I’ve already addressed “God’s gift of rape,” but since Indiana republican senate candidate Richard Mourdock has put the phrase back in the news, I’ve had more discussions about it. A friend who is anti-abortion and Christian but also against making abortion illegal, against the GOP in general and against Mourdock and other republican nominees who have made similar comments, brought up a point we didn’t discuss before. He posed the hypothetical, “If you were conceived of rape and your mother decided to carry you term, would you really want to live your whole life feeling like you were a mistake, like you were this wretched spot on the earth that God never foresaw and has no use for?”
The answer, of course, is no. As I told my friend, “Purposeless people do self-destructive things and tend to hurt others in the process.” Life is far better when you feel like there’s a point to it and like you have a unique role in it, and even though I’ve often asked God why he created certain people—and certain things, like cockroaches, which I’m really not sure he created—I want (almost?) everyone to feel like there’s a reason for their existence and that they contribute to the world.
But for reasons I can’t explain even to myself, I don’t make Mourdock’s leap. I don’t think, “God still has a purpose in letting rape and conceptions from rape happen and he works all things out for the good, therefore women and girls should never, ever have abortions, under any circumstances, ever.” My friend simply has a problem with legislating morality, and I do too, but that’s not my issue with Murdock’s (and Rick Santorum’s and Todd Akin’s and Paul Ryan’s, and a host of others’ ) comments. I don’t see why what God allegedly intended—which he didn’t—should stop a woman from doing what she thinks is best for her at the time.
I don’t get upset about abortion in most cases. Since I identify as Christian, I feel like I’m supposed to, but I don’t. I don’t know why not. I would say it’s because I’ve never been pregnant, but neither have any of the men trying to make these healthcare decisions for women, so that’s not it. I get upset when women feel like, because of circumstances like abuse, poverty, other people’s extreme judgment, or other factors that may be out of their control, they can’t keep a baby they want, even if the pregnancy was unplanned. I get upset about miscarriages and infertility because I think it’s a tragedy when you want children and can’t have them, not when you don’t have them when you don’t want to have them. It’s preferable, less expensive, less risky and less invasive to prevent pregnancy, but sometimes birth control fails. Other times men commit violent crimes against women. That upsets me. That’s when I get angry.
What are Mourdock and his like-minded GOParty-goers doing to prevent rape? To provide affordable birth control? To let men know hurting women isn’t in God’s will (also read this) and that Jesus Christ brought a much more egalitarian philosophy into the world, as expressed by Paul when he wrote that in Christ there’s neither male, nor female, Greek nor Jew? Not much if they’re saying that if a woman gets pregnant, she must have wanted it, or when they’re not reauthorizing the Domestic Violence Act or are repealing pay equity laws.
Hide behind the Bible all you want to, but there’s something far more sinister here than concern about the sanctity of life and the legislation of morality. Until they’re willing to do something about the causes of abortion, I have to believe it’s just about keeping women in what these men think is their place.