Personhood supporters love babies and women (just not at the same time)

Posted on September 10, 2012

Clarion Ledger, September 10, 2012 by Natalie Winningham

The noble advocates for life want women to know that they are only trying to help. By lobbying to remove all exceptions for abortion, including life of the mother, they are sending us a message of love: they don’t’ want to control us; they just want to stop us from making a mistake.

Every year, many women are raped, get pregnant, have abortions and regret it. Well, maybe “many” is an overstatement. Rep. Stephen King doesn’t know any women who publically advertise their rape-conceived pregnancies, which means pregnancy from incest or statutory rape is statistically rare. Or maybe Todd Akin is right, and it doesn’t happen at all since it isn’t biologically possible for a victim of a legitimate rape to conceive.

I’m sorry, I misspoke. What I meant by “legitimate rape” is that women lie about being raped all the time, not that rape has to be physically traumatic to activate the innate uterine superpowers that prevent women from becoming pregnant, which is what I initially implied by explaining exactly what I meant and then changing my story without apologizing for the original remark. Whew, that was close. For a moment there, I was afraid I had said something offensive.

In defense of Akin’s misguided statements, Personhood supporters have misapplied a study on infertility as evidence that the female body can indeed prevent pregnancy. Even if it was out of context, it still doesn’t change the misrepresented facts. If that isn’t enough proof, consider the often quoted words of Theodor Geisel, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” He should know. He was a famous doctor.

There are, indeed, women who have ended their rape-conceived pregnancies and regretted it. Ironically, many of them believe that other victims should not have the same choices they were afforded during their times of crisis. Since they couldn’t be trusted to make the right decisions for their lives and their bodies under duress, they rationalize, clearly we can’t either.

Other victims of rape elect to carry their pregnancies to term and either put their babies up for adoption or raise them. Many of these women feel so strongly about their choices that they wish to eliminate all other options for future rape victims. As former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee recently said, lots of wonderful people are the result of rape. His thoughts on the consensually conceived pregnancies resulting in the births of serial killers, brutal dictators and the members of Nickelback, however, remain unclear.

Many religious fundamentalists believe that life begins at fertilization. For them, it is not an opinion but a faith-based fact that they believe with enough fervor to fuel another crusade. If you disagree, forget hell; you could go to jail. Personhood advocates loudly declare that abortion is murder and should be criminalized as such, regardless of the circumstances. They’d also like to remind you of God’s love and compassion and capacity for forgiveness. Just don’t expect any of that from those who believe they are following the teachings of the Bible when it comes to protecting the unborn.

Granted, Biblical definitions can be outdated. Back then, women were property and rapists were bound by law to marry their victims. No one is saying things should be like that again, at least not out loud. Now, we have rights. Personhood advocates believe that a newly formed zygote should have the same rights as a fully developed human being (until it becomes a girl who becomes a victim impregnated by a rapist, at which point she had more rights before she was born).

These days, the victim certainly doesn’t have to marry her attacker, but in Mississippi and several other states, he is entitled to visitation and shared custody of the resulting child. This relationship ties the victim to her attacker for years to come. Personhood advocates want to compel women to give birth against our will based on their belief that our bodies essentially become the property of single-cell souls at the moment of fertilization. Now, that’s progress.

According to pro-lifers, we shouldn’t view this as a women’s rights issue. That would be petty and selfish. Some even refer to abortion as a form of self-worship. Instead, perhaps we should think of ourselves as servers that are offline and pregnancy as a biological 404 Error: Autonomy temporarily not available. Rights not found. Try reloading in nine months.

Please don’t misunderstand. Personhood supporters value all life equally. They love women and believe women have rights just like the developing fetus. The fact that they believe those rights should temporarily disappear when women become pregnant doesn’t mean they don’t love us at all; it just means they love the unborn more.