Rape is rape. No exceptions, no qualifying words, no lengthy diatribes can escape what rape means to everyday people.
That’s unless you’re like Congressman Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.
Ever since vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan introduced the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” these odd distinctions between “rape,” “forcible rape” and “legitimate rape” have emerged into public discussions. And this past weekend, Akin sought to defend his position to restrict abortion, even in cases of rape, saying that the bodies of female victims have “ways to shut that whole thing down.”
Talk about a colossal waste of time.
Most folks don’t realize the phrase “forcible rape” results from how laws on sexual assault are written. Because laws create distinctions between “forcible rape” (rape by coercive acts) and “statutory rape,” (adults having sex with minors, regardless of consent) what should be a hard-and-fast definition and single-word phrase ends up being qualified with unnecessary terms.
Even with that knowledge, GOP leaders can’t be given a free pass during discussions of rape.
Men like Todd Akin and Paul Ryan will never wrestle with the decision of having a child conceived via rape or incest. They’ll never need emergency contraception if the condom breaks. They’ll never buy a tampon or understand how birth control medicine can help with managing menstrual cycles for whatever reason.
Women like Rep. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, wrapped in the swaddling garments of race and class privilege, will never understand the experience of lacking basic reproductive health resources. That’s due to disparities caused by lack of healthcare coverage, educational curricula in some schools and little access to basics like condoms, contraception or even clinical screenings – disparities that tend to befall minorities and the poor.
Yet these supposed morally upright freedom defenders, who love to bicker and moan about big government, seek to curtail female reproductive freedoms via restrictive abortion laws, aim to cut off funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood and preach from a privileged platform about reproductive responsibility.
Now, some things are common sense. It’s not the smartest idea to continue having unprotected sex and end up with an STI or STD, let alone face the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy due to careless behavior. There’s something to be said for taking care of oneself and others by practicing healthy behaviors.
But some of these GOP hacks go as far to claim that women can and will abuse emergency contraception and abortions, using them recklessly without considering the implications. That’s just absurd.
Do you actually know any women who proudly brag about having repeated abortions? I’m not a woman, but I can only imagine what it must feel like both physically and mentally while taking the Morning After Pill or undergoing an abortion procedure.
It’s not a procedure I think I’d love having over and over again. After a while, I’d get pretty tired of spending time, money and emotional reserves after visiting an abortion provider.
Speaking of procedures many folks would rather not repeat, it’s about time to end these discussions seeking to qualify rape. No rape is legitimate, neither can rape be non-forcible. Rape is what it is.