“Innocence” and anti-choice rhetoric

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There is so much wrong with Todd Akin’s statements that I’m going to go ahead and label it “Legitimate Rape-gate.” And possibly enroll him in a Biology 101 course.

With the internet at large generating a pretty hefty buzz, there’s something like a zillion places to read his full remarks – for example - so I’ll avoid a lengthy recap. I’d also say, check out Chloe’s post on the main blog for one of the myriad ways to react.

What I will say is that for a gal who grew up attending an anti-choice youth group, it struck me that parts of his statements were very, very familiar. I’d never heard the oh-so-fascinating theory that a woman’s body won’t tolerate a rapist’s baby, so that gave me a good chuckle.

But when Akin got into the idea that you shouldn’t punish another “innocent victim,” I was suddenly on familiar turf. That concept is deep – and I mean deep – in religious anti-choice rhetoric.

As in, I was taught growing up that having an abortion is forcing an innocent child to pay the consequences of your sin.
Akin’s variation says he advocates punishing the rapist, not the “attacking the child.” Well and good, but I’m not even sure he realizes that nowhere, not even for a second, does this scenario consider the rape victim. Nor does he seem to take into account that forcing that woman to stay pregnant can be considered as compounding the rape in that she once again has no choice in how someone else uses her body.

That’s an opinion that can only come from the very long tradition in the anti-choice movement of considering a woman last. To the point where the impact of rape on her body takes second place to the fact that a fetus needs to use it for nine months. After all, she’s already been violated, so may as well salvage someone’s innocence, right?

It often seems to me that the anti-choice movement doesn’t necessarily hate women. The truth is much worse – they don’t think they matter. In the anti-choice movement, a woman’s only meaningful choice is whether to allow a penis into her vagina. And, as Akin’s statements show, when even that choice is taken from her, she’s no longer important enough to deserve another.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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