You can’t click past the homepage on Google, flip on the news or go to your own Facebook wall these days without being interrupted by politics these days. And I’m angry—like everyone else. I’d like to think that I have original or at least uniquely personal reasons for being angry, and because I often work through my emotions logically, I’d like to share some thoughts on abortion, rape culture and politics.
Rape and Sexual Assault
The first time, I was four or five and the perpetrator was my pastor and our neighbor. The last time, I was 19, working in a nursing home, when an Alzheimer patient tried to rape me. Afterward, I learned self-defense, and I have had to put several guys two or three times my size on the ground. I’m not afraid to do it. It’s my right to defend myself. At the same time, I’m not going to kill a guy for any reason, as long as he isn’t sticking his dick in a child (if he does that, all bets are off).
I feel a little funny using the term “rape culture” as it seems more like a buzz word than anything else—sort of like the word “diversity” was in 1996. But in truth, we have a problem in our society, and “rape culture” describes it better than anything else I can come up with. Although we can verify that violent crimes are on the decline today, we can also verify that the number of sexual assaults in our communities continues to be under reported. You can learn more about hard statistics from RAINN. Keep in mind that these are only reported crimes, which means that none of my personal experiences are included in these statistics and the same goes for many of the women I know.
Businessmen, Politicians and “Locker Room Talk”
Recent news surrounding the 2016 political campaign involves some stomach-turning footage of a presidential candidate bragging about sexually assaulting women. Bragging about it! I don’t care that the footage is from 11 years ago. I don’t care what word he uses for a woman’s private parts. I care that he ever bragged, with cameras rolling, that he could get away with it. Other women have openly discussed the traumas this ruckus has caused them to relive. You can read more about it at NPR.org.
For me, the biggest trigger is people of faith who continue to stand on their virtual soapboxes all across the interwebs and shout about how the only Christlike thing to do this November is vote for the candidate who openly supports pussy-grabbing (and a variety of other forms of sexual harassment aimed at women). Their reasoning: Hillary Clinton makes it legal to kill babies that could survive outside the womb. Their argument concerning Donald Trump’s abhorrent comments about women: Bill Clinton is a philanderer. Seriously? So was Martin Luther King, Jr., but trust me, that doesn’t make him less of a hero. It makes him human not a rapist (or a champion of rape culture).
Here’s the truly hot-button topic. People shy away from voting for Donald Trump but then put themselves through paroxysms of guilt over even considering a vote for a pro-choice candidate. I’d like to propose that the language itself is our primary problem here. In fact, linguistics could be to blame for much of the reason that the abortion issue has become such a hot-button topic.
Personally, I am fully prolife. In other words, I believe that every living human and many living creatures, including those often considered pests, are important members of our society and the earth’s eco system. As such, I don’t believe in taking a life—not the life of an unborn child, not the life of a pregnant mother, not the life of an innocent child, not the life of an intruder breaking into my home, not the life of a criminal on death row.
Now my beliefs get tricky because life is messy. Sometimes you can’t save every life. Sometimes a trained sniper has to take out a criminal in order to save the life of several hostages. Sometimes a pregnant mother has no chance of carrying a baby to term without dying and leaving all her children (not just the unborn child) as orphans. (I will continue here by adding the caveat that statistics also show that a home intruder isn’t likely to jump up and try to kill the lady who just landed him on the floor with her elbow in his back—so you can stop short of snapping the poor sap’s neck. Rest assured, you’ve just scared the shit out of him, and he isn’t likely to repeat the crime ever again. But that’s a topic for later.)
So back to abortion and right-to-life and linguistics and such: I’ve never met a woman who had an abortion and was happy about having to make that kind of choice. Few people I know are pro-abortion. The ridiculous meme running around Facebook these days claiming that Hillary Clinton says Christians must change their beliefs about abortion is flat-out false. The woman is herself a Christian, and my one degree of separation from her happens to be her spiritual director, Billy Graham. In case you didn’t catch that the first time: Hillary Clinton is a Christian. Like me, however, she also understands that sometimes a woman’s life is threatened by a dangerous pregnancy. And at that point, a woman must make the hardest and worst decision a woman ever has to make: her life or her child’s. And that, my friends, is not a decision my government has the right to make for me or any woman. If the government once again begins to make that decision for women (it was regularly done prior to 1972, and many woman lost their lives as a result), I intend to refer to the unnecessary death of pregnant women as “government assisted suicide.” Call me a radical if you wish. There’s more.
Lives Lost to Abortion
In 1972, the year before abortion was legalized across the entire country, one million abortions were performed. According to projections this year (2016) and despite increases in the number of pregnancies since 1972, only about one million abortions will be performed. At best, this means that the legalization of abortion has had no effect on the number of babies lost to abortion. Although the numbers for this year aren’t currently available, you can get details from the most recent CDC statistics. Then let’s look more closely at those numbers.
In 1972, many abortions that were performed were illegal. This resulted in unsanitary conditions and the loss of life for many women. Do I agree that all of these abortions were necessary? Personally, no. However, the even more unnecessary loss was that of the lives of many otherwise healthy women who bled out or died of infection. In short, by 1972 (and probably for many years prior), it had become clear that any attempt to force women to carry a baby to term was nothing more than a failed attempt at legislating morality. You simply cannot legislate morality. If we could, would this entire world not be a much more moral place?
The Clinton Stance on Abortion
Hillary Clinton has said, “Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.” She has also been endorsed by Planned Parenthood. She has also commented that religion (not “Christianity”) needs to change in order for women’s healthcare to be taken seriously. During the 2016 campaign she has taken flack from conservatives for not being more vocal about the need for abortion to be rare. Okay. This issue hasn’t exactly been at the heart of the current campaign. A lot of other issues are at stake here. But the issue did make it to this blog post, so let’s dive in:
Remember, it’s impossible to legislate morality. As soon as a “mother’s life in danger” clause becomes law, women who have necessary abortions or even who have late-term miscarriages can be held as criminals. Do you want that?
Some people will think, harshly, that desperate women seeking illegal termination of a pregnancy shouldn’t have access to safe healthcare. Think about that for a moment. Do you think you personally deserve life endangerment when you make an ethically questionable decision? Regardless of what religious views you hold, do you really believe that an unwanted pregnancy is unforgivable? And let’s take it a step farther: What about pregnancies as a result of rape? While rare, it happens. And usually, it is an extraordinarily unhealthy situation for the mother because most incidences of pregnancy due to rape are instances of prolonged incest or captivity. Again, a woman’s health is at risk.
Planning Beyond Abortion
It would be remiss of me to fail to point out that Planned Parenthood provides many more services beyond abortion. In fact, only 3 percent of their services are tied-up in pregnancy termination. One of my sisters-in-law required their services in order to get birth control and a female exam as a sexually active teenager. Women in my community get free breast exams from Planned Parenthood. For several years, Planned Parenthood was the only place where my uninsured wife and I could get well-woman exams. We could even get help from them while we were homeless! Don’t believe me? You can learn more here.
Do I agree with voluntary termination of a pregnancy? No. Do I appreciate the help I can and have received from Planned Parenthood? Yes.
So here we are in October 2016. Before us on the stage of politics in the United States of America plays a show in which the stars are a longtime female politician and a businessman with a reputation for lying, cheating and taking advantage of others. For me as a voter, the choice is obvious. I am prolife, yes. But I believe life should be worth living for everyone—not just the preborn. And I also believe that something as small as a hot-button issue centered around linguistics shouldn’t be the driving force behind a decision we all have to live with for the next four years.