ChrisWeigant.com

Championing Rapists' Fatherhood Rights (Again)

[ Posted Monday, August 20th, 2012 – 13:01 PDT ]

[Program Note: I wrote the following column last November, when a political storm was breaking over Herman Cain. Sadly, what I wrote back then is just as applicable now that the Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri has exposed to the world his inner thoughts on rape victims. This story seems to be growing, seeing as how Paul Ryan has worked with Todd Akin on anti-abortion bills which reflect this extremist viewpoint. The new "mainstream" Republican position has been slowly shifting towards being in favor of outlawing abortion in all cases -- no exceptions for rape victims, incest victims, or even the life of the mother. Democrats would do well to point out that this extremism would have serious consequences if ever enacted. Follow the logic through to the end. Put it in as blunt language as possible. This is what the Republican Party now stands for. Point it out.]

 

Originally published November 2, 2011

Championing fatherhood rights for rapists would seem, at first glance, to be a politically suicidal position for any candidate for office in America. After all, who would champion any rights for rapists? Rapists aren't exactly a powerful political lobby in Washington, one would think. But this year's Republican nomination race seems to be testing this, in a big way. Maybe they're trying to get out the rapist vote, or something.

I am speaking, of course, of the position many Republicans have taken on the abortion issue. Such as Herman Cain's newfound position in favor of making abortion illegal in all circumstances. No exceptions would exist for rape victims, incest victims, or for the health of the mother -- abortion would not be a legal option in any of these cases.

Now, I realize Cain is currently having other problems in the "women's issues" arena, but I for one refuse to get sidetracked. If you're interested in Cain's other problems, I would direct you to the entire rest of the media universe, who seem to be doing a more-than-adequate job of covering Cain's problems on this front today.

Instead, I'd like to focus on Cain's evolving stance on abortion. When first asked about abortion, Cain gave a reasonable answer -- one that even fits in with standard conservative "get the government out of our lives" orthodoxy. Cain said that it was a personal decision (he even used the word "choice") to be made by the family involved, and their doctor.

This was, to put it mildly, completely unacceptable to a large swath of the Republican base. Cain hastily backtracked, and is now as "pro-life" as he can humanly be, stating that abortion should be illegal in every single case -- no matter what the extenuating circumstances.

This isn't just Cain's position, it is also many other Republicans' position on the issue. To them it is an easy moral judgment: no abortion, ever, period, end of sentence. But drawing such bright moral lines means abandoning all compassion for victims of sexual crimes, as well as all compassion for a woman who is about to die due to medical complications with her pregnancy. If abortion is forbidden, pregnant women will die. That is brutal, but it is also true.

What is equally as brutal (and equally as true) is the fate of rape and incest victims under the America envisioned by Herman Cain and his fellow Republicans. Drew Westen brought this up in his excellent book on political messaging (The Political Brain: The Role Of Emotion In Deciding The Fate Of The Nation) a few years back, and he puts it much better than I could manage. When he wrote the following passage, he was referring to the anti-abortion plank in the 2004 Republican Party Platform. Speaking as a Democrat running against a no-exceptions Republican, Westen suggests how to properly frame this issue:

"My opponent puts the rights of rapists above the rights of their victims, guaranteeing every rapist the right to choose the mother of his child. What he's proposing is a rapists' bill of rights."

This is the logical entailment of the Republicans' "culture of life." Perhaps the most fundamental right of a woman is to choose whose children she will bear. Yet in the Republican morality tale, if a woman is raped, she must have her rapist's baby. She can give up the child -- who is her own flesh and blood, mingled with the DNA of her rapist -- or she can wake up every morning and see the eyes of her rapist in her child. Those are her two choices. Tell that to the father of a teenage girl in rural Virginia and see how he responds. It is a deeply repugnant, and deeply immoral, position. But its repugnance is only apparent when you make the associative links.

Here is another example:

"My opponent believes that if a sixteen-year-old girl is molested by her father, she should be forced by the government to have his child, and if she doesn't want to, she should be forced by the government to go to the man who raped her and ask for his consent."

To these two examples from Westen, I would add a third of my own:

"My opponent would institute a death sentence for women who have serious medical problems with their pregnancies -- problems that medical science has known how to solve for decades. Instead of allowing a doctor to save a woman's life, my opponent would put not only the government between that woman and her doctor, he would also put a policeman and a jailer in the way as well. Women will die if my opponent has his way -- women whose lives could quite easily be saved. That's the bottom line, and I find it completely unacceptable."

These are the consequences of drawing such a bright line on the abortion issue. Republican politicians have previously used an "out" when speaking of the issue, declaring that while they'd prefer to see abortion completely outlawed, their hands are tied by those dastardly liberal courts -- so they reluctantly are forced to admit that abortions must be legal in the cases of rape, incest, or threats to the mother's life. This position has served a generation of Republican candidates well, stretching back to the mid-1980s.

But now, it seems, this position is no longer extreme enough to get elected (at least, in Iowa, whose very-conservative Republican voters are currently being courted by the candidates). Republican politicians like Cain and others now feel free to openly stake out the most unforgiving abortion stance they possibly can.

The media should really call them on it, but I'm not exactly holding my breath waiting for this to happen. I did see one Republican candidate asked by a journalist about victims of rape and incest, and he brushed it off as something that was, statistically, quite rare. That is of little use to a teenager in such a position, though. "Sorry, you are statistically insignificant, therefore you must have your rapist's baby" is cold comfort indeed.

But while the media timidly refuse to follow the Republican logic through to the unavoidable conclusions, Democrats should be under no such compunction. Call the Cain position on abortion what it really is, in as blunt terms as possible. Make that connection in voters' minds. Force the issue.

If Republicans like Cain ever get their way, and make all abortions illegal in all cases and all circumstances, women are going to needlessly die. You (or your wife or daughter) may be sentenced to death, while a doctor stands helplessly by with the knowledge that could easily save your life. Fathers will be able to molest their daughters fully aware that, while they personally may be punished if they are caught, their child/grandchild will be born anyway.

This is the bottom line: rapists and child molesters will have rights they simply do not have today. That is exactly what Republicans are fighting for. Rape victims will have no rights. Rapists will have new rights. Make no mistake about it, this is what Herman Cain and his ilk are championing: fatherhood rights for rapists.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

23 Comments on “Championing Rapists' Fatherhood Rights (Again)”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    This is what the Republican Party now stands for. Point it out.]

    That is what the Republican Party stands for as much as Anthony Wiener is what the Democratic Party stands for..

    It works both ways...

    Besides, Akin has dropped out of the race... Apparently he has a little more integrity than Weiner has...

    Michale.....

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Besides, Akin has dropped out of the race... Apparently he has a little more integrity than Weiner has...

    or maybe he's just like wiener, but a wiener who pulls out earlier. out of the race, i mean...

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    joshua,

    I like your style of late and, it might even work! :)

  4. [4] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    The new "mainstream" Republican position has been slowly shifting towards being in favor of outlawing abortion in all cases -- no exceptions for rape victims, incest victims, or even the life of the mother.

    A pretty small segment of society believes that, Chris, so I don't know why you're calling it the "mainstream Republican position":

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx#1

    I suspect that the "20%" group, who want abortion illegal under all circumstances, is comprised of conservatives. And since conservatives exist on both sides of the aisle, I wouldn't assume that they're all Republicans. Dem conservative Catholics may have a problem with abortion, too. It's not exactly sanctioned by the Church.

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    or maybe he's just like wiener, but a wiener who pulls out earlier. out of the race, i mean...

    {chortle} {chortle}

    A pretty small segment of society believes that, Chris, so I don't know why you're calling it the "mainstream Republican position":

    With all due respect to our fearless leader, I see that a lot on CW.COM

    The denizens want to wash their hands of every Left-Wing nut case (speaking of Left-Wing nut cases, why no comments on that Leftie who shoot up a conservative Family Center??) or pathetic Oowzer (rhymes with Luser) and claim that it's just a one off event, not representative of Democrats as a whole.

    Yet, some whacked out Right Wing nut makes a boneheaded and obviously frak'ed up statement and, all of the sudden, it's the brush used to paint the entire Republican Party...

    I'm just sayin.....

    Michale

  6. [6] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    The denizens want to wash their hands of every Left-Wing nut case (speaking of Left-Wing nut cases, why no comments on that Leftie who shoot up a conservative Family Center??...

    And is it being handled as a "hate crime"?

    Interesting overnight poll: "While voters overwhelmingly disapprove of Akin’s foray into reproductive science, pollster Tom Jensen explains, “for many voters their dislike of McCaskill trumps their concerns about Akin.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/08/21/ppp-poll-todd-akin-isnt-dead-yet/

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    I guess I was wrong when I said Akin had already dropped out..

    Looks like he might stick it out..

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Actually, this is EXACTLY what the Republican Party stands for. They just wrote it into their party platform. You can't get more "mainstream Republican" than that. The party platform IS "what the party stands for" -- that is the entire point of the document. What the Republican Party stands for is rapists' rights.

    Chris1962 -

    See above. While I don't know the percentage of people who believe this, I can accurately say that that percentage controls the Republican Party. So, either the extremists have taken over the party, or the party has become extremist. Either way, rapists' rights are now in the official Republican Party platform -- as happened in 2004 and 2008, I might point out.

    Deal with it -- this IS today's Republican Party, and this IS what they stand for. You can disagree with it, but the fact remains.

    Michale -

    The Republican platform committee is the one painting with this brush, not me. Deal with it. This is not some lone right-wing nut case. Paul Ryan wrote bills with this guy to give rapists rights. That's a fact, Jack.

    I'm glad Akin is staying in the race, because he's the poster boy for what the Republican Party stands for -- not some "off the reservation" nutcase.

    Seen polling among women recently? It's about to get even worse for Republicans, that's my guess.

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Here's a link, in case you don't believe me.

    -CW

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris [8&9]

    That just earned you my unshakable vote for MIDOTW award. And, it's only Tuesday!

    And, it makes up for quite a lot, actually ... :)

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    By the way, THAT'S the kind of "moderation" I'd like to see more of!

  12. [12] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    CW: "Rapists' rights"? LOL. Isn't that spin just a tad over the top, Chris? The Republican party seeks the protection of innocent, unborn children. And it doesn't even cite whether or not there should be exemptions for rape or incest. Opinons on the latter vary throughout the party's elected officials, not to mention Republican voters throughout the nation.

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    You will be seeing more of me here in the comments from now on, I promise you.

    This is because I have good news -- I have reached the second big milestone in my book project. Woo hoo!

    I still have one more article submission, which I'll be running Thursday, but from then on it's back to normal until convention-time.

    Chris1962 -

    You can call it what you want, but it will give the right to any rapist to pick out the mother of his child. From that point on, he will have a whole slew of legal rights as the father. I call that giving rights to rapists, because that is exactly what it is.

    And "exemptions," by their very nature, need to be defined, or else you are not for any exemptions. That's the way exemptions work. Republicans have been happy with no exemptions since 2004 in their platform.

    The Republican candidate for VP has co-sponsored legislation which would outlaw all abortion -- no exemptions. So, yeah, I think it's a pretty mainstream Republican position these days, and I'm free to call it as I see it. Forcing a woman to carry a baby to term after being raped is cruel and unusual punishment. These Republicans are also against "morning after" pills, so she wouldn't even have that option if they got their way.

    Forcing a woman to have to deal with her rapist for 18 years and 9 months in the legal system after her rape is also cruel and unusual punishment, as I see it. Because, like it or not, he will have fatherhood rights. Which the GOP wants to guarantee for him.

    That is today's GOP. Why any woman would vote Republican is beyond me. Fortunately, fewer and fewer of them intend to, if the polls can be believed.

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    The Republican platform committee is the one painting with this brush, not me. Deal with it. This is not some lone right-wing nut case. Paul Ryan wrote bills with this guy to give rapists rights. That's a fact, Jack.

    We, apparently, have conflicting views of what the GOP stands for in the here and now.

    You seem to believe they stand for "RAPISTS RIGHTS". I believe they stand for "YES, WE DID BUILD THIS."

    Tell ya what..

    We'll let the public decide as to which platform is the TRUE GOP platform.. We'll see which platform becomes the reality..

    One of us is going to be disappointed, to be sure. :D

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    CW: You can call it what you want, but it will give the right to any rapist to pick out the mother of his child. From that point on, he will have a whole slew of legal rights as the father. I call that giving rights to rapists, because that is exactly what it is.

    Rape is a crime. So I don't know that a rapist would have any more "rights," or say in the matter, than a bank robber would, with respect to how the stolen money should be handled. (Also, rape is committed out of hatred, not from a desire to procreate.)

    And "exemptions," by their very nature, need to be defined

    But they specifically haven't been. And there's obviously a reason for that: not everyone agrees on whether exemptions should be made.

    The Republican candidate for VP has co-sponsored legislation which would outlaw all abortion -- no exemptions. So, yeah, I think it's a pretty mainstream Republican position these days, and I'm free to call it as I see it.

    You can call it however, and whatever, you wish. But, again, the American people get to define "the center" (read: mainstream), and here's where they stand on abortion: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx#1

    Personally, I think "rapists' rights" sounds way over the top and will likely do more to diminish the Left's position than anything else.

    Forcing a woman to carry a baby to term after being raped is cruel and unusual punishment.

    Well, I'm sure many would agree with you. But the alternative is to kill an innocent child, who had no say in getting conceived. People who believe life is sacred include those innocent little humans in their plans to protect the unborn, who can't protect themselves. And then there are those on the Right who are willing to make the exception for rape and incest. So I don't know what to tell you. People feel the way they feel, and those who have a genuine moral issue with killing an unborn child are, naturally, going to seek to defend that child, regardless of the circumstances under which it was conceived.

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW: Forcing a woman to carry a baby to term after being raped is cruel and unusual punishment.

    CB: But the alternative is to kill an innocent child, who had no say in getting conceived.

    I have to admit, these two opposing viewpoints BOTH makes sense...

    I don't have a moral objection to abortion depending on the time constraint..

    I don't believe that life begins at conception. But, somewhere along the 9-month line, life DOES begin...

    If an abortion is performed within a reasonable time frame after a rape, I don't have a problem with that.

    But if the victim of the rape makes a decision to carry the baby to term and then changes her mind with one or two months to go, I believe she should be forced to carry the baby to term...

    If she doesn't want it, there is always adoption...

    Michale.....

  17. [17] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    I don't believe that life begins at conception.

    Well, there are those who would say that if you throw those cells under a microscope, you're not gonna come up with a puppy or a dolphin or a pony. Them thar are human cells. ;D

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, there are those who would say that if you throw those cells under a microscope, you're not gonna come up with a puppy or a dolphin or a pony. Them thar are human cells. ;D

    But until they are carried and become viable, they are nothing more than cells...

    My personal belief (which I realize is fraught with inconsistencies and pitfalls) is that it is life when the baby can survive outside the mother.

    Up until that point, it's not life..

    I have absolutely NOT scientific basis for that belief. It's just my gut..

    Michale.....

  19. [19] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    My personal belief (which I realize is fraught with inconsistencies and pitfalls) is that it is life when the baby can survive outside the mother.

    i happen to share that opinion. if it can breathe air, survive and grow up without being inside someone, it's a person. if not, it isn't.

    Well, there are those who would say that if you throw those cells under a microscope, you're not gonna come up with a puppy or a dolphin or a pony. Them thar are human cells. ;D

    so's my pinky toe. but if you chopped it off, it wouldn't be a person, it'd just be a collection of cells. some of those cells would still be alive, their DNA is human and the nerve cells would still be firing. does that make my severed pinky toe human life, and its amputation a crime against humanity?

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    so's my pinky toe. but if you chopped it off,

    Oh! Oh!! Let me!!! Lemme!!! Pick me!!! Pick me!!!! :D

    Michale....

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let's be fair here..

    There are SOME Senators who have made a living joking about rape...

    I'm just sayin'.....

    Michale.....

  22. [22] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Oh! Oh!! Let me!!! Lemme!!! Pick me!!! Pick me!!!! :D

    okay, if i ever decide to abort my toe i'll give you the chance. we'll call it toe v. wade.

    You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me.... Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nail polish. These f***ing ameteurs...
    ~The Big Lebowski

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    we'll call it toe v. wade.

    Oh my gods, that was funny!!!!! :D

    Michale.....

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