By now you’ve probably heard the latest ruckus over another GOP hack presuming to know what is best for every woman in America, possibly the world. Back in August, it was Todd Akin with his “legitimate rape” comment, where he asserted that women have the innate ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy if they are actually, really, truly, LEGITIMATELY being raped. Thousands of years on the planet, billions of rapes since the inception of mankind who knew that all this time women held the key to preventing unwanted pregnancies? Got raped and got pregnant? Well you ENJOYED it, you slut you. So not only are women being held responsible for the rape (wrong place, wrong time, inappropriate clothing, no male chaperone, you didn’t say “No!” like you REALLY meant it, or you did but you didn’t MEAN it) but now we also responsible for not being able to control our biology. I’ve yet to learn if a man rapes a woman and he WANTS her to become pregnant, if his biology overrules her biology, you know with the menfolk being superior and the ultimate authority and all, but I digress.
After Akin I thought I’d heard it all, but this week Richard Mourdock took it one step further. To add to the concept that if a pregnancy results from a rape, it was not “legitimate”, come to find out it’s God’s will, too. Mourdock said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
As a Christian, and a woman, I’ve also struggled over the desire to please God and be a “good” Christian, and the desire to control my own destiny, my own body and apply biblical principles to modern issues. It’s has not always been easy. Even if I’ve not been able to live it fully, I was taught, and I believe, 1Corinthians 6:19-20:
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
That passage deals with sexual immorality, but the principle has been used and applied to other facets of the Christian life. Then there is Jeremiah 1:5:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
And let us not forget Psalm 139:13-16:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Now to be fair, I believe Mourdock when he later said that he meant the pregnancy was God’s will, not the rape. We are taught, and I believe, that God, though not the source of evil, will use evil done to us for our benefit and can take the bitterness out of a situation. As Roman 8:28 states: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. I’ll get back to that in a moment, but first I’d like submit to you a few things for your consideration:
First, if we go by biblical standards, death of a child before it was fully formed and able to survive on it’s own was not considered murder. In Exodus 21:22 When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. If a fetus dies before being fully formed and able to live outside a woman’s body, it was a fine, not a capital offense such as murder would have required. So according to scripture, abortion would not be murder. (Note: not everyone agrees that this is the proper interpretation of this scripture) I think the partial birth abortions qualify, but not the standard ones that are performed. Since the bible says the life is in the blood there has been some saying that life begins when blood forms in the fetus, but that was never the traditional view for Jews or Christians. Traditionally life began with the first breath. In Gen 2:7 man was fully formed, but didn’t become alive until the breath of God entered. …then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. According to scripture you are not a living human being until you draw your first breath and your soul enters. Now people say, “well that was then, now we have modern technology and we know when the heart starts beating, ” and so on and so forth. Either the bible is infallible or it’s not. God created man. Our biology is not new to Him. He didn’t need ultrasounds to be created to figure out when the heart starts beating. You mean to tell me He didn’t know how what He put together worked? Any other time science is opposed to God, but now they want to use technology. I’m not saying I agree or disagree, I just wish they’d be consistent.
Second, God is not powerless. God, we are taught, is all-powerful and “all knowing”. He has seen the end from the beginning. Though He allows us free will, He knows what we are going to do before we know we are going to do it. He knows who will live and when, and who will die. If it is meant for someone to live, they WILL live, against all odds: Moses had a purpose. When Pharoh ordered all newborn Hebrew sons killed, not only was Moses spared, he was raised in Pharoh’s household. Jesus had a purpose. When King Herod ordered all the male children in Bethlehem to be killed, God warned Joseph in a dream, warned the wise men via an angel, and got Jesus to safety. Man cannot thwart the divine will of God. If you have any fear regarding this, you underestimate God.
Now, I do believe that God can turn any bad situation around. I believe all things work together for good. If ever in any situation I have cause to give council, it will be on the side of life. I’m pro-choice not pro-abortion. Religious upbringing aside, if there is anyway possible to have the birth brought to term, then that is my preference. There is adoption, and other family members who will often step up and provide a home. I’m not naive enough to believe though that another woman is mentally stable and has the support and/or resources to make that choice. Nor do I believe that if she makes the choice to end a pregnancy that it could be done lightly under ANY circumstances, let alone after having been raped.
First, there is the trauma and anger over the rape. Assuming the woman reported it and was believed (and not blamed), she may not have a support network who can help, or the ability and resources to seek counseling. She not only often has to deal with the unfounded shame of the rape (the meme it was her fault), but then have the additional trauma of a daily reminder as her body changes and she is forced to carry with her a part of her rapist, and the shame (though not as prevalent today) of an out of wedlock pregnancy. If she was married and someone raped her, she has to deal with all of this and try to keep her marriage together. I’ve yet to hear men speak of how they would deal if their wives were raped and became pregnant, how they would feel about keeping and raising the child. Often the ones the most vocal about restricting a woman’s rights, are the most hypocritical when they are in a situation where an abortion is to their benefit. You abuse it, but when it is their wife, their daughter, their sister, their mistress, then it is necessary.
Second, there is the economic impact. Gone are the days where Doc Johnson stopped by to make the delivery and then the stay-at-home-wife’s mother and friends helped with the care until she could get back on her feet tending house. It cost’s thousands to have a child. Married couples with good planning and insurance struggle with the expense. And contrary to popular belief, a woman doesn’t get get raped and then hop up and go on about her merry way as though it is an everyday occurrence. So assuming the rape victim doesn’t get fired for missing days as a result of her trauma, and has good health insurance since the GOP wants to end medicaid and Obamacare , and even the contraception that could have possibly prevented the pregnancy, she and therefore the child, could end up in poverty. Also since the GOP also wants to end programs that can help women get out of poverty, such has food stamps, headstart, pell grants etc., they will most likely STAY in poverty. Wealthy women have always had a few more options. Whether it is being sent/going away to give birth, or traveling where medical procedures are legal, they have the resources to minimize negative outcomes of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. (Side note: If you actually think there is a majority of women using abortion as birth control after the fact, make sure actual birth control is available. I know religious folks hate anyone getting freaky outside of marriage but newsflash, this behavior is not new and not everyone is Christian where they should be held to biblical standards in the first place.)
It is not my intention to give anyone a “free pass” for any behavior. However I realize that every situation is different and none of them are as cut and dried as men trying to dictate reproductive policy seem to think they are. I’ve not even touched on situations where there is incest or the rape victim is a minor. I can’t say whether it is right or wrong for someone to end their pregnancy. If she doesn’t will the child grow up abused, unloved, poor or on a path to prison? Even two parent homes have this outcome. Will they be they discover the cure for cancer or be the next Barack Obama? Who knows. All I know is that it is a personal decision. One between a woman, her doctor and God. I respect the views of Mourdock and others who wish to preserve life. I agree with the need to do so, though I believe this is better served with preventing the “need” for an abortion. (Education, contraceptives, family planning, programs to help once a child is born) I just don’t respect the way they go about it, forcing others to share their views, when they have no clear authority, moral or otherwise, to do so. God gives free will, I don’t know why the GOP is hell bent on trying to legislate it away.