorable. It's merely an argumentative excuse to try to group things that are dissimilar.
As to whether or not Akin should stay in, at this point I definitely think he should get out if for no other reason that that I'm now arguing fundamental disagreements with my allies that were completely off the radar two days ago when we should be unified and working towards a successful convention and nomination.
What concerns me, and why I felt the need to post this, is that I see a lot of people latching on to the "magical uterus" part and adding their basic views on abortion as part of what is being disavowed. As though to say "Hey everyone, we totally disavow this Akin guy and everything he said, including that crazy part about being against abortion in cases of rape & incest." That's not something I can get behind.
Abortion is a choice. A legal choice. A wrong choice. A Godless choice.