Why did Missouri Congressman Todd Akin so uncritically accept the false notion that women can’t get pregnant by rape?
Before you answer, “Because he’s an ignorant dick who hates women,” let’s go a little deeper. This isn’t about Akin. It’s about an idea that allows people like him to be taken seriously by a large part of our population.
Rape pregnancies pose a dilemma for pro-lifers. It’s obviously a harsh thing to tell a rape victim that she must carry her attacker’s baby to term—or to tell a twelve-year-old incest victim that she’s required to deliver her father’s baby. But mainstream pro-life organizations are still doing this. (And see this from National Right to Life.)
It’s more comfortable for these people to believe the dilemma doesn’t exist. They would wish it away if they could. Akin tried.
But I wish people would talk about the way belief in the soul underlies this discussion. The debate over reproductive choice isn’t only about misogyny and people trying to drag us back to some imagined golden age when women raised the kids and kept their mouths shut. Those people haven’t gone away, but I think most ordinary pro-lifers (and I speak as a former one myself) are cornered by the logic of their beliefs into accepting brutalities that they would never consider otherwise. Continue reading