Rape and Abortion Explore More Content
Greg wonders why pro-life candidates seem unable to articulate these clear responses when challenged on abortion in the case of rape.
I really dislike politics.
Why are major pro-life presidential candidates so bad at answering for the pro-life position?
During the 1992 race, vice-presidential candidates Gore and Quayle went face to face. Quayle fumbled badly when Gore asked him directly, "Would you take away a woman's right to choose abortion?" Here was a great chance to bring some moral clarity to the discussion. Instead, he babbled.
Mr. Quayle might have simply answered: I think the question is phrased wrong. Rather, "Why do you think it's OK to kill an innocent human being just because it's in the way and can't defend itself?" If Al Gore objected to that characterization, it would be very fair to say, "Which one of my terms is inaccurate? Kill? Innocent? Human being? Defenseless? In the way? (Maybe you'd prefer "troublesome," "expensive," or just simply "crippled"?)
The most recent squandered opportunity came last night. (Alan Keyes went on a hunger strike. Maybe if that doesn't work he'll just hold his breath until he turns blue. That'll really show 'em.)
"If a woman was brutally raped and would be emotionally traumatized by carrying to term, would you allow her to have an abortion, or would you force her to have the child?"
This is a perfect forum for clarifying this issue, an ideal opportunity for a leader to offer clearheaded advocacy for the unborn, a terrific time to clear the rhetoric from the air and get to the real issue.
The simple answer is: Why complicate the crime of rape with the crime of taking an innocent child's life? Or, to put it another way: Why should the child pay with its life because its father is a rapist? (This is even a better response because it asks a question.)
Now that's the basic idea, and there are many variations that would really instruct the American people.
He could say: Why should this revolting crime against a woman be answered by taking the child's life? Oh, I understand that might ease the mother's pain, it might make the mother feel better (though, it may make things more difficult, too). But even if it did, even if she felt great afterwards, is that a good reason to take the life of an innocent human being, because it removes the reminder of the terrible violation she experienced? We wouldn't even allow the mother to kill the rapist, the one who did the crime, to make her feel better. Why should we then let her kill the child?
This last idea could be put more succinctly: Should we allow the mother to summarily kill the guilty rapist if he was caught, so she would feel better? Then why should she be allowed to kill the innocent child to feel better?
Now, why couldn't he think of this? Or why couldn't his handlers work this out for him if he couldn't do it on his own?
Or he could say: If we allowed an abortion under those circumstances it would send a terrible message, that when someone reminds you of something extremely painful you can eliminate them. But you can't kill another human being just because their existence makes your life physically or emotionally burdensome.
"But," you might say, "it's my body and I can do what I want with it."
First, that's simply not true. This country is laced top to bottom with laws that govern what you can do with your body, and they're especially restrictive when your actions might harm another person. But second--and more to the point--if that's really true then this exception for rape completely misses the issue. If you really can do what you want with your body, and if your body and no one else's body is involved, then abortion shouldn't just be allowed in the case of rape or incest; it should be allowed in every case.
He could say further: I'm really glad you brought this up, because it clarifies for us what the real issue is in abortion: What kind of living thing is resting in its mother's womb? If the unborn child is not a living person, then no excuse for abortion is necessary. If it is, then no excuse for abortion is adequate.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me make a very important point. These are not slick ways of sidestepping a tough issue. This is not clever "handling," or putting a deft "spin" on the issue. This is not rhetoric; it's moral education. And our country's leaders should not just tell us what to believe, they should give us understanding and justification. They should be able to tell us why to believe it, why this is a sound, moral, course of action. They should elevate us. That's what leaders do; they lead.
He could add: If I had a law on my desk that restricted abortion except in the cases of rape or incest I would sign it, even though I don't think rape and incest ought to be exceptions. I'd just rather save 98% of the children whose lives are taken through abortion rather than none.
"Well, Koukl, maybe you couldn't think of all these answers on your feet either." Maybe you're right. But first, I'm not running for President of the United States. Second, maybe I should be able to rattle that off in any situation when needed even if I wasn't running for President. Maybe every pro-lifer should be able to do that. Think of what's at stake. Are we concerned enough about this--or any important issue--to be able to understand what's at stake and be able to articulate it in a snappy way?