Monday, February 06, 2012


Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...Image via WikipediaIt stands for "Oh God, Not Another Abortion Post!" Although a little Googling says that I've only mentioned abortion in passing here on KN@PPSTER. And the title acronym explains why. I friggin' hate arguing about abortion. Nobody ever convinces anyone of anything, and everyone goes away mad, and nothing really changes.

But, once more ... or at least once ... into the breach, due to my friend Nila Thompson pointing out this bit on Rachel Maddow's blog about ... you guessed it ... Ron Paul.

Short version: Paul makes an exception to his opposition to abortion for rape ... but only "honest rape."

"Honest," as ascertained by whom? Presumably Dr. Ron Paul, MD, OB/GYN. At least that's how it comes off, and I can't blame hordes of women for being insulted at the idea of it being their doctor's prerogative to decide whether or not what they say happened to them did, in fact, happen to them.

But what bugs the hell out of me is not that in particular, but what got Paul to the point of even being asked that particular question: The "rape or incest exception" argument. That is a complete dead-end street when it comes to the abortion debate. Here's why:

Most self-identified "pro-choicers" consider abortion a woman's medical decision to make, period, end of story. They either don't think that a fetus is a "person" with rights, or they believe that if the rights of mother and fetus come into conflict, the mother's rights trump the fetus's. So when they pose the question  "but what about in cases of rape or incest?" to self-identified "pro-lifers," they're being disingenuous.  It's not like they'd turn around and say "oh, well, okay then, I'm fine with banning abortion otherwise" if they got the answer they're fishing for, is it?

Most self-identified "pro-lifers" consider the fetus a "person" with rights, including the right to life. And I don't think there's any dispute that if that's the case, this "person" is an innocent who is in the position he or she is in (developing in the womb) through no fault of his or her own and entirely due to the actions of others. So making an exception for rape or incest is effectively saying "well, if a crime was committed against the mother, the mother gets a free pass to commit homicide -- not against the perpetrator of the crime, but against a second innocent victim." That's entirely inconsistent with the principle which motivates the "pro-life" position in the first place.

Now, I know I'm painting with a fairly broad brush above, and that there are as many variations of opinion on abortion as there are people to hold said opinions. So let me be clear here: I have no ax to grind with you whether you call yourself "pro-choice" or "pro-life." I have my own opinions on the subject of abortion, but I gave up sharing them (apart from in personal situations where they are immediately relevant -- in which case I've emphasized being a supportive friend instead of trying to be "the judge") a long time ago for the reasons I mention in the first paragraph.

Or, to put it a different way,  I am not posting this because I want to argue about abortion. I'm posting it because I'm interested in where a particular aspect of arguments about abortion leads, politically.

Paul let himself get routed onto that "rape or incest exception" street, and then tried to get himself turned around in a pretty weird and creepy driveway. "Honest rape" doesn't cut any ice with anyone on any side of the question. It just makes you look unprincipled to pro-lifers, like a too-eager-to-please hair-splitter to pro-choicers, and like a misogynist to everyone. I can't imagine that Paul won a single new supporter, or a single vote, with that answer ... and he probably lost some.

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