Talk of rape on the campaign trail adds poison to politics

    A few weeks ago, on  ABC 6’s Inside Story, I got into a little bit of a tussle with another panelist over the meaning of life. It wasn’t an existential, “You-Be-Sarte-And-I’ll-Be-Simone” moment for the local viewing audience. It had to do with abortion or, more precisely, when is it ever legitimate to tell a woman she can’t have one.

    The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.

    A few weeks ago, on ABC 6’s Inside Story, I got into a little bit of a tussle with another panelist over the meaning of life. It wasn’t an existential, “You-Be-Sarte-And-I’ll-Be-Simone” moment for the local viewing audience. It had to do with abortion or, more precisely, when is it ever legitimate to tell a woman she can’t have one.

    “Legitimate” is a loaded word these days, by the way. Todd Akin found that out when he suggested that some forms of rape are illegitimate, which sent the punditry into a tizzy. Then came Tom Smith from Pennsylvania who also had his ‘rape’ moment and was able to back out of it with significantly more grace than his “Show Me State” brother. For future reference, I’m thinking that perhaps men should just leave the rape talk to the ladies on “The View” who can get away with idiotic comments and emerge unscathed.

    My discussion centered on a corollary to the whole rape issue, namely, why any person would deny a woman the ability to abort a child conceived in violence. The other panelist believed, justifiably from her perspective, that it was cruel to force a woman to bear her rapist’s baby. I’d agree that there is cruelty at every level in the rape scenario. But I bristled at the idea of the baby as “property” and said that even if that child was the product of a horrific encounter, it was still a separate human entity which had a natural and inalienable right to be born. That is what I must believe if I am going to be consistent since, to me, life begins at conception. Science bears me out on that point as well, even though my position stems primarily from my Catholic formation.

    The other panelist and I tried to maintain a civil tone, but it quickly became apparent that there is no middle ground on this issue. Either you believe a woman should have the right to abort her child if the pregnancy would cause her unimaginable pain, or the child has a right to survive regardless of how it came into existence. The latter view is considered anti-intellectual, anti-woman and antediluvian by most of the people I encounter. Not even my otherwise pro-life relatives believe that a woman who has been raped should be required to bear that baby.

    But I cling to the belief that life is precious regardless, and therefore the conditions of its origin take nothing away from its dignity. That means that a child conceived in violence is still a child of God. That is the point that another benighted fellow tried to make this week, and got the Akin Shakin’ from the media.

    Richard Mourdock, a candidate for an Indiana Senate Seat, announced during a debate that he believed pregnancies that resulted from rape were “something that God intended to happen.” Of course, the sky fell right on top of his (lunk)head. Women’s groups reacted the way you would expect them to, with outrage. Democrats saw this as an opening to once again proclaim how conservatives hate ladies. Conservatives tried to do some triage and threw Mourdock under the same, spacious bus currently parked on top of Akin and Smith.

    I get it, of course. To many people, announcing that God intended for a child born of rape to come into this world is tantamount to excusing the most profound violence against its mother, and giving a divine imprimatur to the act. But that’s not what Mourdock meant, and I can say that with authority because that’s not what I mean when I proclaim that all life is precious regardless of the genesis.

    Ultimately, I think that this discussion is bigger than rape or abortion. It’s about how human beings treat each other during times of crisis. This is a hard-fought, bitter presidential campaign between two men who represent diametrically opposed world views. They carry on their shoulders the hopes of citizens who, sadly enough, really don’t like each other. In fact, hatred is not too strong a word to use for some of what has been spread by each party against the other.

    Unfortunately, when you have this sort of conflict, it manifests itself in dishonest attempts to undercut the other side by any means possible. All is fair in love and war, as they say, and this is a war for the soul of a country.

    So to me, it’s not surprising that the Left will take the sound bites of men like Akin and Smith and Mourdock and turn them into vicious attacks on 51% of the population. And the fact that Ann Coulter will call the president a ‘retard’ puts her in the same sorry league.

    This campaign needs to end. That, truly, is the will of God.

    Christine Flowers is a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

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