A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians

WARNING: this post is going to be oh-so-very-triggery for victims of rape and sexual assault. I am not kidding.

Dear certain conservative politicians:

Hi! I’m a rapist. I’m one of those men who likes to force myself on women without their consent or desire and then batter them sexually. The details of how I do this are not particularly important at the moment — although I love when you try to make distinctions about “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape” because that gives me all sorts of wiggle room — but I will tell you one of the details about why I do it: I like to control women and, also and independently, I like to remind them how little control they have. There’s just something about making the point to a woman that her consent and her control of her own body is not relevant against the need for a man to possess that body and control it that just plain gets me off. A guy’s got needs, you know? And my need is for control. Sweet, sweet control.

So I want to take time out of my schedule to thank you for supporting my right to control a woman’s life, not just when I’m raping her, but for all the rest of her life as well.

Ah, I see by your surprised face that you at the very least claim to have no idea what I’m talking about. Well, here’s the thing. Every time you say “I oppose a woman’s right to abortion, even in cases of rape,” what you’re also saying is “I believe that a man who rapes a woman has more of a right to control a woman’s body and life than that woman does.”

Oh, look. That surprised face again. All right, then. On the chance that you’re not giving me that surprised face just for the sake of public appearances, let me explain it to you, because it’s important for me that you know just how much I appreciate everything you’re doing for me.

So, let’s say I’ve raped a woman, as I do, because it’s my thing. I’ve had my fun, reminding that woman where she stands on the whole “being able to control things about her life” thing. But wait! There’s more. Since I didn’t use a condom (maybe I’m confident I can get other people to believe it was consensual, you see, or maybe I just like it that way), one thing has led to another and I’ve gotten this woman pregnant.

Now, remember how I said the thing I really like about raping a woman is the control it gives me over her? Well, getting a woman pregnant is even better. Because long after I’m gone, she still has to deal with me and what I’ve done to her. She has to deal with what’s happening to her body. She has to deal with doctor visits. She has to deal with the choice whether to have an abortion or not — which means she has to deal with everyone in the country, including you, having an opinion about it and giving her crap about it. And if she does have an abortion, she has to deal with all the hassle of that, too, because folks like you, of course, have gone out of your way to make it a hassle, which I appreciate. Thank you.

Every moment of that process, she has to be thinking of me, and how I’ve forced all of this on her — exercised my ability to bend her life away from what it was to what I’ve made of it. Me exercising my control.

I gotta tell you, it feels awesome.

But! You know what would feel even more awesome? The knowledge that, if you get your way and abortion is outlawed even in cases of rape, that my control of her will continue through all the rest of her life.

First, because she’ll have no legal choice about whether to have the baby I put in her — sorry, dearie, you have no control at all! You have to have it! That’s nine months of having your body warp and twist and change because I decided that you needed a little lesson on who’s actually running the show. That’s sweet.

Once the baby’s born, the woman will have to decide whether to keep it. Here’s an interesting fact: Of the women who have gotten pregnant from rape who give birth to that baby, most keep the baby, by a ratio of about five to one. So my ability to change the life of the woman just keeps growing, doesn’t it? From the rape, to the nine months of the pregnancy, to the rest of her life dealing with the child I raped into her. Of course, she could put the kid up for adoption, but that’s its own bundle of issues, isn’t it? And even then, she’s dealing with the choices I made for her, when I exercised my control over her life.

Best of all, I get to do all that without much consequence! Oh, sure, theoretically I can get charged with rape and go to prison for it. But you know what? For every hundred men who rape, only three go to prison. Those are pretty good odds for me, especially since — again! — folks like you like to muddy up the issue saying things like “forcible rape.” Keep doing that! It’s working out great for me.

As for the kid, well, oddly enough, most women I rape want nothing to do with me afterward, so it’s not like I will have to worry about child support or any other sort of responsibility… unless of course I decide that I haven’t taught that woman a big enough lesson about who’s really in control of her life. Did you know that 31 states in this country don’t keep rapists from seeking custody or visitation rights? How great is that? That’s just one more thing she has to worry about — me crawling out of the woodwork to remind her of what I did, and am continuing to do, to her life.

Look how much control you want to give me over that woman! I really can’t thank you enough for it. It warms my heart to know no matter how much I rape, or how many women I impregnate through my non-consensual sexual battery, you have my back, when it comes to reminding every woman I humiliate who is actually the boss of her. It’s me! It’s always been me! You’ll make sure it’ll always be me. You’ll see to that.

I am totally voting for you this election.

Yours,

Just Another Rapist.

P.S.: I love it when you say that you “stand for innocent life” when it comes to denying abortions in cases of rape! It implicitly suggests that the women I rape are in some way complicit in and guilty of the crimes I commit on top of, and inside of, their bodies! Which works out perfectly for me. Keep it up!

No, seriously, keep it up.

– JAR

745 thoughts on “A Fan Letter to Certain Conservative Politicians

  1. Caveats begin here. Read before posting.

    1. For those of you who didn’t figure it out earlier, this is satire. However, just because it is satire, does not mean it’s intended to be funny.

    2. I recognize this is going to be offensive to many people, for many different reasons. I felt the point I wanted to make was best made this way. I accept that there will be criticism.

    3. That said, the Mallet of Loving Correction is already in its warming chamber and ready be applied liberally because this is just the sort of post that will attract the crazy. It is very important that you read the site disclaimer and comment policy before you comment, especially if you are new here. I’m not kidding.

    4. Along that line, given the obvious potential for catastrophic derailment in this comment thread, I am going to run a very tight thread in terms of what is on topic and what is not. To get ahead of this, discussion about how not all rape is by men, at women is very much not on topic and I will snip it out. Additional very general discussion of abortion will lead to wanderings far off topic. Please focus instead on the primary issue here: Politicians who oppose abortion even in cases of rape. There’s enough to go on.

    5. Also before it comes up: Not all conservatives oppose abortion, nor do all conservatives who oppose abortion oppose it in the case of rape. Not every conservative politician is a Republican. Not every Christian is conservative, or opposes abortion. And so on. Please avoid making assumptions of what I think outside the scope of the actual article at hand; it will probably be helpful.

    6. Finally, remember politeness counts in comment threads, especially towards the other commenters.

    Thank you.

    Update, 9:46: Just as I noted that the piece is likely to be triggery, be aware the comment thread has some very frank (but civil) discussion of rape and abortion, and may also be triggery for some.

  2. I want to copy this and send it to every asshole politician who has made a stupid comment or voted a stupid vote about abortion or rape or women’s rights. I also want you to know that this post made me cry – in a good way, which sounds weird, but I say “good” because it reinforced that there are men out there who are decent and understanding and get it. Truly GET IT beyond giving lip service. Thank you, John, for being one of the good guys.

  3. Well, there’s a new experience – admiring the sentiments which motivated a piece of writing it actually nauseated me to read. Thanks for Getting It, John, and thanks also for going to an excruciatingly uncomfortable place to write about the consequences of the policies of these mouth-breathing morons. It can’t have been easy to write.

  4. Usually I don’t natter about typos but I suspect this one’s going to get some cross-linkage so 3rd paragraph, 1st line… “to have no idea what talking about.” Add an “I’m” and you’re good to go.

  5. Like you, I support broad abortion rights, believing a woman should be able to choose an abortion right up to the time of birth (and possibly beyond—see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer). However, I think it’s important to recognize that there is a non-evil characterization of those opposed to abortion, and to respect (some of) those who hold that position. There is a clear moral consistency in the argument that a conceived baby is a human being with all the rights of human beings. (I don’t agree with it, but recognize that good people may.) Once you accept this argument, it really doesn’t matter how that baby was conceived. The *only* justification for allowing an abortion would be to protect the life of the mother, trading a life for a life. It’s a fallacy to automatically assume that those driven by the imperative to preserve a human life are misogynists or want to dominate women. And making that assumption, characterizing those individuals as evil, makes it harder to engage in consensus-building (e.g. around reducing the number of rapes and abortions).

    From this perspective, the people who really get me infuriated are those who oppose abortion “except in cases of rape or incest”. If you really think that embryo=human, then there’s no justification for these exceptions. So I’ve got to assume that you’re compromising your moral principles to pander to the electorate, which is sad. Conversely, if you *don’t* have that moral commitment to embryonic life, and are just opposing abortion to curry favor with the right wing, that’s just disgusting.

  6. Mourdock was explaining why he was against an exception for rape in abortion laws. So perhaps this is the right place to point out that if abortion is made illegal, there will never be a real exception for rape.

    If a woman is raped and wants to have an abortion, what will be the process for declaring this exception? There won’t be time for a criminal trial, so is her word good enough? Or her and a doctor? Her and a judge? Does she have to name her rapist? Is that news made public? Can he sue her for libel thereafter? For defamation? Can the state later decide she was lying and imprison her?

    Who will have access to the legal advice necessary to get through this thicket? Poor women? Women who’ve just been through the worst experience of their lives? How will it work for women with a criminal record? What about women with a prior perjury conviction?

    And who will be thinking their way through these gnarly questions? The Mississippi State Legislature. The good men of the Kansas State Legislature. The folks who have at every turn tried to make it impossible to have any access to abortion, even now when it is legal.

    There will never be a workable exception for rape. (Well, maybe in New York, if you’re wealthy.) Once abortion is legal, the only right to choose is the right of the rapist to choose the mother of his child.

  7. And a bit triggery for those of us who’ve merely stood at the side of someone who’s been raped or sexually assaulted. But it’s also something that needed to be said in an over-the-top kind of way… maybe SOMEBODY will get it, maybe SOMEBODY’S mind will be changed.

    Hey, I’m an eternal optimist.

  8. I respect your opinion, Mr. Scalzi. Looking at your argument a few times, however, caused me to see one fatal flaw in your argument; the assumption that the baby is the woman’s.

    I understand my opinion is exceedingly unpopular with pro-choice people and even unpopular with some pro-life people. That being said, I feel I have to stand up for the truth. Yes, the woman is carrying it and, yes, she had not intended to do so. But in all cases, whether the woman was raped or simply does not desire to have a child, it is her duty as a human being to give the human she is carrying a chance for life. That baby is not hers; that baby is its own self. To shut the door on his or her chance for life is so garishly wrong.

    Yes, it might be hard for the woman. But no matter what, the woman should ALWAYS have a right to her own body. That extends to every person, in fact. All people have a right to their own bodies. That is why those humans the woman carries have a right to not be killed. Any arguments about it not actually “killing” someone, because it is not yet a person are void in this; assuming the pregnancy goes well, that thing in the woman’s womb will eventually become a person.

    P.S. I don’t usually like to engage in discussions on the internet, but I felt like I had to say something here. On many other things we seem to agree, but I think in this case you couldn’t be more mistaken.

    I expect to be eaten by trolls.

  9. As a rape survivor, I’m glad I ignored the warning. Well written. I’ve lost my appetite for dinner, but VERY well done.

  10. Boy, John, I don’t know…there certainly are women who have been victimized by rapists and are revictimized by bearing the rapist’s child, but…I don’t think this quite hits the nail on the head in terms of the motivations and power balance of the issue. Many rapists want their victims to abort, and make quite sure it’s done, because they actually are on the hook for child support, and because in some cases the child is evidence (incest, statutory rape). So, um, yeah? k bai

  11. It’s there, but it may be a bit too subtle for some, that the type of control the politicians are trying to enforce over women is *the same in kind* of that of the rapist-for-power. Her consent doesn’t matter, her life is theirs to control. They just don’t get the jollies of committing the crime, but they sure do take over right after that. These guys (and they are overwhelmingly guys) are practically accessories after the fact.

  12. The argument that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape would be a lot more tenable if those who held it offered some support to verification that a rape actually occurred in order to get an abortion. Laws requiring a police report to be filed in order for an abortion clinic to treat a pregnancy as the result of rape are routinely condemned as being “anti-woman”.

  13. Amazing. I’d love to include this among the readings the next time I teach an Argumentation class — it would run right alongside Swift’s “Modest Proposal.” Thank you so much for this.

  14. This is really great. Thank you for doing it. And for being willing to take the slings and arrows that are surely going to come your way.

  15. Wow. This was disturbing, upsetting, and difficult to read. Which, I’d guess, is exactly what you were going for. The fact that there are people who believe that ‘legitimate rape’ can’t cause pregnancy on a science committee, and the fact that there are people who believe that women should have less rights than men who are allowed to run for president is disgusting. This is 2012, how can people still advocate things like this?

  16. iholdtheline:

    “the assumption that the baby is the woman’s”

    The article isn’t about the baby. It’s about the woman. Immediately trying to make it about the baby is implicitly an attempt to get around the woman and the rights she has to control her own body.

    Also, no, it’s not the woman’s “duty” to do anything other than what she chooses to do of her own accord when it comes to pregnancy. To suggest otherwise is to maintain that a woman has not other use and no other choice, than as a breeding receptacle.

  17. Thank you, John. I cannot even express what this means to me. Thank you for the TW; I knew it was going to be hard to read, which made it more powerful for me. I talk privately about my experiences of rape and becoming pregnant from said rape. As much as I blather on about so many things in a horrible ZOMG TMI kind of way, I’m extremely protective of the *other* people in my story. So I don’t tell it “on paper”.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re the best ally that /anyone/ can have.

  18. @iholdtheline: So, essentially, you’re in favor of telling a rape victim that her rights and trauma don’t matter to you as much as your ideals do.

    I understand my opinion is exceedingly unpopular with pro-choice people and even unpopular with some pro-life people.

    And yet I’m sure you’ll somehow manage to nobly bear the lonesome burden of having to hold true to your enlightened, self-righteous opinion [This part deleted because it’s going far into incivility. Rens, see the note below — JS].

    P.S.: “Does not hold the same opinion as I do” does not equal “Mistaken”.

  19. Rens:

    Please avoid calling other commenters nasty names (or in this case saying that other people will call someone else a nasty name). Going for the personal attack is exactly how a comment thread like this goes off the rails.

  20. As a conservative (not republican) I hang my head in shame everytime one of these idiots open their mouths. They have no common sense, compassion, or people skills. These types of comments are why focus groups exist. Republicans should take a page from democrats and use them.

  21. Thank you, John Scalzi. Yesterday my stepmother sent a FB message telling people in Ohio to wake up and elect Romney to save this country. Today I sent *her* a copy of *this*, telling her why I can NOT support Romney, as a survivor of rape. Thank you.

  22. David Karger, They may not be misogynists who want to dominate women, but removal of a woman’s choices over how to live their own lives is the end result of the kind of policies these men are making. Those consequences may be unintended, but they are no less real for it.

  23. Well, when you say “triggery” you ain’t just whistling Dixie, are ya, John? That was extremely difficult to read, for many reasons.

    @David Karger: The problem with the “life begins at conception” argument is that conception creates a zygote, which forms a blastocyst a few days later. A few days after that the blastocyst implants in the uterine lining. About 5 weeks later, that bundle of cells, which is slightly less complex than a baked potato, begins to form structures that might become a brain, a spine, a heart, etc, if everything develops perfectly. During all of this time, the cells are “alive”, but so are the e. coli in your gut and the teeming swarms of bacteria in your mouth and on your eyeball. Is the 5 week embryo a human being? Was it before? It contains DNA, but so do your toenail clippings. What is a human being? Is a human being more or less complex than a baked potato?

    The fundamentalist argument seems to be that a bundle of cells less complex than a baked potato has a greater right to personal integrity and self-determination than a fully grown female person. I think that is bizarro logic and deserves to be whacked with a stick whenever and wherever it is encountered, and that the people who subscribe to it fail to meet the minimum qualifications for not-evil. Just because someone is polite, has clean fingernails, and “means well” doesn’t mean they aren’t evil. The road to hell, et cetera…

  24. @iholdtheline In fact, let’s put the whole trauma part aside for a moment, as you’ve already made it clear that your response to that argument will be a condescending “yes, rape is terrible, but…” comfortable in the knowledge that it won’t happen to you any time soon, and instead look at the situation a little more abstractly.

    Someone knocks you down and before you realize what’s going on, you’ve been hooked up to someone else’s life support. You don’t know either the person who attacked you or the person you were hooked up to, but you’ll have to remain hooked up and suffer fairly major health and other personal problems for the next nine months or the person you’re connected to will die — and if you demand your life back, people will call you a murderer and probably a slut for “letting” yourself get hooked up in the first place.

    Sound fair?

  25. @David Karger: “From this perspective, the people who really get me infuriated are those who oppose abortion “except in cases of rape or incest”. If you really think that embryo=human, then there’s no justification for these exceptions.”

    I think this is a logical fallacy if you ascribe to the following: Killing another human being is a sad and tragic thing, except in cases of self defense and (perhaps) war. In excepting rape and incest, you are simply saying that you are committing one tragedy to avoid (perhaps) a larger and certainly longer one. By your logic, if you think that killing people in war or self defense is acceptable, you should also think it’s okay to outright murder people for any reason.

  26. @ David Karger
    I largely agree with your point about not all anti-abortion people are “women-domination happy” (to paraphrase), they just believe a blastocoel has a soul and all souls are equivalent in value, but one thing I’ve been wondering about when trying to wrap my mind around how someone could think an embryo’s soul trumps a woman’s* is the idea of children inheriting the sins of their parents. I.e., the child of a rapist is going to be rapist, or at least not a very good person. I’m not sure how canon that is… I only vaguely recall catechism classes at this point. (Or was Noah supposed to fix that? Or Jesus? I said it was a long time since catechism….)

    Of course, that means they’re advocating what they think is killing someone is perfectly fine if they’re going to be evil? I guess?

    (Trying to think like someone anti-abortion/pro-forced-pregnancy makes my head spin a little.)

    Anyway, definitely nausea-inducing. I’m going to medicate with cookies.

    * Actual scenario: if child A has a condition that requires the parent B to make an organ (kidney, liver) donation for them to live, there is certainly no law I know of that says they have to do so, and (tentatively) I’d say that many people would not like there to be one – it’s a violation of person autonomy, even if the violation is for someone they may be responsible for and (hopefully) care for very much. I think I came across stats once that 80% of parents do make said donation – meaning 20% don’t. I’ll look for the citation.

    Of course this makes assumption that a handful of cells with a possibility of being carried to full term are equivalent in some way to a person… which isn’t my general world-framing. But I still thought it interesting.

  27. I can’t be the only person who drew parallels between JAR’s desire to control, and the Certain Convservative Politician’s desire to control… women.

    (I had written much more, but decided I was ranting rather than discussing, so deleted it).

  28. What scares me is the suspicion that too many GOP politicians would read this and think, “Hey, JAR, you’re welcome! After all, it’s our God-given right as men to keep those uppity women under our firm control — and on their backs, heh, heh.” *shudder*

  29. John thank you for writing this. I am also a survivor, and I’m glad I braved reading it because maybe this will finally wake these jackasses up. I’m not sure what else could, but this might just do it. I have reclaimed my life, and thank god I did not get pregnant, but I do have a small fear somewhere deep inside that I will run into my rapist again. These men clearly have not thought about the consequences of their quest to outlaw abortion at all costs. I hope they do now.

  30. @iholdtheline – I don’t think you can argue for bodily autonomy for anyone and then say that the foetus growing inside them has the same level of bodily autonomy. In one sentence you say that women should be able to control their own bodies, and in the next you state that any potential human has as much right to exist and that such rights trump the rights of the person incubating said foetus.

    All of which is off topic to this post. Thank you Mr Scalzi for pointing out, albeit in a very creepy way, what these Conservative Politicians are actually saying, even if they don’t intend it that way, though I do think they intend the control of women’s bodies, just not necessarily by rapists.

  31. The sad thing is I doubt most of these conservative politicians even really give a hoot either way about abortion rights. Sure there are true believers in the pro-life movement but I can’t help but think that actually overturning Roe v. Wade is a carrot that the politicians hang out every election cycle to get a reliable voting block to the polls.

    Talk a good game to get elected, maybe throw in some B.S. restrictions to abortion (Sonograms) but actually outlawing it? Never happen.

  32. And this is what happens when you piss off a really good writer: they go write something that expresses how deeply you’ve pissed them off, and it’s going to make you look really, really seriously deeply bad. And it’s going to do so in such a way that grabs the attention of the people reading it and squeezes.

    Oh and Mourdock is opposed to the whole concept of birth control. So, outside of his idea of removing the choice from a pregnant rape victim to cary to term or not, he’s also in favor of removing choice from all of us that, if we have sex, we may or may not have a pregnancy as a result.

    So yes he is a goddamn misogynist antifeminist human stain. And no I’m not being “mean” just because his misogyny is based in his personal interpretation of the Bible. There are plenty of other interpretations around that topic aren’t so vile.

  33. As brutal as it was to read, I think your letter really brings the point home about the issue. Speaking as a pro-life Catholic Democrat, I support a woman’s right to choose in circumstances such as rape or incest because those are pregnancies that were forced onto her. Carrying a child should not have to be a burden or a trauma to the mother. While my Church takes a strong stand against abortion, we also stand for human dignity and watching political figures trying to make excuses for rape is as undignified as it gets. I applaud your bold move, sir.

  34. I’m honestly crying and shaking from having read this and having someone be as blunt as you’ve been here. This is powerful. May this be reblogged and shared via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and so on?

  35. iholdtheline — the minute you tell a woman that a fetus’ life is more important than hers, you have relegated her to the position of second-class citizen. Heck, you’ve told her she’s nothing but an incubator.

    It is not a woman’s duty to bring an unwanted pregnancy to term, that idea is abhorrent. Women are fully actualized human beings and should be left to make their own health decisions with their providers.

  36. This is a strong letter. I hope conscience will trump politics, and it end up also being addressed to liberal talk show hosts who make a distinction about rape not being “rape rape”.

  37. @iholdtheline
    I would love to know what you’ve done:
    • Have you done what you can to help women carry unwanted rape pregnancies to term?
    • Have you helped campaign for free and accessible OBGYNs for rape survivors?
    • What have you done about legislation that protects a woman from her rapists’ fathers’ rights?
    • Do you do anything to make prosecution of rapists more successul?
    • Do you do anything to prevent rape?
    • Have you fought against changes to federal subsidies for adoption?
    • Have you voted conservative and thus worked against the previous points?
    • Are you against Obamacare?

    I have no real interest in wasting time attacking you, especially since you’ve relegated yourself to official martyr for the comments section, but I’m genuinely interested if you have done anything to actually further what’s required by the cost of your belief.

    One more question, and this is really where I would love to know how your beliefs plays into practical application.

    • If abortion is murder, do you think it should be punishable as murder?
    • Should a 12 year old girl impregnated by her rapist father be sentenced as a felon?

    Beliefs are great! Different beliefs are valuable and we should all respect one another, but your belief is part of a very large political fight to change our very laws. Do you have any practical resolutions if your belief was suddenly adopted?

  38. Annie:

    By all means, share if you like. I do prefer excerpting and linking in to reposting the whole thing, however. It helps me see who is reading and from where they are coming in to see it.

  39. You know, you say it will be difficult to read, but it wasn’t. I agree with your position in the most absolute terms I can but, being male, I just can’t even begin to fathom the horribleness you are discussing in a way that makes this difficult to read. The only difficult part to me is that this even needed to be written in the first place… 21st century and all.

  40. Another long-term consequence: If the woman keeps the baby and raises the child, at some point she’s going to have to deal with questions from that child about his/her father, especially if she was not married at the time of the rape.

  41. Oh but “Mourdock said he abhors rape and did not mean to suggest that he condones violence against women.” (Rueters) So because he SAYS that he didn’t mean it, it’s all OK that he does the things that support JAR violence.

  42. Damn right that was offensive, John. It was *excellently* offensive. It’s a kind of surgical offensiveness, and several magnitudes less offensive than Mourdock, Adkins, Ryan, et al are every time they flap their yaps about this.

  43. I understand the moral objection to the termination of pregnancy. I, personally, find the practice, when done in cases other than rape, incest, or medical necessity, to be morally repugnant and the ultimate act of selfishness. I doubt I could ever have it done for strictly personal reasons. That being said, I have two sons — twins. I’ve been pregnant, I’ve given birth. I’ve felt life grow within my body; I’ve felt my children move inside me. And I believe, passionately, that whether or not a woman does that is entirely her prerogative. Pregnancy is an astonishingly intimate process. You will never be closer to anyone than a woman is to her unborn child. That said, to force a woman to endure it when she doesn’t wish it is itself largely akin to rape. And I say that with no sense of hyperbole.

  44. I am rabidly pro-choice, but like @David Karger believe that the only consistent, non-hypocritical pro-life argument is that there be no exceptions for rape. I mean, if you truly believe that a mass of microscopic cells that is, as @mintwitch says, “slightly less complex than a baked potato”, is a human being with all the inherent rights and such, then it should make no difference how it came to be in existence. If you believe it’s a life and STILL make an exception that abortion is OK in cases of rape, then how is that any different than saying you can kill a 2-year-old if you find out his father was a rapist?

    It’s a reprehensible point of view, in my opinion, but at least it’s a consistent one. Those who believe in exceptions are judging whether or not to blame the woman for the pregnancy. If it’s not her fault, she can abort, otherwise she’s a slut who shouldn’t have been having sex and got what she was asking for.

  45. I’ve never had the courage to find out whether I’m a child of Decree 770 (the Ceausescu era abortion and contraception ban), someone who would not have been born without that legal restriction. Very occasionally when a fellow romanian ethnic finds out when my birthday is, I’ve gotten some pointed jokes on the subject. “ha, ha, I guess your dad didn’t have very good black market contacts for rubbers”. Romanian humor can sometimes have the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

    Romania was so bad under the communists that abortion rates were tipping 80% before decree 770. All in all, whatever the truth of my parents’ plans were, I’m glad I was born. I’m pretty sure my three kids are also glad I was born as that enabled their own lives. I won’t speak for a group of humanity (children of rape) that I don’t know but I imagine that if you were to put the viewpoint focus on a 40 year old mother of three who had been born of rape, the above article might have turned out a bit differently.

    Maybe, as an exercise, you might consider something along those lines for a future post. There are three relevant viewpoints, mom, rapist, child. I’ve seen the rapist dad viewpoint before. It’s been done. I haven’t seen this tragic tale play out from the point of view of the kid born 9 months later. Are you capable of doing that story too?

  46. As someone who works at a law firm that processes a large number of U-Visas (Visas for victims of abuse/crime), I see this all too often. Abusers will often go after immigrant women, especially undocumented ones, because of control, holding their immigration status against them as another weapon. I’ve seen multiple cases of slavery, reproductive coercion, and women getting no help because of language difficulties or the cops taking the citizen’s word over theirs. Many of these women have little to no access to birth control, and many raise their rapists’ children. If they choose to do this, then I will respect their decision, but often it happens because of lack of any other option.

    Furthermore, as someone who is the child of a rape survivor (and if I wasn’t the result of outright rape, it was certainly coerced sex, given how he abused her), it wrecks people. My mother has a whole plethora of psychological issues as a result. (I could get into a long rant about how she uses the fact that she kept me as an excuse for denying other women their choice, but it would just raise my blood pressure even higher). Rapists do it for control. When my mother’s first husband threatened to kill her, when he kidnapped me from the house we had fled to clear across the country, when he held a gun to her head and talked about how easily he could kill her, it was all for control. And politicians like that are just enabling people like him.

  47. Kara,

    I think even the politicians who are pro-choice should read this. It’s good, every now and again, to know what the stakes are and have it summed up so neatly, to be reminded about how warped and twisted this debate has gotten, so you don’t let your guard down by thinking, that just because you do the right thing, you can compromise a little on the issue.

  48. Jesus. I’m shaking. This was horrible and hard to read and thus, extremely powerful in saying something that desperately needs to be said about the blind, wilful ignorance of the politicians who adopt this position.

    I never thought I’d ever thank anyone for making me sick to my stomach, but here it is: thank you, Scalzi.

  49. FWIW, I commend pro-lifers who have the guts to be against it in all cases except the life of the mother. If a clump of cells that might, if allowed to gestate, become a human being is a separate person deserving of the right to life regardless of the will of the person hosting it, then that should hold true regardless of how that clump of cells was made.

    Exceptions for rape and incest make it clear what the real objection to abortion is, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with those cells, and everything to do with the behavior of the host. It’s the “personal responsibility” canard rearing its head again: the notion that there’s no such thing as a right to sexual pleasure without the potential of creating life, and therefore anyone who engages in sex purely for pleasure is being irresponsible. This is why they’re opposed to contraception, sex education, etc., as well. Truly, if they really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they’d be in favor of public policy that’s proven to reduce unintended pregnancies, and to support women and girls who want to make the choice to parent or adopt. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the abortion rate is extremely low in places that have those policies–because the unintended pregnancy rate is low, too.

    But of course, because it’s not actually about abortion, they’re going to rail on about women behaving irresponsibly by wanting to have an orgasm or two now and then. It’s Eve’s sin all over again: the idea that women’s sexuality is a temptation for man to sin, and therefore women who exercise their sexuality are colluding with the forces of evil. (Clearly, none of these dudes has ever read–or at least learned from–the story of Susannah and the Elders.)

    So, eliminating this argument, which is poppycock on its face because it’s based in religious notions of sexual morality, we’re left arguing this point on secular grounds as noted earlier: If each party to a potential abortion is a full human being equally protected by the Bill of Rights and all that, whose rights take precedence?

    And there, the opposition doesn’t have a leg to stand on, for one simple reason: we don’t force people to use their own bodies to save someone else’s life. Even if you’re the only organ donor match for someone who is dying, you are not compelled to risk your own life and health by giving them a kidney. It may be a selfless and laudable act to do so, but we cannot legally compel someone to do that. We don’t force people to enter burning buildings to rescue people trapped there. We don’t force people to donate blood or bone marrow. We don’t even force people to get vaccinations (though I wish we could.) Therefore, we cannot force a woman to use her body as a host for another “person” who will die without that host. Whether it was her own willful act caused that host to be there in the first place is irrelevant: it’s still her body, and her choice about whether to use it to support the life of someone else.

  50. Lest anyone think this isn’t a realistic viewpoint, I’ll provide some information to help you understand. During the last four years I’ve interviewed a whole bunch of people who lived in Berlin in 1945. Needless to say, they’re all really old. Three of the women I interviewed were willing to talk about having been repeatedly raped by the Russian troops occupying the country, while many others admitted to the same experience but didn’t want to discuss it.

    Those three all said, in more or less identical terms, that they carried those rapes with them for their entire lives, and two spoke about how they think about it every day. These are women who are now well into their 80’s…and still those events control their lives. One of them became pregnant, but managed an abortion. One of them was denounced by her boyfriend when he discovered what had happened…when she was 12! None of the three had successful marriages, even though all three had been married…two of them more than once.

    In short, the rapist is right. The act is all about control, and whether or not the soldiers thought long-term, the rape did. The Russian government encouraged the troops…to show that they were the winners in the war, and Germans were sub-humans. When the Russian (Soviet) war memorial was built, it was informally known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Berliners, however, still refer to it as the Tomb of the Unknown Rapist. That’s a long time to remember.

  51. Here’s the problem I have with most pro-lifers. They are all based on CHRISTIAN morality/ethics systems. Jewish law dictates that in a choice between the life of the mother and the life of the child, the mother’s life should be preserved over the child’s. Jewish law also recognizes that there can be psychological as well as physical “threats” to the woman, in which case abortion would be judged acceptable, as would morning-after pills or other immediate contraception methods which certain members of the GOP would not allow.

    So .. .given that we are a country based in part on religious freedoms, why is the Christian belief system allowed to dictate our laws about abortion, when that belief system is in direct contradiction to other religious belief systems that are also part of the American citizenship?

  52. The so-called “rape exception” itself is a distraction by the anti-woman Right which itself gives too much power to the authoritarian patriarchy over women’s bodily autonomy. The difference between someone who believes in restricting abortion except in the case of rape and “Just Another Rapist” is merely semantic. They both want to control women. All the rape exception does is create cover for legalizing forcible birth.

    The bottom line is this: women should have full autonomy over their bodies. They shouldn’t have to be raped in order to be granted permission by the state or by religious zealots to exercise that autonomy. Women’s access to abortion (and all reproductive health care) must be completely unrestricted.

    Against abortion? Don’t have one. Beyond that, it’s none of your business.

  53. This. Is. Awesome. Horribly awesome, but these things need to be bluntly said.

    Now, to add an extra layer, I want you to imagine what the response to this would have been if it had been (and has been) written by a woman. It is relevant, because the way women get treated when they speak about rape and policies that affect rape and abortion are more silencing tactics as explicit and implicit as said policies.

  54. Spot on.

    And it’s not as if doing away with abortion clinics will make abortions go away, it’ll just drive them into the back alleys and unregulated quack ‘doctors” offices. In which case the mother is even more likely to die or suffer harm.

    If the politicians who support anti-abortion legislation are serious, they shouldn’t waffle around either – I don’t see how they can be pro-life and then in the same breath say that they don’t want contraceptives to be available or sex-ed in schools; if you want to prevent accidental pregnancies, you need to tell kids ~how~ to avoid it. Also, if a man is convicted of rape and getting a woman pregnant against her will, there should be consequences ~for him~, like castration for abusing the (‘God-given’)ability to create life. Also he should have no rights to the child, because he didn’t intend to create it. And the adoption process should be easy and painless (as possible, anyway), and a huge chunk more funds should go to the foster-care system.

    That is the only way I can see someone being sincere in their stance of pro-life, and the politicians that are ‘pro-life’ now are half-assing it at best, blinded by tradition and misogyny at worst.

    The system as it is now isn’t very effective (like you said, 3 in a 100 caught), and putting anti-abortion legislation into place will only make it that much worse.

  55. 3 out of 100 got to prison. And we spend our time and money instead on the “War on Drugs.”
    Could we spend all of that money on fighting the “War Against Rape” instead?

  56. You’re going to be hit with a mountain of crap for writing this, so the least I can do is thank you.

    Thanks.

  57. This is sickening, in the best possible way. I’ve shared it on FB.

    That said, it IS true that the rape exception is inconsistent with a belief that life begins at conception. Personally I think that’s a pretty good adjunct reason* for rejecting that belief.

    *Not enough by itself, but “it’s completely absurd” is, and the adjunct strengthens it.

  58. Thank you again, Mr. Scalzi, for another great piece.

    One of the things you did not mention, but which has bothered me since it got started, is the stupid comments of a “legitimate” rape not causing pregnancy in the first place. Since I first heard it with its buggered-up science it has sounded like a modern pseudo-science justification that “Well yeah she said no but she didn’t mean it. She really liked it you could tell.” Much like your comment that “stand for innocent life”implies them complicit, the claims out there that legitimate rapes don’t result in pregnancy is also a back-hand slap that, “Well, hey, if you got pregnant you must have actually wanted it. See! It wasn’t rape, it was consensual, just like I said.”

  59. @iholdtheline:
    To say that “[t]hat baby is not hers; that baby is its own self.” is disingenuous. Until such time as that baby can feed itself, raise itself, clothe itself, and generally survive on its own, without the mother’s assistance (which for some people is well into their 30s) that baby is not its “own self’s.” That baby, for all intents and purposes, is that woman’s responsibility, or better yet, obligation. And in the instance of rape, that baby is her obligation FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE WHETHER OR NOT SHE WANTED THAT OBLIGATION OR PERSON IN HER LIFE.

    This woman is now financially, physically, emotionally, and mentally responsible for another person. No matter whether or not she can afford it, or is emotionally stable or physically able to do so, much less whether she wanted to or not. What if this woman had decided she didn’t ever want children? What if she had plans for her life that did not involve a tiny human that demanded her attention away from her goals and dreams and aspirations?

    Further, should that baby go off the rails and become a delinquent, criminal, or other kind of generally not productive member of society, those that bypassed the mother’s rights will undoubtedly blame the mother for raising such a miscreant. No one ever said, “Oh, that person raised him/herself horrible and we should blame them.” It’s always, “I blame the parents” for the kid’s misdeeds.

    So, no. That baby is not its “own self.” It is the mother’s, whether she likes/wants it or not.

  60. This is great. Will link. Two typo speed bumps: “There’s just something about making the point to a woman that that her consent and her control…” and “Of the women who have gotten pregnant from rape who give birth that baby…” Feel free to delete this comment.

  61. You, sir, are a man who takes parenting a daughter seriously.
    If the world is not a seriously better place when Athena graduates high school compared to when she was born it will not be from any lack of effort on your part.

  62. Hi! I’m a rapist. But I don’t even know that I am. I have no clue that what I do is rape. What I do doesn’t seem to be forcible. Nobody is kicking, nobody is screaming. In fact, they tend not to say much at all. Certainly not the word “yes,” but I always forget to notice that part. They lay there, and let me do my thing.

    I’ve been told I’m entitled to any woman I want, so long as she isn’t doing everything in her power to fight me off. I learned this from your invention of “legitimate rape.” I have no understanding that she might not be able to fight me, too weak from drinking too much, or too scared to try. Maybe she’s seen how much stronger I am, how I could break in her half if she fights back. Maybe it’s happened before, and she’s learned to shut down her psyche when it happens. Whatever the reason, it just doesn’t feel “forcible” without the fight back. So I can feel good about what I’m doing. I sleep easy beside her as she tries not to wake me when she tries to leave.

    Thank you for the culture that keeps her silent, keeps her from bothering me about it afterward. Thank you for punishing her whether she speaks up or stays silent, by calling her a slut, by saying I was okay to do what I did.

    I always wanted to be a dad. When I find out one of my victims is pregnant, I’d be very upset to find out they’re planning to take that golden opportunity away from me by aborting. Thank you for setting up a system where I can rest easy knowing that, like the sex, she’s been bullied into motherhood as well. Maybe I can even bully her into marriage. Let’s keep this thing rolling. But it’s not forcible marriage unless I drag her kicking and screaming down the aisle. She’ll look at her growing belly that she can’t do anything about and know I’m as good as she’ll get now that she’s been damaged. After all, you’ve shamed her for thinking of being a single mom. You’ve shamed her for everything she’s done since the minute I wormed my way into her life.

    The two of us, we make a great team. I couldn’t have done it without you.

    Sincerely,

    Yet Another Rapist

    (Sorry if this is stepping on your toes. I know not everyone likes to have their metaphors added onto. But dang, so many rapists aren’t considered rapists because of the same culture backed up by everything these conservatives say, by the invention of concepts like all these different types of rape that are seen as less rapey or not as bad or not rape at all. They’re not all hulking monsters in dark alleys preying on strangers.)

  63. Don’t forget the other “fun” way the rapist could potentially control the situation — as the father of the child, he could block any adoption, or insist that he be given full custody rather than allowing the child to be adopted.

    So then what do you do? Give an infant to someone you already know is an abusive asshole, or keep an unwanted child that you resent more and more every day even though you logically know it’s not that child’s fault

  64. Dear Mister Scalzi,

    Every time I think I can’t adore you more, you go and do something like this.

    Thanks.

  65. Oh, and the reasoning behind the rapist-father-rights laws is that absent that, false accusations of rape would be used in custody battles. I don’t buy this, but it’s not completely insane.

  66. @A Mediated LIfe. Thank you!! I’ve been trying to come up with a logical response to the pro-life position you state in your first paragraph–which IMO is the “cover” for all of this anti-abortion nonsense. You really hit the nail on the head with your post, which exposes the fundamentalist agenda for what it is, a way to control female sexuality.

    And thanks to John for such a provocative post.

  67. Another thought, which LawGirl’s post reminds me of. Yes, on the one hand Life is always important and valuable, but is it really doing the child a service to mandate its being born into a situation where it may be hated, or itself be abused, where the disruption of the mother’s life may well force it to live a life of deprivation and poverty? Once again, where are these pious pro-Life people when the quality of life is low and life is so hard to maintain? Where are social assistance resources for people in these situations.

    These people aren’t Pro-Life, they are Pro-Birth and Anti-Sex.

  68. Thank you, John.

    @iholdtheline: You’ve just argued that a pregnant woman has a duty to die if that’s necessary for her to bring a child into the world.

    @TMLutas: If the mother of your hypothetical 40-year-old had not been raped, the hypothetical 40-year-old would never have been conceived; if I condemn her rapist, am I not saying to the 40-year-old “You shouldn’t ever have existed”? Do you really want to go down that road?

    Taking your question at face value, you could make just as ridiculous an argument by saying that a hypothetical 40-year-old only exists because her mother had an abortion when she was much younger. Ask that 40-year-old if she would rather not exist and that her mother had instead carried that earlier pregnancy to term.

    Regarding Mourdock, let’s be very clear that he wasn’t merely saying that abortion is wrong no matter how a baby was conceived, or that his heart bleeds for rape victims but he thinks abortion compounds the evil of rape. What he explicitly said was that if a rapist impregnates his victim, that pregnancy was “something that God intended to happen”. That is, God actually and deliberately meant for the victim to become pregnant as a result of that rape — and I don’t, personally, see how you can avoid saying that God also intended that rape to happen. Which is not only a shitty thing to say, but it’s a pretty remarkable dis on God, somebody Mourdock pretends to revere.

  69. “The only consistent, non-hypocritical pro-life argument is that there be no exceptions for rape.”

    Well, it’s *one* consistent pro-life argument, but not the only one I can think of. For one thing, most people make a distinction, in at least some contexts, between what the best moral choices are and what laws should cover. (This came up recently in some of the discussions of Reddit trolls, for instance.)

    If you believe, for instance, that a total ban on abortion, with no exceptions or only extremely narrow ones, would not be possible to enact or effectively enforce, but one that had widely favored exceptions would be, then you might well favor the law you considered more realistic rather than the law that reflects all your personal ethical preferences. This isn’t simply “pandering to the electorate”; it’s understanding that laws operate in the real world, and that a compromise law that is largely upheld in society could better serve to accomplish one’s objectives than an “ideal” law that’s not. (To take another example, many pro-choice Democrats supported health care reform that didn’t require abortion coverage, for example, recognizing that that had a better chance of passing and getting general support than a law that required it.)

    (Whether or not a particular partial abortion ban *would* in fact be a workable compromise is another question. My main point here is that it’s not hypocritical to support one if you think it would be, and that a more absolute ban would not be.)

  70. THANK YOU! I LOVE THIS!!! I’ve shared this letter to every one of my social networks and I hope all my pro-life friends read it. I think it’s the eye-opener they really need. You are a brave and awesome man for writing this. Thanks again!

  71. Very nice piece.

    I remember George Carlin making the point in one of his routines that political conservatives who are pro-life seem to care a lot about the unborn and not a lot about the already-born. We’ll bend over backwards for you if you’re a fetus, but if your child whose family needs welfare or medical care or education, well, you’re just shit out of luck, aren’t you?

    I’t s a very odd mentality that I confess I really don’t understand at all.

  72. This piece is more horrific than I imagined. I’m probably just like everyone else in that the 2nd thing I thought of was “A Modest Proposal”, which also turned me inside out.

    My only objection to this piece is that my (uneducated) guess is that a vanishingly few of these monsters have this (or any) level of self-awareness. So they probably wouldn’t really have the decency to thank these folks who make it so easy for them.

  73. I was going to tear into “iholdtheline’s” argument — the rigid principle of holding to pro-life beliefs regardless of circumstance, etc.– but something was nagging me.

    So I did a little digging. Followed a few links. Read a few comments.

    As I suspected — “iholdtheline” is… (wait for it)… Male.

    Which means that his opinion on a “woman’s duty” means about as much as you’d expect.

  74. I would encourage people to read Shana Prewitt’s CNN article, and her Georgetown Law Journal article on this subject. (The GLJ piece is available at the CNN link.) They have the nuance, supporting data, and thoughtfulness that any discussion of an issue this sensitive needs – and which I do not see in either our host’s article or the comments. More light, less heat, please.

    For reference, Ms. Prewitt *has* actually been in the situation of becoming pregnant as the result of rape, and what she has to say will surprise you, whatever your beliefs.

  75. Very powerful! Brought me to tears. I can’t imagine what a woman who’s been raped and gets pregnant has to go through. Such horror. And then to have a man, who has nothing whatsoever to do with you, legislate that you cannot end the forced pregnancy makes things even worst.
    Mourdock and his ilk have no respect for women at all. They need to read “The Handmaiden’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

  76. As a currently pregnant lady with an awesomely supportive husband and family, I can’t begin to imagine what this process of doctors, sick time, and “what’s my body going to do to itself this week?” would be like if I had to toss on the baggage of having been impregnated by a rapist.

    When I was younger I got the impression from pro-lifers that my pro-choice viewpoints would change when/if I decided to bring life into the world. I can tell you now that, having dealt with one miscarriage (which I initiated termination on after the midwife and doctor both diagnosed it as not viable) and now this (fingers crossed) more-or-less happily progressing pregnancy, my opinion has not changed.

    I am honestly mortified at the thought that there are politicians who still need to do mental gymnastics to justify enforcing their beliefs on me. The whole “rape-rape” conversation and what would “qualify” for an abortion hall pass to these people has made me sad beyond belief. Bearing a child has only made it sadder for me, that they want to compound the pain of carrying and bearing a child with the pain of psychological trauma. My heart, it aches.

  77. When you said on your Twitter feed that you’d written something that’d lead to making you pay extra attention to your comments page for the next two days, I knew it’d be another good one. I had no idea HOW good. True. All of it true. And brutal. Fortunately, I’m not triggered much by this despite my history, but I can see where it would hit many people very hard.

  78. I’m not a child of rape, but I sure as heck was unplanned. Why would I go around thinking, just because I turned out a pretty nice person with a pretty nice life, that my parents should have had fewer freedoms? And make no mistake, MANY things they were free to do would have resulted in my not being here. Just having sex ten minutes later would have done it, as a different sperm would have hit the egg. It’s simply not my business. I don’t see abortion as any different. Of course my mom could have done that. It was her body. In some ways it would have been better for her if she had, just as in some ways it would have been better if she and my father hadn’t gotten married. I don’t honestly see why it’s so unthinkable to say one but not the other.

  79. Oh my, yes. This is excellent.

    Congratulations, John. I normally know about your posts via e-mail notice, but this one slammed into my Facebook 1 hour 10 minutes after you posted from friends whom have been non-political, and as far as I know, never read your books or blog. You’re going to be fending off interview requests while swinging the mallet all weekend.

  80. I think the only people for whom this will have any real meaning or resonance are the ones who already agree with you. Those men who think they have the right to legislate my body, if they read this at all, won’t get it. And honestly, that makes me much more upset than all the triggers this tripped.

    I hope I’m wrong. I hope you’ve made a difference. It certainly isn’t for lack of effort.

  81. I have a question I would like you to seriously consider. Please do not make assumptions about my beliefs and just focus on the question (btw I appreciated point 5 caveats above).

    “If the unborn could write a letter, I wonder what she/he would say?”

  82. And, btw, you have managed to communicate, possibly without being aware of it, what an unwanted and life-threatening pregnancy (even without the rape aspect) feels like. The rape was more pleasant (not to mention far shorter in duration), and that’s saying something, especially with the violent threats to send three people to the hospital. I cannot imagine an enjoyable or satisfying pregnancy. I also can’t imagine how much worse it would have been had it been a rapist’s child.

  83. @MasterThief, not really following why you think Prewitt’s piece is a useful tool to whack people with here for not being as measured in tone as you’d prefer – people who, by the way, include commenters who have identified themselves as rape survivors.

    Prewitt was responding to Akin, who made the execrable argument that rape just never leads to pregnancy in the first place (also nicely insinuating that a woman who claims she is pregnant as a result of rape is lying about the rape); she pointed out that not only can rape cause pregnancy, but that the law in those cases permits rapists to continue to try and control their victims. (Kind of like our host already pointed out no?) Since nobody has claimed that every woman who is pregnant from rape should, or wants to, abortion that pregnancy, nobody (including Prewitt) is attacking such an argument.

    If you’re not seeing any light, try opening your eyes.

  84. This is great, getting at the heart of the injustice and violation of denying women the right to control their bodies. To this readers having trouble with the “but what about the baby?” question, it’s critical to understand that to give a fetus any autonomy is to take autonomy away from the woman. In order for a woman to have bodily autonomy equal to men, fetuses can have none. And in fact, fetuses legally should not have autonomy because physically they cannot until viability, at which point abortion is exceedingly difficult to get and generally sought by a woman to save her life.

    I have known women who were impregnated by their rapist and chose to carry the pregnancy to term. That was their choice. To be able to make a choice is critical for women whose bodily autonomy has been so horribly violated, and to deny her that choice is to continue the rape. Thank you for writing this.

  85. @John Mark Ockerbloom:

    I get your point about the practicality of “compromise law”, but IMO that’s precisely what spawned the “forcible”/”legitimate” rape distinctions that the targets of John’s post are making. If you want to make an allowance for rape but not let it be such a huge loophole that it renders the ban moot, you’ve got to go down that ugly road. And, as John’s post exemplifies, it really is an ugly road paved with all kinds of nastiness and misogyny.

  86. Banner:

    I believe the unborn would write:

    “If you read the five points above, then I am wondering why you want to attempt to derail the thread into discussing a hypothetical that has no relevant bearing to the discussion at hand.”

    Wow, those unborn think a lot like I do!

  87. I know this isn’t the reason you write stuff like this, for praise, but I can’t pass by without saying thank you – as a survivor of many years of ritualistic and other sexual assaults, and a resulting sexual abuse pregnancy at eleven, I can’t begin to tell you what it means to me to have you speak up in this way – no holds barred, unapologetic, in your face reality. I’m not a US citizen but reading the stuff you’re arguing against literally nauseates me. I start feeling crazy, small, invisible. It matters SO MUCH when men speak up. Thank you, brother.

  88. @MasterThief: Not surprised. She chose what she felt was best in her situation and discovered that the law is harsher than she knew. I had already been made aware of those 31 states and their brutal disregard for the people who choose to carry their rapist’s child to term, though. And the fact she’s pleased with her decision to carry her pregnancy to term is something that I am glad to see. She deserves joy and is finding it that way.

    @M Gedris: That was my rapist speaking right there. Well done. Now I’m a bit triggered, so if you’ll excuse me, there is warm food and beverage calling my name. It’s dinner time anyway, but I need the solace a bit more right now. *tips her hat and smiles gently*

  89. I’m pro-abortion, but if someone else believes that abortion is murder, making exceptions for rape or incest would be inconsistent.
    After all, one wouldn’t kill a child born of rape, and most people who oppose abortions believe a fetus has the same rights as a child. By their own lights they are consistent and honorable.
    That you or I may have a different philosophy is well and good, but the other side is not demented.

  90. Not only is the letter highly effective (and jarring to consider), but many of the comments provided extra food for thought. I saw some very good points. I am truly saddened that this even had to be written, and I hope that even *one* person who thinks like Mourdock, Akin, etc., can learn something from this.
    Bravo, John. Thank you for speaking the hard truth.

  91. @Joe P: They’re both manifestations of the general sentiment that other people who aren’t like you should be punished for that failing. The idea is that the Right Way to Be is to be part of a tight-knit family structure that provides its members all the support they need (in exchange for mutilating themselves into components of the family machine), so if you have sex other than with your husband who’s a strong provider, you deserve to be punished with a pregnancy you can’t handle, and if your family can’t feed you and get you medical care and provide for your education, congratulations, you’re society’s ballast, what gets tossed overboard as a scary example to keep everybody else in line. And so on. It’s all very self-consistent, if you’re one of the Good Right-Thinking People of the world (i.e. a goddamned monster).

  92. I thought it was relevant to consider all opinions of the parties effected by the crime. Not attempting to derail but to help us to think of the possible validity of other views.

  93. You know, John, if you ever want to write crime fiction, I think you would completely kick ass. You’ve just written an antagonist that chilled me right to the core. And I have a high threshold of chill these days,

  94. Very sorry if this is a duplicate post – I tried before and got asked to log in, then bounced out and it disappeared.

    Thank you, so very much, for this, awful as it was to read and must have been to write.

    Before I actually became a parent, I used to think, as most women do at some point, about how I might cope with it if I were raped. I also, in my innocence or idiocy, used to hope that I’d have the courage, should I be not only raped but impregnated, to turn that act of evil into an act of good by bringing a new life into the world. Now, having carried a wanted and beloved pregnancy to term and been a parent for half a dozen years, I can’t even imagine it.

    I have no idea if my experience of pregnancy was anything remotely like typical, but I remember almost every moment from the day I finally began to show right to the end as weirdly public. There were of course the invasive idiots who wanted to touch and poke and pat, but there was also a constant stream of eager, excited well-wishers, both known and strangers, whose hearts just leapt at the sight of someone carrying a large round belly like a little banner of hope in the world. Everywhere I went, people wanted to talk with me: How far along was I, was it my first, was my family excited, was the father excited, had I decided what hospital I’d deliver at, was I going to have a doula, had I felt it kick yet, I was carrying so high it must be a boy (it wasn’t), I reminded them of themselves twenty years ago, this was the most beautiful time of my life and I should cherish every second, this was so scary but so thrilling and I shouldn’t let myself forget one moment of it, I simply had to plan a vacation with the father just before I delivered, because everything was about to change and we needed that time with just the two of us. Could they get me a seat, a glass of water, a cushion, a phone? What could they do? Could I tell them all about this, because it was the most wonderful thing ever?

    All incredibly well-intentioned, all filled with joy and vicarious excitement and genuine big-hearted happiness for me… but still, completely overwhelming. And this was a pregnancy I’d wanted and planned for and hoped for and was thrilled beyond words about. I literally cannot imagine what it would be like to go through that while carrying a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, that had been forced on me, that was the result of my having survived a violent assault. I try to imagine, and my brain tries to walk me right off the Golden Gate Bridge because it seems so unbearable, and then I stop imagining.

    I do, still, absolutely admire the few brave women who make that choice anyway, who come out the other end of the assault and the pregnancy unbroken, who bear their children and keep them or bear them and give them up to homes without that violent, hateful shadow looming over them. But I couldn’t do it, and I’ll be Goddamned (I say that as a practicing, devout Catholic) if I think I’ve got any right in this or any other world to add one more assault upon the control and choice and bodily autonomy of every rape survivor everywhere just because a very few are brave enough to manage it. It’s monstrous, and if I advocated for it or voted for those who wanted to legislate it, God would damn me but good, as She bloody well ought.

  95. Banner:

    And I think it’s not, and I get to make that call here. If you want to have that other discussion, there’s the whole rest of the Internet to have it on.

  96. Having a 14 year old daughter, my fear is that she will grow up with politicians like this at the helm. Thank you for writing this in this manner to emphasize the impact on women such careless disregard from those who have uttered such sentiments.

  97. Sure thing John I submit to your decisions gracefully. Thank you for allowing these few words. Well written post.

  98. to “iholdtheline”

    Yes, I understand that some people believe that a fertilized ovum is a human being, which implies they have rights.

    However, please understand that this is a belief of yours, which is not rooted in any rational argument. (really, it isn’t unless you also want to extend personhood to unfertilized eggs and sperm. The “viability given the correct environment” argument is the same in both cases. Until and unless you define what it is to be human, AND alive, you can’t argue your point. And once you do, the “conception at birth” fails. By all means do try it, please.)

    So I would like YOU to understand that since this is a morally ambiguous area, trying to legislate it one way or the other is always going to result in some people being unhappy with the result. In this case I consider it a far greater crime for the state to overrule the morality of the mother, who may hold different views. Conservatives tend to say that “no government (or smaller government) is good government” and in this case I agree with them.

    If you truly want to decrease the number of abortions, then please vote for politicians that favor universal health care, and greater spending on social programs such as education and the arts.

  99. I’m a survivor too, and appreciated the trigger warning. Glad I read through. Just wish I could staple this to those politician’s heads, but they won’t learn even if rape tears their own families apart.

  100. TMLutas, you may find the chapter in Freakonomics covering the Decree 770 era (in part) interesting. It opens the chapter called “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” (About how the increased availability in abortion in the US led to a long-term drop of crime rates.)

  101. I had an abortion when I was 18. The pregnancy was a product of carelessness. I’m not proud of it.
    It remains the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.

    I hold no illusions about it. I asked to see the sonogram before the procedure. There was a child in my belly, and I had that team of doctors kill it. I did it for my own reasons, but that does NOT mean I take it lightly. I certainly did not go on thinking I was an invulnerable teenager after that. I lost my innocence when I found out I was pregnant. It was my first experience with real consequences.

    Even so I still believe, 16 years later, that I did the right thing. I have two tiny daughters now, which were planned and are treasured. The thought that someday one of them might find herself in the situation I did, but not have access to the choices I had, chills my bones. No teen should have to give up their futures, sacrificing college and potential career, because deep in their heart they thought that pregnancy was what happened to other people. Honors students don’t get pregnant. (You might say Honors students should be smarter than that. Intellectually, perhaps. But emotionally, they’re just silly kids – trust me I know.)

    The thought that a woman would be PUT in that situation by someone, and then not have access to an abortion – to be forced to go through a pregnancy, it makes me want to weep. Pregnancy is the most invasive, violating thing you can feel, even if it’s a child you WANT. By the end of it, you just want it OUT.

    Bottom line, this is a choice that every woman should have, regardless of how she became pregnant.

  102. There is nothing I can add to the arguments made here, really– but thank you, Mr. Scalzi, for writing this (highly disturbing but absolutely necessary) post. I just wish that I thought some ethically bankrupt person like Akin or Mourdock would read it, think, “Holy crap, I’m NOT A WOMAN, I can’t possibly understand what they’re going to go through if this happens to them,” and actually *shut up*– but, to quote Berke Breathed….

    “Pipe dreams are under the bed.”

  103. @ minaria
    The problem with ‘a blastocoel has a soul’ IS scientific. By that belief, you then have a corrolary that identical twins have one soul- since the twinning happens 1-8 days after conception. (up to 2 and a half weeks for conjoined twins).

    And the children inheriting the sins of the parents.. no. Quite a number of the ‘forced birthers’ believe that you are killing an innocent. (the uspoken here is, the embryo is an COMPLETE innocent.. you, the woman… who knows.)

    And you catechism only applies to other people of your religion. Not everyone ascribes to your religious beliefs. Ask any rabbi when they think ‘life’ begins. You won’t get ‘conception’. Not once.

    And just to toss it out there. ‘life begins at conception’ is Catholic canon, and has been, since 1917. The Pope who first brought it up was Pius IX – in 1869.

    (Ahhh… Pope Pius IX. He made papal infallibility dogma (against resistance) He’s the Pope who also said that slavery was a necessity, and completely in keeping with natural and devine law. Lovely little anti-semite )

  104. @MasterThief – First may I say that no, I am not surprised by what Ms Prewitt has to say, possibly because of the fact that as a rape survivor and fiend to many other rape survivors, I know how the system and society work when it comes to rape. ‘Luckily’ I was too young to become pregnant at the time of my rape.

    I agree with everything Ms Prewitt says, and appreciate both her willingness to publicize her experience, and the facts and figures she uses to cite her information.

    However what Mr. Scalzi has presented here is also valuable. That plain truth of psychology is that we learn more from emotional responses that from logic and information. This piece is designed to elicit a strong emotional response in everyone who reads it. As such it is a tool for education that can have a strong and lasting effect.

    In order to truly stop the horror both Mr. Scalzi and Ms Prewitt are addressing, we need both the heat and light, as you put it. One to sink into our memory and shape our attitudes and beliefs, the other to inform and guide our actions.

  105. Mr. Scalzi, you remind me of why it is said that ancient warriors feared the anger of a bard more than death. Thank you for this. Thank you.

  106. @Scalzi: “The article isn’t about the baby. It’s about the woman. Immediately trying to make it about the baby is implicitly an attempt to get around the woman and the rights she has to control her own body.”

    The baby is not part of the woman’s body. Its DNA is different. It is a different person. By trying to pretend that a baby is just another part of a woman’s body, like an earlobe or eyelash, you are dehumanizing the most most helpless segment of humanity.

    Honestly, this entire post of yours sort of appalls me. I honestly thought you were a better person than this.

  107. BillK:

    “The baby is not part of the woman’s body.”

    I invite you to show me where I said that. It’s definitely not in the part you just quoted. However, the embryo is in the woman’s body. And once again, the article isn’t about the embryo (or baby), it’s about the woman, and who gets to have control of her body: her or her rapist.

    If you’re going to get outraged by something I said, BillK, it’d be useful for me to have actually have said it.

    “I honestly thought you were a better person than this.”

    You know, BillK, if your definition of a “better person” is one who prefers a rapist to have more control over a woman’s body than she does, then I’m delighted to disappoint you.

  108. Mythago:

    “Which is not only a shitty thing to say, but it’s a pretty remarkable dis on God, somebody Mourdock pretends to revere.”

    I agree it is a shitty thing to say. But, I don’t think it’s exactly a dis on God. Now, we may not be very far apart here, as you might have meant the following implicitly. In which case, please consider this a refinement for my benefit.

    I don’t think it’s too far outside the norm that those of the Christian persuasion can find themselves, in trying times, taking comfort from the idea that while God’s will is difficult to parse, it is God’s will. Shorter, if one submits to a higher power, everything is God’s will.

    I do think, in this fashion by these politicians, this is a deliberate, self serving repurposing of that wholly reasonably function of religion. But, the general idea that awful things are part of God’s will isn’t implicitly a dis on God. And, I don’t know if Mourdock pretends to revere his God or not, but I’ll go as far as to say that somewhere along the line all the compassion got taken out of his conservative Christianity.

    I work with a lot of folks who’ve incorporated the expression, and notion I suppose, of “inshallah” into their lexicon and world view. I used to work with one guy who everytime he heard the expression would exclaim “Different God.” Which I found to be pedantically dickish. But, when I hear Mourdock and his like minded friends exclaim the will of God, I do tend think “Must be a different God.”

  109. As a rape survivor whose rapist was a counsellor to girls, (so I can assume he’d had some experience with rape before he got to me when I was 26) I can honestly say that this satire was disgustingly well done. You are at your best when you have a head full of steam, Mr Scalzi, and I appreciate your work here. However, I wanted to add something, and that is the slimebag who raped me was interested not just in control, of course, he also wanted power and the satisfaction of crushing another person’s spirit, of being in complete dominance of the person, in this case, stupid me, who walked into his house and accepted a drink without knowing him for more than a few hours, (and who had no self-defense moves to get out from under the bastard, something I have since rectified). I was terrified when I noticed that his back yard was dug up, because I wondered if he killed women/girls and buried them back there, and he seemed to get off on my terror, and my being surprised that he wasn’t a decent person at all, and that, as he said, “You’d better get used to this, this is what sex is like for fat *****s” He was trying to make me believe that no one would ever want me or love me unless I succumbed to forceable rape. For men who gain sexual gratification from crushing another person’s spirit, or making them fear even looking for a male mate, it’s more than control, in my opinion, it is sick, twisted evil. I could no more have carried a child of his, had he gotten me pregnant, than I could have sprouted wings and flown to the moon. I never wanted to see his smiling, sweaty face or hear his voice ever again. I still don’t. And I knew, because he was considered “good looking” that it would be his word against mine in court, and I would, as a not-good-looking woman, have lost any case I brought against him in court…no one would believe he’d want to go out on a date with me. There were doctors who literally threw me out of their offices when I came to them afterwards to get tested for STDs. One of those doctors said “I graduated from a Catholic University, I can’t treat whores.” So yeah, I appreciate what you’re saying here, but I’d just really appreciate it if men would keep their laws and politics off my body. BTW, just today on the news they spoke of a man, a teacher, convicted of raping a 7 year old girl, and molesting two teenagers. He got an 11 year sentence, but the judge told him he will only be serving ONE YEAR of that sentence, after which he will be required to get out-patient therapy. Isn’t that just spiffy? He’s ruined the life of a little girl, who will likely hate and fear men for quite awhile, but meanwhile, he gets to go back to his life after a year like nothing happened! And people wonder why I didn’t try to take the guy who raped me to court.

  110. My gastrointestinal bacteria also have different DNA. Cancer also typically has different DNA than I do. So? I should get to choose which organisms do or do not remain in my body.

  111. @Billk,

    You are entitled to your opinion. Everyone doesn’t agree with you. It’s the woman’s body and she gets to make the choice as to whether or not she wants to carry the pregnancy to term.

    You don’t get to make that choice for her. Neither do I. Neither does Mr. Mourdock or any other politician.

  112. Spot on. Though, I think you could have gone further.

    Because a woman who chooses to keep the child of her rape must then raise her child, and then endure all costs of raising her child. Even if she loves her child, this daily cost, for a woman who, statistically most likely comes from a near poverty or a poverty level background is immensely burdensome. Our child welfare system is sick and broken, and those politicians who cry out for the safety of the innocent life of the child while it is in its mothers womb, begin to call that same child a social burden the moment the child takes its first breath. So every woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy finds herself deciding which is better, a life in poverty where the system is turned against her child, or no life at all? And there are very few who would say that either choice is easy to make.
    On top of this should she choose to face her rapist, she faces a criminal justice system who looks at her with contempt, blames her for being where she was when she was, slut shames her for being sexually active, see’s her as trying to gain attention. Or at least, from the media she’s seen, this is what she believes. And all of these things could be changed or helped by our representatives. Many of whom campaign on political platforms built around Christianity. But, though I’m pro-choice I’m a Christian myself and I have to wonder, if Christ were there to comfort the victims, what he would do?

  113. Awesome piece, sir.

    As to the people who’ve thrown their stories up on the ‘net for everyone to see: I’m in awe of you, your bravery and what you’ve survived.

    The only people qualified to choose what to do with a uterus is the owner of that uterus. Nobody else. Saying otherwise is immoral, wrong, and profoundly cowardly in a way that is abhorrent to anyone who has given it honest thought.

  114. Laurie Mann:

    “People like Mourdock are Morlocks.”

    I’m super glad to know I’m not the only person with that linkage kicking around their brain.

  115. I fully agree with iholdtheline.

    Up to a point.

    Any woman who feels that way and reasons that way should be free to act according to her own moral principles.

    Any woman who doesn’t, should not feel pressured to do so.

    An excellent piece of writing here that highlights the (presumably) unintended consequences of imposing your will on others.

  116. @Other Bill: Sure. I still think it is a dis on God; and that there is a difference between “maybe this is part of God’s plan somehow” (meaning, even though this is tragic, perhaps there is good that will come of it, even if we don’t know what it is) and “God intended that thing to happen” (meaning, suck it up because God did it to you on purpose).

    I mean, take it out of the context of abortion: if someone lost a beloved family member in a horrible accident caused by a drunk driver, you might expect someone to try to console the bereaved by saying that the tragedy was somehow part of God’s plan, or that we can never know the will of God – however many of us might recoil from that or be offended, we’d probably agree that person was trying to communicate that the death wasn’t pointless and meaningless. That would be very different from telling the bereaved “If your wife is crushed to death by a pickup truck, God intended that to happen.” We’d think that was not just insensitive but groudon lunacy.

    Of course, I am of a religious tradition that says if God lived on earth, people would break his windows, so.

  117. I’ve only gotten to about line ten, and definitely not the comments.
    Thank you for writing this.
    I so wanted to [ redacted ] him because statements like that show
    an absolute ignorance of biology.

    Pregnancy occurs from sperm meets egg.
    Doing it in a hot tub, or the first time, or if she’s face down….
    won’t prevent pregnancy any more than than saying “I’m rich and
    pretty” three times will make one rich or pretty.
    That asshole seems to know less than a six year old who grew up
    on a farm. A farm with cows.
    Daddy had guests.
    Daddy! The bull f***ed the brown cow!
    Because of the guests daddy said “You should say ‘surprised’ the brown
    cow.”
    Little bit later the little girl ran back in and daddy was kind of pre-emptive
    and said “Yes, sweetie, he surprised the the white cow.”
    And the kid said “He sure did! He f***ed the brown cow again!”

  118. Bullseye, John.

    In my imagination, JAR adds a second postscript: “I’m sure you’ll understand my point of view, since you obviously have a thing for controlling women and teaching them their place just like I do.”

    My Mormon granny had a firm opinion about all this sort of thing: it’s none of the government’s damn business.

    ===

    If it’s a woman’s duty to bear any child she conceives, it necessarily follows that it’s the duty of everyone else to support her and the child in comfort and security until it reaches adulthood.

    Furthermore, in order to minimize instances of this outrageous loss of personal freedom and autonomy on the woman’s part, it is the duty of society to see that young persons are given an education in sex, anatomy, and human reproduction, and given full access to contraception, without question or charge.

    ===

    Anyone who encourages or makes light of rape, or in any other way diminishes the moral consequences of the act, is committing an antisocial and irresponsible act.

    Anyone who votes to limit abortion, and also votes to limit or diminish funds for welfare, prenatal care, childcare, publicly assisted housing, or free education, or who votes against access to contraception, or sex education in the public schools, is a fucking hypocrite.

  119. A government that believes it can ban abortions will, sooner or later, get around to believing it can force women to have them. That’s because it believes it controls women and their bodies. That’s why it’s important to elect people who do not want the government controlling abortion (except for regulating licenses – much like beauticians). I don’t understand why the pro-lifers don’t realize this – and that there are more effective, although less ‘heroic’ ways to achieve their goals.

  120. Kara – I appreciate your recognition of (one of) the sources of the “Pro Life” philosophy in Christian doctrines and dogma. I recognize and agree that it is a common factor among people who hold fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

    However, I must respectfully deny that this is even universal among that group, and I must deny that it has anything whatsoever to do with the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, and instead, like persecuting gay people, going on Crusades, torturing people to get them to change their beliefs, it all comes under the heading of “Stupid shit people do in Jesus’ name which he never said to do.”

    We have a pretty good record of what Jesus thought was important to talk about; Jesus did not talk about rape, he did not talk about sex between people of the same physical gender, he did not condemn the woman who had been caught in adultery, but instead, after shaming the ones who were going to murder her, he told her that HE did not judge her, but she should go on without sinning further. He did not mention abortion. It would be foolish to pretend that it never happened.

    There is a strong similarity even across distinct cultures, among the people in the Mediterranean area, which has been called the “Mediterranean Culture” by anthropologists. Other religions than Christianity, also arising from the Mediterranean culture, also have similar blame-the-woman and control-the-woman teachings, and like Christianity, they are not necessarily well supported in the written doctrines. They have similar machismo and similar concepts of wedding as sale of a woman into the family of a man, etc.

    And there are people, without any religious motive, or with distinct declaration of no religion whatsoever, who still have and proclaim the idea that the life of a hypothetical child is of such primal import that it overrides the will of the woman who carries that potential child, to the point that they must fight the “injustice” of a woman choosing to terminate, or to refuse to be impregnated in the first place, because it’s FOR THE UNBORN CHILD.

    I believe that this does come down to an unrealized or unrecognized sense that one is entitled and obligated to dictate to other humans what the intimate details of their life MUST be like, in order to maintain one’s personal feeling of comfort with the “rightness of the world”, in other words, with an overwhelming and overriding selfishness and disregard of others, held by persons who think that their personal comfort is more important than the choices of those other persons.

    We humans tend to go to the greatest extremes of judgmental obnoxiousness when our unspoken assumptions are challenged, and make the greatest rationalizations, but please don’t compound the error by letting your own prejudices about religious belief color your argument – because not everyone who shares even the most fundamentalist Christian beliefs won’t necessarily accept EVERY single bit of extremism, just as not everyone who eschews them will avoid wierdly extreme beliefs.

  121. @foomf, as a side note, ‘marriage as the sale of a woman into the family of a man’ is pretty nigh universal in human cultures until quite recently; keep that in mind next time you hear somebody prattling about “traditional marriage”.

  122. You know what, as a rape survivor and an incest survivor i coped with your article just fine. Then i started reading the comments. Where i lost it was iholdtheline’s comment. OMG! The assumption that the baby is the woman’s???
    That made me throw up in my mouth, and more than a little bit.
    What really scares me (and i mean scares the daylights out of me and is actually making me shake while i’m writing this) is that the only other option is that the baby is the rapist’s, thus giving that rapist, that creature that forced it’s will on another, the right to control the life of that baby and the incubator. If that baby is not the woman’s then this, i believe, holds the door open to any male wanting a child and not having a willing female to assist him, and warped enough in their moral sense of right and wrong, to go out, pick a pretty female and rape her as often as required to make HIS baby, safe in the knowledge that she can’t legally do anything to prevent the birth of that child.
    This is, and can only EVER be, about the mother. The mother who will carry that child, or not, who will bring up that child, or not, who has the ultimate decision to decide what happens to their own body.
    I’ll say right now that i am pro-choice. I don’t think abortions should be done out of convenience but i believe there are situations in which an abortion is a choice that should be available. Allowing otherwise will lead to the bad old days of unqualified abortionists in back rooms and a coat hanger – i have an ancestor that bled to death after one of those. The nurse was acquitted because the victim couldn’t admit what had happened because doing so would have resulted in HER being charged with the crime of procuring an abortion. The police knew very well what had happened and couldn’t do a thing to stop it happening again, because the law prevented them from doing so. The same nurse was charged again a few months later after another death, and was acquitted again. How many women died at the hands of this butcher?
    Abortions will continue regardless of what is legal. It just comes down to how many women have to die on a dirty table with blood dripping on the floor below them to keep the right to control their own body.

  123. As someone who worked at an abortion clinic for 12 years, I have to say, this isn’t over the top or unduly harsh. At all. Thank you for writing it, and for posting it. I’m posting it to my facebook.

  124. Mythago:

    “That would be very different from telling the bereaved “If your wife is crushed to death by a pickup truck, God intended that to happen.” We’d think that was not just insensitive but groudon lunacy.”

    Not so far apart at all. I very much agree that there’s a difference between those two. I’m reminded of the scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:

    Dr. Gonzo: [spills the cocaine] Jesus! You see what God just did to us, man?
    Raoul Duke: God didn’t do that, you did it. You’re a fucking narcotics agent, I knew it!

    Which is to say that while people can offer comfort with that sort of talk, it’s easily abused to avoid having to think – or discuss – some of the difficult implications of our ethical and moral positions.

  125. i didn’t know that 31 states will allow a rapist to continue forcing himself upon his victim for visitation or custody. that is completely gag-inducing.

    extra karmic points to you, scalzi, for writing this. ripper job on a vile subject.

  126. As a rape survivor who would have taken a knife to her own womb had she been made pregnant by it, thank you.

  127. John- thank you for highlighting these issues. Hopefully, your readers are astute enough to realize not all conservatives think like, nor condone the views of these “conservative” politicians. These guys are idiots and all they do is tarnish others in their party. FYI, your ability to get inside the head of a sick and twisted person is disturbing.

  128. There are some of us who recognize an intimate/ innate communion between a mother and the Spirit of the embryo growing inside her. In the case of rape, it is a loving joint decision between the potential incoming newborn Spirit and the Spirit of the mother, to end the pregnancy. It is done with a mutual loving allowance and sacredness between the two, knowing that both will be spared the anguish and conflict that carrying on the genes of a rapist would bring. Loving support should always be offered to the mother. The trauma of the rape is enough to handle in itself. Hopefully all family members will assist in the healing process, totally supportive and surrounding the mother in Love.

  129. Not only was this post necessary, but also the way you did it was absolutely critical. It’s shocking, and there’s a whole host of people who need to be slapped in the face by this issue.

    I’ve noticed that moderate Republicans – the ones who don’t actually believe this tripe – are rationalizing this issue away. The entire rape/abortion/reproductive rights issue is just being glossed over by these people, male and female. (The former I understand; the latter fucking boggles me.)

    One man I work with was horrified that I was voting for Obama. I look white, I make a lot of money, therefore I must be Republican, right? I asked him how he could vote for the GOP in light of having two daughters. He boggled at me. This was the day after the GOP set down in writing its hard turn to the right. I told him that if the GOP had its way, his daughters lives would be – not could be, would be – impacted. He said he couldn’t imagine how….

    I tried to break it down for him. Imagine your daughter gets raped – oh, well that could never happen. Okay, imagine your daughter wants an abortion – oh, well that could never happen. Finally, I got him with this one: Imagine your daughter is married and pregnant. She gets in a car accident and both she and the fetus are terribly injured. She needs an abortion or she’s going to die. Unfortunately, abortions are outlawed, regardless of the reason. What happens to your daughter?

    What happens to his daughter in his version of a GOP future? “Something would get done.” “They’d never let it get that far.” “I’m sure a doctor would save her.” “Nobody would let a woman die like that.” Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong. Nothing would get done. it would absolutely get that far. No doctor would go to jail to save her. Women would die like that. It is God’s will that women die like that.

    This sounds extreme and it’s hard to believe anyone wants it that way. I get that. But this bullshit right here? This is step one from men who absolutely do want it that way and are trying their damndest to get it. If this post shocks even one complacent moderate Republican into trying to pull his party back from the cliff – or if it even gets him to acknowledge the cliff’s existence – then it will have been time well spent.

    Thank you, John. I really appreciate you using your voice for this.

  130. How come the far right only thinks a child has an absolute right to live if it’s inside a woman? They don’t give a damn about it once it’s born.

    You know all those people who keep insisting that they represent the kinder, gentler, ethics-driven side of forced pregnancy? If they want us to believe them, let them end their long, cozy political alliance with the misogynists and haters. Let them publicly repudiate the anti-abortionists they don’t want to be mistaken for, instead of backing each other up and giving each other their votes. Let them go to bat a few dozen times for issues that help support mothers and their children. Then we’ll think about it.

  131. Miche: It’s important to separate the moral issues (that hold regardless of what people want) from the legal issues (that are based on whatever laws people decide to enact). To say that “morally, there is no choice but to have the baby” is to say that any other choice is immoral; it asserts nothing about what the speaker will do to act on the moral issue (though it raises some very scary issues regarding those crazies who shoot abortion providers). To say that “abortion will be illegal” is to say that the lawmakers are choosing to impose their wishes on others (who may have different wishes).

    I respect individuals who believe that it is immoral to abort (ie that doing so is an immoral choice). I don’t think it’s a particularly crazy moral position. On the other hand, I am not willing to let them impose their morality on me or my country on this issue, so I will fight hard against anti-abortion laws.

  132. @iholdtheline, I find this statement of yours

    “Any arguments about it not actually ‘killing’ someone, because it is not yet a person are void in this; assuming the pregnancy goes well, that thing in the woman’s womb will eventually become a person”

    to be specious and illogical. You ignore the fact that neither a fertilized egg nor a blastocyst nor an embryo nor a fetus until very late in the pregnancy is in any way a human being–they’re the potential for a human, with human genetic material. They are no more people than an acorn is an oak tree. Birds can’t nest in an acorn, it doesn’t have a remotely similar place in its ecosystem, you can’t get a winter’s worth of wood out of it–it has none of the characteristics of an oak tree except its unexpressed genetic code. If all goes well, it might make a great tree, but it is not a tree.

    Early-stage fetal tissue has none of the functional characteristics of a human any more than a blueprint has the functional characteristics of a house. If someone burns the blueprints for your house, that’s a bummer, but you’re not out years of work and a couple hundred thousand dollars.

    It’s even illogical to assume that the pregnancy will go well. A very large percentage of early pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage. The formerly pregnant woman doesn’t even notice it most of the time. We don’t hold funerals for those potential humans because they’re not people. They don’t feel or think or interact or even have humanlike bodies. Holding women hostage to your beliefs about the *potential* for a human life–not actual human lives–is illogical, cruel, and based on ideology that has no place in science or legislation.

    If your argument is based on a religious belief in ensoulment, I hope you recognize that you have no right to force your unprovable religious beliefs on other human beings, any more than a believer in reincarnation cannot come take away your inherited home because he claims to be your reincarnated father, nor a Talibani is allowed to kill your Western daughter for wearing pants. That is not the way any sane society works. If you want to live in a society where people are held hostage to religious beliefs, check out Iran–it would be just your kind of place.

  133. @banner
    As someone who was the product of rape* and who was born right after Roe v. Wade (so I was conceived too early for my mother to be allowed to abort me), I will give you my perspective: I really, deeply, truly wish I knew whether my mother actually wanted me or was just making the best out of a bad situation. (I can’t ask her because she died when I was a child: no health insurance.) And considering all the things that happened to me during my childhood after her death, aborting me would *not* have been the worst thing to have happened to me.

    (*Granted, it may not have been “rape rape”. I mean, she knew nothing of sex or birth control, so she believed all the crap he said at first, and granted he did shove her down the stairs at least once and she lived with the scars from when he stabbed her in the stomach, but it still might have not have been “rape rape”.)

  134. Joseph Zieja: The flaw in your argument is the assertion that the abortion would avoid “a larger tragedy”. I suspect that most people, if given the choice between (i) being killed and (ii) being forced to adopt a child of someone who hurt them deeply would choose (ii). In other words, that death is a worse outcome than being permanently burdened with a child. And if you accept this, *and* accept the assumption that embryo=human, then you have to accept that burdening someone with a child is a lesser evil than killing the embryo, even if it originated in rape or incest.

    Again, I’m in the complicated position of arguing logically from a premise I don’t believe (that embryo=human). But I think it’s important to recognize that such an argument can be made even be someone who is moral. For me, the problem isn’t with people’s moral positions, but with the laws they try to advance.

  135. minaria: I don’t think anyone would argue that an embryo’s soul *trumps* a womans. Rather, the argument is about the relative costs to the embryo (of an abortion) versus the woman (of being forced to have the child). For good or ill, we assign (human) life an incredibly high value. We generally don’t consider it acceptable to kill someone in order to avoid a financial loss or psychological harm. We have a “ones who walk away from Omelas” situation here, asking what burdens it is appropriate to impose on one individual in order to protect some other individual (and here both the embryo and the woman can be examined as the victim in the story).

  136. On one hand, I want to say I like this post, it was extremely well written and insightful into an experience I can not begin to relate to. On the other hand, I don’t want the mistaken idea that I endorse the satirical message Mr. Scalzi has put forth. It’s a weird and extremely uncomfortable place to be for me.

  137. I realize our host’s article was primarily about abortion, as have been most of the comments, but he also mentioned 30-some states where a rapist can get custody or visitation rights. I hope it’s not off-topic to focus a little attention on them as well.

    Here’s an article listing the states in question (be forewarned that some of the comments to the article are triggery, to say the least):

    http://thestir.cafemom.com/in_the_news/142458/why_do_rapists_have_custody

    Whether abortion laws get more conservative, more liberal, or stay the same, a fair number of women who become pregnant through rape decide to keep and raise the resulting babies. (According to the Pubmed abstract linked in the post, about 1/3 currently do.) That doesn’t mean they should have to deal with further intrusions by the rapist. (Particularly not if the rapist has been criminally convicted; but you don’t have to set the evidence bar that high; civil suits, for instance, have lower evidence requirements than criminal cases do.)

    Here’s some model language for legislation to deal with the problem, from an organization Shauna Prewitt’s involved with. (She’s the lawyer mentioned in the Atlantic article our host links to):

    http://www.hopeafterrapeconception.org/Modellegislation.html

    I wonder if this is something that “pro-life” and “pro-choice” folks can find common ground on, to get legislation like this passed in states that don’t already have it?

  138. BTW, @John Scalzi, thank you so much for writing this. I’m a rape survivor with PTSD from the experiences (home invasion when I was 11 and acquaintance rape at 24) and I really, really appreciate seeing a male ally in the fight against rape and rape culture. It was powerfully written.

  139. Wow. Outstanding post.

    And outstanding comments. @Rens, your example of a person being knocked out and unknowingly hooked up to someone’s life support was brilliant. And @Mintwich, the argument about the baked potato is new to me. I saved both of these comments for future reference because I think you both made these points better than I’ve ever seen them made before.

    This really hits home for me in the sense that I have known since I was a teenager that the idea of becoming pregnant was really abhorrent to me. So much so that I thought I should get my tubes tied when I was about 30, but as my husband pointed out, a vasectomy would be so much less invasive. I still sometimes think I should have done it anyway, because I can still get pregnant if I am raped by someone who hasn’t had a vasectomy. If I could not get an abortion, I think I would kill myself in that case — and I’m not depressed or suicidal. I just know that I would rather not live than go through all of those things that have been discussed here in relation to unwanted pregnancy.

    Thank you.

  140. @Terry Shaffer: this presumes that a spirit does indeed exist, which is not proven. If I had a spirit communing with me, it was most assuredly an evil one (given how it all felt), so you should be thankful that I chose not to bring it into the world. Since I had exorcist-style vomiting, maybe not so far from the truth, if indeed there was any spirit involved.

  141. Thank you . The simple complexity of human behavior makes finding a clear path through it consistently, difficult. What seems to matter is the striving . Thank you for striving . As a survivor I am saddened to find so much company . Encouraged by the support .

  142. This reminds me of that essay by Jonathan Swift advocating eating children. Sickening but pointed like a, oh say a dentist’s drill. I’d like to say nicely done but nice kinda doesn’t cut it. Wish you hadn’t had to write it. :/

  143. You know what? I’m glad I filled out my ballot before reading this. It certainly helped to defuse the trigger-y stuff.

    Also … once again you rule, John Scalzi.

  144. @HL. You have shared a perspective that few could. Thank you for being so open and honest with such a tragic story.

  145. As a heads up to folks:

    Because a thread on a subject like this tends to sprout trolls when left unattended (say, like when I am asleep), when I head to bed tonight I am going to turn off the commenting. I will turn it back on in the morning when I wake up. I don’t intend to go to bed for a while yet, but I don’t want it to be a surprise when I do.

  146. Anonymous – I don’t know any woman I’ve ever met who’s “proud” of having made the choice to have an abortion. But I do know plenty of conservatives who want to shame them, and even more who’d have the law erase that as a safe, legal option, which generally pushes women to unsafe illegal options.

    Abortion being illegal never stopped in in the USA. What it did was get women killed by unlicensed, unsafe and in many cases callous profiteering non-professionals.

    And I’ll say it again, people like Mourdock, who not only oppose abortion as a right, but who oppose safe, legal, insurance subsidized contraception damn well are treating women like incubators on legs. That sort of insensitive callousness, disregard for history, and snide insistance that God is on his side is akin to someone who swears up and down that he’s perfectly fine after for or five or six drinks, and gets behind the wheel of a car.

    They don’t mean to cause harm, but the path they take causes it, and their willful ignorance is cause enough for me to condemn them.

  147. Pregnancy is a death risk for women. Childbirth is an intensified death risk for women. Every pregnancy is dangerous for every woman.

    When we have a formulation that women must carry every pregnancy that comes to them, we are saying that women must roll a die as to whether they will live or die every time a sperm gets near them for whatever reason. We are saying that the woman’s life doesn’t matter — not only what quality her life has, but whether she has a life at all.

    I don’t, myself, believe in exceptions for rape, incest, or the imminent death of the mother: I believe in unlimited and unincumbered and unexamined right to abortion for all women and girls, without any consent required, whether of parents or spouses or doctors or anybody. Anything less is unacceptably forcing women to accept avoidable chances of death.

    Yeah, I notice I am talking in absolute terms. Some things are absolute. I live in a country where we say that people have the inalienable right to “life, l;iberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and abortion restrictions attack all three.

  148. @Margaret Durocher: The US Government already has a history of forcing women to get abortions. Also, forcible sterilization, forced birth, stealing children from their families, selling them… if there is an evil that can be perpetuated upon women, the US has participated.

    The hope, of course, is that we are moving away from these things, growing in wisdom and compassion. Nonetheless, to some, every step of the journey towards equality, personal integrity, and justice, is a further descent into “sin” and depravity.

  149. I don’t think this guys is a real rapist.. I watch a lot of Law and Order SVU.. and he doesn’t fit the profile..

  150. Thank you for the very disturbing and enlightening post, Scalzi. One observation that I think would be useful. Part of the attraction of defining life as beginning at conception is that it’s a clear line. Currently, we have a clear line of human rights beginning at birth. Many people feel that this line fails to ban/criminalize actions taken against a fetus that they find immoral. The problem they run into is that there aren’t any good clear lines throughout gestation. Each fetus develops at its own rate, and it’s not feasible to try to say when a fetus becomes a person. As such, if you don’t like the red line being set at birth, the next clear line is conception. Any other proposed line in-between conception and birth is necessarily defined by probabilities and estimates, and lawyers and judges can manipulate and interpret these many different ways. By setting their restrictions at conception, they get a clean definition of personhood to set their prohibitions against, and that has value.

  151. Kara says:

    “Here’s the problem I have with most pro-lifers. They are all based on CHRISTIAN morality/ethics systems.”

    No. Actual Christian opinion varies considerably. The forced-pregnancy crowd just like to make a big show of their religion, and give the impression that all Christians think like they do. They succeed when you believe them.

    Personally, I think that if “soul-having personhood doesn’t start at conception” was good enough for Thomas Aquinas, it’s good enough for me.

  152. Mr. Scalzi, a formidable “modest proposal” style post. While I was not raped, I was molested as a child and I have a very clear understanding of the power play that goes on. Being that I hold a personal value on life that values both those children born and those unborn, I’d like to think that if I faced such a situation (rape and pregnancy because of it) I would choose to bring the child to term. Because I would be less myself if I chose to end that life–but I can’t say what I would do for certain. What I do know is I do not want the country or state telling me what my choice must be. Making me powerless in choosing is . . . horrifying. I want the ability to make my own choices, stand on my feet and face the consequences and the truths with the sincerity that these choices are mine to own and deal with and I want every other woman to have the same power. Abortion can be as scarring (or more so) than carrying a child of rape to term depending on the woman and what they believe. But without the ability to make the decision themselves they remain the victim of others’ choices. If someone wants my moral opinion on abortion, I can give it. But that’s not the issue here.

  153. If a technology were developed by which male rapists could impregnante other men, putting them through what you describe, this issue would disappear in a year, and it’d be the far right that’d kill it. No candidate of the modern conservative movement could openly praise a male rape survivor who chose to bear his rapist’s child, because that survivor would be viewed as a weak, honorless victim unworthy of a voice — so basically, viewed the same way the far right generally views women.

    I suppose it’s possible that the right might argue that male/female rape pregnancies are “natural” and/or intended by God, and must always be carried to term, while male/male rape pregnancies would by definition be soulless abominations deserving — actually, requiring — termination. Yeah… yeah, that’s what’d happen.

    Of course, if more men could just overcome their terror and training and bring themselves to think once in a while about what it might be like to live everyday life with a female body, they might come to accept that forcing the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy, much less a rape pregnancy, on anyone is unthinkable. But apparently, even imagining such things would jeapordize the fragile certainty on which they’ve built their cruel, swaggering little kingdoms.

  154. @ david karger: I’m also trying to find logic in a position I in no way hold myself. It’s difficult, but I do it to try to understand the people around me.

    (aside @Wrenn_NYC: why are you talking directly to me as if I am saying anti-abortion? I thought I very clearly stated I was pro-abortion/antu-forced pregnancy, but I will try to be clearer in the future, and to clarify now: I am very, very, very pro-choice/anti-forced-pregnancy. I also don’t believe in souls and am not religious, so, you know, it’s weird for me to read “you[sic] catechism only applies to other people of your religion”. )

    I see it as trumping because of the situation I discussed: if it were a woman(or man) refusing to donate a kidney to her child, for whatever personal reasons, I suspect that while some people would see that as ‘killing her(his) child’, the number would be much lower. I’ve also not seen anything at all ever about making the parent’s right to refuse a medical operation illegal — but there’s a lot of heat about making abortion legal. Pregnancy, however, is undoubtably medical: there are health risks, a death risk, side effects, and all that. So suddenly and only when the (in a certain belief system) child is unborn, the parent loses the right to refuse a medical procedure?

    But, again, I very much want abortion to remain legal, so it’s hard to reason about what “the other side” thinks!

    Also, I would like to thank everyone sharing their experiences. Thank you.

  155. Apologies if this repeats anything — I’ve only skimmed the comment thread. John, this is a marvelous piece and I agree that a copy of it should be sent to every asshole politician who grandstands about “no abortions, no exceptions”.

    However, there is one way that I think it might be improved, and that’s with an extra paragraph somewhere around the discussion of “legitimate rape” to say something like this:

    “Because, you see, that’s not how I rape. I don’t knock down strange women in dark alleys or gang-rape them on top of pool tables in bars. I generally rape women I know socially (at least as far as having met them at a party), and I do it by getting them very drunk — sometimes including putting drugs in their drinks — and then fucking them when they can’t say no. Because as long as she doesn’t SAY “no”, nobody thinks of it as rape, and even if she tries to report it, she’ll just get brushed off. That’s what you mean, isn’t it, when you talk about “legitimate rape”? Guys like me are free to keep raping as many women as we want.”

  156. John, my only regret about what you wrote is that it’s not satire, it’s the fine art of a serious writer getting into the mind of a character he abhors and expressing it forcefully, and realistically. JAR may be one of the best characters you’ve ever brought to life.

  157. @Scalzi, in addition to bringing to bear your considerable skill on a topic that most people I encounter (regardless of stance) can’t expound on without becoming frothing, incoherent fonts of emotional blathering, I’d also like to thank you for your considerable effort in moderating the comment thread. It can’t have been easy, but the resulting conversations have been so enlightening – so *hopeful* to me as the pro-choice mother of a teenaged girl – that I’m glad to say I’ve read every one. Bravo to you, and to the intelligent and brave individuals who’ve shared their educated opinions. I truly feel enriched by this experience.

  158. I liked the ‘self-defense’ comment above (Joseph Zija): assuming that one believes it’s moral to use (deadly) force in self-defense when at risk of harm from another, I think that provides moral consistency in choosing an abortion even if you do believe that the procedure ends a life, and that preservation of said life is a duty with some moral weight. [i.e. the impact of being pregnant is sufficient grounds to provide moral justification for preventing that being done to you by whatever means are required].

    Given that many of that same breed of politician are fans of unlimited gun ownership and such things as ‘stand your ground’ laws, the lack of logical or moral consistency in their own positions is vexing, although not surprising.

  159. “If the unborn could write a letter, I wonder what she/he would say?”

    Please Lord, let me be born to parents who want me and will love me. Let me be a true gift, not a “consequence.” If You want my soul to reach the earth, no medical procedure is going to stop that from happening. I’ll wait until I can be born into a family that will cherish and love me unconditionally and who will celebrate my birth.

    How’s that?

  160. Wrenn_NYC: Pope Pius IX made a lot of rotten moves.

    Just so you know: there’s an ancient and longstanding tradition, when depicting the Last Judgment, of including popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, and monks among the damned. We are acquainted with our leaders, after all. And when I look at the tympanum above a cathedral door, and see a little papal miter on one of the damned, I often find myself thinking of Pio Nonno.

  161. @Amy S.:
    In all fairness, I stole that argument from some scientist. I read it a long time ago, and found it so compelling that I tried to debunk it, couldn’t, and the lesson stuck. Knowledge, it is viral. Sneeze it on everyone you meet. :-)

  162. This this this. Women have been pointing this out for ages, but maybe with men speaking out too we’ll actually get somewhere! Because you know. Men Know Things.

  163. When I respond to the whole “duty to give a chance at life” thing with the violinist analogy or the idea that we should logically have no sympathy for all the urban-legend victims of kidney theft, does that mean I’m just too old and set in my ways. I mean, really, in no other situation do we even consider demanding that people risk their bodies (much less the rest of their lives) to give another person “a chance at life”.

  164. John…what a letter you’ve written! All the points are covered. For the majority of women who choose to have an abortion it is not a decision made lightly. Some may have to go through with this procedure for their own health and well-being, not just due to rape To have some one else take that right away is abhorrent. I am pro-choice and an RNC cardholding Democrat. BTW, I really enjoy how you respectfully lay-out the rules and police your site.

  165. Reading various articles today about the latest GOP politician citing his notions of his chosen deity to justify his desire to control my body through secular legislation, I wondered what anyone could possibly even SAY about such ignorance and stupidity–and its alarming prevalence in American politics and among American legislators and wanna-be legislators. And then I logged onto Whatever and saw that Scalzi thought of what to say. Well said, sir!

  166. I love your writing and applaud your use of satire, but your claim that only 3 in 100 rapist spend a day in prison is false fear mongering.

    The RAINN infographic that you took it from uses a pastiche of non-concurrent data and convenient wording. It ignores the fact that the Justice Statistics attribute conviction to the most heinous crime that individual is convicted of and that ~70% of Rapists are prosecuted for multiple felonies simultaneously, often violent. For example: If an individual is prosecuted for both rape and attempted murder, and convicted of both the Bureau of Justice will catalog them as a Murder-related conviction. It also fails to count individuals that serve time in a jail, rather than a prison, and individuals who plea out or are convicted of a lesser sexual assault charge. Finally, it ignores the individuals who are incarcerated for the entirety of their trial. In 2002 it 45% were held for the entirety of their trial (5% were denied bail). I invite you to look at the Bureau of Justice statics yourself: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbse&sid=27 (that goes all the way back 1988)

    Rest assured many, many rapists get caught and prosecuted, and a large percentage of them do go to prison (and jail) not only for the crime of rape, but also a wide variety of other sexual assaults, and murder-related crimes–and almost half that are prosecuted are incarcerated for the entirety of their trial.

  167. From a long, long time ago (misc.writing) I find you via a link shared on Facebook. Yours was the first link I shared where I posted a “trigger warning.” I’ve never done that before, but my response to your excellent post was pretty strong and icky, so I felt like other people might need that warning. Still kinda shaky. Thanks for doing this. I love that someone with your reach is doing such good work.

  168. Banner, what we know of biology suggests that if the unborn could write a letter at all, what it would say is, “Me me me me me I want gimme me me me me me.” Part of what makes pregnancy difficult and dangerous is that a developing embryo/fetus is in competition with the mother for resources. Of course, even this much is pure fiction: it’ll be a while between conception and the point at which your hypothetical unborn would be capable of wanting anything, as opposed to taking what it “wants” via biological processes occurring on a completely non-conscious level.

    If the malignant tumor I had removed recently could write a letter, I imagine it would say much the same thing. That’s not to say that an embryo and a cancer do or should have the same ethical status; that in most people’s minds they don’t goes to show what a silly line of argument this is.

  169. Joe P.: …political conservatives who are pro-life seem to care a lot about the unborn and not a lot about the already-born…It’s a very odd mentality that I confess I really don’t understand at all.

    Oh, I can explain that. They’re lying.

    That whole disconnect proves that their opposition to abortion is NOT about being pro-Life or caring about innocent life or any of those fine and holy reasons. It’s about punishing women. Punishing them for having sex, punishing them for being raped, hell, let’s go ahead and punish them just for being women.

    It’s perfectly consistent once you realize that. They don’t care one whit about the fetus or child. They want to use a child’s misery to punish a woman for sins they imagine she’s committed; and if the child is sick or they live in grinding poverty, that punishes her more, and that’s why they’re OK with it. That’s why they’re not just misguided, but actually evil.

    Now there really ARE some people (I know some) who oppose abortion AND believe in contraception AND that all children should be cared for. They put their money where their mouth is and adopt themselves and run agencies and the like. They usually oppose capital punishment too, for a “consistent pro-Life agenda.” I respect those people.

    But none of them, not one, is running for office currently.

    JB: If you want to make an allowance for rape but not let it be such a huge loophole that it renders the ban moot, you’ve got to go down that ugly road.

    Best way to avoid the ugly road: Keep abortion safe and legal and up to the woman whose body it is. No exception for rape is needed, no ugly road need be traveled, as long as the woman not choosing to continue the pregnancy to term is all that’s required to terminate it.

  170. @Rialmar. Thanks for the comment, but I will not say more than that, because I’ve been told I’m off topic on this. Interesting thought though…

  171. Lucy Kemnitzer hit the nail on the head.

    And exceptions for “the life of the mother” make me want to scream. I’ve been through some bad pregnancies and worse deliveries, and if they’d been forced on me by a rapist, I probably would have killed myself. It sounds like I’m being a drama queen, I know, but I had hyperemesis gravidarum. Think of the WORST stomach flu you ever had, and then imagine it not letting up, not even a smidge, not even for a moment, for months. Even people who plan and want their pregnancies can develop some suicidal ideation in that circumstance. And do you know how many women suffer fecal and/or urinary incontinence after birth? Or uterine, bladder, or rectal prolapses? Can you imagine a permanent sexual dysfunction occurring because of a birth you were FORCED by the GOVERNMENT to endure? My childbirth instructor needed a kidney transplant after pre-eclampsia went haywire. Rape or no rape, pregnancy is not a 9-month inconvenience. It’s a serious risk with life-long consequences.

    This was a beautifully crafted piece, but the thing that keeps niggling at me is that I hate discussing exceptions at all, because EVERY woman has a right to her bodily integrity. Every. Single. Woman. Always.

  172. This is possibly the least amusing and most needed satire since John Swift wrote “A Modest Proposal”. May have to cry myself to sleep and find a women’s shelter to volunteer at in the morning.

  173. As a person who never wants to grow ANY baby inside of me, the mere thought of being forced to carry a hypothetical rapist’s child makes me shaky and queasy. I can’t imagine what I’d do if it actually happened. Thank you for this post, I hope it gets around the internet. (I’m sure it will.)

  174. @TMLutas: Following your train of logic, it seems that you would actually agree with Decree 770. After all, contraception prevents millions of pregnancies every year. If it is morally wrong to prevent an embryo from becoming a human being, it must be equally wrong to prevent that embryo from being created. In both cases, the hypothetical human in question must be given the chance not to resent having been born.

    And we can go further: Every possible union of sperm and ovum that has not happened is morally equivalent to murder. Laws should be passed to force all breeding couples, who are not currently pregnant, to fuck like rabbits at every opportunity. Think of the lives that are being wasted because of all the fucking that’s not happening!

    I honestly don’t see how to prevent your line of argument from arriving at the conclusions I’ve laid out here. Do you?

  175. David Karger says:

    “I don’t think anyone would argue that an embryo’s soul *trumps* a womans. Rather, the argument is about the relative costs to the embryo (of an abortion) versus the woman (of being forced to have the child). For good or ill, we assign (human) life an incredibly high value. We generally don’t consider it acceptable to kill someone in order to avoid a financial loss or psychological harm. We have a “ones who walk away from Omelas” situation here, asking what burdens it is appropriate to impose on one individual in order to protect some other individual (and here both the embryo and the woman can be examined as the victim in the story).”

    But you don’t really believe that.

    Are you living above subsistence level? There are children starving to death right now, or dying of preventable diseases, or being systematically denied any chance of a good life. You could have saved them. You didn’t. Most of your clothing, furniture, living space, gadgets, amusements, and everyday comforts aren’t necessary for your survival. You bought them anyway, instead of donating that money to the relief of poor children. You took the job you have in part because it offered potential satisfaction, or at least a minimum of irritation, when you could have taken a higher-paying but more unpleasant one, and devoted the pay differential to saving children’s lives.

    You’re willing to say an embryo has “incredibly high value” if someone else is stuck paying for it. But when you could save lives by sacrificing your own comforts and desires and long-term prospects, you don’t do it.

    So don’t give us that crap. Don’t talk to us about the incredibly high value of human life unless you’re willing to act like it really is incredibly valuable to you.

  176. A theological question regarding will. Given that these public servants submit themselves and the public to the will of god with these laws, doesn’t the rapist submit god, country, rape victim, and child to his will?

    By raping this life into existence, god, government, and woman work together to bear the seed of this sin into the world.

  177. For iholdtheline (and other pro-life individuals on the thread): I will believe that pro-life campaigners in general are actually interested in the right to life of unborn children when they start campaigning for things like better support for families on marginal incomes; better support for single-parent families; better support for social services; better sex education in schools (sex education which actually covers “yes, some sex practices can cause pregnancy; here are some which don’t”); better laws to aid in the capture and conviction of rapists FOR RAPE; better support for rape prevention measures aimed at the masculine half of the population (because the one thing that 100% of rape cases have in common is the presence of the rapist) as well as the feminine; better support for female autonomy in other sectors of life (such as equal pay for equal work); better support for public schooling; better support for public health services; better support for child care funding; or to put it simply, better actual support for actual, living children. As it is, too often it seems that the pro-life campaigner’s interest is solely in the embryo and in the pregnant womb – there’s no actual interest in the child which will result.

    A pregnancy is not merely a nine month commitment. It’s at least an eighteen year commitment after that. I’d be a lot more willing to believe in the overall humanitarian motives of pro-life campaigners if they were willing to at least show some sympathy and support for women who are pregnant beyond the first three to nine months of that two hundred and twenty five month commitment.

    Furthermore: until there’s a viable artificial womb created, the only way a human zygote can be incubated to the point where it is a viable human child is going to be in a human womb. If the pro-life people are so worried about the lives lost through abortion, why aren’t they looking into funding research into any of these:

    a) A viable artificial womb, wherein a human zygote, embryo or foetus can be nurtured to point of birth; or
    b) Methods of performing embryo or foetus transplants (so that the gestating child can be moved from the womb of the woman who isn’t interested in being pregnant into the womb of a woman who is); or even
    c) A way for men to carry pregnancies themselves (male wombs), so that all these men (and they do largely seem to be men) who are so keen on “preserving life” can actually enjoy the experience of being pregnant themselves.

    I’d be a lot more willing to accept the overall moral authority of the average pro-life campaigner if it wasn’t so deadly clear that they just want to roll the clock back on women’s bodily autonomy.

    John, you’ve written something powerful and wonderful here. I love it to bits, and respect you even more.

  178. The reply below is not intended to function as a defense of myself (defending oneself is wholly unimportant on the internet), but a way to potentially further everyone’s understanding (including mine).
    It’s difficult in this situation to reply to everyone’s replies to me, as that would quickly get confusing for us all. Instead, I will try to respond to what seemed like common objections.
    Many of the arguments against what I said (the baby is not the woman’s) seemed to be heavily based on emotions. That’s expected, since these sorts of situations are very emotional for people. While emotional arguments can be powerful initially, they don’t really hold up logically (like many arguments against God’s existence, but that’s a completely separate topic).

    Yes, the baby is the woman’s responsibility. That is exactly correct. But, no, the baby is not the woman’s. Although the analogy is incomplete, it’s similar to saying, “America is the president’s responsibility, so America is the president’s.”
    Usually, a shortcoming of my arguments are that they always end up being too abstract. So, I do appreciate some people pointing out the human element in the situations. I do sincerely hope we all recognize that everyone who inspects the problem is earnestly trying to do what is right. There is very little benefit in saying that one group is trying to harm either the woman or the child.

    “The article isn’t about the baby. It’s about the woman. Immediately trying to make it about the baby is implicitly an attempt to get around the woman and the rights she has to control her own body.”

    -You can’t talk about one without talking about the other. The woman’s rights are directly connected to the rights of the baby, just like they are both very physically connected. That’s why there is a problem in the first place. Who has what rights? Whose rights, if any do, trump the other person’s rights? It’s very difficult to single out the rights of the woman, with no mention of the rights of the child. The only way to understand what rights the woman has, is to understand the rights of the child (and vice versa).

    Practically speaking, the idea that the baby is not the woman’s must always be met with caution. It is a “triggery” area, especially for rape and sexual assault victims (like whether or not a war is justifiable is a “triggery” area). Like any law enacted, there are people who will either be made happy by it or very angry by it. There is absolutely no way to make everyone happy.
    That being said, I don’t remember ever saying that a law would have to be passed. It’s slightly frustrating that people assumed I was arguing for legislation and, possibly, women who have abortions be punished. I am not. Practically, I take the same stance that I might when it comes to gay marriage (again, another triggery issue and one that is separate, but similar). That is, passing legislation doesn’t make the issue any better, but inflames it. It forces people who want to live a certain way not able to. Whether or not you agree with how they live is entirely irrelevant. The question is: Is the person’s liberty being impeded or supported?

    It’s a very delicate situation and that’s why legislation would simply be horrible. A standardized tool will not work well where every situation varies from person to person.

    If there were to be any standard placed on every situation as a bulk, I personally would prefer it to be something like this:

    Any woman who is pregnant through rape, incest, etc. is bound to give the baby a chance to live. Regardless of the case, the woman should have the baby and then, in response to her situation, can either put the child up for adoption or raise him/her herself. How come no one has brought up adoption yet, by the way?
    Now, some might say that the woman should not be bound to the child’s rights. But a quick glance at the concept of a community argue differently. In communities, nations, etc, we are all bounded by each other’s rights. The neighbor is bound by his neighbor’s right to own a specific plot of land. In no way can he build on it, unless with consent. Likewise, Anonymous in the public square is bound by the rights of other people to not deny anyone the ability to speak what is on their minds. You see my point. You can’t argue that it’s not “right” to say a woman is bound by the rights of the child she is carrying.

    Who disagrees that adoption answers a lot of problems here? From what I can see, adoption calms the worry that a woman is bound to be responsible for the child for the rest of her life. It also calms the worry that a child’s chance to life is at stake.

    P.S. Apologies if I either spoke too long or too un-clearly. I tried to be clear to the point of elongated speech. Mr. Scalzi, if you wish to cut things out (without destroying the fidelity of my arguments), I am fine with that.

  179. Jonathan Swift, C. S. Lewis, H. L. Mencken, Samuel Clements … you have a great gift and with it carry on a fine tradition in the best possible way. Thank you.

  180. (Minaria – you were only named for clearer thread continuity in the first part of that earlier. Sorry about the confusion)

    Ted said “By setting their restrictions at conception, they get a clean definition of personhood to set their prohibitions against, and that has value.”

    I disagree. I’d rather show how it opens a can of worms and further restricts a woman’s rights to her own body. Over a year ago, there was a case in Illinois that brought a charge of murder to a woman who miscarried, based on such ‘personhood’ laws using conception (Yes, the 15 year old in question abused cocaine, but investigation showed no connection between the miscarriage and the cocaine use). In March, 2010, the governor of Utah vetoed a bill that criminalized miscarriage (it had gotten that far, passing the state legislature). The Oklahoma Personhood Act leaves it open to investigate women who miscarry and charge them with manslaughter and murder.

    Defining ‘conception’ as your line, is a ‘story’. The real goal is banning abortion all together. That is the only reason to use that line.

    Ted – you also state that any other line – other than birth or conception, is effectively arbitrary. While that fits to support your narrative, stating it doesn’t make it so. There are various in utero phases of development that are quite across the board. Including the forming of the neo cortex, to the (current science’s) earliest viability outside the womb – 22-23 weeks.

    It is not a child at conception. It is not ensoulled at conception. There is no science behind ensoul, only religious belief.

    I’m actually for the whole – earliest viability option for when it’s a baby. I know that a number of my jewish friends hold to the whole ‘first breath’ thing. Keep your religious views to yourself, don’t push them on others who don’t agree.

  181. Re: iholdtheline and Scalzi’s response – I don’t understand why so many people have decided that a woman having rights to make decisions about whether or not she wants to manage the uncomfortableness of pregnancy somehow outweighs killing a human being. I spent the vast majority of my life as a Pro Choice proponent, until I actually really thought about it; ever since then it has seemed crazy to me to watch Pro Life proponents spend so much time missing the importance of the issue by fighting for the rights of women. I am a woman. Women deserve equal rights, and those rights are most certainly worth fighting for, but the fight for women’s rights does NOT exist in *this* issue. This is an issue of death. Intentional death of humans. Intentional killing of humans by other rational humans. Some being scientific humans even, and these are the ones I am really surprised by. It should be quite obvious to them that abortion is extinguishing life. And it seems like it should be appalling to all humans to disregard that they are extinguishing a life in exchange for a woman to feel more empowered. It really seems like a women’s rights crusade run amok, and this just isn’t the place for it. I am very surprised lately by why so many thinkers that I hold in high esteem are so free to throw so much support into the abortion issue. I keep trying to figure out what I am missing, but so far no one has provided me with anything convincing. It seems like so much groupthink or like perhaps this issue about women’s rights has become so important in others areas of society that the intensity of that issue in itself has somehow formed a callous over the core of the abortion issue (death), which has resulted in desensitized women’s right’s supporters who haven’t yet realized that this is an issue of death, not rights.

    I certainly don’t support rapists and they deserve to be punished for their crimes, and you have done an AMAZING job getting across just how severely destructive rape is for all women, impregnated or not. It never goes away. But my hope is that you can see how that can non-moronically be viewed as a separate issue. Not that I have been able to whole-heartedly support either side on this issue. It is a tragedy in far more ways than one, but an abortion doesn’t really lessen the horror of the incident by much – and it doesn’t reduce it at all if, after getting an abortion, you realize that your response to getting raped was to murder someone else. This issue is really not about what this article makes it out to be, you really seem like someone who would want to understand that.

  182. Muddlewait says:

    “If a technology were developed by which male rapists could impregnante other men, putting them through what you describe, this issue would disappear in a year, and it’d be the far right that’d kill it. No candidate of the modern conservative movement could openly praise a male rape survivor who chose to bear his rapist’s child, because that survivor would be viewed as a weak, honorless victim unworthy of a voice — so basically, viewed the same way the far right generally views women.”

    But they can! A fertilized embryo can implant on a liver and gestate there. Granted, the rapist would have to obtain a fertilized embryo, and get it into position via a large syringe, but rapists are known to do all kinds of crazy things.

    I don’t wish such treatment on anyone, but I wish someone could plausibly fake it, so we could watch the reactions.

  183. Thank you for writing this difficult post. This may be overly simplistic, but for me, it comes down to this: Forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is prioritizing a potential life over an actual life. I will always side with the woman’s right to choose.

  184. @BillK: You say that considering a group of cells that have come into being as a result of violence as not human is dehumanizing? How about considering what it means to say that a sentient person is not allowed to have control over their own body? That group of cells may carry foreign DNA, but then again, they also carry the woman’s DNA as well. Why does the rapist’s DNA get precedence over the the host’s?

    Honestly, your comment sort of appalls me. I guess now I know what kind of person you are.

  185. Thank you, John. What you’ve written here is true and powerful. And like someone else said, I was not triggered until I read @iholdtheline’s sanctimonious post. Here’s what I need to add:

    I was 10 years old when a serial rapist in a ski mask came in through the back door at 4 a.m., kidnapped me, took me down the block to an empty lot, and raped me.

    I hadn’t started menstruating yet; that would take another year or so. See, if he had waited until I was 11 or 12, he could have had that wonderful bonus of impregnating me, and it would have been my DUTY– my seventh grade DUTY– to carry around this little rape baby. Makes sense. Because that would have worked out just fine in gym class. I’m sure I would have had no problem going to the big dance that year, and trying out for the school play… I probably could have kept up with my schoolwork despite the morning sickness and doctor’s appointments… and if my 90-pound body was torn apart, well, that was part of my duty, too. I’m sure that when it came time for dating a couple of years later, no boys would hold that against me. I’m sure that all the girls would have no problem having me over for playdates– their moms would have no problem with them hanging around with the pregnant girl.

    See, what you’ve just told me is that you’d be A-OK with ruining my life– and make no mistake, that would have been ruining my life– in favor of the serial rapist who decided to shoot his sperm into me. As much fun as it would have been having that DNA in my body and then walking the earth, I’m kind of glad that all I had to deal with was facing this man in court and having to speak in front of a room full of strangers about where his penis was and when (as well as the semen that I called “white blood cells” because I didn’t know any better), whispers in the bathroom when I was in eighth grade that I wasn’t even “really” raped, panic attacks that led to agoraphobia for years, flashbacks, nightmares, HIV tests, a new identity, and now– 27 years later– having to deliver victim impact statements to a parole board to beg them to keep him in prison for another two years so he can’t find me and my 5-year-old daughter. That stuff’s been a breeze.

    What really would have been the icing on the cake was YOU standing there telling me that now that I’d gone and gotten my self good and raped, it was my DUTY to bring that sacred life forth. I feel quite positive that you would have also paid all my medical bills, tutored me through school, bought all the diapers and formula, provided free child care so I could attend junior high school, figured out a way for me to go to college and work, then helped me one day explain to this child why he can’t see “daddy,” and why the other playground moms whisper about what a whore his mother is to be so young and have a child already out of wedlock. You would have done that, of course, because you care so much about this little life and his or her rights. I could even have gotten a bonus couple of years in family court where my dear rapist could have petitioned for regular, unsupervised visitation with “our” child. Or, hey, adoption’s cool! Then I could just have wondered if the child would grow up just like daddy… alcoholism runs in families… how about rapism?

    John, I sure do hope you appreciate the phenomenal lack of cursing I’ve displayed here. ;) Honestly, I’m not sure how I pulled it off, either.

  186. I keep trying to figure out what I am missing

    It might help if you actually read the article and the comments following, rather than just seeing ‘abortion’ and ‘rape’ and skipping down to Post Comment.

  187. It’d be nice to be able to claim to not know what’s going on here, but I don’t think we can take comfort in ignorance. Let’s see what this man and those aligned with him are up to.
    Spurning the weak to glorify the strong. Dividing society into those with power and others who have less value. Claiming that the values of the dominant culture should take precedence over the rights of individuals. Insisting that all opposition is disloyal. Choosing to use force when possible and persuasion when necessary rather than the reverse. Attempting to weaken the government and then blaming a conspiracy of communists, of all things.
    I think we can guess the name of the rough beast slouching towards us wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross. It has its father’s eyes.

  188. John, I’d like to thank not only you but a number of the commenters, whose arguments and points have helped me to understand more about the complicated issue of abortion and my stance on it. I personally feel that I’m pro-life, but I don’t think I mean it in the sense that most pro-lifers do. As far as I’m concerned, if you argue that abortions should be illegal but you’ve made no motions toward supporting the health and care of those children and their mothers, you can sit down and shut up. I don’t believe any anti-abortion bill should be passed if it doesn’t make such provisions. Likewise, despite my feeling that even unborn children deserve consideration, I don’t feel that I can simply weigh in on their side. The woman deserves equal consideration.

    Someone above equated pregnancy with a life-SAVING situation, rather than a life-taking one, which was brilliantly enlightening for me (how indoctrinated we’ve become as to how the abortion argument is presented–this isn’t a true debate between political ideologies, it’s a media leash that’s being used to corral us), and I particularly thank them, as well as all those who have been brave enough to speak out about their own experiences and share their perspectives (my god, I can’t fathom the strength it must take to come to terms with such a thing well enough to talk about it; you people are heroes). And, of course, thank you, John, for writing this and saying some things those yabbos who’ve been blathering on need to hear. It’s an ugly post for an ugly topic, and something everyone should think about, whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice.

  189. My mother had an ectopic pregnancy in the 1980s in Idaho–my father started out reasonable and told the hospital that she was the priority. They refused. He had to throw a full-on, alpha male patriarchal fit (he was a retired Airborne Colonel, so that fit was pretty convincing), including “you can’t tell me what to do in my family,” and “how dare you stick me with motherless little kids” before they buckled and saved her life. I remember vividly and terrifyingly that if you don’t have a man they respect willing to lie his guts out for you, you can be left to die in favor of a fetus that is probably going to die when it kills you. I take all of this really seriously.

    Then there was me. From the beginning, I had endometrial problems that would make having any child extremely dangerous and required drugs that would damage any fetus anyway. So I’ve been on serious, the most foolproof contraceptives for more than twenty years (with all the fun deleterious effects–since I wasn’t sexually active during a lot of that, I’d have been glad not to have to take them, but the stakes were high enough that I could never take that chance, and I am damn lucky it never failed as birth control has failed countless other women). Between living in Third World countries and places like Alabama and Idaho, it was extremely likely that if I ever became pregnant (and frankly, in some of these places, rape was not an outside possibility), these same kinds of medical constraints could be used to cut off my medications to save the baby and either make me very sick or kill me before my family could throw weight around and do something. I know that I am far more lucky and privileged than women who are locked into a location or a doctor or a single pharmacy in town. (BTW, my mother is now a hospital pharmacist, tells all of these stories a lot and is the most reliable source of Morning After Pills and birth control information in a red red Mormon and fundy state despite a lot of harassment. Yay, mom!)

    So then it turned into endometrial cancer, and I was presented with a difficult, long-time, incredibly awful program of chemo and radiation. I said, just take it out. The doctors (secular, but in a red red state) tried to convince me (34 years old, tenured professor) I was throwing away my future fertility and tried to refuse until I consulted my (non-existent) husband and (dead) father and to think of my (imaginary, future) babeez. Apparently the permission and dynastic ambitions of people I do not have in my life trump my health and safety and my judgement. This is not even getting into that “female-issue” surgery patients are in the locked security ward with the new mothers and infants, and I had a visit from the pink ribbon people (sorry, wrong body part) and she was upset when I wasn’t thrilled with crayons and a pink boa.

    You don’t have to be raped, or even pregnant for the shit that stems from this mindset to make a terrible impact in your life. The condescending infantalization (at best) and stripping of civil rights and an adult human woman’s right to life and the ability to make decisions about that life (at worst) are at stake.

  190. iholdtheline;

    “Many of the arguments against what I said…seemed to be heavily based on emotions…Usually, a shortcoming of my arguments are that they always end up being too abstract… But a quick glance at the concept of a community argue differently.”

    So, you’re Spock to their Kirk? Disqualifying emotions, quick glances and seemly seeming are not effective arguments, abstractly or emotionally.

    “Who disagrees that adoption answers a lot of problems here?”

    ::raises hand::

    “Practically, I take the same stance that I might when it comes to gay marriage (again, another triggery issue and one that is separate, but similar).”

    Also, what?

  191. Mr Scalzi: I posted this on my facebook. My father replied thusly: “Wow. This is really making me think differently. Scalzi nailed it on the head. I’ve never read anything this powerful before. More politicians need to read this. Good post, Scalzi.”
    Keep going, it makes a difference.

  192. John, iholdtheline is an attention-seeking self-valorizing troll. If that wasn’t obvious from his earlier remarks, “Many of the arguments against what I said seemed to be heavily based on emotions. … they don’t really hold up logically” would qualify.

    ===

    iholdtheline:

    Stop writing. Gather up your computer and any other easily liquidated valuables you have, and take them out and sell them. Empty out your savings accounts, IRAs, and any other available funds. Donate all the money to reputable charities that work to save children’s lives.

    When you’re done, log in from a computer at your local public library. Resume your participation in this thread.

    Until then, I say in a perfectly dispassionate spirit, you can stuff it.

  193. iholdtheline says:
    “Any arguments about it not actually “killing” someone, because it is not yet a person are void in this; assuming the pregnancy goes well, that thing in the woman’s womb will eventually become a person.”

    How is this different from saying that every time a woman menstruates (i.e. fails to fertilize an egg), she murders a person? That egg had about as much potential to become a person as an embryo does.
    I’m really, genuinely curious about this. Is the argument that life starts when the egg is fertilized? 31% of fertilized eggs fail to develop into viable children (source: http://miscarriage.about.com/od/pregnancyafterloss/qt/miscarriage-rates.htm). Are the women who suffered those miscarriages also guilty of killing children, since they failed to turn a fertilized egg into an externalized human?
    I don’t understand the quoted argument, and would appreciate someone explaining it to me.

  194. This is great. Thank you for writing it.

    For the rapist, is it also about the genetic payoff of reproducing? They would also get this from the GoP policies.

    Romney’s judicial adviser, Robert Bork, has this view of abortion rights and rapists rights. He also holds a more general view that women are nonPersons (have no legal standing) in the Constitution.

  195. Calling either side at the far edges of this issue immoral is just not listening very well. No pro-life person I have ever met is in favor of rape or is uninterested in the woman’s rights and wellbeing. On the other hand, I’ve never met anybody who thought it was ok to kill babies. Suggesting otherwise is at best unfair, and I think dishonest.

    As some people have mentioned already, the whole question is if a pregnancy involves two people (a baby and a mom) or just one (just the woman). If there are two, then as tragic as the situation is there are still two people, and the government has an obligation to protect the baby as well as honor the woman’s rights as much as possible while protecting both people, rape or no rape. Doing both isn’t easy, but that’s the situation. On the other hand, if there is just one person, then the government should keep out completely, rape or no rape. If you believe that an embryo is a person, you should be consistent and say that the baby’s life must be protected even at great cost. If you think that the embryo is not a person, you should be consistent in that as well and say the only interest involved is the woman’s right to privacy.

    In my view, the immoral positions are in the middle of this debate. It makes no ethical sense to say that there are two people involved, but in some cases it is ok to kill one of them. On the other hand, in my view saying that there is only one person until the baby is born but that the government has anything at all to say about the woman’s body before that is also wrong. If the issue is just the woman and her body, nobody else has any legitimate interest. If the issue is the woman plus another person, that’s true regardless of what kind of tragedy started the situation. To put it another way, if the question is one of birth control, it is nobody else’s business. If the question is about killing a person, it is everybody’s business.

    I realize that the issue isn’t that clear cut because for many people the question of whether the embry is a person isn’t clear. Regardless of the clarity or meaning of being a person (much of science fiction is about that very issue), the fundamental question at hand is still whether there are just the rights of the woman to consider, or the rights of the woman and a baby. Respectfully, Mr Scalzi’s assertion high in this thread that bringing up the baby’s rights is inappropriate is just wrong. Yes, the woman’s rights are of vital importance, but the fundamental question is whether or not there is a second person who also deserves protection.

  196. mythago – yes, I did that. Before I wrote my response, even. I didn’t see anything in the article that explains why women’s rights are more important than then considering ending a human life, but perhaps I should look again. So far the only comment I’ve seen that has helped me understand a little better is LJCohens: “Forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is prioritizing a potential life over an actual life. I will always side with the woman’s right to choose.”. LJ is saying that his reason is because he views “actual life” as being more important than “potential life”, and while how people define those phrases may differ, I can at least see what he means and where he is coming from – and perhaps that is what many Pro Choice people think as well. So then it would come down to how people define these phrases, but that’s another show…

  197. Since Our Gracious Host is a science fiction writer, I wish to propose a near-future science-fictional tangent:

    Hypothesize, for a moment, that there’s an alternative to outright abortion — the ability to place that embryo in another place (whether it’s a “surrogate mother” or an artifical womb is beside the point) to be potentially brought to term. And I emphasize “potentially” here, because — as with any medical procedure — there are going to be some failed “transplants” (and, of course, some “complications,” too).

    So: Should it be permissible for a rape victim to undergo this procedure instead of carrying a child conceived in rape to term herself? Be careful how you answer… because your answer will tend to reveal whether you ultimately care more about the control issues or the sanctity-of-life issues, and whether you can recognize when (and where) they’re intertwined.

    The whole dispute is another data point on why religion doesn’t belong in politics or in law. But then, I’ve been to Belfast, and Magdeburg, and Jerusalem, and a host of other locations that demonstrate pretty definitively what happens when you forget that… and forget that mixing religion and politics/law is also about control. See y’all at the Chestnut Tree Café.

  198. Well I was raped at 16. I got pregnant. I had an abortion. I knew the guy and I had dated him. He forced himself on me while home on leave from the military. He found out about the pregnancy and said I would be bringing myself and the baby to leave with him. He actually said he wanted me to be barefoot and pregnant at 16. My mom said no way and took me to the clinic right away. None of it is was easy, still isn’t 18 years later. I’m glad I at least had that choice to make when I didn’t have the choice to have sex with him. I told a few people I thought were friends and then everyone in school knew what happened. Guess who was the class slut? Yeah, me for being raped and making that decision.

    Hard to read but spot on John.

    By the way I was the very pregnant girl at your Cincinnati signing for Redshirts. People were nice enough to let me cut in line. I now have a 4 month old and I couldn’t imagine having to go through all of that after being raped. People can say all they want about it or how they think these things should go. I call bullsh*&. Go through it personally then let me know.

  199. Jamie says:

    “I keep trying to figure out what I am missing.”

    Mythago says:

    “It might help if you actually read the article and the comments following, rather than just seeing ‘abortion’ and ‘rape’ and skipping down to Post Comment.”

    Teresa:

    Throws chocolates and roses.

  200. @ C.E. Petit Question: in this Hypothesize is there any danger to the woman that conceived the embryo? Will this procedure endanger her life in anyway?

  201. Teresa Nielsen Hayden: If I am in a position of preventing someone from dying, I would, as I’d expect most people to do. But of course, this isn’t always possible. However, on this particular issue? It is.

  202. Conservative politicians who have difficulties with definitions of rape need not go further than the new FBI/DOJ definition of rape:

    “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

    For the first time ever, the new definition includes any gender of victim and perpetrator, not just women being raped by men. It also recognizes that rape with an object can be as traumatic as penile/vaginal rape. This definition also includes instances in which the victim is unable to give consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.

    Furthermore, because many rapes are facilitated by drugs or alcohol, the new definition recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol. Similarly, a victim may be legally incapable of consent because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with individual state statutes. Physical resistance is not required on the part of the victim to demonstrate lack of consent.

    Source: http://blogs.justice.gov/main/archives/1801

  203. iholdtheline @ 11:07 pm:

    How come no one has brought up adoption yet, by the way?

    If you hit [Control]-F and type in the word “adoption”, you will find that this exact word was used four times before this comment, including in the original post.

  204. I am currently attending a Catholic high school, which is an interesting experience being a agnostic with profound disbelief in all the religions that I’ve educated myself about e.g. all major forms of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. This piece was very hard to read, but is something that needs to be heard. Thank you for writing this. But I’m mostly thankful for the comments which have given me grater insight into both positions and gave me some better explanations and arguments for the pro-life view point. You are a great writer and a great satirist. thank you.

  205. Jamie:

    “I didn’t see anything in the article that explains why women’s rights are more important than then considering ending a human life”

    Once again, this is an attempt to drag the discussion away from the actual discussion of the article, which is: Which person has control of a woman’s body: The woman, or the man who rapes her?

    Hauling the fetus into the discussion as a way to deflect from that question.

    Well, I say: No, for the purpose of this discussion I’m not going to consider the issue of the fetus’ rights before the question of whether a rapist or a woman has control of the woman’s body.

    Deal with that question, Jamie. If you can’t or don’t want to, then you should probably leave the thread.

    Folks:

    We are seeming to drift into a general discussion of abortion from many different angles. Again, let’s tighten up and keep the focus on the aspect of the issue brought up by the article.

  206. Beautiful. Absolutely dead on in every respect & I can’t imagine anything else topping it. Not just every point hit, but the tone, too – perfect. Thank you.

  207. David:

    “If there are two, then as tragic as the situation is there are still two people, and the government has an obligation to protect the baby…”

    Which country are you posting from? You know, the one where the government recognizes itself as having an obligation to care for all babies? Because that’s sure not how things work here in the United States.

  208. Jenna Glatzer:

    I cannot even begin to understand your situation but I am very sorry to what happened to you. I cried while reading what you had to go through. I say that sincerely. I also felt a lot of anger in your post.

    There are two ways to comfort the hurt; there are the logical explanations to make them feel better, then the actual (harder) attempt to comfort them. I had not intended to give the latter, because I was not intending to directly talk to the victims of rape, but to the people talking about the situation.

    All the blasted discussion aside (which, to those hurt who hear them, only ever angers), I earnestly feel for you. It’s a bit hard to express that through commenting on a thread. It’s quite a bit easier to get angry at someone you don’t know through the internet. I was trying to keep the discussion benign, but I know see that’s not possible.
    As someone with very little resources in life, it is easier for me to try and help the situation by discussing with those unaffected than to actually help those affected. I’m not even an adult yet, so I can’t quite do my part in that sense.
    But, therein lies the problem; people, as individuals, need to do their part to help the affected. I especially falter in this and am sure that the majority of people do. How many people honestly volunteer, without expecting anything in return? You can ask the government to legislate all you want, but what is the individual person willing to do about what they believe? I think there would be much less problems and anger, if people actually tried to help the victims themselves. Maybe then, an abortion wouldn’t ever be necessary…
    All of the problems that you brought up were the direct results of what happened to you. That is why I say, again, what is the individual willing to do? I fail as a person to remember to help those affected. I’ve never been affected by the situation; never known anyone who has.

    For that, Jenna, I apologize to you and to all who have been affected.

  209. If the choice is only between the rapist and the woman, there can be only one correct answer. Who would say that a rapist has any say in the matter? But it seems to me that the real life situation is not so narrow as you suggest.

  210. How come no one has brought up adoption yet, by the way?

    Adoption doesn’t magically fix every problem. Someone I’m close to was adopted, and I know from personal experience that it isn’t an easy fix for a traumatic situation. The child’s mother was 13 years old when she conceived and a member of a deeply religious Catholic family. While I don’t purport to know what she wanted in that situation, I know that the pregnancy and adoption scarred her deeply, both physically (leaving her unable to conceive again) and emotionally. Furthermore, most young people who were adopted as children don’t live blissfully unaware of their biological parents, and that separation has real effects. People who are pro-life like to present adoption as a solution to all life’s little inconveniences (you know, like rape and incest), but it’s just an amazingly shallow way of thinking.

  211. Jamie, do you have both of your kidneys? Have you registered to donate one? Have you donated bone marrow? Are you registered? Are you keeping your whole God-given liver to yourself? If you do some research you may find that you *are* in a position to keep a person alive – a person with a family, friends, SELF-AWARENESS, and a very strong desire to live.

  212. Awesome post. I often argue that cases like Roe v. Wade weren’t about abortion, they are about privacy. Privacy and the right to bodily integrity. Society needs to trust that women will make the best decisions about their own bodies. Pro-choice is just that, I am in favor of more choices rather than fewer. Those who could not, in good conscience, abort a child produced by rape should have the choice to raise that child without repercussions by society, the legal system, and the rapist. However, women who do not want that should not be forced into it. Women have a right to bodily autonomy.

    When you give government the power to force you to give birth, you are giving government the power to forbid you to give birth. Eugenics statues are still on the books in some states and were enforced up into the 70s – 80s. We only need to look at countries with one-child policies to know this is true. Giving government this kind of power is creating a Star Chamber that will control women into perpetuity. I am past menopause, morlock can’t hurt me. But he can hurt my nieces and I can’t bear the thought of that.

    Finally, guys, this is women’s business. It always has been and always will be. Before knowledge of herbal medicines and pagan societies were marginalized by the church, women could go to the village herbalist who knew what to brew and how to administer it. All you have to do is look at the world’s “oldest profession” to know that women have always known how to maintain their reproductive privacy from the patriarchy.

    And today, even if the morlocks have their way, women don’t need back alleys, they have the Internet. However, even though the knowledge is there, a great deal of the wisdom has been lost. Perfectly effective abortion-inducing drugs are available over the counter in Mexico. Problem is no one knows the correct dose. Same with herbal brews and teas. So, if the morlocks have their way and deny women safe modern medicine, many women will find a way, because that is what desperate people do. And many will die. And that is wrong.

    BTW – I had a safe, legal abortion at age 40. I have always had female “plumbing” problems and was told I would never get pregnant. I did. And those few short weeks were some of the worst of my life. Horrific and pain-filled. I was told I would likely suffer a very grotesque miscarriage if I tried to carry to term. Also, since I had always been told that motherhood was not in the cards for me, it wasn’t something I wanted. The decision was not difficult for me, nor have I regretted it. It way my choice. My privacy. I controlled it.

    @mintwitch and @mediatedlife, you nailed it with your comments, thank you for your eloquence.

  213. Thank you, Mr. Scalzi, for writing this. Yes, very “triggery” indeed, but very, VERY true. And thank you for defending women’s rights. This is the part people do not understand.

  214. I was not raped in a way that would result in pregnancy, so I never had to deal with that added fear. The idea that I could be forced by my government to bear a rapist’s child against my will fills me with absolute horror. I honestly don’t know how I would deal with that.

    There have been at least 12 candidates for office in the country who have felt comfortable enough with the political and cultural environment to be open and honest with how they feel about rape victims. Watching the VP candidate for a major political party call rape a “form of conception” and shrug his shoulders about the trauma and pain an abortion ban would cause makes me despair for this country and it’s female inhabitants. This essay (and the anger behind it) gives me some hope. It makes me feel like maybe we haven’t completely lost. Thank you for this. It was hard to read, but I’m glad I did.

    I wish someone would ask these politicians what they think the proper punishment should be for a rape victim who aborts. Should she do more time than her attacker?

  215. Kudos to you, John, for yet another provocative, well-crafted essay. As usual, you’ve attracted some stellar commentary and incredibly intimate contributions as well — thank you all!

    I’ve been F5-ing this page for an hour, trying to keep up.

  216. P.S.: I love it when you say that you “stand for innocent life” when it comes to denying abortions in cases of rape! It implicitly suggests that the women I rape are in some way complicit in and guilty of the crimes I commit on top of, and inside of, their bodies! Which works out perfectly for me. Keep it up!

    John, I’m really missing your reasoning here. (Everything else was well written.) I always took “stand for innocent life” to mean supporting the life of the unborn fetus. How does that phrase imply anything else? To me, it is vastly different than Aiken’s “legitimate rape” quote, which does imply that any women who gets pregnant after rape was complicit in the act.

  217. Everyone:

    Advance notice: I’m turning off the comments for the night at 12:15am. They will resume in the morning when I wake up.

    Chris Sears:

    “I always took ‘stand for innocent life’ to mean supporting the life of the unborn fetus. How does that phrase imply anything else?”

    It implies the only ‘innocent life’ under discussion is that of the unborn fetus, and not, say, the woman who was physically attacked and raped. It’s not what the people who spout it intend, but then they don’t intend to say that a woman’s rapist should have more control over her body than she does, either. Yet it gets said anyway.

  218. Banner:

    “Who would say that a rapist has any say in the matter?”

    Apparently, at the least, the 31 states that allow rapists rights of access to children resulting from the rape. Also, the facilitating politicians that believe women should not have the right to mitigate the continuing impact of the rape and must – quite literally – suffer the consequences.

  219. You have done a great job John. You have taken the loophole and shoved it right in their faces.
    What I think is even more impressive, is the amount of rape survivors came forward and said how much they appreciated you writing this.
    I love the term survivor, rather than victim. It is powerful! They truly are survivors. No longer victimized. That is psychologically healthy and beautiful to see, especially when they have openly shared some of their experiences and how they have shared this article with family/friends who may be in agreement with the choices of these elected public figures that are taking away human rights.

    It is a touchy subject for a lot of people. When is the developing thing inside you a human? Biologically and logically, when life can sustain itself is it actually life. When something growing inside you is feeding off of you that is considered a “parasite.” And yes it does cause the mother’s harm. It is taking nutrition from the mother’s body that would otherwise be used for her own body.

    It really is true that history repeats itself. I recently re listened to some George Carlin specials, especially when this same debate about the “sanctity of life” was brought up in 1996. It sounds exactly the same as what is going on now in 2012.

    “They’re not pro-life. You know what they are? They’re anti-woman. Simple as it gets, anti-woman. They don’t like them. They don’t like women. They believe a woman’s primary role is to function as a brood mare for the state.”

    “They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born, you’re on your own. Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don’t want to know about you. They don’t want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you’re pre-born, you’re fine; if you’re preschool, you’re f***ed.”

    Again, thank you for writing this powerful article. And Thank you to all the rape survivors. Keep surviving, and tell others. Every word of kindness helps!

  220. Jamie – every time I see someone describe pregnancy as a “nine month inconvenience”, I want to rage, and then go throw up. For some women, some pregnancies are inconvenient. For others they’re tremendous physical ordeals. My last pregnancy ended in unanesthetized surgery – the old fashioned method, right down to a nurse lying on me with her full body to make sure I didn’t move. A neighbor had hyperemesis gravida for the entire duration of the pregnancy. Asking a woman to carry a pregnancy is asking her to take a distinct physical risk which can have life-long consequences. If a stranger had done to me on the street what my doctors did to me to save my life, they’d be in jail for attempted murder. That’s not something you get to force someone to do against their will. Not the rapist, not the legislator, not anybody.

  221. Reminds me of a law lecture I attended where the dean talked about his time as a prosecutor of sex crimes. Which was hidously ugly to hear. He started by saying there was likely a rapist, and at least three other potential rapists in the lecture theatre of 100 people right at that moment.

    A student asked why we didn’t just fully castrate rapists to which we all enthusiastically nodded (first year, first month even, law school) and he said the same thing as above, rape is completely about power, rapists are people who think they don’t have the power and they decide to take it, castrating wouldn’t stop them from behaving the way they do, only the details of what they do, because it’s not about sex and we shouldn’t think about it along those lines.

    He concluded with the depressing point that sexual crimes almost never result in life sentences, rapists are always the most enthusiastic and sincere participants in parole friendly rehabilitation programs and the incidence of repeat offending after incarceration was basically 99%.

    Personally I’m sending my daughter to MMA classes.

  222. “Apparently, at the least, the 31 states that allow rapists rights of access to children resulting from the rape”

    That really is a sick thought. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I don’t see the reason behind laws like that.

  223. The problem is that the politicians splitting hairs and making distinctions between what’s forcible and what’s not, or the rights of a fetus versus the rights of a woman… All these people (and most of the commenters arguing the finer points) are men.

    Men love to “debate” academic distinctions of other people’s situations. It’s easy to split hairs when it’s other people’s hairs. Women should be able to make these decisions for themselves.

    This letter, unfortunately, won’t convince a single politician of anything. The only thing that will convince them that women need to have the right to their own moral decisions, is to put them in a similar situation, then take away their ability to decide for themselves.

  224. @MyOwnBusiness, I am really, really leery of romanticizing the Good Olde Days when women supposedly controlled their fertility with ease; those herbal concotions were not Plan B, they were poisons that worked by killing the fetus (hopefully, at a level that wouldn’t kill or harm the mother permanently) or induced miscarriage. You could guess at the correct dose, perhaps accurately, but plants do not grown in standardized doses. Or, of course, there was always infanticide or induced abortion which wasn’t any cleaner or safer than a back-alley abortion nowadays. The Church, if by that you mean the Catholic church, didn’t cover the whole world, and (as TNH notes) did not start off with the view that ‘life starts at conception’ or that between the mother and child, one saves the life of the child.

  225. Here in Australia we have our share of politicians who appear to believe that abortion should be re-criminalised. One of them is actually the Leader of the Federal Opposition (yeah, the bloke who got called out by our Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago for his openly expressed anti-woman – or misogynist – point of view in a speech on record in Parliament). Said leader of our Federal Opposition has recently attempted to use the child-free status of our current Prime Minister as a weapon against her government as well. He’s also publicly endorsed misogynistic and homophobic comments from various members of his party (including a rather prominent NSW media troll). His party’s stated policies on matters of “women’s interests” so far have basically come down to “subsidise nannies”, “keep the full Baby Bonus for all children” and “extend full salary replacement maternity leave to upper-middle-class families as well”.

    It’s rather ironic this same politician is attempting to position himself and his party as being “woman-friendly”, going to the extent of putting his wife up in front of our mainstream media to tell us just how nice a bloke he is at home (why, he does the dishes and watches Downton Abbey).

    Needless to say, his party’s representative is on the bottom of the list of candidates for my next election ballot (not that they ever moved from said position, but hey, it might conceivably happen). I happen to like the right to choose whether or not I become or remain pregnant, and I’m damned if I’m going to let this bloke dictate what I should be doing with my body.

  226. [Deleted because, although it’s clear to me the writer here was addressing the fictional rapist and not me, it was still freaking other people out enough to send me concerned emails. – JS]

  227. Thank you, John. This needed to be said, and I wish that wasn’t the case.

    I’m horrified that in 2012 people are spending so much time talking about women’s bodies and violence against women as if we women have no voice in the matter. My mother’s generation fought so the rest of us wouldn’t go through that again. Yet here we are, fighting a battle my mother thought was done when I was a little kid.

    This issue has been politicized to the point of the ridiculous, and it has become another way to force women to cede that independence our mothers and earlier generations worked to achieve. That sends chills down my spine. I don’t want to see us go back to the days when women died because they were in desperate circumstances and had no legal options for safe health care that could enable them to continue being productive members of society.

  228. Scalzi: I thoroughly understood the point of the discussion and despite the fact that my comment apparently came across as an attempt to drag the discussion away from the actual discussion, I sincerely did not intend to do that. It is just that what I said seems vital to the actual discussion, as I see it. The politicians who are saying these things that seem so amazingly dumb, and seem like they are in support of taking rights away from women, I believe are really speaking from the perspective of my comment – the idea that maybe women’s rights are actually not the most important thing to be considering when the rights in question, if given, have a massive impact on something else that shouldn’t be overlooked. I just intended to explain that they are probably taking into consideration other important pieces of this hairball issue, and that those pieces might actually be valid. But like I said, I personally find it very difficult to whole-heartedly support either side to this issue because when it happens, there is no good answer. Nothing fixes it.

  229. @Banner, it’s more of an unintended consequence. The default (in the US) is that if you are the biological parent of a child, you are by default legally that child’s parent unless something changes that status; for example if you fall within the strict legal definition of ‘sperm donor’, or if someone adopts the child, or if through process of law your parental rights are abrogated. Unless a state’s law adds “and if you are a rapist who conceived the child via rape”, that limitation doesn’t exist.

  230. John,

    That is some ugly, painful truth that needed to be said. Thank you for saying it so powerfully.

    Also: wow, you need another disclaimer: PROFESSIONAL WRITER. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME. You once wrote that “the failure mode of clever is asshole,” and I can only imagine how much mastery you must have in your craft to even attempt such a thing with any confidence.

  231. Making abortion illegal has never kept it from happening. I remember my elders occasionally (and very guardedly) mentioning women who’d gone to back-alley abortionists and never come back. Kitchen-table abortions were horrible, but women went to great lengths to procure them, because the alternatives — whatever they would have been — were so much worse.

    Women in third-world countries sometimes obtain abortions via methods which hardly bear thinking about, and which have a good chance of killing them. Knowing that, they do it just the same.

    That’s the level of desperation we’re talking about. Forget the blob of cells. Pay attention to the woman.

  232. Jamie:

    “It is just that what I said seems vital to the actual discussion, as I see it.”

    It’s really not, however, and every attempt to haul the discussion away from very salient and clearly ignored discussion of who has privilege over a woman’s body — the woman or the man who rapes her — is implicitly an argument that this discussion is not the important one. Well, you know what? I’m making it the important one here.

    “I personally find it very difficult to whole-heartedly support either side to this issue”

    Well, no, you find it difficult to whole-heartedly support either side of the issue you are trying to make the discussion, not either side of the issue which is actually under discussion.

    Which is: Who has a right to control a woman’s body: her or her rapist?

    Do you really find it difficult to support a side of that issue, Jamie?

    Adam:

    I’m not going to lie to you: After I wrote it I didn’t know if it worked at all. I asked Krissy to read it to make sure I hadn’t completely missed my own point.

  233. That really is a sick thought. I can’t imagine what that would be like. I don’t see the reason behind laws like that.

    I’ve been aware of that state of affairs for over two decades and have tried to get people worked up about it. People just don’t THINK.

  234. Folks, I’m going to bed for the night, and this is the sort of comment thread that needs to be watched pretty closely so it doesn’t spin off into derail territory, so I’m going to shut down the thread for the evening. It will be back up in the morning, when I am up and out of bed. See you then!

    (Also, Lucy, your comment still exists and will be returned to the thread in the morning. You posted it after I posted this comment and closed the thread, and I want this post to be at the bottom of the thread for now.)

  235. John, I understand you want to get back on track, and I’m struggling with that because of the issue of exceptions (or of needing to define exceptions, as I’m pro-life). Here’s what I think about exceptions for rape: there are no winners when we start passing judgment on people’s pain. One person might have been raped by her father, another in a back alley, another by her own husband, or a date in college, and another might just feel the weight of a birth control that failed despite having tried to do everything right. And you might decide that one person’s pain is worse than another’s, but you can’t say that one person deserves more control over her life than another. Should a rapist get to control his victim? Of course not. But why is this about the rapist, and not the woman? When we start to chastise politicians for not excepting rape in an abortion ban, we’re implicitly saying it’s okay for the government to control a woman’s body if “we the people” don’t think her trauma passes muster.

    I have nothing but respect for what you’ve written, and I think it makes a very important point. But to me the obvious question is, why should a woman have to be raped in order for her rights to be worthy of discussion?

  236. Comments are now back on!

    Lucy:

    “why should a woman have to be raped in order for her rights to be worthy of discussion?”

    I don’t think you or I are on different sides of this particular question, Lucy.

  237. John, my first reaction when I saw that you asked Krissy to read it first was, “Wow.” My second reaction was, “Well, of *course* he did.”

  238. Thanks, John. Excellent post. Attempts to revise the abortion laws here in the UK, most recently by a female Tory politician, have consistently died a death. Very few people here, it seems, want to revise the abortion laws and that’s a damn good thing. But our right wing isn’t as closely hitched to fundamentalist Christianity as yours seems to be and I think that’s got a lot to do with it (I’m not exactly a huge fan of the Tories. But I am grateful that we have a PM who can stand up and say that he supports gay marriage because he’s a conservative, not in spite of it, and who remains pro-choice).

    (Liz Williams)

  239. Thank you, I’m glad someone said this.

    As a victim of incest-rape, I had quite a bit to say and none of it polite when I read the whole “gift of God” thing. I ended up having to abort my kid after being raped. One, I didn’t even know who the father was. Two, I didn’t think I wanted my kid being born into a family where the same would happen to her before she learnt to talk. I didn’t think I wanted to leave things till my baby had been raped and then was forced to make her own “choices”. Why would anyone want to have a baby and be forced to hand her/him over to a monster, merely because by “virtue” of rape, he’s the father?

    It’s hard enough to deal with the whole trauma of rape, and then be faced with the decision of abortion. Once a woman has made it, I think people should just leave her alone and let her pick up the pieces and try and glue them back together.

  240. As a rape survivor, thank you for this. It actually got me thinking about how my ex’s violations still control me sometimes, which I genuinely think would’ve made him very happy back in the day (though I’m sure he wouldn’t categorize anything he did to me as not consensual). Good food for thought.

    As someone who professionally schedules appointments for reproductive health services (including abortion), I wanted to share my opinion about the current “rape exception” most state Medicaids have. Of the handful of rape survivors who have called me seeking an abortion, they’ve all had Medicaid in a state that had a “rape exception.” However, this “exception” would only cover the abortion if the patient had had a police report made within a week of the assault, a doctor’s note verifying the rape, and had the procedure done at a hospital (rather than a clinic like ours). In all cases, the women had not done these things (in one case the woman had actually gone to the police to report that she’d been assaulted, but left out the sexual nature of it due to shame) and, even if they were still within the time-frame where a police report COULD be made, told me “I just can’t handle all of that right now” and made the appointment with our clinic for a large fee instead.

    My point is that “rape exceptions” as they exist now are, in my opinion, a sick joke. They need to be made into ACTUAL EXCEPTIONS for rape survivors rather than taken away.

    In any case, just my two cents, and thank you again for sticking it to these asshats.

  241. @Jamie –

    The politicians who are saying these things that seem so amazingly dumb, and seem like they are in support of taking rights away from women, I believe are really speaking from the perspective of my comment – the idea that maybe women’s rights are actually not the most important thing to be considering when the rights in question, if given, have a massive impact on something else that shouldn’t be overlooked. I just intended to explain that they are probably taking into consideration other important pieces of this hairball issue, and that those pieces might actually be valid.

    They are bad and wrong. And so are you.

  242. This gave me chills. I cannot imagine how utterly uncomfortable it was for you to write this, though it might have been close to how uncomfortable (read: horrifying) it was for me to read it. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Scalzi. You get it. You really, really get it.

  243. What, do you think, is the ultimate goal of those in the pro-life movement? If it the preservation of the lives of fetuses then they are failing. Because, honestly, it has become all about passing anti-abortion legislation. With all the talk and money and effort and divisiveness, I’m still not seeing a significant drop in abortions. And like many here, I believe even if such legislation were to pass it also wouldn’t lead to a drop in abortions…just a drop in the number reported…the number being done safely.

    I don’t think anyone is “for abortion”. They are for a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body. And as others have alluded to (or outright stated), there is a way to significantly reduce the number abortions performed that simultaneously honors that choice — by making the alternatives easier and more attractive. In essence, using the carrot instead of the stick by improving the social programs and structures that would make carrying the child to term a pleasanter option. But, that requires a collaborative effort instead of a polarizing one, and in a political climate it is the polarizing issue that stirs people emotions, garnering more votes.

  244. Well said, sir. It always blows my mind when the party espousing limited government and personal choice wants to deprive any choices from a woman for 9 months plus 18 years.

  245. Peter Dudley says:
    “Men love to ‘debate’ academic distinctions of other people’s situations.”

    So do women. Some (many) men. Some (many) women.

    “It’s easy to split hairs when it’s other people’s hairs.”

    I’m not sure this is fair to the many men and women who have thought deeply about this and come to a variety of conclusions, some very much like yours, even when other people’s hairs were involved.

    “Women should be able to make these decisions for themselves.”

    Indeed.

    “This letter, unfortunately, won’t convince a single politician of anything. The only thing that will convince them that women need to have the right to their own moral decisions, is to put them in a similar situation, then take away their ability to decide for themselves.”

    This strikes me as very black-and-white thinking. It won’t convince all of them or many of them, but I think it’s possible it will cause some people to think about the situation in a way they never did before, which I thought was the purpose of John’s deciding to write and post it. Thinking about something differently is the key to beginning to change one’s ideas. And politicians are people, each of them has his or her own mind, and it’s my belief that they aren’t all ignorant or stupid or narrow minded. It’s not that all politicians who believe that abortion is murder or who believe that the rights of the fetus trump those of the mother will have an epiphany and Everything Will Be Different. It’s that an essay like this is a way to present this issue in a fresh and unusual way that provides food for thought. It might be that some politicians will begin to think differently after reading it. It might be that friends, acquaintances, and family members of politicians will read it and find it worthy of conversation with those politicians. Or people might find it worthy of discussion with each other, and the discussion will lead to changes of mind among those people and that will eventually persuade some politicians that their constituents have this view and they’d better pay attention. Mind changing works. It’s not as fast and cathartic as a blinding light on the road to Damascus but it’s more frequent and perhaps more effective in the long run.

    Because people do change their minds, and it doesn’t always happen when they’re put in a similar situation and have their rights taken away. If it did, the increasing acceptance of GLBT people as “normal” and deserving of the same rights as everyone else wouldn’t have come as far as it has, with every indication that it will continue. Ditto civil rights for African Americans. Many Americans who had unexamined racist beliefs changed them, often gradually, and not because they found themselves in the predicament of being de facto unable to vote or having to endure the million humiliations and the discrimination that was built into so many laws. It took a lot of time in many cases, but I’ve seen it happen.

    John’s essay is a call for people to think about the issue from a different angle than the ones that are most commonly promulgated and, as such, it may catch on with those with received ideas who are open to looking at those ideas in a new light. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but over time. I am not so pessimistic as to think that the only way to change politicians’ minds is to have something happen to them that is unlikely ever to take place, which is your scenario for change. We have seen change happen on other issues among politicians and others, and it didn’t happen that way.

  246. Heilsan John,

    I’ve read the letter, and the subsequent discussion with interest, given the current political climate in the United States and Australia. The answer is simple, a rapist has no right, none, what so ever to have any say, control or other impact upon a person whom they have already caused such detrimental impact upon. Any politician, through what-ever justification or means who endorses such a position where a woman has her rights removed, needs to be sent a very strong message. Vote for anyone else but. If you’re a person who chooses to vote informal, then instead of just leaving your ballot blank, or making a snide comment or such, write a factual statement of your choice for making an informal vote.

    In regards to the matters of pro-life/pro-choice, etc, I agree, that is a discussion for another day, at the moment, we have a very clear set of statements from a number of politicians which need to be addressed first and foremost, and a very clear message sent, and I for one am very glad of your writing this, for if it only impacts upon one person, then it has been worth it. Albeit, I dare say by the amount of discussion it has elicited, it will have a far greater impact, and that is a good thing.

    Cheers

    Dirk

  247. Please can you send this to every republican state and federal congressman and women. It makes me ashamed to live in this country with politicians like this.

  248. I’m aware I’m not adding to the conversation but I want to thank you for writing this and to say I’m awed at the courage that you have shown to publish it. I also want to add that I see this aimed at other politicians rather than just US ones, for example Irish politicians. I wanted to write more but it would be derailing the topic.

  249. Thank you so much for writing this, John. As unpleasant as it is, it needs to be said. And often.

    The underlying problem I keep seeing from people who either disagree with this post or the general issue of abortion, is whether women have the inherent right to govern their reproductive lives. Whether it’s giving the government, a rapist, or a fertilized egg, more of a right to decide what happens in a woman’s body than the woman herself, we are deciding that women are not full people whose bodies belong to them. They perpetually belong to someone else, never themselves. That is ethically abhorrent. And there isn’t any justification for that that isn’t relying on personal beliefs that some people feel they have the right to force on others. I just don’t see how one person’s personal belief should have any bearing on my ability to have body autonomy.

    I get that many people believe that life is “sacred”. Although I think what they actually mean is that human consciousness is sacred, because “life” applies just as much to a fruit fly as it does to a person. And I really don’t see anyone getting up in arms about the needless deaths of fruit flies. As it stands, human consciousness does not exist until fairly late in a pregnancy because the areas of the brain that inform cognition don’t exist yet. It’s fine if you believe otherwise, but it’s not based on rational fact, rather it’s based in emotions and the nebulousness of belief. That’s fine for you, but, I don’t think anyone else need abide by it.

    For instance, I don’t believe life begins at conception. I don’t believe my body is anyone else’s but mine, and I believe that I have the right to decide what exists inside it, no matter what. I respect any other woman’s right to a different opinion and whatever decisions she makes because of it. Since no one person’s belief trumps another’s, the best you get is a belief stalemate. Which is why legislation cannot and should not reflect personal beliefs, but rather allows you to decide what those beliefs are and act accordingly. The law has to remain neutral. The only truly neutral position is: the person who gets pregnant gets to decide. If you’re not the pregnant person, you don’t get to decide for them. For any reason.

    And so we come back to rape pregnancies and who has more say: the rapist or the woman. I think it should be fairly obvious it’s the woman, since I think it’s a pretty repugnant idea to follow up one act of taking away choice with another. Pregnancies are difficult, they change the body, create health concerns, and they are also dangerous. The U.S. has a very high mortality rate for a developed country, so it’s not hyperbole to say you are risking your life when you are pregnant. In that sense, I really don’t see how anyone can argue that a woman doesn’t have the right to decide whether you she wants to continue a pregnancy, all of which carry very real risks. To further say that a woman has no right to decide because of the manner of conception makes even less sense. Worry about what you’d do about your rape pregnancy, not what anyone else does. It doesn’t have anything to do with you.

    The idea that anyone would be okay with forced pregnancies, under any circumstances, is really terrifying. Just because you believe something doesn’t mean anyone else is required to govern their own lives by it. And, to be frank, if women have no say over whether they carry to term or not, it’s not just abortions that will be an issue. If you think you can force women to carry to term and give birth, what’s stopping you from the reverse? We have real world examples of places in the world where women are forced to abort wanted pregnancies. The only way to prevent that is by making sure women, and only women, have a say in what resides in their bodies. You may not like it, but it’s just not up to you. Spend your time supporting birth control, sex ed, and teaching men not to be rapists. At least then you’ll be doing something productive.

  250. Very well done! I’m a colonial historian and there are so many parallels between then and this argument today. Women were publicly (and humiliatingly) tried, jailed and fined for pregnancy outside of wedlock–even if the pregnancy was a result of rape. Men often were not brought to court and very few were jailed when they did so. Many of these men had access to the child, if they did not disavow the woman.
    The fact that conservative politicians who do not understand the vulnerability a woman faces walking down the street everyday–simply because of her sex–feel they have the right to decide the fate of her body eternally baffles me! If a woman is raped, impregnated, and forced to carry the child and keep the baby, wouldn’t serious resentment and emotional battering to the child and guilt and anger on the part of the mother continue the control of the rapist even longer? That psychologically battered child would have a family of his/her own and wreak that emotional damage upon them. So yes, a woman’s body is her own freakin’ business! Not only because it should be, but because denying her her basic rights has serious consequences for her and for society in general. Well written letter, sir!

  251. This is probably off-topic, but a quick book recommendation for anyone who thinks that adoption is a nice and easy solution to an unwanted pregnancy (however it happened): “The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade” by Ann Fester.

  252. 40 years ago I sat in a waiting room while doctors tried to save the life of my girlfriend. She had been abducted, stabbed in the throat repeatedly for refusing to cooperate in her rape, raped & left for dead. That was a horrible night for but I never wept like I did reading this – this piece hit so many of the unspoken issues behind rape it really tore open a scab I thought was healed.

    Going through the investigation (his mom lied for him saying he was with her at the time) and the eventual trail was hell for her. She had to relive that horrible night hundreds of times over a couple of years and was really still being controlled by her rapist.

    Those who want to talk about legitimate rape or suggest a woman prove she was raped have no clue. In one way it must be a lot happier place to live then the world the rest of us inhabit. Those people need to have the varnish sanded off them and you did a damn fine job with this writing. Thank you

  253. Teresa, as I made clear in my first comment, I’m not the one asserting that an embryo has high value. I have few qualms about even late-term abortion. My point is that there exists a consistent moral outlook that values embryos highly. I agree with you that it’s pretty hypocritical to spend all your time defending the rights of embryos while living high and ignoring the troubles around you. But I also recognize that there are plenty of admirable people who are sacrificing a lot to help others and who also believe that abortion is wrong. I’m not going to call their opinion “crap”. I’m going to respectfully disagree with it.

    You’re also trying to suggest that omission and comission are morally equivalent; that failing to prevent someone from dying is the same as killing them. I think that’s a pretty uncommon moral position.

  254. What infuriates me most in relation to these current conversations about “exceptions” for everything from rape, to incest, to danger to the life/health of the mother, etc. is that they completely ignore and/or distract from the fact that the real issue IS an individual woman’s CHOICE and right, protected and legal, to make such difficult decisions about what action, or inaction in any matter of pregnancy, she feels is most responsible FOR HERSELF.

    The long-known and provable fact is that any form of blanket outlawing of abortion WILL NOT STOP IT FROM HAPPENING, but will only drive it back underground into “black market” territory where, instead of being controlled and safe as a medical procedure, it will again become dangerous and potentially DEADLY, especially to those women whose economic situation would otherwise prevent their seeking such procedures when and where they are still accessible.

  255. Jamie: “Why are so interested in my organs?”

    Google living donor. Any healthy individual in modern society has the potential to save a life by donating living tissue from their bodies, especially blood, bone marrow, a kidney and part of a liver (provided they are a good match for a needy individual, that is). Many people die every year because a suitable donor can not be found. Yet we as a society do not legally require individuals to make such donations, even though doing so would save lives. The right of the individual to bodily autonomy trumps the needs of the sick person, even though the sick person’s life is on the line.

    If women are going to be legally required to donate their bodies to carry an embryo to full term under the pretext of “saving a life,” then why do we not also pass laws mandating other body donations that could save lives? Why are we not all legally required to donate blood on a regular basis, or sign up for bone marrow registeries, or give one of our two healthy kidneys to a dying individual? Even in death we are given legal control over our bodies, and can refuse post-mortem organ donation *even when doing so will allow another person to die*.

    If a woman and her rapist were genetically compatable, she could not be legally compelled to donate a kidney to him, or donate blood, or anything else that infringes upon her bodily autonomy. It is only in the case of pregnancy that some politicians and lawmakers feel this right ought to be set aside. Imagine the response these politicians would have to a mandatory blood donation law? To legislation that required all citizens to join a bone marrow registery or give up a kidney if they were a match with someone on the wait list? They’d rightly oppose giving the state that kind of control over citizen’s bodies. The core principle regarding pregancy is no different.

  256. Echoing what others have said – what ANY restrictive abortion law does is say that women cannot decide for themselves to behave morally. Women can’t be moral beings without legislation.

    It’s just infuriating that laws are even contemplated – I can understand different viewpoints and choices, but allow others to make theirs.

    Why should I substitute someone else’s ideas of what to do with my body for anothers? If I was male, it wouldn’t even be an issue. Because I’m not, EVERYONE seems to think they should make decisions for me.

  257. This is harsh and painful and brilliant. It is exactly as angry as we all need to be. Thank you so much for writing it.

  258. If there was only one topic in our modern society deserving of Juvenalian Satire then this is it. You’ve done a bold and brave thing with your writing here, and I applaud you for taking the risk, full well knowing that you’d be wandering into a realm where opinions and emotions abound. I hope most people see this as the scathing satire it is. Furthermore, I hope it might help some people think more critically about what it means to allow politicians to pass laws that limit or restrict the choices that woman can make about their bodies and lives. Thanks.

  259. David – You’re arguing a position you don’t support, that doesn’t affect you directly (i’m assuming you’re a man based on your name) to people who oppose it expressly because it affects them directly.

    You’re argument comes across, to me at least, as an apologist’s version of a side whose views you profess not to share. Considering the original post is a direct response to this grotesque – and popular – rhetoric about legitimate and forceful rape and their outcome, I’m not sure why you’re unclear about the reason for the passionate pushback.

  260. With all apolgies to John’s writing skills, I actually thought Gedris’ date rapist was a better and more pointed version.

    If you want to throw abortion into the whole social policy thing rather than leaving it as a personal choice for women (where I think it belongs), you can hit some squicky thickets fast. Take for instance, the exception for the life of the mother (if you otherwise want abortion to be illegal.) Until recently, women had a fairly high mortality rate from pregnancy. So did women who chose to be pregnant have an expectation of a right to survive pregnancy when the Constitution or the 14th Amendment were passed? I don’t want to go there. No one should. Let women live in the 21st century and make their own choices about their health, morality and religious beliefs.

    Let’s also consider the whole innocent life thing. We are OK with taking an innocent 18 year old and forcing him to kill and/or die. We are OK with dropping a bomb on dangerous people and hoping the nearby day care centers aren’t too full that day. (Just hoping: if they are, they are.) We are OK with capital punishment, knowing that at least one of those guys will really be innocent. We are OK with self defense, even if in some cases, the shooter will turn out to be mistaken. (And by “we,” I mean the collective consensus; I know some of you don’t agree with some or all of the above.) We justify these and other deaths as permissible to serve a greater social good. I would posit that women cannot function as full members of society (as it is currently constituted) without the right to choose an abortion and that is a sufficient good (a pretty damn fundamental social good) to counter-balance the bad. (I am not going to debate the quantity of “bad” in a decision to termniate; I will say I think it is usually nonzero and leave it at that.)

    Every woman can choose whether to avail herself of her rights. You can have your opinion about that choice. If she asks, you can even decide whether you want to offer that opinion. However, you and the state should not be aiding and abetting the crimes of rapists by removing the choice from her hands. Even more importantly (to me), I do not want to be made an accomplice to a rapist. It’s bad enough I am already an accomplice to every death (justified or not) caused by the U.S. military and local law enforcement. Please don’t add to my sins, I beg you.

    With regard to Mr. Petit: The world might change so much that very few women want or need terminations. Pro-life advocates would be better served striving for that goal. We might revisit the social balance then. Hell, war and poverty might disappear too. But I am not holding my breath.

  261. Thank you John! And thank you commenters. While I do not agree with all of you, everyone’s comments have helped me reaffirm my own feelings and opinion – I should have just as much control over my body as any man has over his body. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t want me to do something to my body, you can try to convince me not to with your arguments. Using violence or the laws of the land to take away my ability to control my body in any way is simply your attempt to control me.

  262. I wish i could expand on this with my personal experience but it’s taken me over a half hour to control the tears and if i write what is so difficult to speak of they will continue to fall. I will simply say thank you John Scalzi.

  263. Bit heavy-handed if you ask me. It’s a really good argument and gives all the pertinent facts but its so aggressive in the fact that the author only manages to preach to the choir. We won’t be able to change people’s opinions with heavy-handed sarcasm and smarm, it’ll only reinforce their ridiculous beliefs if we just outright attack them.

  264. I don’t find this letter disturbing at all as it is the subtext to all of the disturbing declarations we’ve heard. It’s just not that surprising to me.
    To all of the people who say that the life of the baby supersedes the woman’s right to control her body: like the bible, this is a tenant that is your belief, not fact (the bible was written by men, therefore my stance is that it is the best historical fiction ever written, or not).. As long as woman have conceived, people have tried to control the life stream, to have babies or to not have babies. When you put the life of the embryo/fetus/gestating human above ANY other life, you are cancelling out your own argument. Merely by saying there is a responsibility to bring the ‘child’ to term at any cost, you are negating the sanctity of the life of the mother. I know this argument is a level above the pro-life stance, because the pro-life stance is not pro-life. It is, in all instances, about CONTROLLING the BODY of the WOMAN. Just like the letter says. Period. If you are truly ‘pro-life”, you are anti-war, anti-domestic violence and anti-poverty as well and would be using all of your resources to make the quality of life for those already living the best it can be. What is the point of bringing a baby to term if it’s life is going to be one of pain, poverty, want, scarcity, anguish? That’s already the human condition for many. Why are you negating the life that the ‘saved’ child will lead. Why do you fight for the child to be born and then abandon it? Why are you pretending you don’t have to be proactive about the MOTHER’S LIFE?! Because you are not pro-life. You are pro-controlling a woman’s body because she can’t possibly make an intelligent decision herself. If you want to follow the ‘God’s will” argument, then I say “If God wanted men to control the life-stream, he would have given them ovaries”

  265. Jamie: “Why are so interested in my organs?”

    For the same reason that you are expressing a desire to regulate what goes on in a woman’s uterus.

    “But,” you protest, “there is a life at stake there!”

    Exactly, hence the situation where your organs could be used to save the life of someone else, and someone suggesting that other people than you should decide whether your organs are required to be used for that purpose.

    And specifically – to keep this on point – whether a rapist should be allowed to control the uterus of the woman he rapes.

  266. Thank you for this. I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been covered, but I do want to point out that, for those who would like to handwave away the nine months of pregnancy (nine whole months of daily watching your body be given over to something that is stealing your nutrients, changing your shape, almost certainly causing you nausea, possibly causing diabetes, cutting off blood flow with its sheer weight if you lie the wrong way, and making it near-impossible to even take a deep breath, sleep without back pain, eat a normal-sized meal, or walk normally as you come to term — and I *wanted* all of my children, but I still remember those sensations viscerally) with the “just give it up for adoption” ending …

    Not only are you ignoring the absolutely dismal outcomes for many adopted children, but all the children who don’t ever *get* adopted in the first place. Sure, babies get a better chance — if they’re white babies. If they’re pretty babies. If they’re healthy babies. But even then, not all of them get adopted. If you’d like to stay awake for a week straight, look up the stats on child abuse in foster care situations. Hint: a child in the foster care system is more than four times as likely to be sexually abused than a child who lives with family members. That number is even higher in group homes.

    And before you can even get to giving the kid up for adoption in the first place, you have to pray that when he’s given the legally-required notice that you’re placing the child for adoption, your rapist doesn’t choose to challenge. Because birth fathers have rights too. However they managed to impregnate you. Can you imagine relinquishing the baby you just gave birth to, to a man you know is a rapist because he raped you? Not only did you sacrifice your time, possibly your health, and certainly your body, for the better part of a year, but at the end of it, you don’t even get the consolation of thinking your child went to decent people. Talk about loss of control.

  267. Typo Alert:

    So my ability to change the life of woman just keeps growing, doesn’t it?

    Should either be So my ability to change the life of a woman just keeps growing, doesn’t it? or So my ability to change the life of women just keeps growing, doesn’t it?

    @ David Karger

    There is a clear moral consistency in the argument that a conceived baby is a human being with all the rights of human beings. (I don’t agree with it, but recognize that good people may.) Once you accept this argument, it really doesn’t matter how that baby was conceived. The *only* justification for allowing an abortion would be to protect the life of the mother, trading a life for a life. And making that assumption, characterizing those individuals as evil, makes it harder to engage in consensus-building (e.g. around reducing the number of rapes and abortions).

    A strict utilitarian such as the eminent Peter Singer would think so, but even he has enough perspective to acknowledge that his own utilitarian principles are not universally shared.

    From this perspective, the people who really get me infuriated are those who oppose abortion “except in cases of rape or incest”. If you really think that embryo=human, then there’s no justification for these exceptions. So I’ve got to assume that you’re compromising your moral principles to pander to the electorate, which is sad.

    I’m loath to split hairs over something as unacceptable (to me) as slavery – because there can be no compromise or “consensus” with anyone who would appropriate the body of actual living human beings on the basis that a mass of tissue with no capacity for thought or pain is a person, let alone the ludicrous position held by a not insignificant fraction of pro-lifers that contraception is murder – but I disagree with you. Before I begin, I want to be crystal clear that I support the right to abortion so long as the fetus is part of the mother’s own body, without exception or qualification.

    But, for the sake of this argument, let’s say the fetus was a separate person. If the only way to keep someone alive was by hooking them up to someone else who had assumed no obligation to that person for nine months followed by up to several days of agonizing pain and then forcing the unwilling savior to associate with that person for at least eighteen years, would you seriously support a law requiring that sacrifice? And do you really believe that no one can have a consistent moral framework outside of strict utilitarianism? I’ll take a moment here to point out that that is the great fallacy of moral Objectivism, the belief that anyone with different values is immoral.

    You’re also trying to suggest that omission and comission are morally equivalent; that failing to prevent someone from dying is the same as killing them. I think that’s a pretty uncommon moral position.

    Actually, that is exactly what declining to carry a fetus resulting from rape is, an act of omission. Do you seriously not grasp the moral equivalence between coercing a rape survivor to sacrifice her body-sovereignty for a rape-conceived fetus and forcing someone to become a living donor for someone else? If so, then I’m sorry to inform you that it is your moral reasoning that fails to add up, not Teresa’s.

    @ iholdtheline

    But in all cases, whether the woman was raped or simply does not desire to have a child, it is her duty as a human being to give the human she is carrying a chance for life.

    As good a definition of slavery as any. And no, I’m not trolling, I really believe that’s enslavement.

    Yes, it might be hard for the woman.

    Just might huh?

    But no matter what, the woman should ALWAYS have a right to her own body. That extends to every person, in fact. All people have a right to their own bodies. That is why those humans the woman carries have a right to not be killed. Any arguments about it not actually “killing” someone, because it is not yet a person are void in this; assuming the pregnancy goes well, that thing in the woman’s womb will eventually become a person.

    No one has the right to commandeer the body of another for the sake of their own, or to do it on behalf of anyone else. If you truly believe they do, then you should support forced kidney transplants. But I see I am not the first person to point this out to you.

    I expect to be eaten by trolls.

    This is the equivalent of saying, I’m dumping you before you dump me…not the most mature approach. Oddly enough, it’s also exactly the sort of thing a troll might say. But unlike you, I don’t automatically assume that those with whom I disagree (namely you) are trolls.

    Many of the arguments against what I said (the baby is not the woman’s) seemed to be heavily based on emotions. That’s expected, since these sorts of situations are very emotional for people. While emotional arguments can be powerful initially, they don’t really hold up logically (like many arguments against God’s existence, but that’s a completely separate topic).

    Yet you couldn’t resist slipping it in there, eh? You don’t do yourself any favors by dismissing the arguments against your position as emotionally compromised. When you try to claim the moral high ground by claiming greater objectivity, you implicitly deny your opponents’ ability to remain rational on emotional topics, which is condescending and, especially on matters of women’s rights, patronizing. You may not intend it as such, but that is the logical implication.

    There is very little benefit in saying that one group is trying to harm either the woman or the child.

    People are responsible for their actions as well as their intentions.

    How come no one has brought up adoption yet, by the way?

    It was in the original post.

    Who disagrees that adoption answers a lot of problems here?

    I do, as do at least several others judging by the content of their comments in this thread. If, in order to save another person’s life, someone “only” had to place their body at that person’s disposal for nine months (plus all the irreversible lifelong biological changes you glossed over), going through tremendous physical rigor and hardship ending in a prolonged period of pain and exertion lasting from hours to days, would you still argue they should be coerced to make that sacrifice regardless of their own choices? For me, such a trespass of liberty is beyond the pale. And yes, I have an emotional investment in the protection of individual liberty. If you decide to dismiss my arguments because I’m not a Vulcan, I’m hardly going to waste any more of my time trying to make you see the fallacy of doing so.

    @ deirdresm

    TMLutas, you may find the chapter in Freakonomics covering the Decree 770 era (in part) interesting. It opens the chapter called “Where Have All the Criminals Gone?” (About how the increased availability in abortion in the US led to a long-term drop of crime rates.)

    I’d forgotten about that. Awesome book, in case anyone has been on the fence about reading it.

    @ Other Bill

    I work with a lot of folks who’ve incorporated the expression, and notion I suppose, of “inshallah” into their lexicon and world view. I used to work with one guy who everytime he heard the expression would exclaim “Different God.” Which I found to be pedantically dickish.

    Well, yes, but if someone is being pedantic about something I don’t believe actually exists (i.e. the anthropomorphic conception of an almighty Will), why should their pedantry bother me? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Not criticizing, just offering my point of view.

    @ DeAnn

    BTW, just today on the news they spoke of a man, a teacher, convicted of raping a 7 year old girl, and molesting two teenagers. He got an 11 year sentence, but the judge told him he will only be serving ONE YEAR of that sentence, after which he will be required to get out-patient therapy. Isn’t that just spiffy?

    The only reason I no longer support capital punishment for convicted rapists is because I don’t want the State to hold power of life and death over its citizens (a concession I did not arrive at easily). But life imprisonment without possibility of parole? At the minimum.

    @ foomf

    Other religions than Christianity, also arising from the Mediterranean culture, also have similar blame-the-woman and control-the-woman teachings, and like Christianity, they are not necessarily well supported in the written doctrines. They have similar machismo and similar concepts of wedding as sale of a woman into the family of a man, etc.

    Perhaps a secular razor: Never resort to blaming God for what can be explained by humankind. And while I think that can be useful whether you believe in said God or not, falsely appealing to the authority of God to condone one’s own misdeeds is all the more abhorrent to an atheist/agnostic* such as myself.

    * Atheist if the question is do I believe in human notions of God; agnostic if the question is do I believe I know whether the Universe is an artifact of a priori design by something we might recognize as a Will.

    @ Morgan Denver

    If your argument is based on a religious belief in ensoulment, I hope you recognize that you have no right to force your unprovable religious beliefs on other human beings, any more than a believer in reincarnation cannot come take away your inherited home because he claims to be your reincarnated father, nor a Talibani is allowed to kill your Western daughter for wearing pants. That is not the way any sane society works. If you want to live in a society where people are held hostage to religious beliefs, check out Iran–it would be just your kind of place.

    I don’t usually reply only to commend, but this +1000 and I wish I had said it so well.

    @ carlos

    It also fails to count individuals that serve time in a jail, rather than a prison, and individuals who plea out or are convicted of a lesser sexual assault charge.

    Speaking of convenient wording, conviction for a lesser sexual assault charge is not a conviction for rape. If someone stabs someone to death and they get a year in prison for mugging, they didn’t spend a year in prison for murder.

    @ Nowhere Man

    @TMLutas: Following your train of logic, it seems that you would actually agree with Decree 770. After all, contraception prevents millions of pregnancies every year. If it is morally wrong to prevent an embryo from becoming a human being, it must be equally wrong to prevent that embryo from being created.

    That’s almost precisely what happened under Nicolae Ceaușescu.

    @ LJCohen

    This may be overly simplistic, but for me, it comes down to this: Forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is prioritizing a potential life over an actual life. I will always side with the woman’s right to choose.

    I think you hit the nail square on the head. But it will not convince many who are anti-choice because many of them firmly believe that any fertilized egg is a living person. And as long as they hew to that belief, the line in the sand must be drawn.

    @ Jenna Glatzer

    John, I sure do hope you appreciate the phenomenal lack of cursing I’ve displayed here. ;) Honestly, I’m not sure how I pulled it off, either.

    FWIW, I thought it was all the more biting for its lack of cursing. Lack of cursing is not a sign of intelligence, but not needing to curse sure is.

    @ Teresa Nielsen Hayden

    Many things extinguish human life. What are you doing to stop them?

    With respect, I am not convinced that someone not being a paragon of integrity automatically invalidates their arguments, even when I personally disagree strongly with their arguments. That said, I agree that anti-choice political institutions which fail to do anything to provide for the child after they are born only use their ostensible concern for life as a façade for control, and that anti-choice advocates to support those institutions implicitly support those institution’s hypocrisy. But I’m afraid I still don’t agree that their arguments are beneath being heard and rebutted.

    @ C.E. Petit

    Hypothesize, for a moment, that there’s an alternative to outright abortion — the ability to place that embryo in another place (whether it’s a “surrogate mother” or an artifical womb is beside the point) to be potentially brought to term. And I emphasize “potentially” here, because — as with any medical procedure — there are going to be some failed “transplants” (and, of course, some “complications,” too).

    If and when exowomb incubation becomes a viable alternative, it should be up to the mother whether to employ it or obtain an abortion because a fetus is not a person. Even if the fetus were a person, which is isn’t, exowomb incubation should only be mandatory in pregnancies resulting from voluntary sex, because any forced labor in the service of another is wrong, wrong, wrong. Not incidentally, highly-effective birth control in the form of intrauterine devices already exists and has for a while, yet many socially conservative politicians routinely fight the availability of contraceptives at every turn…so science fiction is not required to reveal their real motives.

    @ Scott Drummond

    Furthermore, because many rapes are facilitated by drugs or alcohol, the new definition recognizes that a victim can be incapacitated and thus unable to consent because of ingestion of drugs or alcohol.

    Just to play devil’s advocate, does this mean people may not legally have sex while intoxicated?

    Similarly, a victim may be legally incapable of consent because of age.

    Yes, and that is a good law so long as it’s used to protect children from adults. It has, however, had the unintended consequence of being used by certain conservative DA’s to go after teenagers for having otherwise consenting underage sex.

    @ Peter Dudley

    The problem is that the politicians splitting hairs and making distinctions between what’s forcible and what’s not, or the rights of a fetus versus the rights of a woman… All these people (and most of the commenters arguing the finer points) are men.

    I wish this were true, but I’ve had enough conversations with socially conservative women of the anti-choice variety to know it ain’t so. Women are just as capable as men of working to deprive other women of their civil rights/liberties.

    @ Dan

    Bit heavy-handed if you ask me. It’s a really good argument and gives all the pertinent facts but its so aggressive in the fact that the author only manages to preach to the choir. We won’t be able to change people’s opinions with heavy-handed sarcasm and smarm, it’ll only reinforce their ridiculous beliefs if we just outright attack them.

    So not ignoring the elephant in the room is equivalent to an attack? JAR went out of his way to note that the objects of his adulation were apparently surprised at the consequences of their policies. If John wanted to attack the anti-choice brigade, he wouldn’t need to let them know how much their polices mean to JAR.

  268. In re: the discussion of the potential harms of pregnancy, if I could be self-promoting enough to suggest folks look at my piece on HuffPo (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rory-e-kraft-jr/pregnancy-as-harm_b_1669418.html), which in turn is a shortened version of a piece in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.

    The case law is clear. Pregnancy is a bodily injury, which I argue is a subset of harms. Women’s bodies are harmed by pregnancy. The question is if society is going to have a discussion about how we all can be more mindful of the harms of pregnancy and be prepared to offer (wanted) assistance.

  269. I can only hope that it helps some of the pro-life people to better understand that this is a complex issue because of how traumatic and debilitating it is for the woman who is losing control. Call me a cynic but I do not think those politicians (Mourdock et al) will change their position until there is a political benefit to them.

    As many have already stated I also believe that it only adds insult to injury by denying the woman of choice after the rapist already forced his choice on her, two wrongs do not make a right. For too long women were denied a voice and choice, I have a hard time seeing how denying a woman the choice in this situation is anything other than making the woman a second class citizen with reduced rights.

    To all of those that have shared your stories here, thank you. Some people need to be reminded that this is not an academic discussion.

  270. Hello, John. I’ve never commented on your blog before, but we were acquainted in college and I was on the University of Chicago panel with you at the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention.

    I’ve long thought you were a brilliant writer, but this is absolutely devastating.

    Well done.

  271. Thanks, Scalzi, for being “one of the good ones.”

    And to those that argue that many rapists would prefer abortion, remember that many rapists are people who want to maintain a relationship with (and control over) the victim. If a woman wants to leave you, having a kid together is a great way to force her to stay with you. Which is why it is so scary that there are so many states that allow those rapists visitation and custody rights.

    Also, @A Mediated Life “…we don’t force people to use their own bodies to save someone else’s life. Even if you’re the only organ donor match for someone who is dying, you are not compelled to risk your own life and health by giving them a kidney.”

    A great point!

  272. I’ve been sending $25 to the opponent every time one of these Republicans makes that kind of remark on rape. It’s starting to get expensive.

    What’s really chilling is that all of these arguments are nearly identical to what a small subset of mostly wealthy white male politicians were imposing on government back in the late 19th century. (By the early 20th century they were getting severe push back. I hope they don’t get a foothold this time around.)

  273. Gulliver:

    “…why should their pedantry bother me?”

    Fair question. I found it dickish because it would be forced into conversations that weren’t expressly about the pantheon of all powerful beings. And, the answer is eleventy infinity. Eleventy infinity angels can dance on the head of a pin. And then the great owl god bites the universe in twain.

  274. Dear Rapist: Thank you for you gift. I love my son, he has inspired me all of my life. I had a hysterectomy when he was 17 months. See you were not the first, it had been happening since I was an infant, my uterus was so damaged that I almost died with my first son. They wanted to abort your son after you had beaten me in front of my infant son, raped me, and impregnated me, but I said no. Knowing I could die, and knowing I would have to have a hysterectomy after he was born. It was my choice. So you had no control, nor will you ever. As a child no one knew, and no one could look after me well enough to protect me against other predators like you. It happens, thankfully less and less now as society is learning the value our children have to our future. My bio Father abandoned us for a ‘better’ life my Mother suffered from Post traumatic stress, from her abuse, but married again and tried to create a wonderful life for us. But the damage had been done. My step Father adopted me and raised me with his values which, though not appreciated until I was much older, my Father gave me the foundation in my life. Things were not perfect for my older siblings, but they were a lot better than they had been. God, my Presbyterian Faith, my community of mentors, and support taught me that the fault was not mine and all though the damage mentally and physically had been done by YOU and other PREDATORS the humility and experience made me a better person. Whenever life became hard or a struggle, after you husband left. I always looked at our sons, who were strong, forgiving loving sons, who became strong forgiving loving men with no respect for predators. I was more fortunate than others born before me, in harder times with less support, and worse family environments. They too grow stronger every day, and in this realm of baby boomer population that has grown up to be politicians, Judges, Lawyers, Police Officers, Teachers, volunteers, and mentors in our society the young victims are now aware, well educated, articulate, adults. The victims now can fight their and young survivors battles as a minority. Where every you look there is a survivor of your hand and your reign is slowly ending, you will recede once again into the shadows or die trying to prey. Men and women will no longer tolerate their children being used as victims. Society will fight for ALL children to encourage their own futures, which is all children. Your websites will be shut down, your homes will be invaded, your credibility destroyed. With organizations, such as LITTLE WARRIORS, the PREDATOR will become the prey.

    I feel for a woman who has to make the choice. All women were not as fortunate or lucky as me, and I saw a lot of horrors and injustices, first hand, in my life. Not all women can mentally go through the entire pregnancy mentally, or physically. How many children are there out there that have unknowingly died in childbirth after being raped, how many will die in childbirth after being raped? Who are we to judge a person for making the choice to abort a child for what ever reason they chose? Who are we to tell a person because they do not have our strength or our convictions that hey are a sinner, they are wrong, or they are murderers? No, I personally do not support abortion, but I will not judge another human being for having one. If someone in my life, and this has happened, were to chose abortion, I would speak with them, and tell them of my own experience, but I have housed women that have survived bad adoptions, spoken with men that suffered from being adopted. I personally found that understanding the reason, and listening to the person, made me a better person. Only God had the right to Judge someone, in my opinion. We are here to make a difference. As a survivor of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. As a person that spent summers, years in the U.S. watching segregation, discrimination, poverty. As a person that was a young terrified white child in Detroit in the 60s during the riots, as a person that was in Northern Ireland in the 70s, as a Metis descendant left handed French girl I have experienced a lot of events in my life. I watched my Mother and other women of her generation go through a lot. I have no right to judge, and in my opinion neither does anyone else.

    Perhaps we should be proactive and fix the problem before creating a judgmental solution. If women were not being raped, if children were not being exploited, if predators were not being protected or used as examples in sarcasm. We would perhaps be closer to the truth of creating a better society of life and humanity. Many women, just by knowing someone is not judging them, someone is listening to them, and someone is willing to understand and support them decide to have their child and give it to a family that they know will be safe, secure, and nurturing for their child. Many still can not be given this opportunity, no matter what you say is in place for them.

    Who are we, any of us to even think we have the right to take away freedom of choice. Even God let Eve chose, Adam was to be her support and mentor. They both suffered the humility in the Garden of Eden. We took the knowledge, with knowledge comes choice, with choice mistakes. Yes it is sad a little child suffers, no one wants that, but it is not our choice to make, in my opinion, and demeaning, throwing stones, or judging someone that has to make that choice does not make you right, does not make you credible, does not support you cause against abortions. We need to protect the children we have and enforce stronger counseling and regulations for those that chose abortions so that it is the last resort anyone should have to feel they need to chose. Most victims become angry, frustrated, and they feel overwhelmed, judged, and belittled. Telling them, instead of supporting them, showing them terrible pictures, when they have already seen terrible realities only tortures them more. Telling them they are sinners. If God wants that child to be born it will be born, if God gives that child up for a more important lesson to learn, listen to the lesson. My feelings anyway. I chose NOT to have an abortion, and I do not regret that choice. Only when I read articles as above do I even remember how my son was conceived I do not think about that at all, I am thankful I have my son I am thankful for both my sons. I know women that have born entire families built on control and rape, that their firm convictions never once gave them the thought to abort. Yet no one supported them in their youth against the predator. I feel we need to clean up our society first. Starting with the reasons for unwanted pregnancies. If we can resolve the reasons, we can resolve the abortions. There’s a thought, put perhaps it is easier for some to raise money and spend it at pointing a finger and controlling others rather than understanding the process that created the problem, just saying? Good luck and God Bless. Prayers to all the preyed upon, keep strong, become educated, and believe in yourself for you have experienced more than most and have more in empathy to teach and share with others.

  275. I just want to say, thank you, more than anything. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for putting it the way you did. Thank you.

    I would also like to point out (no, I didn’t read all the comments, but a lot of them), that while you did bring up, and other commenters are discussing during-pregnancy, after-pregnancy it just doesn’t go away, even if you give the baby up. Your bodydoesn’t magically go back to the way it was, you still have to deal with all the things that your body thinks should be happening to help baby, even if you give baby up.

  276. Well said Mr. Scalzi, well said. An excellent use of satire to point out the absurdity of some politicians statements and positions.

  277. @katyasozaeva Just to clarify, Romney DOES make exception in cases of rape. He has been very clear on that. On August 24 he said, “My own view is that I oppose abortion except for cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is threatened.” As John pointed out, not all Republicans nor all conservatives agree with Mourdock. In fact, most are as appalled by his comments as pro-choice people are.

  278. There’s a bunch of comments about how the rape exception is not morally consistent with opposition to abortion. Which misses the point, which is exactly that.

    Americans, those is the middle of this issue, whether that middle be wide or narrow, do not like abortion. But neither are they comfortable banning it. The rape exception is an attempt to find a reasonable compromise. It’s not morally consistent and thus is not acceptable to either those who believe in the inalienable right of the potential human to life nor those who believe in a woman’s absolute right to control her own body. But since most Americans stand in what they think is the reasonable middle, that’s where we are.

    Then you get dipshits in Congress, who I don’t believe for a second have thought through these issues — they jut accepted the position of their church or party or maybe it’s the same thing to them. And they choose to combine the issue of rape with the issue of abortion because they’re assholish enough to think women make too big a deal out of rape, and somebody needs to stand up for men.

  279. Mr. Scalzi, you made me cry. This was incredibly difficult and painful for me to read, and has probably shadowed the rest of my day, but it is good and necessary, what you’ve said here. Thank you for speaking hard and ugly truths that must be voiced.

    @Ruth-Anne McCauley: If you were where I am, I would give you the biggest hug.

  280. Thanks for writing this and for curating an amazing comment thread, which is full of both heat and light (to borrow from an early commenter). I’m reading at work and had to give up about half-way down the comment thread, but I saw lots of thoughtful responses from people all over the spectrum on this issue. I’ve been pro-choice for quite a while, now, but thinking about what you’ve written and the arguments in the comments have strengthened my belief. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  281. If I were raped at got pregnant, there is absolutely no way I’d let those cells develop to fruition. The legality of abortion would not even be a consideration. Rape is not a valid way to spread genes in the gene pool. Rape should be punished, not genetically awarded.

  282. I thank you for this article. And I think it’s worth pointing out that if Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion is made illegal that does not mean that abortion will be eliminated. Abortion was performed in the US pre-Roe v. Wade and it would happen again.

  283. As someone who works in family law and has seen painful, heartbreaking situations of women forced to allow parental visitation and even partial custody of their child(ren) to their rapist, thank you. I wish that all the people up in arms about the right of a baby to life could see what some of these children and their mothers suffer–forced into court-ordered custody arrangements, then hauled back into Court again when rapist-parent decides this whole deal isn’t worth the effort–or, worse, when he decides his bio-daughter is “old enough” *shudders* If you want them to live, efforts should be made to ensure that they actually have a life worth living.

  284. The fellow in the picture made a statement that indicated that although he feels personally sad about rape, it is not his problem and he’s not going to do anything about it. This is indeed offensive.
    Various arguments why abortion may be immoral are off topic because this is not a rebuttal to those arguments. It is a criticism of politicians with that sentiment.
    On topic, I suggest that it is possible to be a politician who opposes abortion even in the case rape and still actively work to defend women against rape and help victims of rape.

  285. Yes, I’m late, but that’s the nature of time zones, I guess.
    Lots of people have been engaging with iholdtheline, and lots of people have been engaging with the question:
    Who disagrees that adoption answers a lot of problems here?
    But all with post-birth issues, which of course it doesn’t. But adoption doesn’t answer the fundamental problem of pregnancy.
    We are so used to a sentimental view of pregnancy, because we are so used to the wanted or tolerated pregnancy, that we don’t acknowledge, most of the time, what pregnancy is and what it does to a woman to be pregnant.

    Pregnancy is dangerous. It alters the body, in precarious and difficult ways. It carries with it elevated risks for metabolic disease and injury, which may last after childbirth, and even death at a young age — a very young age, sometimes. It’s of course all acceptable risks if a woman choses the pregnancy.

    The word “choice” has always bothered me in these discussions because it sounds like something equivalent to preferring one brand of toilet paper over another. But the choice we’re talking about is life-altering in ways that apparently some people can’t imagine, and carries with it risks that are substantial — threats equivalent to high steel work or nuclear plant workers.

    So another thing that happens in pregnancy is a constant communication between the mother and the fetus, the child that forms. By the time a woman has gone through all that, and the intense difficulty and pain and threat that is childbirth, she’s almost always already bonded to that potential person. And you suggest that her problems will now go away if she adds the pain of abruptly sundering this bond and giving the child up for adoption.

    To repeat: I do, in fact, have a personal stake in this. I still have vivid visceral memories of the three months of disability running up to the two weeks of intense hospital effort to keep me and the kid alive. I can taste the oxygen mask, if I let my mind wander, smell the tubing, see the crash cart that was kept by my bedside, feel the boards strapped to my arms, both of them, to keep the IVs in. Can you imagine how insulting it is to suggest that women are bound to that eventuality, when they’ve been assaulted? Let’s follow up the violence of rape with the violence of forced pregnancy, forced childbirth, and then — when she’s gone through all that and bonded, naturally with the child — suggest that all her problems will go away if she gives the child to someone else?

    Even a healthy, normal pregnancy is fraught with fear, pain, and discomfort (I had one of those too). Just listen in on a group of women reminiscing sometime, when they get past the sentimental parts. That is, if you can get past our normal tendency to discount women’s experiences and concerns.

  286. As a survivor, I thank you as other survivors have. My rape was 24 years ago and it STILL controls decisions I make every day. I have PTSD and will have it until the day I die.

  287. As a survivor, a letter cannot give me more anxiety that the fact that men who in the highest echelons of American politics will act on their sickening beliefs. Studies indicate that convicted rapists think that all men rape and they just were unlucky enough to get caught. These right wing religious nut jobs are basically reinforcing the sick fantasies of those who sexually assault women.

    http://jezebel.com/5866602/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-a-mens-magazine-and-a-rapist

  288. damigiana@10:33 I am obviously biased, but I think no age is too young. Having words and understanding of what was going on would have helped me, as a kid, a lot.

  289. Scalzi, do you have mirrors in your home, or do you eschew them, knowing you would be blinded if you looked into them at the brilliance that is you?

    Seriously, I think this is an absolutely amazing piece of satire in the Swiftian school. If I thought these sociopaths who think they should have the final say over the bodies of strangers would be changed if they read it, I would pay for the printing and mailing myself and send it to each and every one of the smug, soulless meat puppets.

  290. This is an amazing, amazing post. Thank you, Mr. Scalzi, for writing it. And a thank you to Krissy as well.

    And what I adore most about it is that, from my perspective, is it NOT about abortion. At all. All those who are bringing up the “rights of the fetus” are looking at it from the politician’s point of view, which is unbelievably sad.

    My perspective is that this whole post is about:
    – the different manners in which we inculcate boys and girls with negative attitudes about their sexuality
    – refusing people the education and resources to let them healthily manage their bodies as they are growing up
    – the victim-blaming, slut-shaming culture in the US
    – the ways in which all the risks to a woman’s life and body are minimized, ignored, and otherwise tossed under the bus whenever it is convenient for one’s “morals”
    – and about how power is romanticized here, and violent power-grabs rewarded.

    The comments have further illustrated this, and demonstrated how so many women and children have *internalized* these messages (e.g. “not really raped”).

    Women get to run their bodies. Always. Ever. No one else gets to be inside of *or live inside of* another woman’s body – no matter WHAT the potential of said life – without that woman’s express permission.

    If anyone is really that obsessed with saving lives that aren’t lives, give women free birth control. Studies show it helps, dontcha know.

  291. iholdtheline writes: “the assumption that the baby is the woman’s”
    Actually you’re the one with the assumptions. There is no baby. She has a choice to receive a drug which brings on her period. But denying her access to this simple remedy, she risks conception. In other words, people who value their own opinions like you do impregnate her. Bloody lousy thing to do. YOURE the rapist and should support the baby. But you’re probably voting for the guys who are against the childcare credit for single moms and even school lunches. Because people should be responsible for their lives. Not you, though.

  292. This is perfectly written. If only I thought it would make a difference.

    Here’s the thing — Mourdock’s logic, while abhorrent to any who don’t share his belief system, is internally consistent for anyone who does. If you honestly believe life begins at conception because God makes conception happen, it logically follows that if a woman is impregnated as the result of a rape, God made that happen too. And there is plenty of Biblical support for this — just look at King David and Bathsheba. If the Bible is the single source of your moral compass because you believe it is the complete and inerrant Word of God, then you are going to reach some concusions that seem completely logical to you, but sound absolutely crazy to others. And you’re also not going to put a very high premium on civil rights generally, much less women’s rights.

    That’s why, in my opinion, it is just plain dangerous to have people who believe these things making public policy decisions. I believe one of the qualifications for governing in a non-theocratic, pluralistic society has to be having the ability to separate what you personally believe is moral from what should be legal or illegal.

    If Mourdock were able to say: “this is what I believe, however the law has to function for persons of all beliefs, so my personal beliefs are not relevant to policy decisions,” things would be different. But he can’t, because that kind of separation doesn’t work in that belief system. They believe all law ultimately comes from God, which is why they want the 10 Commandments posted in court rooms.

    So how can they be qualified to govern at all? Am I being horribly bigoted for feeling this way?

  293. Yay, John! Another wonderfully insightful post.

    My other thought is, “Get your $%*&# religion out of politics and out of my body and my life. It is not MY religion and you have no right to impose it on me in ANY way, shape, or form.” I don’t care whose religion it is, it isn’t mine. I don’t care which political party it is, it isn’t mine. Furthermore, the Constitution is on my side in this regard.

  294. The problem with that logic, Esmertina, is that the woman aborting the baby has to be seen as God’s will, too. How can the violent rape be God’s will, but terminating an unwanted pregnancy CANNOT?

  295. Not everyone who is anti-abortion holds to a “life begins at conception” position. And despite what some seem to think, it is possible to be consistently pro-life and allow for abortion in the case of rape. It is akin to allowing abortion for the life/health of the woman. It could also be viewed as a lesser evil in the face of the greater evil of forcing a woman to bear the child of her rapist.

  296. There are those who strongly assert that jokes involving rape are never appropriate. As something of a free speech absolutist, I believe that there are circumstances when jokes about rape can be appropriate, and I’ve used Juvenalian satire as an example of such circumstances. Anyone who ridicules Todd Akin and his ilk is to some extent joking about rape. This area is something of a minefield, but I think this piece negotiated it fairly well.

  297. Banner wants more facts before considering my “hypothetical” a couple of items above that one.

    Congratulations. He/she has just revealed one of my rationales in support of Our Gracious Host’s overall position (as I understand it; I’m not mind-reading, and I’m trying desperately not to project my preferences). That description is precisely the amount of information specified in one state’s law regarding “must inform” statutes. It’s not the nature of information hypothetically available that matters; it’s the nature of the incomplete information provided to make important decisions.

    Too, there’s a darker side that links this little exercise back much more closely to Our Gracious Host’s original screed. Demanding more information for making a decision begins to not only require the victim to continue to relive the episode (that’s what PTSD does, folks), but to do so on demand for someone else. Yeah, just ask a combat veteran to relive his triggering incident (if he/she can even identify it) on demand for some bureaucrat every time he needs a prescription filled and see how much good it does anyone… other than reducing the number of prescriptions that get filled, because word gets out that this is required. And I find it hard to conceive of a rape victim as not having gone through similar events; I was a commanding officer in several such instances involving people under my command, and it was my job to intrude (which is even ickier than it sounds to civilians).

    The demand for more information to satisfy a third party’s standard of decision is nothing other than a control method that also seeks to impose not just that third-party standard of decision, but that third party’s moral justification for that standard of decision, on everyone. For example, a lot of conservatives object that the “corporate social responsibility” movement is wrong, because imposing “not just profitable, but ‘good'” on a corporation as its objectives is wrong; that’s not the purpose of corporations, even if they are people too. Sauce, goose, gander: It’s about restricting (or not) someone’s choice by a means other than making information available (or not).

  298. And how does a woman cope if she’s carrying a rape baby? Ever walked with a pregnant woman anywhere and heard, “Oh you and the father must be SO proud…” How does a victim of rape answer those well-intended remarks? How does a woman who’s still coping with the trauma even face going to work, going shopping for basic necessities, etc.

    The issue is that the consequences do not even end after nine months.

    For example, if the mother chooses to keep their child. In 31 states, a rapist can sue for custody of their child and potentially win. How in the world can you handle visitation–particularly if you child is a girl?

    if the mother opts to give her child up for adoption and file the whole incident away and move on, the child can still find her. Maybe after a few years she wants to be found. Maybe not. Has anyone considered that the trauma of the rape lives on for the rest of the woman’s life?

  299. I am also a rape survivor. I was TERRIFIED that I would become pregnant. The thought of allowing a hundred or a thousand cells determine the rest of my life was completely unfathomable. Thank you for writing this. Triggery? Yes, but important.

  300. It’s not the biggest problem, but one of the inconsistencies I always noticed about pro-life advocates is that they typically come from the right-wing, conservative groups. These groups seem passionate about three things: basing society on whatever interpretation of their religion through government laws and regulations, pro-life laws that regulate or outright ban abortion, and, ironically, vehemently protest any further government regulation or interference in a citizen’s life. It’s hypocritical and terribly illogical. In actuality, it’s simply showing that many of these conservative groups are not anti-regulation; they are simply anti-anything that doesn’t match up with their beliefs and they fully support using the government to regulate the rest of society to fit their beliefs.

    The sad thing, though, is that they will never see this inconsistency. Most will read a passage like this and simply note the points they can argue against and never completely read or digest what is really being written.

  301. Aaron @ October 26, 2012 at 10:41 am
    To be fair Rmoney has also claimed to be in favor of an amendment outlawing abortion in all cases. With a little digging I bet I could find his being on every other side of the issue depending on who he was talking to – its one of his least endearing qaulities

  302. To David Karger and the other people discussing the anti-choice position as a moral one (whether or not they agree with it):

    I am 100% pro-choice. Full stop. That said, there’s actually a very simple way to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest even if you believe a fertilised egg is a human being, and if anti-choicers really cared about women, they’d have thought of it already.

    We have a legal concept called “felony murder”. That is to say that if you commit a crime and someone is killed during or as a result of the crime you committed, a murder charge is added to your charges and the killing is treated as murder even if you didn’t intend it–even if someone has a heart attack and dies while you’re robbing a store.

    So if a woman or girl is raped and requires an abortion for reasons of plain and simple compassion, you could very simply add a felony murder charge to the rape charges–because there would have been no fetus to abort and therefore no abortion, had the rapist not committed a rape.

  303. This letter made me cry. I volunteer on the RAINN crisis hotline, and so many of the visitors just want to get back to a place before they were raped or assaulted. And I can’t give that to them, and I hate that, and I hate that these asshole politicians (which is not nearly a strong enough word) want to ensure that these women have even LESS control over what happens to them after they’ve been raped. If you think this is what your god wants, then I’d rather rot in hell than believe in this sorry excuse for a deity.

  304. graamartroll wrote: “How can the violent rape be God’s will, but terminating an unwanted pregnancy CANNOT?”

    Well, given that some people do believe this, then what someone believes is his/her deity’s will to be obviously depends on who that individual’s chosen deity is. Which, IMO, is a terrible basis for proposing and passing legislation in any society where people do not all worship a deity, do not all choose the exact same deity to worship, and/or do not all interpret that chosen deity’s values and dictates identically.

  305. Aaron says:
    October 26, 2012 at 10:41 am

    @katyasozaeva Just to clarify, Romney DOES make exception in cases of rape. He has been very clear on that. On August 24 he said, “My own view is that I oppose abortion except for cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is threatened.”

    Actually no. Romney _said_ that, but intends to have Robert Bork, as his legislative co-counsel, select Supreme Court judges to end all abortion and probably contraception too. Google Bork, who calls the 1964 Civil Rights Act “an abomination.” And there’s reasons to believe the GOP is undermining another election with shady voting machines. Google it.

    Men like Bork, Romney and Mourdock aren’t interested in anyone having rights. They sold you out long ago for a gram of halo polish. Read Matthew 23.

  306. grammartroll, the logic Esmertina is explaining does not say that *rape* is God’s will but that conception occurs when God wills it. It’s not that God is willing each and every action that people take but that “only God can give life,” and so a conception occurs when God wills it. I personally believe that conception occurs when there is a meeting of sperm and egg at the right point in a woman’s cycle for conception and implantation, but I have to say that my belief is as faith-based as that of a person who believes in the “God’s will” theory. It’s just that my belief is based on my trust that what biologists tell me is true, and theirs is based on their trust that what their pastor (or other religious leader) tells them is true.

  307. Mr. Scalzi, I am writing you to thank you and to grant you the utmost respect. The horrors of what legislation is potentially allowing are shown so clearly by putting the topic in the eyes of the aggressor. I have tried to find ways to write something like this, but it requires the purely dark and detestable process of putting yourself into that mind state. As a Theatre and Philosophy major I have written and talked about the dangers of putting yourself into the mind state of a criminal, a villain, or in this case a monster. You have stepped into the role in a manner to really show not merely the dispassion an aggressor has towards their victim, but sometimes the pride or joy that the system affords them. Again, a dark and horrible place that I don’t think anyone could realise until reading this piece. In trying to write something like this, I’m now glad to have failed as I don’t ever want to even think like this.

    Personally, I have not merely posted this to social networking, but asked that my readers repost this. This is a difficult, dark, but above all else horridly true view of what protecting the unborn at the cost of the victim is really doing for the one person who deserves NO protection. The aggressor.

    You blog has one more follower (more if I can)… May this post aid in changing people’s stances.

  308. My issue is the bait-and-switch, though. If God controls everything, then everything that happens is God’s will. It doesn’t get you anywhere. Therefore, it’s utterly craven and fraudulent to choose the things you like and call them “God’s Will” and reject the things you DON’T like as NOT being “God’s Will.” If God is so interested in babies being born, why does he ALLOW women to choose an abortion? Because he clearly is ALLOWING a man to rape the woman. As Mr. S. said, it’s goose/gander sauce.

  309. I just don’t get why people think any pregnancy must be brought to full term. I mean women have thousands of eggs and men have millions of sperm, so a woman could make a baby every year from about age 12 – 42. So many opportunities. Why does she have to bear this particular one? Taking the illogic a bit further, if she is forced to grow this fertilized egg, wouldn’t this infer that she then has a prerogative to fertilize more? If she’s forced to grow one, why then not more, so many random possibilities? It’s just weird reasoning.
    What a huge burden to put on a woman, to expect her to sacrifice her body for 9 months, not to mention the toll emotionally / psychologically and impact on her life.

  310. BeckyK said: “if the mother opts to give her child up for adoption and file the whole incident away and move on, the child can still find her.”

    And furthermore, the mother may be married to the man who raped her and cannot give her child up for adoption without his signing on as well.

    It seems to me that many people, when they see, hear, or think “rapist,” have a mental image of a guy who grabs a woman in a dark alley, someone who climbed through a woman’s window, or the like. An awful lot of rapers are legally married to the women they rape or in a live-in relationship. How are those women supposed to give up the infant for adoption?

  311. well done.

    I know this is slightly off-topic so if I get the mallet, I completely understand.

    Your article directly takes on this particular politician and his platform because he hit the news cycle, what about the stuff that isn’t major news? What about the stuff we are fed every day and don’t even realize we’re being fed?

    What about something like the cultural whispers laid out in an episode like that SVU 50 Shades one. They reinforce everything that your politician and the narrator would like to remain unsaid.

    How much more damaging is that to women, how rape is perceived, and further, what laws do get passed because the message they are conveying is never explicitly stated like you have done here?

    Could you someday in the future, take down (or at least similarly parse out) a tv show episode like SVU with the 50 Shades wanna author. It said an awful about how rape, female sexuality and how culture perceives it.

    It went like this: “I’m a writer of BDSM therefore I must have real life experience of it. (or better yet insert reader since that gets tossed out at romance readers–typically female–all the time) My rapist used scenes from the book to rape me. I wrote that therefore I wanted it to happen (we the tv audience are explicitly shown that this isn’t true just so we know there’s no doubt). Oh, wait, turns out I didn’t write the book at all. Looky I’m innocent after all, I’m not kinky. I don’t have BDSM experience. I’m not one of those easy rape girls the other GOP candidate from Wisconsin talked about.

    This is a mainstream show but it used the whole the virgin = innocent fiction trope (even if the victim wasn’t a true virgin only a BDSM virgin) without blinking or having any character call the underlying premise out. And this is similar to the legitimate rape = (kind of sorta) innocent mantra being tacitly conveyed by this GOP politician. [I have difficulty believing that the writers of that script didn’t know exactly what they were doing as it was so very very blatant.]

    I know that you are not responsible for the world or parsing out every culture message out there. I’m thrilled that you took the time to parse this topic out because you presented something very very powerful that needed to be said. Unfortunately I agree with one of the commenter above said if this article had been written by a female the response would have been quite different. In some ways I think that might have been a sadder statement than even the article itself.

    So thank you.

  312. Here’s my problem with the “Fetus is a Person therefore Abortion is Murder” crowd [1]:

    The fundamental scenario is that if withholding your personal resources from someone will kill them, then said withholding is murder, and the government should stop it. Even if losing those resources endangers your own health, wealth, and well being and profoundly reshapes the rest of your life.

    Outside of the very specific context in question, this is an argument for *radical socialism*. If this is your political stance, you may be philosophically consistent[2], but somehow I doubt it. It certainly isn’t for the politicians in question.

    So why are you in favor of your own health, wealth, and well being over those of that homeless vet with terminal cancer on the corner, but not for your sister’s health, wealth, and well being over the fetus in her belly? Why don’t you think the government should force *you* to give your organs and money to that vet to save *her* life?

    Please explain. If you can avoid immediately blaming the cancerous vet for her circumstances I’d appreciate it. [3]

    Regards,
    martin

    [1] I have seen parts of this argument stated upthread, but not the whole thing baldly stated.

    [2] To be fair, there are some Christians (and others) who *are* more or less philosophically consistent on this matter. Unfortunately, the American “Religious Right” doesn’t seem to be one of those.

    [3] Yes, it is possible for someone to be truly effed over by their own decisions, but it is also common to be (metaphorically)[4] screwed by forces completely outside your control [5].

    [4] I would like to note in passing that being *literally* screwed by forces outside of your control has a relevant definition.

    [5] If you deny point [3], then *everyone* deserves everything they get, including a fetus, and your argument goes poof.

  313. Great satire, John. (Although it feels wrong applying any positive adjectives to this post.) You’ve stated your reasons for excluding the rights of the fetus from the discussion and I think that is the right call in order for the satire to work properly. But, I think it also nullifies the persuasive potential of the piece for many people who disagree on such grounds. It needs a companion piece exploring the “woman as incubator” concept in the same satirical fashion in order to make a cogent political argument. Otherwise, the false dichotomy you’ve set up above smacks a little too much of George W. Bush’s “if you’re not for us, you’re with the terrorists” line of reasoning. Great as satire, odious as a political statement.

  314. Susan wrote: “so many of the visitors just want to get back to a place before they were raped or assaulted. And I can’t give that to them, and I hate that, and I hate that these asshole politicians (which is not nearly a strong enough word) want to ensure that these women have even LESS control over what happens to them after they’ve been raped. ”

    I was thinking about this today and wondering whether politicians (and media pundits) making comments like Akin’s and Mourdock’s recognize or understand that their wives and daughters are people who could be raped and could be impregnated by a rapist. Or do they imagine that rape and impregnation by a rapist can only happen to “bad” women, woman unrelated to them, women they don’t care about and whom they will never find suicidally distraught and damaged inside their own homes after something like that happens?

  315. yaeltiferet — I really like the idea of adding the charge of felony murder onto the rape. That’s brilliant and puts the blame smack where it should be.

    BW–you’re right. Same thing when the resultant child is from an act of incest. It’s not possible to give the child up. Of course, if the child was a result of domestic abuse, the rapist-spouse may well have to sign off on the abortion like my husband had to sign off on my tubal ligation.

  316. grammartroll, again, it’s not that God controls everything. It’s that God controls the giving of life, in their view. I understand why Mourdock wasn’t saying that *rape* is God’s will but was saying that a conception that occurs as a result of rape is God’s will. Because he’s not talking about a totally deterministic theology. Free will exists for most Christians, or humans wouldn’t have the choice to sin or not to sin. But there is a view that only God can “give life,” which means that God chooses when an act of sexual intercourse results in a pregnancy. That’s one reason murder is morally repugnant to many Christians and why euthanasia and assisted suicide are morally wrong: because only God can “take a life.”

    I personally don’t believe those things, but I have read enough things written by people who do to think that their moral world is at least as internally consistent as mine. My problem is that I don’t want the laws to be based on their moral beliefs. Naturally, like anyone, I would prefer that laws be based on mine. I agree with those who would like the laws of the United States not to be based on religious beliefs, but a great many laws have moral bases, and whose bases get to be used? That’s why I try to vote for people whose moral bases are a lot closer to mine than what Todd Akin and Mourdock have as moral bases. At least they’re being honest about theirs so that voters in their states can vote accordingly. I’m more concerned about the ones who weasel it, like Romney

  317. Grammartroll: ” Therefore, it’s utterly craven and fraudulent to choose the things you like and call them “God’s Will” and reject the things you DON’T like as NOT being “God’s Will.””

    Again, it all depends on who an individual’s chosen deity is. If Mourdock (or anyone else) says his chosen deity wills a violent rape (or does not will it, but is ineffectual at preventing violent rape), wills impreganation by a rapist, and forbids abortions… Well, it’s not as if you or I can go to his deity for verification or contradiction. Mourdock can claim this without any fear of contradiction from his chosen deity, since deities are notoriously reticent and hard to locate.

    Which is yet another example of why I consider deities and deity-worship a terrible basis for legistlation.

    If you object to the inconsistency of Mourdock’s deity (rape is allowe or not-prevented, unwanted pregnancy via violent assault is allowed or not-repvented, but choice about whether to bear the fetus is NOT allow)–well, that’s Mourdock’s chosen deity, not yours. If he wants an illogical and unfair deity, he gets to have one. Indeed, illogical and unfair deities, it seems to me, have been the most common kind of deity, throughout history and well into our own era.

  318. Mr. Scalzi,
    you’ve written an interesting thought provoking piece. But, given the current attitude that men have no say in what a woman’s can’t do to their bodies; wouldn’t the converse be true as well? Men have no right to argue what they can do with their bodies. Either position implies that the man controls or influences women’s rights. Gives or takes away at the discretion of the man. But, lets table that notion a moment and assume men can think and discuss this issue without forcing our wills upon women.

    Rape without a doubt is a terrible crime. No one would argue against that I hope. Just as consensual sex is, if done right, amazingly enjoyable. Two different experiences that derive from the same essential physical act. Pregnancy is a possible outcome of both. Separate and indifferent to the emotions equated with the act. You commented that four out of five women who decide to raise a child of rape keep them. But, you don’t mention if they loved them? Do they? Or, does the constant reminder of the rape cause the child’s life to be a living hell; punished for a thing they never did? If the children that you mentioned were mistreated would that be justified? The sins of the father allow for the punishment of the child? Would we as a society accept it?

    The question of when life begins and must be cared for seems to be malleable. The woman seeking abortion comforts herself by disassociating the idea of a baby with the notion of a foreign lump of meat in their body. Yet, ask yourself. Wouldn’t these same women be horrified if an acquaintance claiming to have just found out that they were pregnant started to smoke? Drink? Do drugs? If not; when should we care about the baby? Shoot heroin until your first trimester…. That thing in you can’t feel it.

    I am not religious; yet, even I see life as remarkable. That collection of cells is possibity. There has never been and most likley never will be the same conflagration of genetic data that will produce that life. Even identical twins can’t be considered the same person. So at the start of infinite possibilities. That baby may cure cancer, travel to mars, or just meet someone and fall in love and lead a normal life. Maybe their life will be shit, maybe they will beat their children, maybe just die alone never making a meaningful connection. But, all that possibility can be stopped even before it had a chance to get started. That makes me sad. Nine months…. Is that so long? Nine months so the universe can see a thing that has never been and never will be again. I have many friends that are pro-choice yet abhor the death penalty. They are surprised that I take the opposite view. But, I believe a criminal has had their chance; and, they made choices that messed it up. But, a baby hasn’t gotten to make one choice yet. I would council the women. Rape creates a victim; don’t let it victimize you again by making you destroy innocence. Give up the baby. Forget it. But, don’t destroy it.

  319. @BW – I understand what you’re saying but the logic that rape isn’t God’s will fails. Let’s consider the Christian idea regarding their god: that he’s all-knowing and all-powerful. Because he’s all-knowing he knews when the next rape will statistically happen and, because he’s all-powerful, he could stop it if he wanted to, but he chooses to not do so. Lack of action does not mean that he isn’t in control, it simply means that he doesn’t act; if he’s not, in fact, in control of everything then he’s not all-powerful as the Christians claim. Furthermore, if God controls the giving of life, then it wouldn’t seem so far out of bounds to consider God is also in control of the context in which that life is given.

    The fact that Mourdock would try and walk back that rape isn’t God’s will is patently ridiculous since nothing happens in the world except by his supposed leave (since, in theory, nothing could go against his will because he is all-powerful and we are lowly mortals).

    I mean, consider that very tired lines that Christians use to try and be comforting in the times of tragedy: “Don’t worry, it’s all part of God’s plan” or “God works in mysterious ways.”

  320. The argument that every egg is, under pro-life presuppositions, a killed child is very convincing. If I am to assume that every biological phenomenon that can become a person should be treated as a person, then I must also assume that every unfertilized egg during a woman’s period is a killed human being. And that’s an absurd thing to believe.

    That’s why I do not assume that every biological phenomenon that can become a person should be treated as one. I am open to other ideas here, but I think it’s a more accurate assumption to say that every fertilized egg should be treated as a human. That is, a fertilized egg is already in the process of becoming a human and will, eventually, become a human (assuming everything goes according to plan).

    People also brought up a very strong argument (I think) against adoption fixing everything. That is, the dangers of pregnancy, not necessarily the responsibility of raising the child, is one of the greatest worries. I had the dangers of pregnancy brewing in the back of my mind as a point I might have to later rebut (sp?), and here I am. I fully recognize that pregnancy poses risks to the mother. My mother has had seven children and two miscarriages. That, just at a glance, gives a vague idea of the chances a pregnancy can go wrong. (Before anyone brings it up, yes all seven children are intelligent and physically capable. Our interactions include talking about the Republic in light of Rousseau, and Latin jokes from the Life of Brian.)

    My mistake, by the way, for saying that no one had mentioned adoption yet. I wouldn’t have asked if I had read the post more closely. I had music on in the background and Kate Bush, ironically, is one very free, and self-controlled woman. Unless she is forced into loving Hitler through her own ignorance. (She also has quite a few songs dealing with pregnancy, but that is slightly off-topic).

    But let’s get back on track. Mr. Scalzi was primarily talking about the rights of the woman and infringements of those rights through rape. Reading your post more closely this time, Mr. Scalzi, I would like to just ask a few things, not intending to sway you one way or the other (simply out of curiosity):

    1. In the statistic of rape-related pregnancies happening more often than rape-related abortions by about five to one (I might have phrased that wrong), is this the result of the difficulty in getting an abortion, or the woman’s conscious choice to give the child a chance at life? If it is so difficult to get an abortion, are you saying that’s the result of the particular conservative candidate in one place?
    2. What would you say is more important; preventing rape from happening or making an abortion easier to get? From what I know, it seems like getting an abortion is fairly easy.
    3. Would you say the woman has no obligations, whatsoever, to the rights of the potential human in her womb? Would you say that the right of the woman to not be controlled by the rapist throughout her life through the child is greater than the child’s right at a chance to life? You might not be happy with how I’ve phrased the question, but I’m not trying to put you into a quandary; it seems like the question comes down to the woman’s rights in the case of rape versus the child’s rights in the case of rape.

    In either case, rape is going to have negative ramifications on one/both parties. Ultimately, it seems the rapist will “win”, assuming he wants control over the woman. If she has an abortion, she is recognizing that the rapist did something to her she did not want. If she does not have an abortion, she has this child for the rest of her life that will remind her of what happened. Is there any way for the woman to be victorious over the rapist?

    I don’t think we are dealing with the problems of abortion or not in the case of rape, I think we are all dealing with the problems that rape causes to the woman and the child. Rape is horrible and it’s absurd to even have to say that, because we all know it intrinsically.

    I don’t think a lot of rape victims are comfortable with saying that the rapist wins in all cases. I have seen some women on here react negatively to the idea of having a rapist’s child.

    But what a fantastically great slap in the face of a rapist, when a woman has the child and raises him in a way that he will not only help and love the mother, but defend her. I agree, it is ultimately up to the woman to have the choice (fighting to pass legislation maddens me), but morally, practically, and mentally, the greatest rejection of the rapist’s control is to raise a child you and the community can be proud of. Something might have been lost during the rape, but immense rewards are gained through raising the child well. Ask any mother who has raised her child well and most will say that there lives have been made better through the child than not having the child at all.

    I know my mom would certainly say that her life was not made better by losing two potential children. But she would start crying if you asked her if her seven children have made her a better person. If she was raped and one of my siblings was the result of the rape, I think she would not look at the child as something to be displeased about, but a renewal of loss.

  321. Mintwitch – Yes, you’re right, of course. I’m just used to not bringing that up when using this argument, as I find it sidetracks it into “that can’t possibly be true”. Instead, I use China which is well-known for its one-child policy, and is (for many people who espouse a pro-life position) a sort of bogey-man. I have seen this argument change minds.

  322. Martin, are you saying you’d support your sister if she starved her kids to death so she could afford a vacation?

  323. @Joey – But it isn’t just the 9 months of the pregnancy. The birth can be emotionally traumatic for the woman, not only triggering memories of the rape but can also be like a second rape for her. Plus, both the pregnancy and the birth put the woman’s life at risk.

  324. As a side note, I think it’s nice that we’ve just past the 400 comment mark with people being generally respectful of each other and as a consequence, me not having to wield the Mallet much at all. Thank you.

    With that said, remember, folks, to keep the discussion close to the topic at hand, and to keep being polite and courteous to each other. You will make me happy, and a happy Scalzi is what we all want.

  325. @Joey and Sarah – Not to mention that pregnancy and giving birth can have drastic impacts on the woman’s body and health afterwards that having nothing to do with the risk to her life.

  326. But what a fantastically great slap in the face of a rapist, when a woman has the child and raises him in a way that he will not only help and love the mother, but defend her. I agree, it is ultimately up to the woman to have the choice (fighting to pass legislation maddens me), but morally, practically, and mentally, the greatest rejection of the rapist’s control is to raise a child you and the community can be proud of. Something might have been lost during the rape, but immense rewards are gained through raising the child well. Ask any mother who has raised her child well and most will say that there lives have been made better through the child than not having the child at all.

    Did you not read the part where the majority of states allow rapists to have a major say in the child’s life, or are you ignoring it because it destroys a main tenet of your argument?

  327. Imagine someone being kidnapped and forcibly held for nine months, being badly fed and having festering wounds in an unhygienic cell, leading to a real chance of life-threatening complications.

    Imagine also that the only way for the victim to escape is to kill the kidnapper.

    Is there any jurisdiction in the civilised world that would deny the victim that right to self-defense in the interests of her own health and well-being?

    Even if a fetus is ensouled as a person from the moment of conception, the very thought of obliging a woman to carry it to term is to do exactly what John’s imaginary rapist wants: it denies the woman autonomy over her own body; it denies her her obvious right to defend the sanctity of her body in extremis, and it penalises her while rewarding the rapist.

  328. John, I was one of the lucky ones, and was able to beat a man attempting to rape me unconscious with a few well-placed smacks on his head using my bedside telephone.
    Although I am a nontheist, it was clear this rapist was intent on committing a purely evil crime. And yes, I could have become pregnant had he prevailed.

    Yet from Republicans, we get this strange, apparent justification for rape. Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said this in Tuesday’s debate. “Life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”

    Legislature and a (patriarchal) religious belief system have become wrongly inter-twined in the case of women’s reproductive rights. I believe Mourdock said what many males represented by Republican candidates believe, a prevailing sense that becoming pregnant by whatever means is “God’s Will.” To wit, presidential nominee Mitt Romney started running an endorsement campaign ad urging a vote for Mourdock this week.

    According to that chop logic, your satirical letter from a rapist could include his being thankful for this get out of jail free card, as his crime against women was just another act of doing God’s will.

  329. Joey says: “Nine months . . . is that so long?” Having been pregnant and given birth twice, I can say the answer is unequivocally YES. Especially if you are suffering with morning sickness or anything else. It can be seriously depressing and feel like forever. Imagine feeling even just mildly sick and/or tired and uncomfortable ALL THE TIME for nine months, with NO relief.

    iholdtheline says that, “From what I know, it seems like getting an abortion is fairly easy.” Here’s a link for you: http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/facts/access_abortion.html

    The information may be somewhat outdated, but I don’t know of anything saying that access to abortion has increased over the last 10 years. One of the most striking pieces of information from the link: 87% of counties in the United States have no abortion provider.

  330. Just had to add another “Wow. That was incredible.” Mr. Scalzi, you continually amaze me; thanks for standing up.

  331. iholdtheline: “I agree, it is ultimately up to the woman to have the choice.”

    That’s it right there. I hope you vote your conscience.

    Nobody is saying that a woman *must* abort a conception resulting from rape. Once again, it comes down to her choice, and that’s just what Mourdock and his ilk want to make sure she doesn’t have. Can you see Scalzi’s essay as a way to move the discussion of the issue in a direction many people have never considered? It doesn’t have to answer any questions about the fetus or take into account the choices of women who decided to bear and raise a child resulting from rape. It’s not meant to be The Last Word On Rape And Abortion. Its purpose, as I understand it, is to look at the issue in a way that might shock the reader into a new appreciation of what women who have been raped have to deal with and understand why no woman should have to endure such a pregnancy if she doesn’t want to–and that some of these politicians would force women to endure trauma that many of us can only imagine–and many others, from the testimony in these comments–do *not* have to imagine. Can you understand why it makes some of us angry to see these politicians, and others like them, wash their hands of the real-life results of the choices these politicans and their kind want to make on behalf of women who have their own consciences and feel entitled to make their own decisions accordingly, not have them made by the Akins and Mourdocks of the world?

  332. @ Wilson:

    OK, that’s important to clarify, yes.

    At some point, parents do accept legal and moral responsibility for providing for their kids. I’m really really skeptical that the point in question is “as soon as they’re raped into them,” but I’m willing to hear arguments to the contrary.

  333. Ihold the line said I know my mom would certainly say that her life was not made better by losing two potential children. But she would start crying if you asked her if her seven children have made her a better person. If she was raped and one of my siblings was the result of the rape, I think she would not look at the child as something to be displeased about, but a renewal of loss.

    Good for your mom. And I mean that sincerely. But your mom’s children were not the result of a rape, they were all wanted children and I have to say, as a rape survivor, this is incredibly offensive. Making lemonade out of lemons is what the Right is trying to have us believe is the happy, obedient way of doing things. Some of us don’t have the privilege of supportive family or economic, physical or mental health. Looking at this as “an opportunity” is a completely privileged perspective.

  334. Giving rapists a right to the child resulting is horribly wrong, in my opinion. I don’t know the specifics of the actual legislation, but assuming it is everything it seems to be, it is yet another example of legislation not helping, but hindering.

  335. I was thinking about this today and wondering whether politicians (and media pundits) making comments like Akin’s and Mourdock’s recognize or understand that their wives and daughters are people who could be raped and could be impregnated by a rapist. Or do they imagine that rape and impregnation by a rapist can only happen to “bad” women, woman unrelated to them, women they don’t care about and whom they will never find suicidally distraught and damaged inside their own homes after something like that happens? — Laura Resnick

    Laura’s thoughts mirror my own.

    Speaking as a religious man and conservative (small c) I think there must be a point at which “pro life” is forced to reckon with itself regarding sensible abortion. No female who has endured rape should be forced to carry the child to term. She should have the choice to do so if she wishes, but she should also have the choice to terminate the pregnancy. No questions asked. If there is evil in the termination of rape-pregnancies, I think such evil is a very small thing compared to the evil of the rape itself, and if we force women who have been raped to endure a rape-pregnancy we are simply adding insult to injury. Ergo, an added evil.

    This argument will not, of course, satisfy strident pro-lifers. I am sympathetic to the pro-life argument, though I consider myself to be the world’s most reluctant pro-choicer. All I can say to those arguing strictly from a religious standpoint is this: God is wise in all ways men are unwise, and He will provide a dispensation for the souls of children who result from rape. Let the rape victim decide her path, and let her be blameless in either case. Prolonging her predicament out of a well-meant but ultimately harmful belief that God wants the baby to happen…. I have to ask anyone who really believes this if (s)he would seriously — and without blinking — force a mother, a daughter, or a sister, to endure a pregnancy which came from rape?

    I know my answer would be: no, never, absolutely not. I am married. I have a daughter. She’ll be hitting puberty soon. If either my wife or daughter were raped, I’d have a strong desire to a) first terminate the life of the rapist, then b) hope there was no pregnancy. If there was a c) pregnancy, I’d want my wife or daughter to have abortion as a safe medical option. Anything less would seem morally wrong to me.

  336. mattmarovich, the central focus of Mourdock and his ilk is that “life is a gift from God.” They’re really not moving out from that into the context in which the life began. Their invocation of God’s will seems to be mostly about this one point. It’s a fairly simplistic “life is a gift from God” and “snuffing out that life is murder and therefore abortion is murder.”

    I grew up Catholic in the era of large families, and that was pretty much the prevailing view of my then-religion at the time: “Life is a gift from God,” and take as many of the little darlings as God gives you. The conservative hierarchy of the Catholic Church still feels that contraception is a sin because it’s supposed to be God’s prerogative to let “life” begin or not. The Catholic Church is also against the death penalty because that too is usurping God’s prerogative. My still-Catholic mother wishes the Church would focus more on that and get off its anti-abortion crusade

  337. I have no idea if this is how a rapist thinks, but having been raped and become pregnant as a result of that rape — the consequences of which threw my whole life along a very different path — I’d say you’ve nailed it.

    It took me several years to un-derail my life following the rape, pregnancy, expulsion from high school, abortion. I didn’t get to pursue my original career choice. My fertility was severely compromised due to a post (legal) abortion infection. When I did eventually get pregnant again, it was a tubal pregnancy.

    45 years on, some of the consequences of that single experience remain with me.

  338. Well, they are indeed keeping up the good work for the rapist and they don’t have to be conservative to do it. The Republican party platform is for abortion with no exceptions, as you know. The Vice Presidential candidate is for abortion with no exceptions. Presidential candidate Romney has been at various times for abortion with no exceptions, except when he thinks it makes him look bad, and will be beholden to those who hold this position if elected. The politicians who are the subject of this piece are Congressmen and Senators, and if their party can take back the Senate and the White House, the dozens of bills they spin to illegalize abortion with no exceptions can very well become national law, and of course, state law, since that’s already happening in little pieces. When Ryan and Akin did their forcible rape bill, Republicans voted for it in droves, and I sincerely doubt most of them were technically conservatives when they did it.

    And everyone who votes to put these people in office and for the Republican no exceptions abortion ban party, whether they are conservative or not, whether they care about the issue of abortion and reproductive rights or not, votes for the rapist. Like your neighbors, as you mentioned. So while I appreciate your essay, Scalzi, its title minimizes the scope of the rapist’s support, makes it seem like a few rotten apples, instead of, say, an entire major political party, at least a third of the country if not more, and numerous Republican controlled state legislatures reeling out dozens of unconstitutional laws on women’s rights to their own body. It’s easy to rag on Mourdock. But Mourdock was simply stating the official policy position of his party. He didn’t do anything wrong. We did, because we let our second major party make that their official policy, didn’t challenge them on it and voted people into office who supported that policy in large numbers, as we may do again in a few weeks. So really, your rapist might as well write the fan letter to all of us. I appreciate that you open these dialogues. But I’m tired of pretending that the crazy is over there somewhere instead of actually being in charge of much of the country. Mourdock should scare people, not for what he said, but because of the reams of politicians, entire political party, and people backing him up and giving him enormous power.

  339. Thank you, John.

    The issue is so damn simple to me. NOBODY has the right to use my body without my permission.
    Period. End of story.

    Not a man who wants a place to stick his dick. Not a fetus who needs a place to grow. Nobody. Ever. If I say no, then that ENDS the matter. If the person doesn’t get the hell out of my body, then I get to use every weapon at my disposal to take them out.

    All the handwaving over is-it-a-person, is-it-alive, does-it-have-a-soul does not matter the ass of a dead rat to me. I don’t care if it’s got a note from the Universal Divine proclaiming that it is the holder of ONE (1) OFFICIAL SOUL, and will furthermore grow up to be Jesus Edison Curie. Not my problem. My body is mine and mine alone, and I get to say who gets access to it. If I want to say “No way is some punk-ass fetus coming in here and rearranging the furniture!” then guess what? I get to do that! Somebody else’s gooiness about babies does not change the fact that I get to say what’s in my body.

    The politicians who scream about abortion would probably scream much louder if they were forced to quarter enemy soldiers (I seem to recall that being in the Constitution) and the soldier doesn’t stand on your bladder for nine months and tear you apart on the way out.

  340. iholdtheline: “Giving rapists a right to the child resulting is horribly wrong, in my opinion.”

    I agree. For you, does this include rapers who are legally married to, or living as domestic partners with, the women they’ve impregnated through rape? I would be surprised if there were a state that does not give those men rights to the children.

  341. [Cue card comment discussing general abortion stuff deleted. Keep to the subject, people — JS]

  342. @Joey: “Nine months…. Is that so long?”

    *blink*
    *blink*

    why, yes. If you don’t want something inside you, yes, it is. Often even if you DO want it it is far too long and much too dangerous.

    It can cause your entire social circle to ostracize you.
    It can cause the inability to eat your favorite foods.
    It prevents you from taking many medications that might get you through the PTSD of a rape.
    It can also cause really bad health issues during those nine months.
    In the US, maternal mortality is on the rise and as of 2010 is worse than *49 other countries* around the world. (http://www.arhp.org/publications-and-resources/contraception-journal/march-2011)

    It can also require you to have stitches in your nether parts. I’d love to ask these Congresspeople – how’d you like to have your scrotum ripped open and then stitched back together, potentially for the 2nd time?

    As for your quote:
    “The woman seeking abortion comforts herself by disassociating the idea of a baby with the notion of a foreign lump of meat in their body.”

    Not all of them do. I sure didn’t.

  343. “Politicians who oppose abortion even in cases of rape”. (That’s to remind me to stay on topic, instead of responding to comments, and comments on comments. Wish me luck!)

    I think “Politicians who oppose abortion even in cases of rape” aren’t doing any of what you call “thinking”. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that any “Y is the only acceptable action, regardless of circumstances” thinking is shallow and moronic. Even if you have absolute principles, it’s difficult to see how they would lead to one and only one action in each and every circumstance. As much as we like to think in black and white, life rarely condescends to simplify itself to suit that preference.

    Yes, even for Christians. If your moral code is strict by-the-Book Christian fundamentalist, God said both “thou shalt not kill” and “wipe out your neighbors” just a few chapters apart.

    I am probably as fervent of a “follow the Lord” kind of guy as you are like to find, and even I recognize that when it comes to actions, moral absolutes are hard to come by. In fact, I would suggest that if choices were only black and white, morality would not be necessary. Morality is simply the process of making choices in light of the consequences, and if there was an absolute rule to follow in every case, I wouldn’t need my moral compass, I could just follow the checklist. Perhaps that’s what some folks think they’re doing. I just hope I’m not their neighbor when they get around to reading Numbers.

  344. @BW – I understand that. I grew up pretty fundamentally Christian. My comments were more along the line of argument against Mourdock’s back-pedaling (and Akin’s and all the rest) regarding God’s intentions. I find the idea laughable that life is a gift from God and that God intends for that life to happen but God somehow has no control over the action that happens pre-conception or that he has no intention regarding that act, like God somehow stumbles along a rape-in-progress he didn’t know about and goes, “Oh, well, make the best of a bad situation!” (which, I believe, was pretty close to what one GOPer said in describing pregnancies from rape).

  345. Any woman who is pregnant through rape, incest, etc. is bound to give the baby a chance to live.

    & Joey:

    How convenient it is for you. I mean, none of this affects you at all. But you’re certainly happy to take a crap on all women everywhere, with hideous, disgusting misogyny that would force them to live by rules that you do not have to obey. How convenient.

    I am a rape survivor. What you are telling me is that, once I was raped and if I became pregnant, I am no longer a human being, but a walking incubator. Fuck that misogynistic bullshit.

    I say this with 100% seriousness. Had I become pregnant from my attacks, and disgusting misogynistic laws like you want to enact were the order of the day, I would absolutely have killed myself. There is no fucking way I will allow my body to be used to allow rapists to breed.

    That all you care about are imaginary babies is terrifying. That all you want to talk about is how women should be enslaved – by rapists no less – is beyond reprehensible.

    I am not your incubator. I am not your brood mare. I will decide *if* I have children. I don’t give the slightest fuck what you think. You don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about, and feigning that you care about the survivors speaking her is puke-inducing when couched in all your female enslavement fantasies. You are fooling no one.

  346. Wow, I have to say, thank you for this. I am very tired of hearing men who don’t even know basic biological facts about women try to control my body, especially when they do it “in the name of God. How hypocritical that is. I’m sure if I took their Viagra away they’d be raising holy hell. I really thought we’d be over this whole “women aren’t really people so they still need to be told what to do” crap. The Victorian Age was over in 1901.

  347. This is the best thing I’ve read on this issue all week, and that’s a lot of pundits under the bridge.
    An excellent piece of satire, thank you!

  348. Ouch! This condemnation of Conservative values resonates with such clarity I felt dirty just reading it. John, you have a certain genius with making a point. Everyone needs to read this and understand just what you are saying. I dare them!

  349. Oh. My. God. Do you know long it took to reach the bottom of the comments column with my iPad? If someone knows a faster way to scroll in iPad’s Safari, please bless me with your knowledge.

    Well. You finish the longest novel of your career and now you want to conquer the world with yon mighty pen, John? Go for it. I’ll just add that religious faith should have no place when it comes to politics. If an insane person is compelled to commit things based on the absolute belief of some imaginary thing, how does one explain religious belief in terms that make sense for someone not of that belief? Yeah, I know, you gotta have faith. Sorry, but none here, though I will qualify with the statement that I do hold to a huge amount of wonder for the universe and everything. There is something definitely going on here, but more than that I couldn’t say.

    Thus, it follows that anyone who imposes anything in this world on stuff that relies on the concept of faith is at the very least rude and at worst insane. In other words, how dare they take the well being of others not of their frickin’ covenant and impress their own, private beliefs upon them. How frickin’ arrogant. If there is a God, I hope He/She/It’s squirming in His/Her/Its almighty chair at the sheer idiocy of some of His/Her/Its most vocal followers. A-frickin-men.

  350. @ Martin
    From a male perspective it is indeed difficult to consider this matter since there is never a point when we “accept responsibility,” it is simply legally assigned to us, and there have been proposals to extend child support to conception to pay for prenatal costs. Clearly a raped woman is owed monetary compensation for damages, pain, and suffering resultant to the birth; but until men are freed from being forced into fatherhood or raising another man’s children by criminally-minded women as a matter of course, state-sanctioned killing in the reverse situation seems extreme

  351. @Sara thank you for your response. I understand what you are saying about the trauma. Our bodies replace our cells constantly So after a time the body that rapist used is no longer around. But, those memories. I imagine there is no way to mitigate that except thru therapy.

    As to the dangers of pregnancy. I would never suggest that the victim give up their life. But, you have made me recollect on how much we admire a mother who tries. I’m sure you and others here have heard of a mother who forgoes treatment or medication that is essential for her survival because of the fear of hurting the baby. The story of a mother who is willing to die to give birth brings tears to the reader. There we see the strength and honor of a woman distilled. Nothing is more fearsome then a mother. No ideal of human will made so real. How can that baby be a nothing if it moves us so. Would we admire a woman who declines anesthesia whilst removing a tumor? I hardly think so.

  352. By definition, isn’t anyone who insists on restricting women’s reproductive rights against their will fall into the category of “rapist” to some degree?

  353. I really don’t get the Far Christian Right obsession with abortion. Way back in the ancient long ago when I lived in the Bible Belt, the only biblical opinion I found treated damage to an unborn child as a form of property damage to the woman instead of involuntary manslaughter. Not to derail into one of those arguments where people sling bible verses at each other, just to point out that there is no iron clad God Said Thus argument on this issue and it is easy to argue both sides of an issue from that book.

    Besides, I have since moved to the Pacific Northwest and converted to Buddlhism and so no longer care what the bible says one way or the other.

    It is an odd and rather recent thing though. I used to think it was because it was such an abstract and easily emotional issue. After all, the Far Right doesn’t demand birth control everywhere to prevent unwanted babies, they don’t want stronger punishments for rape to prevent it from happening, they don’t want universal childcare, or better education. They certainly don’t care about children when they become teens (especially teens who get pregnant). Unborn Babies Who Are Somebody Else’s Problem however are cute and uncomplicated, so let’s turn that into a major issue.

    So there’s that, and there is also the fact that, as I believe Scalzi has mentioned before, one of the fundamental character flaws of the Far Right is a severe lack of empathy. A rich white male Conservative has pretty much zero chance of ever getting raped, and since it is never going to happen to them, they simply don’t care. That seems to be one of the big unspoken assumprtions behind all of these recent statements from the Right- it’s not that bad, I don’t see why women want to make such a big deal about it.

    Ridiculously severe lack of empathy.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know what it is going to take to make them get it, or how many generations of this kind of nonsense we are going to have to live through before women are seen as people too. Maybe that’s why they get so upset about marriage equality. It’s not that gay people would be able to marry, it is that marriage being defined as a contract between two people (instead of just a man and a woman) implies women are people too and that is the part that really offends them.

  354. Scalzi @ 12:58 said “a happy Scalzi is what we all want.”

    No! No! No! NO! NO!!
    I WANT a pissed off Scalzi.
    I WANT a Scalzi fulminating at the perversity of the universe.
    If there wasn’t a pissed off Scalzi, we’d never get anything like this blog entry.
    Yet another well aimed shot of truth.

    Thank you John

  355. Just one comment. As a woman that knows personally EVERY pregnancy is life threatening. I had a normal pregnancy up till my water broke and i began labor. I had a placenta previa and almost bled to death.

  356. Folks:

    Just as a general rule, when you see someone who pops in to spout canned talking points on a topic I’ve already asked people not to engage in (in this case, a very general discussion of abortion) and who otherwise shows no other indication that they have read, much understood, the original post, please don’t respond to it. Because if you do, then what happens is that I will be obliged your cogent and intelligent response to a stupid, canned post once I delete that canned post. As happened here.

    Short version: Try not to be baited by the stupid ones, please.

  357. @Elizabeth thank you for responding. Having gone through pregnancy twice. I can only hope that you have two healthy children. Can I ask? Was it worth it? The pain the illness. Would you do it again if you could? What if I said it was going to be 18 months of pregnancy. Would you do it again for your babies? My best to you and your family.

  358. @psychoticsmiley

    Thanks for actually quoting from the George Carlin piece, that’s exactly the bit I was thinking of. If I hadn’t been so lazy, I would have posted it myself! In any case, it seems relevant to the topic. A great philosopher and social critic was George.

    @Xopher Halftongue

    Hmmm… “evil” is such a strong word, and I really don’t think that the pro-lifers conceive of themselves as trying to punish women, or at least not consciously anyway. I think most of them really believe that a fetus is a life that we have no right to kill, and that’s their primary motivation.

    But while I think they probably don’t generally think of themselves as punishing the woman, I’ll certainly buy the idea that they really don’t care about the woman at all, that they’re zeroed in on the fetus and that the ramifications for the mother never enter their thinking. And then we could talk about the underlying, unconscious motivations…

  359. @Ms. Jay Sheckley said:

    “Romney _said_ [he makes exception in the case of rape], but [he] intends to have Robert Bork, as his legislative co-counsel, select Supreme Court judges to end all abortion and probably contraception too.”

    That is incorrect. First of all, judges don’t create legislation. They interpret the law and determine its constitutionality.

    Second, Romney is pro-life, yes, but he does not want to select Supreme Court judges to end all abortion and contraception. At least that’s not what he says on his site. Yes, he he believes that the next step is to overturn Roe vs. Wade, but only so that states have the right to set abortion legislation. His view is to let democracy and states decide how to handle the issue, not appointed judges. Personally, I think that’s a rather silly position since any state that passes legislation to make abortions illegal would immediately be challenged in court as unconstitutional anyway. But even so, many states wouldn’t likely pass sweeping anti-abortion laws in the first place. So to say that he intends to “end all abortion” doesn’t sound accurate if we’re to believe what’s on his site.

    Also, keep in mind that Romney is not an evangelical. He’s a devout Mormon. They take a slightly different view on abortion than the far Right. They believe that abortion should be permissible in the cases of rape, incest, and when the life and health of the mother are in jeopardy. The LDS Church is very vocal on this. You can Google it.

    As for contraception, the LDS Church doesn’t have a position at all on the subject. In fact, they have openly stated that decisions regarding contraception are private ones. I think you may be confusing Mormonism with Catholicism.

    Anyway, you can disagree with Romney’s pro-life position, but I don’t think it’s fair to make sweeping accusations about a party or a candidate because one person in that party made a controversial, inflammatory, and what I consider a rather stupid statement.

  360. @Joey: “But, you have made me recollect on how much we admire a mother who tries. I’m sure you and others here have heard of a mother who forgoes treatment or medication that is essential for her survival because of the fear of hurting the baby. The story of a mother who is willing to die to give birth brings tears to the reader. There we see the strength and honor of a woman distilled.”

    I might very well be in the minority on this point, but I actually don’t admire women who sacrifice themselves for their unborn children, especially not when they have other children who lose their mother as a result. It feels to me like she is saying to all the other people in her life, “You don’t matter to me as much as the unborn child.”

  361. This actually DID slightly change my opinions…I’m extremely against abortion.. and even though i do have a heart for women who do go through pregnancy after a rape i still never liked the idea. Even though we all KNOW the things happen that are outlined in this letter, having it layed out in the way it is made it have a little more impact, this again coming from someone that severely opposes it. I will never change my mind on being against abortion, for those that use it as birth control for their poor choices.. but i’m more open then i was to the idea of FINDING a way to make it an option for victims of rape with a system that wont fail. Someone that can do this successfully.. would be worth a vote.,

  362. Second, Romney is pro-life, yes, but he does not want to select Supreme Court judges to end all abortion and contraception. At least that’s not what he says on his site. Yes, he he believes that the next step is to overturn Roe vs. Wade, but only so that states have the right to set abortion legislation. His view is to let democracy and states decide how to handle the issue, not appointed judges.

    Well, the beauty of the Romney candidacy is that you can quite well buttress your position by quoting Romney. But I can argue against by quoting Romney as well.

  363. [Deleted for being contentless and boring. If you’re going to insult me, do a better job of it — JS]

  364. John, while I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with your political postings, I have, in the past, always agreed with how you have run the comment threads. I have to disagree with you in this case.

    By insisting that whether or not a fetus is a life is irrelevant to the discussion and off topic, you have shut off the discussion on the main reason why a vast majority of people may disagree with your view. To put it simply: if we all agree that a fetus is not a life, I bet that 99.99% of everyone in the world would agree that the woman should have the choice, that the rapist has absolutely no say whatsoever in the equation. The problem is that a lot of people believe that the fetus is a life and thus deserves protection and consideration. If you shut down that avenue of argument as off topic and irrelevant….well, you just eliminated the main reason for the holding of the opposite viewpoint from consideration and the vast majority of people who disagree with you cannot do so even in a civil and well-reasoned matter because you aren’t allowing discussion of the main reason for their belief and position on the issue. And I don’t think a discussion is very meaningful when you eliminate the main counter-argument to your position.

    I agree that rapists should have absolutely no rights. I think the visitation laws allowing rapist to have custody rights are a disgrace and should be changed. However, the way you’ve chosen to frame the discussion makes it, in my opinion, a fairly meaningless discussion where we can simply all sit down and agree that rapists should have no rights while ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s only half the discussion and it’s kind of the “duh!” half where all reasonable minds agree and we leave out the really hard issues of when life begins and what constitutes a life.

    I understand that this is your site, your comment thread, and your rules. I am not challenging your right to make the rules and enforce them. But I think you have made a judgment error in framing the discussion and that is why people keep bringing up the “when does life begin?” issue. It is the keystone to their beliefs on this issue and all abortion issues and has to be in the discussion or there is no true discussion.

  365. As a thought experiment I’d like you all to take a moment and imagine that Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock is of a different religious persuasion. And that when he stood up and explicitly implied that pregnancy from rape is a gift from god, I want you to replace the Christian god he’s invoking with a different god. Any god. Now that you’ve done that imagine how differently everyone would have reacted. In case you’re having trouble, how does this make you feel:

    “Pregnancy from rape is a gift from Allah.”

    What about this:

    “Pregnancy from rape is a gift from Krishna.”

    Or this:

    “Pregnancy from rape is a gift from Zeus!”

    I’m guessing that as you read each line your reaction probably changed. Why did it change? Because the experiences you’ve had with each of the listed above faiths colors your reaction to what people say while invoking them.

    That’s why guys like him always talk about god, rape, and babies as if it’s one unit; it’s a pretty good smoke screen. By using the prevalent and accepted faith of this country it gives people an excuse to get on their bandwagon.

    But let’s be real, claiming to be a men of faith shouldn’t magically wash away the earthly implication of their words and actions. Down here, they’re nothing more than reproductive abusers. One more time:

    Politicians who believe that they have a right to when and where a woman can do what and whatever with her own body are nothing more than reproductive abusers.

    Someone who intentionally sabotages a person’s use of birth control and damages their efforts to prevent pregnancy.

    (I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure if some random dude did this to a woman who then decided to press charges he would find himself in jail. And if he claimed god made him do it, that might land him a stay in a hospital.)

    As a country we should stop calling people like Mourdock politicians. We should stop calling them men or conservative Christians; instead let’s give them the name they’ve earned.

    Reproductive Abusers.

    PS:

    I’d also like to point out that mass rape and mass forced pregnancy are recognized under the Geneva Convention as crimes against humanity.

  366. @Joey: Actually, the story of a mother who is willing to die giving birth brings no tears to my eyes and is really rather unimportant to me.

    You cannot force your perception of heroism on people just because it makes you happy that you live in a world where there are heroes.

    If I want to get soppy and emotional, give me a good dog-adopts-kitten story any day of the week.

  367. @illuminata thank you for your response. I’m sorry for what you had to go through. If I had the power to stop or change what happened I would. You can be angry with me, I don’t mind. Let it all out. I won’t abuse your position. I’m just asking if people have thought about what they are doing. The babies on a side note aren’t imaginary. Unless the medical procedures to terminate them are as well. Then they are charging too much.

    Don’t ever kill yourself no matter how hard life gets. You are also one of the unique beings that I wrote about. Never before and never again. The universe is blessed to have seen you.

  368. Shorter Wilson: women should be solely responsible for everything men do.

    Sara – I agree with you.

  369. @scalzi sorry took me so long to write responses that I didn’t see your post. This is your forum and I yield.

  370. @ Sara

    I might very well be in the minority on this point, but I actually don’t admire women who sacrifice themselves for their unborn children, especially not when they have other children who lose their mother as a result. It feels to me like she is saying to all the other people in her life, “You don’t matter to me as much as the unborn child.”

    The problem I have with that is that it strikes me as yet another strawman characterization of the person who actually has to make the difficult decision, and in its own way is as dismissive as people who act as if women treat abortion as a matter of convenience. Lots of people have the courage to make difficult sacrifices when it’s other people’s sacrifices. And someone who makes a hard choice can always count on there being people who will condemn them for it however they choose.

  371. @J. Swan: The metaphor of unwillingly being hooked up on life support to another person has been made.

    I myself have made the comparison with kidnapping.

    In both cases neither the law nor most moral systems oppose violence up to and including lethal violence, against the person infringing on your bodily integrity.

    The personhood of a fetus is a red herring. The law and common morality in Western civilisations already accept that even persons with equal standing before the law do not necessarily have an absolute right to life.

    So why don’t you address that, instead of posting a kneejerk reaction?

  372. 1) That was clever and
    2) That made me really uncomfortable, and I’m a male survivor, so lucky me I couldn’t become pregnant.

  373. All I keep thinking about is my father raping me.. and the hell I lived in for decades before I came to terms with the fact he cannot control me any longer… three abortions I had because the trauma of my childhood created a mess on massive drugs and how I would have birthed a possible problem. And how when I did finally come to terms, met a man I loved for over 27 yrs now and had a son I worship and love, how I have no regrets for the previous choices.
    I also find this political ploy a joke when we are the only westernized country who execute our prisoners and to the point of executing the mentally ill and challanged. Tell me how we can respect a cell and not an adult?
    Such hog wash.. good luck in forcing women back to the dark ages. We are stronger then men and always will be. Just another cause for a revolution…

  374. “Nine months so the universe can see a thing that has never been and never will be again.”

    By that logic, we should all be getting pregnant all the time just bc omg! all the possibilities!

    You know, when I don’t have quite so many other things to do, I may need to blog about the way in which we frame abortion and reproductive rights, and the way in which we talk about motherhood. And how these two things reinforce each other to paint a picture of parenting that romanticizes sacrifice without really acknowledging it or talking honestly about what kinds of sacrifices are acutally useful and practical. And how this also makes it difficult to have honests discussion about what parents and children really need.

    @Sara – yes, exactly. I get the impression that many anti-choicers have a very juvenile understanding of what parenting actually entails. Especially motherhood.

  375. Geezy chreessy the condescension.

    “I’m just asking if people have thought about what they are doing.”

    No, women are absolute morons who never think about their bodies, their health, etc. We need condescending misogyny-supporters to think for us.

    The “babies” are imaginary as they, you know, DON’T ACTUALLY EXIST. The cooing chubby – and of course – white male baby you’re imagining isn’t what’s getting aborted. It’s cells. That look like every other kind of cells.

    Or are you claiming that a handful of apples seeds is an apple?

    Sidebar: Am I the only person who gets annoyed by the “thank you for your response” crap? Always comes off so passive aggressive.

  376. What a sad world, where we actually need conversations like this. Where someone has to die, while another is victimized due to someone else’s depravity. If you stand up for the baby, you’re heartless and want women to suffer. If you stand up for the woman, a human ceases to exist.

  377. [Deleted because needlessly inflammatory. Joellyn, if you can make your point without resorting to political slurs based on the name of the party you don’t like, then you may try again. Also, see if you can tie it in more explicitly to the topic at hand. Thank you — JS]

  378. @Joey – yes, a lot of people do deeply admire women who choose to risk their lives for their unborn progeny. The Catholic church has even made some of them saints. Now, ponder. Is it in any way fair to legally try to force a decision so difficult as to qualify one for sainthood on to someone unwilling? “Hey, you! You must be perfectly moral, or we’ll throw your ass in jail!” You can’t. Women have the power to end their pregnancies, whether the government grants it to them or not. It’s just that absent legality, it becomes a lot more fraught and dangerous. Suddenly women develop raging infections, bleed, and die by the cartloads – think I’m exaggerating? Look up pre-Roe statistics on uterine infections. Because women are often willing to risk those things rather than go through an unwanted pregnancy to bear an unwanted child.

    And if a fetus in utero is a pre-born baby, than you and I and everybody on this thread are pre-dead corpses. A blastocyte is no more a baby than a blueprint is a house. What ought to be undisputed is the that breathing, talking woman is a full human being, not a flowerpot, not an incubator, and not required to be a saint just to live her life.

  379. I did not read EVERY comment in this thread, however, I did not see any mention of what I am about to discuss in the several dozen comments I did read, so here goes: Do the folks who oppose abortion even in the cases of rape really want our genetic pool populated by these individuals? On a strictly pragmatic note, the perpetrators of rape are violent criminals who do not possess qualities that I would want propagated through our gene pool. I will say that I am a single male with no children and as such do not often seek out conversations on this topic, so my, as I call it, “Darwin Argument” may very well exist and be one that has been discussed, however, I have not seen it before.

  380. … she is bound to give …

    If she’s bound (and as Scalzi points out, it is about binding, taking control) then she cannot give, she is compelled to provide, and that’s not giving.

  381. “If you stand up for the woman, a human ceases to exist.”

    how so? She’s alive. She’s not being forced to incubate a rape pregnancy. she can pick up the pieces and move on with LIFE.

  382. J. Swan:

    “you have shut off the discussion on the main reason why a vast majority of people may disagree with your view.”

    Actually, I have forced them to confront a question that they are otherwise easily able to avoid, and therefore do.

    When you say that the framing of the question ignore the elephant in the room, I can certainly understand why you say that, but you’re wrong. What I’m doing is pointing out the elephant that’s been in the room all along, which is that when you block a woman’s right to have an abortion in the case of rape, you give her rapist control of her life. Now I understand there are lots of people who want to say, “well, I’d rather not talk about this elephant.” To which I say, fine, don’t talk it elsewhere. This discussion is about who has control over the woman’s body: Her or her rapist, and what that means when politicians unwittingly (or otherwise) intend give control of a woman’s body and life to a rapist by saying they oppose abortion in the case of rape.

    And, no, there’s not “Duh!” here precisely because people — and in this thread it’s been almost exclusively men — are happy to wring their hands and cry “what about the baby?” while happily eliding over the fact that the path to the baby is through the woman. You can’t privilege the baby in this case without privileging the rapist, and his right to exercise control over a woman’s body — and have the government back up his right, whether he actively uses it or not.

    You don’t like the frame because it doesn’t let you get away from that fact. And quite obviously, that was my point. If you don’t like it, examine your own conscience rather than griping about the frame.

  383. Where to start. Rape–heinous act, usually committed by men, for what ever reason. There are no other words except to say it’s a man forcing himself on a woman and that is totally wrong. No woman deserves it, no God says it’s OK–it is just wrong.
    Abortion–lets face it, no one really approves of it–BUT—no one should make that decision for anyone else.It’s pretty simple. How dare anyone stand in judgement of a woman who decides to have an abortion. If you are a true Christian, why wouldn’t you think that God and Jesus would welcome the aborted fetus and take better care of it than anyone on earth could imagine? Life on earth is not guaranteed. Stop pushing your religious beliefs on those who do not feel the same way. Where is your empathy for the woman who has been raped?? Judgement comes from God in His own time–not from mere mortals who are biding their time here on earth. You get raped, you make your own decisions how to handle the outcome. Get the government out of women’s health issues. Women can decide for themselves. Thank you John for writing your “letter”.

  384. Thank you. People just tear into me when I point out that these guys are just closeted rapists in authority. Now I can whip out your letter and cut them to pieces. Thank you.

  385. Just a heads up, I posted this on Fark, and it will go green this afternoon. I would like to apologize ahead of time if any of the knuckle draggers over there migrate over here.

  386. @ Gulliver

    “The problem I have with that is that it strikes me as yet another strawman characterization of the person who actually has to make the difficult decision,…”

    True, but I suspect the strawwomanning begins with the people who raise such women up as martyrs. Somehow I doubt (most of) the women who make that choice are really making such a cut and dried decision. I suspect the more common decision is to risk death because it may save the fetus’s life, and that this gamble is taken advantage of and twisted into something else by people who wish to shame other women into making certain choices.

  387. @Aaron: Romney said he would be thrilled to sign off on a bill to outlaw all abortions and supported an anti-abortion plank in the Republican platform that called for an amendment outlawing abortion which included no exceptions. And, at the end of the day, he still supports that schmuck from Indiana.

  388. So much of the conversation is actually taking place at the level of lizard brain, and so little of the conversation is atually taking place at any level one could call “reasonable”. There’s a lot of low level evolutionary drives that people are trying to dress up in fancy suits and make presentable. The biggest one driving this conversation comes in a suit and tie and says “Think of the children”, but it’s really a low level, evolutionary, emotional response. Children need taking care of, or they can’t grow up and reproduce, so evolution rewards the brains wired with “Think of the children” hardwired into it.

    “Think of the children” includes the sacrifices that parents have to make to raise children. It takes a LOT of time and energy to have kids, take care of them, raise them, prepare them for the world, and then send them off on their way. Having kids doesn’t make sense if a person is hardwired only for their own selfish best interest. So, selfish personal interest would end up a dead end on the evolutionary paths. The paths that continue, get rewarded, and get reinforced, are the ones where the individuals sacrifice something to continue the species. This is a low level, subconscious, evolutionary drive, but it might commonly get dressed up as “think of the children”. Some biological drive has to occur that is strong enough to overcome the amount of sacrifice it would take to have kids, so that survival-of-the-fittest individuals will make that sacrifice and have children to continue the species.

    So, at a subconscious level, there is a biological imperitive that parents must sacrifice for their children. It’s not something people are generally aware of or examine in any sort of ‘rational’ way. It just “is”. Rationally speaking, parents must sacrifice some thing to have children, but those sacrifices aaren’t really *considered* on a rational level. There’s a gut level response to it. It just happens to work out a lot of times to also find a rational solution as well. But not always. And outlawing abortion in the case of rape is a perfect example of the biological imperitive going way beyond what would also be a rational or reasonable solution.

    The biological imperitive that parents must sacrifice to have children gets warped to the point that a woman who becomes pregnant from rape must sacrifice her body to have the child, even to the point for some people that the woman must sacrifice her *life*, be willing to die to save the baby.

    When this biological imperitive is argued in politics without actually examining where its coming from (an evolutionary reward system that was needed to continue the species), then you end up with the emotional-level expecation of motherly sacrifice getting warped into severe, and completely non-rational, extremes.

    It is not rational to treat a woman’s pregnancy as more important than the woman herself. They are not even equal. A woman’s life is more important than her womb. But for some, the biological imperitive that evolution rewarded to continue the species has the gut level reaction that even a single cell fertilized egg is more important than the life of the woman carrying it. The species must continue. Parents must sacrifice for the species to survive. Therefore a mother must be willing to sacrifice her life, for the good of the species. All of this occurs at the emotional and subconscious level.

    It occurs at such a low level that it’s almost impossible to get people to look at themselves and see if their argument against abortion is little more than this biological imperitive dressed up to make presentable, put in a suit and tie to make it look like has some sort of logical basis.

    Given all this, I think that if nothing else, Scalzi’s post above decided to do an interesting end run. Rather than try to engage the anti-abortion crowd by getting them to introspect and see their argument is little more than an evolutionary emotional response, it attempts to engage a different evolutionary emotional response by showing the repugnant effects of saying abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, namely that outlawing abortion even in the case of rape would be something that a number of rapists would approve of.

    It engages a rather strong and repugnant emotional response (“rape is evil”), but then the “a mother must sacrifice her life for a fertilized egg” is also a rather strong, and for some, repugnant emotional response. So, perhaps one way to overcome a strong emotional response (“mother must sacrifice her life”) is with an even stronger emotional response (rape is evil).

    Whether it convinces people or not, time will tell. But either way, damn, pretty gutsy, John.

  389. @ursalaV thank you for your response. You’ve pegged me. I do like living in a world of heroes. But I see them everywhere. Our soldiers, our police, our firefighters, sure. But also the person who drags themselves out of bed every morning to put food on the table. The teachers who get no credit… Et al. If I look up there is less chance of noticing the dirt.

  390. You know, the issue of pregnancy would come up less often if women had free and universal access to birth control. That’s why the Christian Right contains so many proponents of free and universal access to birth control. *stares off*

    My late mother once remarked, “If you give the government the right to tell you when you may not have an abortion, you are by implication giving them the right to tell you when you must have an abortion.”

  391. I’ve never had to heed a trigger warning before. It’s always something else that is only tangential to the rape that usually triggers me. So, I went ahead and started reading in a public waiting room. Big mistake. This is spot on perfect satire. It’s extremely upsetting to me as a victim, and I can only HOPE that some of those Certain Conservative Politicians are somewhere near as disturbed to see things from another perspective.

    I cannot imagine how much more of a hell it would have been for me if I had found myself pregnant with that horrible monster’s demon spawn. Gift from God? If it is, then so are the doctors who perform abortions.

    Thank you, John. This could not have been easy for you to write either.

  392. Thank you John well done. Shariah are draconian laws that subdue women, the working class and minorities; in favor of Abbasid Caliphate’s top 1%. (Do not confuse with the Qur’an which speaks about all people working together for justice and the common good of the community) The “Right” speaks often about abolishing Shariah in this country, REALLY? Some speak out of both sides of their mouths, professing how horrible Shariah is but demand a rape victum carry her rapists child, not to mention voter suppression and many other ideals that keep the rich in their place and the rest of us under their thumb.

  393. @Iholdtheline and jamie,
    What arrogance to assume that your tidy little package of “solutions” can address the profound and UNALTERABLE impact that pregnancy has on women’s lives and bodies. Adoption is not a panacea to the “abortion issue”. This is a discussion about a woman who has been violated to the innermost core of her being. She no longer has a sense of security about the integrity of her own body. Those that seek to enact this legislation only exacerbate that loss of her sense of personhood of SELF. This is not about a lack of good etiquette where the rapist “forgot to ask permission” this isn’t SEX, this is assault. Let’s suppose for a minute that the legislation does go into effect, what are the consequences for the woman who must carry that pregnancy to its natural conclusion? If she is a student it interrupts her schooling not JUST because there are physical changes and demands on her body but because she has to deal with the very real effects of societal judgement, Suppose she is in high school, does she wear a sign that says “I’m not irresponsible, I’m not a slut and I’m not an idiot I was raped”. Is the solution to this that she be tucked away somewhere away from prying eyes and judgement? So she loses an opportunity for social growth and contact because she was raped? Let’s say she is a college student does she lose the time, energy and money that she has already invested in her education because she was raped? Is she able to apply herself to her best ability when trying to cope with not just the rape but gestating a pregnancy that reminds her every moment that she is helpless against the wishes and actions of other people. Suppose she is a fully grown and matured woman, does she have OTHER children? Is she married or in a relationship? Can her partner or spouse emotionally deal with seeing his/her loved one deal with being enslaved to this pregnancy? Will this person even be around with a constant reminder that their partner was violated and possibly forever “broken”. How will her other children deal with the fact that this sibling may suddenly disappear? Will her husband be okay with raising another man’s not to mention a rapist’s child and taking resources from his own flesh and blood? What makes you believe that a woman forced to carry a rape induced pregnancy to term will even provide adequate never mind PROPER care for the fetus? Now do we mandate exactly how ALL pregnant women live on the chance that she may not do so of her own volition because this pregnancy is forced upon her. If you want to see an increase in the suicide of young women this will just about guarantee it.

  394. @Gulliver

    Hardly a strawman argument when I’ve seen the family left behind. However, I realize my post came across as judgmental to all expectant mothers who choose to sacrifice themselves to give their unborn child a chance. I admit that I was reacting to what feels like emotional coercion – the image of the Heroic Sacrificial Mother.

    We don’t expect everybody to go rushing into burning buildings to save lives. And when we honor the heroism of firefighters we in no way denigrate those who choose not to be. But there seems to be an underlying message when people talk about mothers who sacrifice themselves that ALL mothers should be willing to do the same and that a woman who would abort a pregnancy to save herself is lesser, selfish.

  395. Maybe I’m not seeing this clearly, but it seems to me that both sides assume that somebody on the other side hasn’t thought something through. The pro-life people who post here seem to believe that somebody who has an abortion hasn’t thought about the life being ended, the possibility that the child will not be a burden, et cetera.

    The pro-choice view is that people are not thinking about the unintended consequences. “You’ve saved a child; now the rapist gets even more from this. Did you think about that before forcing somebody else’s decision?”

    If I have to assume that somebody’s not seeing the whole picture clearly, I’m going to go with the people who miss unintended consequences; humans do that sort of thing quite often.

  396. And I am trying to read all but I am getting a headache. What I have not yet seen and may have just not gotten to, is the issue of HIV and Aids? And yes I have been raped more than once and no I did not ask my father to do so or the scumbag old man at the museum who raped me at 6 or the man who felt the need to drug my drink and keep me a prisoner for two days and beat me an inch to my life. So I am raped and I become pregnant, my child is now HIV possitive, but wait, AZ and many other Repug states have stopped healthcare for the poor, the sick and the old. Now I am forced to have a child, I am sick, my child is sick. No one has offered me ( and I seem to be a peice of scum according to many posts in many sites since I cannot work and am being “entitled” and should not be) any help. I cannot afford rent, I cannot afford food ( which is being cut as we speak from Food Stamps to an insane amount, I am disabled now and just went from 700 a month SSDI and 180 in FS to 706 in SSDI and 80 a month in food stamps, I go to bed hungry every night) I laugh when people who have never needed help talk about how charitable organizations will help. I get one electric bill paid by Salvation Army in my LIFETIME, I get a box with 10 items for two weeks of food, I get no help to save for a deposit on a dump rental, so for all who think they have the answers, you have no clue. For you to say have a baby but then fend for yourselves as for you are irresponsible if unable to do so. To take a child away from a family because they are poor or for a mother to leave a 5 yr old in charge of themselves let alone a baby because you cannot afford care.. these are real and happen everyday. Aids, poverty, abuse, all happen and then you add no birthcontrol and no abortion and abandon us. URGH>> probably off topic but pissed to think of the zillion issues this thought process creates.

  397. @Greg

    I’m not sure your theory regarding evolutionary emotional responses hold water. Several factors that punch holes in it:
    – Abusive parents,
    – Selfish parents who provide for their children’s basic needs but otherwise make no other sacrifices for them; i.e. the people who will spend all kinds of things on themselves doing fun stuff but their kids just get to tag along,
    – The fact that more people are having fewer children and the number of people choosing to have no children is on the rise when, considering your model, it should be on the decline.

    “Therefore a mother must be willing to sacrifice her life, for the good of the species. All of this occurs at the emotional and subconscious level.”

    No, no it’s not. I know of one woman who told her husband going in to labor that if the decision was between her life or her child’s, and he had to make the decision, she’d rather it be herself that lived. Bluntly put, because she wanted to live and, in theory, she could have another child.

    The fact that some people feel a particular drive does not A) make that drive universal or B) does not mean it’s attributed to the things that you’re trying to attribute it to.

  398. I believe that, at their core, though they try to cover it in layers of religion or other obfuscation, these politicians are or at least /aspire to be/ exactly that kind of rapist. It *is* all about control. Not just of women who are victimized, but even of the men in their lives. They say these things, and promote such laws, as a means to exert (and exalt in) their own control over others. They are co-conspirators with, and even cheerleaders for, exactly that kind of rapist.

  399. John, your complaint that people want to avoid half the argument is valid. However, you’ve tried to focus them on it by excluding the OTHER half of the argument. Switching which elephant is the one in the room is not a way to fully discuss an issue—it’s a way to segregate the arguments into two discrete bubbles, both with their own pre-set underlying assumptions, that no longer touch each other and where each side is logically right within their set of assumptions. You eliminate most of the people you are trying to convince of your viewpoint by excluding what they believe and not addressing it, which seems to me, a less than optimal use of argument.

    I will happily read any responses to this, but I will not respond again, not because I am “taking my ball and going home” but just to not get too far off topic of what you want to discuss here and courtesy to the thread. I’m not sulking, just getting out of the way of the discussion you would like to have.

  400. @grammartroll, @mattmarovich — Like @BW, I don’t believe these things myself but I have spent enough time trying to understand them that I can take a shot at explaining them to others. And if it’s gotten off-topic, no hard feelings if you have to use the mallet, John!

    The concept of God’s will and human free will (and why is there evil in the world yadda yadda) is one of the essential, foundational concepts of the belief system you need to buy into if you believe the Bible is true. It all starts in the Garden. God creates people, puts them in a paradise and says you can stay here as long as you don’t do this one thing. He doesn’t make it imPOSSible for them to do the one thing.

    Now, when you are I read this story, we go, DUH! Of COURSE they’re gonna go straight for the one forbidden thing, have you not met people?! But you and I also recognize that this story is a myth, or if we’re Christian we believe it contains truths but is not true. Bible believers think it is a historical record of how humankind began. They also think it’s evidence of God’s infinite mercy, that He gave imperfect humans a chance to live in a perfect place, the humans (particularly the woman) screwed it up, and that the specific error was they abused the gift of free will by using it in a way that countered the Will of God.

    Just try to absorb that for a minute. Imagine if your entire belief system was based on that one thing you accepted as fact. Then imagine if everything else you read in the Bible led you back to that one fact, so that it was reinforced again and again.

    So. Why doesn’t God just make it impossible for women to abort? Or impossible for men to rape women? Because that’s not the way He works. He gave us the gift of free will because of his infinite mercy, and we have to live with the consequences — which can be extremely severe — if we choose to exercize it in ways that aren’t in line with HIS will.

    Yeah, like I said, I don’t believe it either. I think it’s complete malarkey. But I respect the beliefs of others even if I think they’re looneytunes. I just don’t want them basing public policy decisions that affect my life on beliefs I don’t share.

  401. Wow. Amazing piece. Amazing responses. Good thing I had the day off to read everything posted so far. Will share and share and share. Makes me even more passionate about keeping male politicians away from my reproductive organs and those of my sisters, nieces, daughter and every other American female.

  402. Emma Bull wrote “How do I get this read into the Congressional record?”

    Acquire our host’s permission and write your sympathetic Congressperson(s) and ask them to insert it into the Extensions of Remarks. Those aren’t actually read on the floor of the House or Senate, but the upside is that Congresspeople can insert pretty much anything they want there.

  403. @Joey: Yeah…no. Nobody gets forced by law to be a firefighter or a teacher.

    You don’t get to demand people be heroic just so you don’t have to dwell on bad things. My uterus is not up for grabs just so you can feel misty-eyed about how awesome the world is, that has such people in’t.

  404. @ Joff Kase

    Do the folks who oppose abortion even in the cases of rape really want our genetic pool populated by these individuals? On a strictly pragmatic note, the perpetrators of rape are violent criminals who do not possess qualities that I would want propagated through our gene pool. I will say that I am a single male with no children and as such do not often seek out conversations on this topic, so my, as I call it, “Darwin Argument” may very well exist and be one that has been discussed, however, I have not seen it before.

    Someone alluded to it way upthread. I didn’t reply to it, but I did find it questionable. It’s awfully close to a eugenics argument, which are spurious and rarely end in anything other than disaster. It’s also kind of a derail. This thread isn’t about nature versus nurture or criminal predisposition. I will point out that the fetus also receives half its DNA from the mother.

    @ jennygadget

    True, but I suspect the strawwomanning begins with the people who raise such women up as martyrs. Somehow I doubt (most of) the women who make that choice are really making such a cut and dried decision. I suspect the more common decision is to risk death because it may save the fetus’s life, and that this gamble is taken advantage of and twisted into something else by people who wish to shame other women into making certain choices.

    That was along the lines of what was rattling around in my brain too. Thanks for putting into words. And I like your neologism :)

    Go go jennygadget!

    @ Sara

    But there seems to be an underlying message when people talk about mothers who sacrifice themselves that ALL mothers should be willing to do the same and that a woman who would abort a pregnancy to save herself is lesser, selfish.

    I actually basically agree with the logic of what you said. I just believe it’s important to remember that no one makes these decisions lightly, and there are always costs no matter how they choose. Sorry if I came off as reproving of you. I just don’t want women to be chess pawns and am twitchy about anything that might seem to be heading in that direction.

  405. J Swan:

    “However, you’ve tried to focus them on it by excluding the OTHER half of the argument.”

    Wrong. It’s not the other half of this argument. This argument is: Who has the right to control a woman’s body: Her or her rapist? This is a complete issue.

    There are other discussions and arguments, including the one you’re trying to sell as the “other half” of this discussion. We’re not having those. We’re having this one right now.

    What I hear you saying, J. Swan, is: “You’re not having the discussion I think you should be having, and that’s not fair to the people who want to have that discussion.” Well, my answer to that is, why should I let them have the discussion they are comfortable with and for what they already have set, comfortable answers for? They can have it anywhere else they like.

    Right now, right here, the discussion is: Who has the right to control a woman’s body: Her or her rapist?

    If it makes people who want to drag the conversation to another topic uncomfortable, one, GOOD, it should, and two, if they can’t handle it, they know where the door is.

  406. I also like the way you’re framing this discussion. All the other elephants can get their own rooms.

    A fetus is a life, indeed, but for a significant period of time it is also *a parasite.* Perhaps some day technology will exist to nurture it after extraction, using another host, or machines. When someone is willing to volunteer those resources. Meanwhile, the woman in question *must not* be forced to volunteer — obviously that’s not even volunteering. Carrying a child is a giant gamble, and should only ever be voluntary.

  407. @Gulliver

    Ironically, my response was a result of my own twitchiness about women being chess pawns. And I get really twitchy when maternal sacrifice is held up as heroic. It almost always seems aimed at coercing women into behaving a certain way, even when well intended.

  408. I was a victims advocate for several years and in all time I have never heard this argument stated any better. It is thought provoking and well reasoned. Thank you for taking the time to state this case. No matter what your personal beliefs are about abortion you can not argue that this is well written.

  409. @Esmertina Bicklesnit – You obviously missed the part where I said that I grew up fundamentalist Christian. I’m not unfamiliar with the way these people think and everything else.

    I’m saying it’s illogical bullshit. The Christian idea of free will does not exist because it means that no matter what, our actions trump God’s potential influence in our lives, meaning that he is not all-powerful. The fact that God is all-knowing, meaning he knows everything that is going to happen until the end of time, pre-destines those actions to happen because nothing can happen outside of the scope of God’s knowledge or against his will (because he’s all-powerful).

    Allow me to give you an example: I sit down at a restaraunt and look at a menu. Now, people would say I have a free will and can make any choice that I want, and to me it certainly feels like I’m making a decision based off of how I’m feeling today, the level of my hunger, etc. However, God already knows that I’m going to pick the ham sandwich over everything else on the menu before I reach that decision. Do I actually have free will or does God’s knowledge of what I will choose to do pre-determine my choice since I can’t, by my action, make God wrong?

    Human free will, in Christianity, is an illusion that only makes it look like actual freedom of action only because we do not have the knowledge that God possesses; we appear to have a choice solely because we don’t know which choice we will make until we make it.

    Which is why when people base their arguments on God’s intentions, I have issues. If God can intend for a life to come from a rape then it’s not outside the scope of reasoning that God intended that rape to happen because he intended the life to come from that rape. Saying anything else, like Mourdock does is nonsensical and illogical because it implies that actions take scope outside of God’s plan or knowledge.

    However, this is running off-topic and I’ve stated my point of view (and keep having people say “No, you just don’t understand how they think”) so this’ll be my last response on this topic of thought lest I get smacked with the Mallet.

  410. Your letter is a sledgehammer to the mirror of self-righteousness played out by supposedly life-protecting politicians. The new idealism on this topic allows criminals to weaponize sex as a control mechanism, and it must be stopped. We cannot condone this mentality of blaming and convicting victims of such traumatic and violatile crimes while growing permissive AND dismissive to the perpetrators thereof.. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Scalzi, you are keen ally to women and your words here have been long overdue.

  411. @scalzi The rapist of course should have no say in the victims life. In fact if one could, the victim should get total control of his life. Would it satisfy people if a medical procedure allowed the fetus to be removed and placed in a surrogate or even in the future, a machine. Or would the victim even hate the idea of a being formed from brutality existing in the world? Would the victim then still have the same rights over the life?

  412. I think the thing that has been drifted away from in this discussion is that it’s really about control. Once the rapist has controlled the woman to whatever extent and through whatever means he has done so, is it incumbent on society to *also* attempt to control the woman to the extent and through the means currently being considered?

    Any attempt to define whether a being is “living” or not may originate from a scientific viewpoint or from one informed by some other consideration (emotional, religious, etc.). Is it incumbent on society to choose to regulate its citizens based on science, which can be tested and retested, or based on ideas which cannot be tested at all, and may not be shared by all?

    In our society, we have chosen to endow our citizens with certain rights (e.g., free speech), and to remove from them other rights (e.g., enslaving my neighbor). What is the tipping point at which we choose to remove a right? What considerations can be considered legitimate for narrowing the scope of someone’s existence?

    Our personal stances on abortion aren’t really the correct discussion for this debate – we ought to be discussing at what point society is empowered to remove choices from someone, and what the drivers of that decision ought to be. I’m pretty much always going to come down on the side of people having as much freedom as possible within the strictures of the state’s duty to protect its citizens (and its lesser duty to protect non-citizens within its border, which is also under attack).

    An argument could even be made this way: A fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus, regardless of whether you believe it to be a “person” or not, isn’t actually a citizen, and therefore isn’t really entitled to any protections of the state. It’s simply not their job. (An entirely different argument is inherent in this statement about the rights of non-citizens, but to engage it would be totally derailing and a different discussion entirely. I do see that it’s there.)

  413. Joey:

    For the purposes of this discussion, I’m not actually at all interested in hypotheticals regarding what happens in a world where fetuses can live outside a womb. What I’m interested in is the real world, right now.

  414. @iholdtheline:

    Let us do some due diligence on your argument. You make the case that we have sovereignty over our own bodies, with the exception being when our body can be used to extend the life of another. I believe the argument can be boiled down to, “If a human being is in need of another human being’s organ for life, then that organ must be provided to preserve life despite all risks to the human providing the organ. At such a time when the organ is no longer needed to preserve life it shall be returned to original owner.”

    I’m going to further limit this by adding, “In the case where providing the organ will not cause certain death.” Though as you point out as soon as you take into account the rights of the person who is preserving life it gets tricky. After all why shouldn’t someone else be forced to give me their heart if it would extend my life?

    In this specific case we’re talking about a woman’s uterus and body being needed to preserve the potential life of an embryo or fetus and this rule compels them to do so.

    This same rule would compel you to provide a kidney to someone dying of kidney failure.

    This same rule would compel you to provide a lobe of your liver to someone dying of liver failure.

    This same rule would compel you to provide bone marrow to cure any number of fatal diseases.

    This same rule would compel you to provide a pint of blood, every two months, for the rest of your life on the chance that it could be used to save someone’s life.

    This same rule would compel you to donate a lung to someone dying of lung failure.

    There are no exceptions, if you can preserve a life you must do so. It doesn’t matter what impact the donation will have on your quality of life. It is not your decision to make the donation, you are compelled to do so because denying someone their right to life is murder.

    At the end of the day you either come to the conclusion that you’re logic is flawed, or we are all murderers. That each day an average of eighteen people are murdered in the U.S. by our need to hold sovereignty over our own bodies. Murdered because we want to have two kidneys, and take in full breaths of air.

    I personally believe that we all have sovereignty over our own bodies in all cases, and that we gain this sovereignty when we can live independently of the womb. The gift of life that a mother gives her child is an amazing gift. A gift that I, as a man, will never be able to give. I absolutely believe that it is a gift, and not an obligation. Just as I see the over three gallons of blood I’ve donated throughout my life as a gift and not an obligation.

    Knowing what your world view requires, I can’t imagine the burden of falling asleep each night knowing that I’m murdering those that could live if I gave them my redundant organs. I hope you realize the errors in your world view or accept the responsibility of maintaining it. Not through the sacrifices of others, but by becoming a living donor so you can preserve life through your own sacrifices.

  415. @ Sara

    I could have worded my reply better. And jennygadget did word my reply better, so I’ll just say that her response reflects my thoughts on the matter better than my own words.

  416. @Joey: Mindful that John S. has already warned us away from the topics you raise, I will try to address the topic at hand by saying, having experienced pregnancy and childbirth made it all the more clear to me (quite literally on a gut, as well as other anatomical levels!) that every woman should get to make her own choices on those matters. I could tell you what I might do in a hypothetical situation, but what I personally would do doesn’t matter. The point is that neither I nor anyone else should decide these questions for any other woman. And I believe that regardless of how the woman became pregnant. Thank you for your kind wishes for me and my family.

  417. @Joey

    “In fact if one could, the victim should get total control of her life.”

    Fixed that for you since the last time I checked men can’t get pregnant.

  418. brilliant. absolutely. freaking. brilliant. have shared this widely–your argument and analysis is (sadly) becoming more relevant here in canada too.

  419. I remember reading a long, long time ago that the beginning and the ending of life are increasingly problematical in legal, ethical, moral, medical, theological, …, you-name-it terms because we used to think they were bright-line events that could be pinned down to a moment. As our knowledge increases, we find that they are actually processes that don’t really have any clearly-defined end-points. So for the purposes of death certificates, the moment of conception, and like that we have wound up with variously arbitrarily chosen and inconsistent definitions.

    Not really trying to make a point, except that this and similar problems ain’t gonna go away.

    John’s post was extremely hard to read, and I hope it goes widely viral.

  420. @J. Swan:

    Your ‘elephant in the room’ is not whether or not a fetus is a person. Your elephant in the room is your unstated assumption that because the fetus is a person, it’s rights take absolute precedence over that of another person, in this case the mother.

    As already explained, this is a red herring. At least two people have tried to explain why. Western legal philosophy does not recognise such an a priori assumption, and even Mosaic Law does not; asserting such an assumption is in fact proving Scalzi’s point. Instead of adressing the points made, you instead reiterate your original point and flounce out.

    You do not leave the impression that you are arguing in good faith.

  421. my $.02
    abortion is a complex issue – I, personally, feel that an abortion is ending a human life, and realize that CHOOSING to have an abortion is not a CHOICE that a WOMAN enters into lightly. The government should not be involved in limiting/regulation/restricting access to aborttions. The government should be involved in regulating medical facilities/practices so that they are operated safely etc.

    Ultimately – I hold my own opinions on if abortion is right/wrong etc. At the same time it is not MY PLACE nor the role of government to legislate morality.

  422. Let’s put this into real life terms.

    In 1987, a U.S. Marine came back from boot camp and decided that he wanted to rape a 16 year old me. I did not go to the police, nor did I tell my abusive parents, who, at the time, I was sure would have a) physically injured me and b) restricted my autonomy more than they already had.

    I spent the next month terrified that I was pregnant. I researched for weeks how I could gather the funds as a high school junior together to get an abortion. With my limited resources, I couldn’t figure it out. It turned out I wasn’t pregnant. It’s a good thing.

    In the next 5 months I was incredibly self-destructive. This without having a fetus changing my body or my hormones. I was, in fact, suicidal. I am fairly certain that had I been pregnant, and considering my lack of funds or support or stability, I would have committed suicide.

    Today I am a bioethicist. I have made numerous contributions to the community in which I live and, I hope, to research ethics. I have seen the cells that are the beginning of an embryo. I have seen the cells that are infectious disease. Frankly, there is not much of a visible difference to the human eye.

  423. Thank you, Mr Scalzi and commentors alike, for restoring my faith in the face of overly-publicized ignorance, sanctimony, and outright hypocrisy.

  424. @ ChrisC

    There are no exceptions, if you can preserve a life you must do so. It doesn’t matter what impact the donation will have on your quality of life. It is not your decision to make the donation, you are compelled to do so because denying someone their right to life is murder.

    The reprehensible distinction many anti-choice advocates make is that a woman’s unequal (supposed) duty stems from her biology because they believe God designed women to breed but did not design humans to donate organs and blood. They use the same arguments against contraceptives…while using every other unnatural modern convenience, not less.

    At the end of the day you either come to the conclusion that you’re logic is flawed, or we are all murderers. That each day an average of eighteen people are murdered in the U.S. by our need to hold sovereignty over our own bodies. Murdered because we want to have two kidneys, and take in full breaths of air.

    Utilitarians refer to this as maximizing utility, and even most utilitarian schools eschew such absurd extremism.

  425. I wonder how these politicians would react to their wives being raped would they keep the rapist’s baby and raise the baby up? or would they send the baby for adoption? or would they take their spouses to some secret abortion clinic?

  426. @Margaret Durocher – Agree. Furthermore, if the government is permitted to claim ownership of any woman’s body for the duration of a pregnancy on the grounds that a potential future citizen’s rights trump those of its mother, what will prevent the government from claiming the right to force other citizens (i.e. even males) into donating kidneys, bone marrow, or other biological “support” to other needy fellow citizens? The most basic property right is the autonomous ownership of one’s body; letting the government infringe on that right w.r.t. pregnancy, however initiated, is the first step on a slippery slope to slavery for all citizens.

  427. iholdtheline:

    Interestingly enough, you are not a woman. I find it intriguing that you could in no way understand what it is like to be raped or carry a child, yet you feel the need to tell women what our “duties” to society and the world are. You must be joking. Ha.

  428. @David Karger: It’s true that the no-exceptions anti-abortion advocate is more consistent than the one who starts making exceptions for really horrible cases.

    But it’s also possible to turn this reasoning on its head. If one’s moral axiomatic system starts justifying a bunch of obvious atrocities, it’s a sign that something is probably wrong with the person’s axioms. The refusal to see that is at the very least bullheadedness, though it’s understandable.

    This kind of thing is also part of the reason why, the older I get, the less I value internal logical consistency in one’s moral attitudes, in comparison to other things like simple kindness to the people who are right in front of one. The people who can prove all their ethical attitudes out as if they were mathematical theorems tend to be fanatics, who are willing to countenance all manner of horrible things in their service.

  429. Btw, this argument you’re making about a woman having the right to control her body (and nobody being required to save the life of another person) is one that was made in a famous philosophy paper by Judith Jarvis Thomson. It’s a very strong argument, especially as the question of when life begins is irrelevant to the argument about choice. Failing to save a life is not the same as murder.

  430. Wow. I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach after reading this, and it took me a few minutes to even move. Well-written, sir. Well done.

    As an aside, if you’re moved enough to be commenting here you should check out “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I think it’s a good example of what can happen when religious zealots take over our government and completely remove any choice women have of reproduction. (And it’s one of my favorite books.)

  431. I don’t think anyone is “for abortion”.

    I hate this. People say this all the time.

    I am for abortion. I am for unrestricted, unlimited, accessible abortion, for anyone who wants or needs one, at any point during a pregnancy. I believe that abortion is a good thing, because I know that mine was a good thing. I am happy I had an abortion. If I had not been able to get one, I would have killed myself, because no doctor would have allowed me to continue to take the medication that kept me from being suicidal.

    No one has a right to another person’s body. Not a rapist, not a parent, not a partner, not a hypothetical maybe-someday-person. No one.

    This of course goes double for rapists, who have already usurped control of another person’s body at least once.

    And anyone who says otherwise is a terrible human being.

    Who disagrees that adoption answers a lot of problems here?

    Add me to the list of people who disagree. Raising a child is a completely different problem from that of pregnancy, and adoption can be psychologically damaging to both parent and child.

    The woman seeking abortion comforts herself by disassociating the idea of a baby with the notion of a foreign lump of meat in their body.

    Please don’t speak for women who have abortions. If you are a woman who has had an abortion, then speak for yourself, but do not presume to speak for me.

    Nine months…. Is that so long?

    Yes. Especially when it is (quite possible and distressingly often) the entire rest of my life.

    And it’s not only nine months. A pregnancy can affect a person’s body for the rest of their life.

    I fully recognize that pregnancy poses risks to the mother.

    You’re not actually doing so, though.

    What would you say is more important; preventing rape from happening or making an abortion easier to get? From what I know, it seems like getting an abortion is fairly easy.

    You are wrong. For many women, abortion is completely inaccessible, and for even more, very difficult to get. It requires money, time available to take off work for sometimes multiple appointments, available transportation, and a provider who will perform the procedure. You know absolutely nothing about it. Perhaps you should go educate yourself before continuing to talk out your posterior.

    Would you say the woman has no obligations, whatsoever, to the rights of the potential human in her womb? Would you say that the right of the woman to not be controlled by the rapist throughout her life through the child is greater than the child’s right at a chance to life?

    Yes and yes.

    Is there any way for the woman to be victorious over the rapist?

    Yes. By taking control of her body and life, through whatever choices she might make. As at least one woman who chose to give birth after a rape has already explicitly stated.

  432. @mattmarovivh I just read my post. I did mean his. I didn’t state it well but I was trying to say that the victim should gain control of the rapist life.

  433. To make what is going on even more explicitly clear: when politicians use legislation to force women who have been raped to carry the pregnancies, they are not only complicit with the rapists, they are rapists themselves. If your actions compel a woman to accept another entity in her body against her will, that’s rape. Even if the woman was not raped in the first place, if your actions compel her to accept another entity in her body against her will, that is an act of rape in and of itself. The opposite of pro-choice isn’t pro-life, it’s pro-rape.

  434. I would like to see how the men feel after they have been raped and see if any of them change their feelings. (for those that are saying that a woman should not be allowed to abort a baby for the circumstances of being raped). Woman are equal. You cannot tell me what to do or not do with my body! And why do the woman have to be told what to do with their body? What will the men have to do to ensure that woman will not get raped? If the men were not raping the woman, this issue would not even need to raised. Sorry, just saying……..Why do the woman have to be punished for the acts of those men who are rape?

  435. I admire that you’ve shown how nauseating it is that anyone would take this position.

    Here’s my problem. We’re spending so much time justifying a woman’s right to her own body in EXTREME circumstances, when women should ALWAYS have the right to their own bodies, no matter how a pregnancy occurred.

    Any woman forced to carry a pregnancy she does not want against her will is a slave, with no options for self-determination. Abortion must be available and affordable to all women for whatever reasons they have.

    Have they taken so much from us that we are defending this tiny little bit of ground on the subject of reproductive rights? I sincerely hope not.

  436. I just feel like ripping your head off Mr Scalzi, satire or not…it is very difficult to read this and not to break in tears and desperation because you know for a fact that there is a derailed psychopath that will use this as a pattern to abuse women that now are more at their mercy that ever, thanks to our lovely GOP that doesn’t give a rats ass about us…maybe it was one of them that wrote it up, since seems like they just want to feel the power of controlling women and their body and determine what they do and don’t… I apologize for the first comment Mr Scalzi but it was my first reaction, and I bet many females felt the same…

  437. [Deleted for being off topic. Hey, All Life is Precious, stop with the stunt posting, please. Engage with the topic at hand, or go away — JS]

  438. Just wanted to say Thank You John for writing that biting piece of satire, it was upsetting to read.

    @T B Egi regarding your comments: It boggles my mind that those in the far right pro-life moment are obsessed with the blastocyte but opposes social services to improve the quality of life of at-risk children. I seems like your Right To Life ends once you’re actually born! Simplistic perhaps but true to a degree…

  439. Between you, the most awesome Mr. Scalzi, and discussions points raised by Scott Westerfield, this has to be one of THE most valuable posts I’ve read on the subject of the attempts by certain politicians to redefine rape and deny women the freedom of choice.

    I’ve not been raped, but I was molested as a child, and the points you make about how the perpetrator can retain a certain amount of power over a victim well past the initial violation are very accurate. I’m almost 42 years old, and the things that happened to me as a pre-schooler still impacts my life. It impacts how I raise my children, how I interact with the world, and sometimes how I feel about myself even now, after lots of therapy and the distance of time.

    It was an uncomfortable read for some of my anti-abortion friends on Facebook, but that was the point – to really help those folks understand that by saying “protect this potential future person who’s currently a cluster of cells” they are casting aside the reality that there’s a factual, here-and-now person who needs to be protected.

    Thank you for writing this, John. You might not view yourself as a champion for women, but I think this post clearly puts you in that position for many of us.

  440. FEAR has a new name… The Republican Party. Your satire paints the portrait of a truth that could face women not only from the anonymous rapist as represented in your posting. I believe boyfriends and husbands may also use rape that results in pregnancy to control women if all abortion becomes illegal. If the GOP wins you may need to be on the pill as a prophylactic against unwanted pregnancy via rape. Stockpile your birth control ladies before it becomes illegal too!

  441. Okay. On one hand, I’m a bit eeped by this because it suggests feelings and motivations about rapists that don’t hold for many, or most rapists (from what I’ve read/studied/etc., – but I’m not a psychologist/sociologist/etc.). And I think that’s a risk.

    See, let’s say X is accused of rape. Someone who knows X thinks “Well, X – it seems *impossible* that X would write a letter like that! Therefore X *can’t* be a rapist! Therefore… well, the accuser must be lying. Or maybe there was a misunderstanding….”

    I think that’s less of a risk these days, but I think it’s a risk. Someday it hopefully won’t be.

    On the other – I’m not going to say *no* rapist feels like this. And it’s therefore a valid point to raise. More importantly, how the rapist *feels* isn’t as important as how the woman feels. If control has been taken from her, and is going to be continue to be torn from her, that’s what’s important, and any argument against abortion needs to deal with that. To say a woman can’t have an abortion after becoming pregnant following rape is to agree with a potential rapist who feels this way, and to accept partial responsibility for the same damage to her.

    On the gripping hand: this (saying life is a gift from God) is why I think too many people take too many, too complex, ideas as fundamental. I’d bet that the people who make these kinds of arguments use an idea like “abortion is murder” as a fundamental starting point, and won’t break it down or challenge it intellectually.

    The root of such a belief must (or is almost certain to) be that a single celled organism – the fertilized egg – is a person, deserving of not just protection from the state, but *extra* rights – the rights to attach to a woman’s body without her consent, and the ability to live off of that woman’s body for the duration of the pregnancy. And I don’t think that belief is the type that can be supported well enough to drive policy in a free country. I’m not saying the belief is wrong, nor do I explicitly disrespect the belief – I’m a shaman (large part of the reason for the “weirdo” on the name!) and don’t dis people’s beliefs. But there’s a huge difference between holding, and even cherishing, a belief, and forcing others to live by it.

  442. I have been fondled inappropriately when I was a minor.

    I finally got over it with proper help. So the trigger did not trip for me.

    I have done a lot of reading about (to use a very general term) the “criminal mind”, i.e. how do people who assault others think.

    You are dead on.

    And I don’t think it is an accident that a certain kind of extreme conservative is so controlling. They also like drug tests in grade schools, on welfare recipients etc. But no control on them. You can explain it different ways depending if you believe Freud or not. They also share some characteristics with fascists.

    They say they like small government. But only when it interferes with THEIR plans.

  443. A lot of people are wanting to not re-frame the debate, as I have attempted to do. This is not about legislation. I never said anything about legislation, except that it’s useless in this case. I am not arguing for legislation.

    I am arguing for people to do their part to help those in need. Welfare, universal healthcare, federal funding for abortion, etc. etc. can all go in the garbage. The conservative politician? He can have his opinion (just like you and I can have ours), but trying to put it into law isn’t going to help the issue. Women will still be raped. The ramifications of rape will still exist, abortion or no.

    Once again, all of the problems raised seem to stem from a distaste of rape, molestation, and sexual assault. The problems these things cause are not an argument for a woman who has been affected, but an argument for the woman to keep the baby. There is this thing called redemption and redemption is impossible when you destroy your only chance at it. From what I’ve read, most people have chosen to ignore the argument of redemption.

  444. Would it satisfy people if a medical procedure allowed the fetus to be removed and placed in a surrogate or even in the future, a machine. Or would the victim even hate the idea of a being formed from brutality existing in the world? Would the victim then still have the same rights over the life?

    Weirdly enough, it would still be the choice of the pregnant person, because it is solely the right of that person to choose what procedure to have. Why is this such a difficult concept?

    Fixed that for you since the last time I checked men can’t get pregnant.

    Many trans men can. Trans men can and do have abortions. For many trans men, any pregnancy is extremely traumatic, exacerbating body dysmorphia. Trans men are not the focus of this discussion, and should not be the focus of most abortion discussions, but nor should they be erased or misgendered in them.

  445. Yeah, I read the trigger warning, and kept reading anyway. And I’m glad I did, even though I had to read through a torrent of tears. Because this is what I’ve always felt but could never get into words. Ever since I lost my virginity to date rape at the age of 16, which resulted in a pregnancy, which resulted in my desperately trying to find the money for an abortion before my parents found out and beat me within an inch of my life (because it would have been MY fault, regardless). I was reduced to begging not only my rapist for money, but his parents, who called me a slut and a whore and several other colorful things. I was able to convince him to pay for it, but since I didn’t drive yet, he had to take me to the clinic, making abortion jokes and sucking noises for the whole trip. I felt lucky and hideously relieved that he actually came back after the procedure to drive me home. Ugh. Sick. He barely slowed down at my driveway, and I staggered into the house, bleeding, horrified, in pain, and was immediately told by my father to go back outside and help unload a pickup truck full of firewood. Which I dutifully did. I’m 50 now, and I carry that psychic and physical agony with me still. Like it was last week. Seriously. And I could never put it into words. And here it is. And thank you so much.

  446. Thanks John. It needed to be done. How any woman can vote republican is beyond me. Also he states that the child resulting of rape is God’s will. Holding back from actually debating that. Isn’t part of the fundamental beauty of the founding of the United States, than God should (or your belief in Him, Buddha, Krishna, Eris, or Allah) have nothing to do, and I mean nothing to do! On what should be made into Law or impose to the citenzens of the Country.

    Excellent piece. Horrible to read, but necessary.

  447. A lot of people are wanting to not re-frame the debate, as I have attempted to do.

    AKA, changing the subject, AKA derailing, AKA moving the goalposts.

    Once again, all of the problems raised seem to stem from a distaste of rape, molestation, and sexual assault.

    You haven’t been reading. Many of the problems raised stem from a right to bodily autonomy and from the dangers of pregnancy.

    There is this thing called redemption and redemption is impossible when you destroy your only chance at it

    My abortion was a redemption, although I was not raped. I redeemed my body from an invader. I took control of my body and my life. Try as you might, it is not for you to wave that away. And it is not for you to say that someone who has been raped needs redemption, especially not in the sense you are using it.

  448. I do try to donate blood every 8 weeks. Some stranger did so decades ago and saved my life then. It’s a way to “pay it forward”. I urge all of you to (if you’re allowed, I was excluded for a long time). It takes a total of about 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The actual donation time is about five minutes, the rest is filling out forms, waiting to donate, donating, and fifteen minutes or a half hour afterwards for recovery (included in that total.) It feels like a mosquito bite, and can indeed save a life.

    If I was compelled to do so … I don’t know what I’d do.

  449. When I was 11, I was raped by my 14 year old friend days before he moved across the country. I spent the next two and a half months in a fog. From the day onward, all I wanted to do was sleep and I couldn’t eat anything. I never noticed that those feelings, normal for rape, morphed into morning sickness. I never noticed that my period was missing. When I finally realized what was going on, I went to a friend. Her older brother was “in the business” and, after lecturing me extensively about having sex at my age, performed the abortion. My parents, highly abusive individuals with substance abuse problems, never knew about the rape or abortion.
    I now have been voluntarily pregnant three times and I adore my children. Pregnancy was very brutal for me but I was happy to go through it because I CHOSE it.
    So many of these people who make comments about, “Well, rape is tragic and pregnancy can be difficult, but think of the baby!” have no idea, no concept, of what they’re talking about. They’ll never have nightmares for the rest of their life, reliving constantly the worst day of their life. They’ll never know what it’s like to feel the overwhelming sickness when that test shows two lines. If I didn’t have an abortion, I would have become a mother at 12. My life would have been destroyed. And that’s IF my parents didn’t kill me (and I quite literally mean kill) when they realized I was pregnant. I’m sure it’s easy to decide that the cluster of cells deserves more rights than the woman when all it is for someone is an abstract notion.

  450. @jasonmitchell: Did you actually just say that it isn’t the role of government to legislate morality? Just wanted to double check, because quite frankly that’s a really silly thing to say on purpose. I’m very willing to accept that it was an accidental statement, intended to say something much more specific.

    Beyond that bit of hilarity, I’m not sure there’s really anything to add here. If indeed the only valid argument is whether a male rapist or a female victim ought morally to have control over the victim’s body, and any other position on the matter (or any argument against such a position) is a derailment, then there really isn’t anything worth discussing. Even those whose political stances (and therefore votes) ultimately support the rapist will answer on the side of “the victim, but…” and because there is no “but”, there is no discussion.

    Thus, as I see it, the overwhelming majority of the not-yet-redacted comments are either “OMG SO TRUE” or “No, really, the more important issue is ___” or “Shut up, second example; you’re wrong and also you’re changing the subject, which is precisely what we’re not supposed to be doing here.” Why bother allowing comments?

    I apologize if this comes across as passive-aggressive or accusatory, for it is not my intent to be so. I merely lack the means (or, I suppose, the will to invest the necessary time) to articulate these ideas with any more grace than this.

  451. I wish I could convince my family that this letter represents the modern Republican party line. I was raped at 17 in God’s name by someone who said that if he believed for one second I was queer, he would leave my brains splattered all over his living room. Later, I was orally raped on a daily basis by my husband, who knew about the first rapist and did it to me anyway. (Another reason to support Obama: my now-ex kept me trapped in the marriage for ten years because he had medical insurance, and I have multiple serious, extremely expensive chronic illnesses. Thank Elvis for SSDI and qualifying for Medicare at age 35, that’s all I’m gonna say.)

    I’ve spent most of my life writing, and during my marriage, I drowned in it. It was my escape, and when you spend up to 16 hours a day trying to survive in a fantasy world, you get pretty good at description. However, I’m not sure I could fully express the sensation of living with the knowledge that you’re not a person, you’re a thing. You exist as a hole for someone else to abuse. Even if it it doesn’t happen every day, once you’ve been raped, that fear lives in you. There’s always a part of you that’s terrified you’re only a hole. My first rape traumatized me so severely that it took weeks for me to realize it really happened, and then I descended into a pit where I genuinely believed I was only good enough to be used as a fucktoy. (Please keep in mind that my IQ has been estimated at somewhere between 160 and 190, and before I got too sick to finish school, I wanted to go into medicine.) Even now, when I finally feel like a complete human being for the first time in my life, the fear creeps up sometimes, and I instinctively show my fear as anger. Needless to say, this election cycle has made me very, very angry.

  452. Libby, the pattern is out there already; this cat has never been in the bag. Someone who will be inspired to rape by example has plenty of way-more-inviting material to draw from — rapists shrink from identifying themselves as rapists and their own actions as rape, so this piece is unlikely to be inspirational.

  453. Amazing post. As a woman who is a survivor not of rape (well, yes, I am but I didn’t get pregnant) of relinquishing a child to adoption, let me second whoever said adoption doesn’t answer all the problems; it brings in a whole new fresh batch. Women who give up their babies for whatever reason never really get over it. I was raped (non legitimately, I caved before I was beaten) but let me say that experience was mild when compared to the hell of relinquishing my daughter. She didn’t escape either; she was one of the many adoptees who were not fine and dandy with being adopted.

    And for anyone reading all the way down here and at the risk of being self-promoting here’s my take on reproductive freedom and what the Romney/Ryan retrograde Republicans want to do:
    The GOP stand on abortion is hollow at the center

  454. Scalzi – you said, “Wrong. It’s not the other half of this argument. This argument is: Who has the right to control a woman’s body: Her or her rapist? This is a complete issue.”
    I agree that a woman totally and completely has the right to control her body as long as she isn’t controlling anyone else’s [very tiny one] while she is doing it. And to be thorough, I will add that her rapist *never* has the right to control anyone’s body but his own, and should be severely punished any time he does do.

    “You can’t privilege the baby in this case without privileging the rapist, and his right to exercise control over a woman’s body — and have the government back up his right, whether he actively uses it or not.”
    I’m interested in your definition of “privilege” in regard to the baby, here.

  455. iholdtheline, I’m not sure what you’re saying when you talk about redemption. Are you saying that a woman who has been raped and becomes pregnant needs redemption? Because that’s what you seem to be saying. What did she do wrong that she would need to be redeemed from? Maybe you could clarify who needs redemption here and what that has to do with politicians wanting to take the choice of whether to endure the pregnancy out of the woman’s hands and into the hands of the state.

  456. See, while I agree with the sentiment, there’s a problem with the logic. There’s only two ideologically consistent positions on abortion: One, no restrictions (at least arguably until late in pregnancy, if we’re going to assume that murdering a newborn infant is, in fact, murder), and two, never, except when the life of the mother is in danger. For the record, I hold strongly to the first position: It’s entirely the woman’s choice; a fetus is, at best, a potential human, and the ACTUAL rights of the ACTUAL human (the mother) outweigh any POTENTIAL rights of the fetus. It has no rights of its own. Period.)

    A politician who says they allow abortion in cases of rape is actually MORE IMMORAL than one who allows no restrictions. Why? Well, he is saying, in effect, that “OK, as long as the woman didn’t CHOOSE to have sex, I GUESS will show some compassion to her.” He is undermining any argument against abortion for other reasons, because he is clearly stating he doesn’t believe the fetus is human. Are you allowed to kill an infant, child, or adult, if you found out he was conceived by rape? Of course not. But if the argument is that “a fetus is human, it has a soul from conception”, then, you’re saying “A human being born of rape can be killed freely.” But I do not think this is what politicians who want to ban abortion except in cases of rape actually believe. What they ACTUALLY believe is “Of course, a tiny blob of tissue isn’t a person. Don’t be ridiculous. But women should be punished for having sex, and having a child is the worst punishment we can imagine. But if it genuinely wasn’t her choice, then, she shouldn’t be punished, and can be allowed an abortion.” THAT is what “Ban all abortions except for rape” politicians actually must believe, unless they want to state “Anyone conceived in rape is not human.” Good luck with that.

    (In the case of a threat to the mother’s life, it doesn’t matter if you think the baby is human or not. That hinges on the right to self-defense, something I don’t think anyone opposes. )

    The reason most anti-abortion politicians try to make exceptions is because if they were actually morally consistent, their truly repugnant nature would be made clear to all. (As is the case now.) People who are pro-choice need to stop letting politicians get away with their hypocrisy. If a fetus is human, it doesn’t matter if it was conceived in rape or not. If a politician claims he will allow abortions in the case of rape, pin him to the spot and demand to know if he thinks a child born of rape is without a soul or is otherwise inhuman. He must either explain that he thinks it’s OK to kill a person if their father was evil, or he must explain that, no, he doesn’t think a fetus has a soul, he just wants to punish women who have consensual sex, and he hates children enough that he figures being forced to have one is a punishment.

  457. Found the article via a FB posting, read it to the end, and then read all the comments. I have two children, wanted, and almost died giving birth. Women still die giving birth — it is reality. A man attempted to rape me and luckily I was stronger, although only 17 at the time. Since then, I have been insistent on my own rights to be as human a human being as men claim for themselves. So no man will ever (via legislation or from the pulpit) be able to restrict my choices as long as I have the power to vote and to live. I appreciate the thoughtful responses, as well as taking in the bitter irony that the “pro-life” voices are from men who will never be pregnant a day in their lives. For a few moments as I type this, I was back fighting out of the room where a co-worker just doused the lights in the break room. My boss did not believe me because I was an “ugly” girl. The would-be rapist kept his job — I quit. Again, I was 17 at the time. Fear turned into rage I still feel to this day, decades later. But mostly at my former boss, not the would-be rapist. Because like the politicians flapping their mouths today, he could have acted in this situation, but he did not. When I started reading this, I did not find anything to be “triggery”, but as soon as I decided to respond, I’m feeling physically ill over something that happened over three decades ago. So yes, a past trauma was triggered after all. So, count me on the side of a woman having full control over what happens to her after a rape, or what happens to her after any sexual encounter, even a wanted one, even in marriage. It’s nobody’s business but her own if she wants to risk her entire being, body mind and soul, to bring someone into the world (who may or may not live once in it).
    Another irony — btw I am a devout Christian (liberal) — and a flaw in the pro-life argument: If life begins at conception and a huge number of miscarriages occur in the early months of pregnancy (I had two miscarriages), does that make God the biggest Abortionist of them all? Seriously. Been told that miscarriages are also “God’s Will”. (I don’t think so — a more scientific explanation suffices for me). But then, we’re getting into metaphysics here…so I will stop.

  458. >iholdtheline:

    >Interestingly enough, you are not a woman. I find it intriguing that you could in no way understand what it is like to be raped or carry a child, yet