Political Animal


January 17, 2013 5:01 PM The Anti-Choicers’ Fascination With Rape

By Ed Kilgore

If pro-choice Americans—or whatever it is we’re supposed to call ourselves—are a bit hung up on the word “choice,” their opponents have a problem with a very different word: rape. Seems lately that every time you turn around some conservative pol is tying himself into knots or nuking his approval ratings by highly nuanced arguments either denying the “legitimacy” of rapes that produce pregnancies, or treating rape-generated pregnancies as the rape victim’s mandatory gift to the world.

So unsurprisingly, as Politico’s Jake Sherman and Bresnahan report, the GOP’s highly paid consultants are advising Republicans to STFU about rape already:

It’s way past time: House Republicans need to stop talking about rape.
That’s the message GOP lawmakers got here Wednesday evening from Kellyanne Conway, a top GOP pollster.
Conway dispensed the stern advice as part of a polling presentation she made alongside fellow GOP pollsters David Winston — an adviser to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — and Dave Sackett. The comment was described by several sources in the room.
Conway said rape is a “four-letter word,” and Republicans simply need to stop talking about it in their races for office.

This is why Kellyanne pulls down the big bucks.

But she probably understands that there’s a reason for the right-wing obsession over abortion-and-rape, aside from porcine indifference to women’s sensitivities.

Once you decide that women’s bodies instantly become nothing more than incubators for Sovereign Citizens at the moment an ovum is fertilized, then the only logical position is to oppose abortion in all cases other than one where the incubator’s life is so endangered that she can plead self-defense. Pregnancies caused by rape or incest may be horrifying to a lot of people—most notably the victims of rape or incest—but that’s how the metaphysical cookie crumbles, if not a sign that God is a Dude with a rather instrumental view of women.

For many of the same people who believe regulating military weapons is the first step down the slippery slope to Auschwitz, making exceptions to the abortion-is-murder-unless-it’s-self-defense is morally and intellectually intolerable. And so they fret about the possibility that women will escape the necessity of doing their reproductive duty by getting themselves raped or preyed upon by a family member.

This issue is, of course, only the tip of a crazy jagged iceberg. The same folk that oppose interfering with pregnancies caused by rape have a strong tendency to believe tens of millions of Sovereign Citizens of this country are murdered every year via methods of “contraception” that in theory or practice interfere with the growth and the opportunity for eternal salvation of fertilized ova. They don’t tend to talk about that a lot in public (even without Kellyanne Conway’s advice), since the number of “murderers” involved would make a Mafia summit look like an evening at Chuckie Cheese. But that’s the ideology (which so many treat as religious, frequently by way of confusing patriarchal traditions with the Will of God) we are dealing with here.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • DanG on January 17, 2013 5:15 PM:

    I'd like to make another suggestion for our side: let's stop saying "prevent abortions" when we talk about passing these laws. No one is preventing anything from happening by passing restrictive abortion laws. This is criminalizing abortion, not preventing them. (And making them more dangerous.)

    Once you frame it that way - women will go to jail if they have abortions - the support for these restrictions will evaporate.

  • Peter C on January 17, 2013 5:45 PM:

    Yup, they need to hide that light under a bushel because it's a harsh and ugly light.

  • c u n d gulag on January 17, 2013 5:55 PM:

    GOP POV:
    EVERY woman, must pay THE VERY HIGHEST PRICE, by donating her body for incubation, for any second of pleasure they get during sex, or any second not willingly giving themselves to any male who demands his own sexual pleasure - WITHOUT EXCEPTION!

    "Forced Labor, shall set you free!!!"

  • rover27 on January 17, 2013 6:05 PM:

    Just wanted to say that I think this blog is one of the best around. Your incites are on point and your take on the political and policy situation in this country is spoken with truth and experience. Keep up the good work.

  • exlibra on January 17, 2013 6:26 PM:

    [...] women’s bodies instantly become nothing more than incubators for Sovereign Citizens at the moment an ovum is fertilized, [...]

    Actually, it's at the moment an ovum *might have been* fertilized. Hence the opposition to almost all forms of contraception, except "keep your legs crossed". Which, of course, can be overcome by... rape...

  • gocart mozart on January 17, 2013 6:33 PM:

    The Politico link goes to the Wash Monthly

  • Kathryn on January 17, 2013 6:44 PM:

    Great post, exlibra, that sums it up.

  • Steller on January 18, 2013 12:32 AM:

    Let's also not forget that one of the reasons that conservatives tie themselves in knots talking about rape is that they believe if there's a rape exception to abortion bans, women will just lie about having been raped in order to get one. That's how I understood Akin's attempt at a "legitimate rape" versus non legitimate rape to be taken. Or that other asshat who talked about the slutty sluts his dad warned him about raping "so easy."

  • Charles on January 18, 2013 4:37 AM:

    Don't forget, however, that if you think abortion is murder, which seems to be the point of view of many of these advocates, allowing rape exception belies that entire argument. And when your argument has moral/intellectual inconsistencies like that, it becomes much harder to argue your position effectively to people who might be swayed one way or another. How can you possibly argue that the murder of a child is acceptable in any circumstance?

    And I think that's why this has come up, similar to the famous debate question to Ron Paul about letting uninsured people die in the streets as a means of dealing with the free rider problem. They want to put that argument out there, so it's no longer taboo to speak of. It may lead to initial problems and losses, but in the long run, when the argument becomes an accepted part of the discussion, not something immediately dismissed out of hand as beyond the pale, they'll presumably be able to make inroads on these issues. If no one argues against a rape exception, they'll always have problems with abortion discussions.

  • sharon on January 18, 2013 8:01 AM:

    Remember that disgusting anti-choice claim, "Abortion can't unrape you"? Consider the following view.

    Abortion really can “unrape” a woman, and forcing a woman to continue a rape pregnancy is essentially forcing a continuation of the rape.

    A man rapes a woman by putting part of his body inside her body against her will, conscience, and freedom of religion by means of force.

    If pregnancy occurs, that means the sperm of the rapist, also part of his body, has fertilized a woman’s oocyte, so some of his chromosomes, also part of his body, combine with some of the woman’s chromosomes, and the resulting zygote grows into a blastocyst that implants into the woman’s uterine wall by means of biochemical force.

    The blastocyst, an entity containing part of the rapist’s body, uses some of the woman’s bodily tissue against her will to make a placenta. It directs the placenta to shut down part of the woman’s immune system against her will so that her defense system cannot prevent or end the implantation. It directs the placenta to re-channel the woman’s blood against her will so that nutrients, oxygen, and antibodies are transferred from the woman’s blood to the embryo against her will.

    The embryo increasingly leaks not only some of its cells, but some of its loose chromosomes into the woman’s bloodstream against her will. This leaking occurs increasingly across a pregnancy and in massive amounts in childbirth. It has been shown that a woman who gives birth to a male can have male chromosomes in her blood over 25 years later. Other chromosomes from the rapist may also remain in her blood for the rest of her life. If some may provide resistance to certain diseases, others may make her liable to certain diseases.

    As long as the zygote/morula/blastocyst/embryo/fetus is inside the woman’s body, chromosomes from that rapist are inside the woman’s body, just as his penis was inside her body, against her will. And when the embryo starts leaking cells and loose chromosomes into the woman’s bloodstream, it is leaking some of the rapist’s chromosomes into her bloodstream. They may then stay in her blood for her whole life and some may make her liable to certain diseases more than a quarter of a century later. In other words, against her will, part of the rapist’s body is still raping her.

    Having an abortion very early in a rape pregnancy is likely to remove all of the chromosomes of the rapist before the rapist-chromosome-filled embryo leaks any into her blood. Hence, early abortion is likely to be able to remove all the remaining parts of the rapist’s body from her body, in effect, “unraping” the woman by putting an end to the rape.

    In contrast, preventing a rape victim from having an abortion makes it impossible for her ever to remove all of the rapist’s chromosomes from her body. That is, it forces her to have part of the rapist in her body for perhaps the rest of her life. Chromosomal pieces of the rapist can go right on raping that woman.

    The only real difference between the rapist’s penis and chromosomes being kept in the woman’s body by force is that the rapist uses force to keep the penis in and the rapist’s accomplices use force to keep the chromosomes in. If you prevent a rape victim from having an early abortion, you are in fact the rapist’s accomplice in a lifelong rape, but if a woman can have an abortion, she and the doctor “unrape” her by stopping continuance of the rape.

  • jhm on January 18, 2013 8:20 AM:

    Exiting the the world-view of anti-choicers for a moment, it is a testament to the lax reporting of the MSM that these people were not forced to deal with the plain consequences of their preferred policy ideas long ago.

  • PTate in MN on January 18, 2013 10:01 AM:

    Instead of "pro-choice", I'm going use "pro-woman" and talk about women's health issues.

    I don't think the Republicans obsessiveness about preventing abortions in the case of rape has to do with actual rape. That's why they say stupid things like real rape doesn't result in pregnancy.

    No, they are terrified by the possibility that some woman--legitimately impregnated by some stud during consensual sex--will claim that she was raped in order to obtain an abortion. So they absolutely have to close that loophole. To Republicans, all women are whores out to beguile and deceive innocent and decent men. To them, it is terrifying that some guy might be accused of cheating, of rape, when all he did was score, fair and square.

  • Rabbler on January 18, 2013 5:51 PM:

    Allowing no exceptions for rape/incest fetuses is intellectually consistent with the notion that a zygote is a person. So is attacking those one views as mass murderers for that matter. Rarer than unicorns, these are wedge issues for the non-right. I'm a choicer from at least a decade before Roe.