In the classic Robert Heinlein sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land, the Martian protagonist was unable to “grok” (thoroughly understand) certain aspects of human behavior. Now, like an organization of befuddled extraterrestrials, the GOP seems to be incapable of “grokking” women’s rights.
John McCain recently said that women should avoid military service until the current military sexual misconduct crisis is solved. The GOP’s neanderthal roots are clearly showing, when one of its former candidates for president advocates punishing the innocent to protect the guilty.
Another Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, said that women who find themselves pregnant after being raped should “make the best out of a bad situation.” Asked by CNN’s Piers Morgan what he would do if his own daughter approached him, wanting an abortion after having been raped, Santorum said that he would urge her to have the baby, because it was a “gift from God.”
During a recent hearing on his anti-abortion proposal, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks said that he’s opposed to an exception for rape and incest victims because “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are [sic] very low.” This sounds suspiciously like Todd Akin’s famous (or infamous) remark about women’s bodies somehow “knowing” not to get pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape.” Thus, if a woman gets pregnant she must be lying about having been raped.
Individual Republicans have clearly been trying to shift the blame from the rapists to their victims, while the party works long and hard to deny victims of rape and incest the right to legally abort their pregnancies. One of the ways to accomplish this is to give rape victims a very narrow window of time (Franks mentioned a minuscule 48 hours) to report what happened to the authorities. Ironically, this is also the way some Tennessee Republicans want to treat abused livestock!
Tennessee’s Andy Holt, R-Dresden, a hog farmer and one of the recent “ag-gag” bill sponsors, worked to ban long-term investigations of animal cruelty by requiring investigators to turn videos over to police within a narrow window of time. In an email to Kayci McLeod, public policy coordinator at The Humane Society of the United States, Holt seemed to equate long-term, in-depth criminal investigations of animal abusers with the “rape” of the guilty parties:
“Ms. McLeod, I am extremely pleased that we were able to pass HB 1191 today to help protect livestock in Tennessee from suffering months of needless investigation that propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists, who are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17-year-old women. You work for a pathetic excuse for an organization and a pathetic group of sensationalists who seek to profit from animal abuse. I am glad, as an aside, that we have limited your preferred fund-raising methods here in the state of Tennessee; a method that I refer to as “tape and rape.” Best wishes for the failure of your organization and it’s true intent.”
Influential members of the GOP have adopted the attitude that long-term, in-depth investigations of rape and animal abuse are somehow “unfair” to men. Raped women are being lumped together with abused animals, in what one might call a “slush pile of injustice.” The rules are being rigged to protect the guilty by shifting the blame to the innocent, while narrowing the window of time the victims’ would-be defenders have to come to their aid. Before long, a young girl who’s a victim of rape or incest may have only one of two desperate choices: to risk her life, health and future to bear a baby she doesn’t want, or risk her life, health and future by going to some unprofessional butcher for a back-alley abortion. That is, unless we stop voting for Republicans until they come to their senses.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.