A (weak) defense of Congressman Todd Akin
The Kansas City Star
Well, here goes. I’m going to play mind reader and explain why Missouri Congressman Todd Akin said that the bodies of women who are raped can self-abort. Even though there’s no good evidence that this is true.
If you believe that a zygote (the fertilized egg) is a baby, a full human being, don’t you have to take the position that any type of abortion is murder? There can be no moral exceptions for rape or incest and probably no exceptions based on the health of the mother, unless it were nearly certain that child birth would kill her. Exceptions based on the psychological health of the mother would not be adequate to justify murder.
And if you believe that all zygotes and fetuses are humans, I mean if you really, really believe this, then don’t you psychologically have to come up with some way to minimize the horror that a woman would deal with by giving birth to the product of rape? Somehow, the mind has to mitigate the problems such a birth creates in order to disallow a medical termination of the pregnancy.
And so Mr. Akin created a mythology to make it all better. If a woman’s body can organize itself to shed a pregnancy created by a rape, then when the woman’s body doesn’t abort the pregnancy, it must mean that she wanted the baby and things aren’t so bad after all. If the baby is born, she’s not really dealing with having a baby that is a product of “legitimate” rape.
Unfortunately, this must also mean that when a woman’s body aborts a zygote, then that woman has a murderous heart. But in Akin’s world view, this would create no problem because it would be impossible to expect a criminal prosecution of the woman for murder. Only God would know what had been in the woman’s heart, and only God could prosecute.
It is not my personal belief that a human being is formed at the moment of conception. And it is my observation that human society does not view a miscarriage as the death of a child in exactly the same way that it views the death of a one month or one year old child.
Birth control methods that block the implantation of the zygote, for example, do not to me rise to the level of murder, though others are free to believe this. I can’t prove to anyone that it’s wrong to believe that a zygote is a child.
But it seems impossible to me to impose a restriction on such birth control methods when such a large percentage of the population sees nothing wrong with it and when so many believe that such birth control provides great benefit for women in controlling their lives. The passion to end abortion puts such a strain on a few people that the murder of a doctor who performs abortions somehow seems justified.
It is difficult for many of us to live with the uncertainty of life. The problem often with zealous belief is that it causes us to create other “truths” to make our belief palatable.
I believe this happened with the previous administration’s decision to go to war against Iraq. If President Bush believed that Saddam Hussein was intent on destroying America, then he firmly believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in order to justify a preventive war. I’m not 100% certain of my belief and retreat from zealotry when I recognize that. Other times, perhaps not.
We are all prisoners of our beliefs at times, and we all probably ignore inconvenient facts or create untrue facts to make our world views fulfilling and cohesive. To those of us who don’t see all abortion as murder, Congressman Akin appears delusional because he said that a woman’s body can self-abort an unwanted pregnancy.
But I suspect that Congressman Akin truly believes that all abortion is wrong, and I doubt that this position is mere political posturing. For that I respect him while I also think he’s a bit daft. A politician who opposes abortion only to win votes would not likely create such a fantastic view about a woman’s body aborting after a rape.
Those who oppose any abortion at any time may create an argument that justifies subjecting women to the experience of carrying to term the product of rape, whether it occurs once or ten thousand times per year.
Such is the dilemma facing any political candidate who opposes any and all abortions. If Todd Akin is any example, this is going to be a tough position to hold.