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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Explaining the conservative fascination with rape

The New Republic’s Amy Sullivan tackles Richard Mourdock’s rape comments:

I was just shocked that anyone was shocked. Lots of Republican politicians oppose rape exceptions. Paul Ryan, for one, opposes abortion in the case of rape. Rarely does anyone bother to offer an explanation for why he holds that position. (Todd Akin famously did earlier this year, and that didn’t go so well for him.) I’m not sure what justifications people had imagined for opposing a rape exception that would be more acceptable than Mourdock’s.

Despite the assertions of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don’t think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women or want to control women. I think they’re totally oblivious and insensitive and can’t for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape. I think most don’t particularly care that their policy decisions can impact what control a woman does or doesn’t have over her own body. But if Mourdock believes that God creates all life and that to end a life created by God is murder, then all abortion is murder, regardless of the circumstances in which a pregnancy came about.

In other words, Mourdock’s statement was logically consistent with the widely held view among the “pro-life” crowd that life begins at conception. If you believe this — and I mean really believe it — then of course you’re going to argue that the “child” of a rapist doesn’t deserve to be “killed.” In their little wingnut world, this only makes sense. Mourdock probably was (and maybe still is) surprised that most people don’t see the flawlessness of his reasoning.

And this is also instructive in determining who’s really “pro-life” and who’s just a poser taking the position to win votes. The person who supports a rape exception isn’t really “pro-life” — they can’t possibly be, because within the movement’s logical framework, that means they believe kids should be punished with the death penalty for the sins of their fathers. They’re just kissing up to the nuts, while trying to appear reasonable to the not-nuts.

Anyone who’s really “pro-life” opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. All other “pro-life” politicians are phonies. So there’s a lose-lose in voting for anti-abortion politicians: if they’re sincere, they’re insane. And if they’re sane, they’re cynical opportunists.

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