Throughout the abortion debate we hear all about exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. If a politician doesn’t support these exceptions they are considered particularly horrible – that is more horrible than their counterparts who do support such exceptions but do not support abortions in other cases. However, in a conversation with my totally badass grandmother – she suggested that perhaps those who do make such exceptions are the wrong ones and, after a long and rambling conversation covering everything from the necessity and ultimate arbitrariness of voting to ancient and modern cultural expectations about love, I came to agree with her.
The idea that there are exceptions to the abortion rule, from either side, is hypocritical. Either you believe women should have access to abortion or you don’t – there really is no middle ground. The middle ground only comes up when corporate money and voters become involved. But, in the context of a true ideology, these exceptions become absurd – incongruous when contrasted to a person’s overall belief system. For example, some people have lauded Mitt Romney for offering an exception to abortion for rape, incest and life of the mother. These same people have shunned Paul Ryan for saying that this is just a good start and calling rape a ‘method of contraception.’ But, which of these politicians is truly living up to their professed ideology?
On that same token, someone who believes women should have access to abortion and then emphasizes that they should especially have access to it in cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother legitimizes that reproductive freedom for all women is up for debate. That some pro-choicers might consider this a reasonable, if extreme, compromise is also unacceptable. If you are for a woman’s right to choose, then you must be for ALL women’s right to choose – not some. Not just the women who are viewed as victims in our culture. The woman who was raped is just as worthy as the mother struggling to feed four children who is just as worthy as the twenty-something who accidentally got pregnant. There is no gradation of acceptability – they are all equally deserving of control over their own reproduction.
I recognize that this type of thinking can further stratify an already strained debate. And I’m sure that each side is attempting to do what they believe to be best for democracy. However, do we want to support hypocrisy in our democracy? No. We do want to support compromise, the stuff democracy is made of, but compromises can only be made when those in the discussion are working within the same set of rules. Unfortunately, many of our politicians are ignoring one essential rule: separation of church and state. In fact, many are blatantly proclaiming that our forefathers (certainly not our foremothers) founded this country on Christian ideals – this is God’s country and God hates abortion, fags, and education. Emerrica! Fuck Yeah!
The increasing insistence on legislating personal religious beliefs cannot go unchecked. Those who are anti-choice are attempting to make laws based on personal religious beliefs – the exceptions they make are simply to get elected. But make no mistake that as soon as we, as a society, become comfortable within those boundaries they will not hesitate to further tighten the reins. Just look at the massive anti-abortion bill in Wisconsin (Ryan’s home state, btw) – the purpose of such a bill is to bring the issue back to the supreme court with the end result of having Roe v. Wade overturned. The exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother are baby steps towards a society without reproductive freedom. And the laws these exceptions precede are based in religious dogma. Those who founded our country created specifications to prevent the entrapment of American people in others’ religious beliefs. No matter how often a religious politicians references the constitution, it will never justify the legislation of their beliefs over freedom of the people.