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20 June 2009

Life or Choice?

As with all binaries, this presents a false choice. Even if one believes that conception produces life immediately, that life is not the only life involved, or even at stake. Women’s lives matter. And the quality of our lives matter.

Many have argued convincingly of the so-called “Pro-Life” movement’s disregard for human life: anyone designated an enemy in war or other armed conflict – with no consideration for the possibility of false or even fraudulent identification in the case of enemy combatants, those condemned to die by our justice system – in spite, or perhaps because of the race and class based inequities in the system and, those who perform legal medical procedures that the movement wishes were illegal – along with anyone standing too close to those medical personnel.

I have been thinking about women’s lives and bodies in a particular way in this dispute. I am struck that women do not hold political office in proportion to our numbers in our communities anywhere on the globe.

Male-dominated religious and legal enclaves have decided that immediate post-conception life is more significant than any other life, particularly women's lives and, women must sacrifice their bodies and lives to accommodate it.

What almost no one seems to comment on is the role that men regularly play in forcefully impregnating women.

Rape is woefully under-reported, in part because it is under-prosecuted; those rapes that are prosecuted have a low conviction rate and even lower rates of incarceration. And there is stigma. All of these circumstances operate in male-dominated spaces in spite of the advances women have made in most areas of our common, public and political spheres.

This irony becomes harshly apparent when male-stream politicians make allowances for rape and incest exceptions to their theology, ideology and legislation for forced gestation – although there are many who believe that women must carry to term all pregnancies, even if they are raped into them as they were in Bosnia and are in Congo and Darfur and, on too many marriage beds in the US and around the world.

It is a disgusting irony that many women are sentenced to longer terms – nine months – than are the men who rape them. And what of the children? I certainly don’t want the Pro-Life people adopting children, not that they are anyway. Some are too busy thawing our and growing cells that in their current condition do not require food, housing or shelter.

So how would a rape or incest exemption really work? Would the woman or girl-child have to prove that she was raped? Would a conviction be required? Would the rape exam be legally required and binding? Would a woman have to report a rape no matter how that would affect her life just to get health care?

Abortion is a difficult topic. It is hard for me. I do not believe that any legislation can address all of the situations in which women find themselves – and are forced by men. At best I think of abortion as a necessary evil.

At this moment, I think that abortion should be rare, safe and legal.

And, I think that rapists should be executed.

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