News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion Columns

August 26, 2012

THOMAS L. STEIGER: Rep. Akin’s view has roots in pro-life movement

TERRE HAUTE — “It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare [a pregnancy resulting from rape], if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

— Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin in a local news interview on Aug. 19 in response to a question about abortion in the case of rape

To most this quotation sounds bizarre/offensive/obscene, so much so that leading conservatives have pleaded with Mr. Akin to step aside so that another candidate can be put on the Missouri ballot.

As the father of two daughters, Mr. Akin’s statement completely disqualifies him in my view. But he is not alone in those views, they have a history in the pro-life movement.

The extreme position of outlawing all abortions in all cases is not widely supported. Exceptions in the case of rape or threats to the health of the mother enjoy broad-based support and are currently constitutionally necessary in any law restricting abortion.

Kristen Luker, in “Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood” published in 1984, carefully described and analyzed the worldviews and strategies of both pro-choice and pro-life activists. Exceptions are unacceptable to the pure pro-life ideology. The fictive female biological response to “shut that whole thing down” was once a common response of pro-life activists to this moral/ethical dilemma. Luker writes: “Most of the pro-life people [activists] we interviewed said that women who are raped simply don’t become pregnant very often, and many of them said they thought this was because something biological happens to rape victims that precludes the possibility of pregnancy.”

This view may not be as widespread as it once was because ardent holders of pro-life views today see the hand of God in pregnancies resulting from rape. Sharon Barnes, a Missouri GOP activist, is quoted in defending Mr. Akin, “If God has chosen to bless this person [the rape victim] with a life, you don’t kill it.” In short, pro-lifers have substituted a narrow religious interpretation for their former bad biology.

That pregnancies following rapes are rare is because of how rape victims are medically treated. Those rape victims that come forward and accept treatment are given powerful “morning after” drugs thus preventing pregnancies. Yet current efforts to define personhood beginning at conception would effectively outlaw those procedures. Such pregnancies would be justified as God’s will or “a blessing” as a matter of public policy. By such logic, a woman resisting a rapist could be resisting “God’s will.” Is that next?

In Indiana, current law provides that a rapist father can claim custody of his child (I believe this is the case in 30 other states). In Indiana, current efforts to change that law are running into opposition.

Before Mr. Akin uttered “legitimate rape” he framed well the moral conundrum, “Well you know, people always wanna try and make that one of those things, well, how do ya, how do ya, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.” He followed with the sentence that caused the firestorm.

He is correct in part; it is a “tough sort of ethical question.” Yet, he and his fellow believers avoid the tough ethical question by inserting the active hand of God or myths concerning female biology.

These extreme positions are those of a relentless, relatively small, but politically well-organized and funded group, which is, in effect, forcing its extreme, religious views on America. There are many religions as well as religious individuals who do not share these views, including many Christians, Jews, Muslims, not to mention atheists. Indeed, the views of the extreme pro-life movement mirror closely Theravada Buddhism. I suspect that if the justifications for banning abortion were in terms of “karmic sin,” “karmic rebirth,” and thus “consciousness begins at conception,” that those views would not be acceptable as public policy, but perfectly acceptable as an individual’s way to decide these thorny ethical and moral dilemmas for themselves.

Women who are raped and perhaps become pregnant must actually wrestle with that tough ethical/moral question. Imagine that she and her husband are trying to get pregnant. Taking the morning after pill might end what they are trying to make.

It is individuals who eventually must decide and it is they and their families who bear the cost of those decisions. A public policy, albeit clean and simple (no abortions under any circumstances), takes that tough decision away from the people closest to the dilemma and inserts justifications that many, perhaps most people, do not believe in. It is imposing religion through public policy.

Let those who believe in “no abortions under any circumstances” follow that belief. Proselytize others into sharing that belief, if they must, but it is fundamentally anti-American to force religious views, through the State, down the throats of people who disagree. It violates religious freedom.

Thomas L. Steiger is a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Student Research and Creativity at Indiana State University. Email thomas.steiger@indstate.edu.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion Columns
  • RONN MOTT: Spring activities settle into northside park

    Some say young love blossoms like the flowers in the spring. It must be spring, because we witnessed the first wedding ceremony performed in the Collett Park gazebo on a recent Saturday.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: They didn’t make it!

    The “One and Dones” done went and didn’t! (I know this is grammatically incorrect, but I want those folks down in Kentucky to read it.)

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Royce Waltman

    In recent days the papers have been full of good things about Royce Waltman. Not a lot of puffery, but more like Royce himself… straight, true and right at you.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Not much peace since war to end all wars

    My jaw dropped the other day when I read that this year, 2014, marks 100 years since the start of World War I. No, you wise guys, I wasn’t there personally.

    April 14, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: It’s (Not) So Easy

    Arctic air bled into the Wabash Avenue post-hippie-era diner-pub every time the wooden door swung open.

    April 12, 2014

  • ERIC SCHANSBERG: The 1040 tax form turns 100

    The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution brought us the federal income tax in 1913. A year later, the 1040 tax form was born.

    April 12, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Pondering our planet’s future

    I watched a TV show recently and the subject was global warming.

    April 11, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Bits & Pieces

    I don’t know about you, but I get a total sense of helplessness when I realize 239 people died in one airplane crash. And to make it worse, if that is possible, the loved ones left behind can’t close. Maybe this week.

    April 10, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Basketball and Done

    I guess I’m going to have to change my mind about the “One and Done” rule. It would seem the future professionals wearing university uniforms — national runner-up Kentucky is an example — has proven me a fool. Why should I care about the education they are getting, or not getting?

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Angling for a mate not fond of fishing

    While many little girls daydream about the dream man they hope to find, it seems to me that they concentrate on all the wrong things. I can’t discount the appeal of beauty, brains and virtue, but my dream man was one who was not dedicated to fishing.

    April 7, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: A fine mess for collegiate sports

    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were a comedic team in the late 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

    April 4, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: The Angry Planet

    It is better to imagine an ocean as peaceful and calm.  The problem is, an ocean is very rarely, ever that way. I remember when a writer took his wife and family from New York to England in his sailboat. And later, his wife commented there was never a time she could have something cooking on the stove without the food spilling out.

    April 3, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning as you go

    I have always been a person who respects education. Education doesn’t always come to you in the orderly process of school and classroom. Sometimes, it finds you in work-a-day situations.

    April 1, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Words can take us on memorable excursions

    When The Tribune-Star recently asked the reading public to name “the best” in dozens of categories, I didn’t hesitate in naming Mike Lunsford as my favorite columnist.

    March 31, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: Volunteers’ cleanup efforts key to river’s future role in community

    People throw all kinds of garbage into and along the Wabash River, aiming to make their used-up stuff disappear from their lives.

    March 29, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Even NCAA floors pure Americana

    I noticed during the NCAA Tournament games I have been watching that all of them have identical basketball floors, regardless of where the game was played.

    March 28, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Guns and Schools

    I guess I just don’t get it. Perhaps I’m not smart enough. Those who don’t agree with me very often probably think that is the problem — me not being smart.
    The idea that children will be safer if you have a gun in your car in the school parking lot, or somewhere on school grounds, leaves me with the traditional “Duh!” I don’t wish to poke fun at those honest citizens who “pack” and hope they will be able to do something good in the way of helping family or neighbors in the event of a crisis, but often in those situations innocent people get shot.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • RONN MOTT: Flight 370

    Not too many days ago, I heard a reporter refer to Flight 370 as an accident. It wasn’t an accident … it was, most likely, murder. If this aircraft went down in the Indian Ocean, we will be extremely fortunate to find the remains of the plane and any of the people on it.

    March 25, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Memories stir desire to collect new ones

    I was talking with a friend the other day, a much younger friend. Somehow the conversation turned to early memories. One of her earliest memories had to do with 9/11 and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers.

    March 24, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: Dues Paid, change under way

    In the 1940s, Dorothy Jerse sat in a University of Illinois accounting class, listening to a guest speaker.

    March 22, 2014 1 Story 1 Video

  • RONN MOTT: Catching up on the here and now

    Oh my, write down the date, underline it, and say, “The guesswork in Ronn’s column the other day was wrong!”

    March 21, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: The Russian Bear

    As I’m writing this, the official word from the Crimean election is not yet in. It doesn’t have to be … Putin would not have an election for the Crimea to ask itself out of the Ukraine back into Russia because he does not want to be embarrassed. 

    March 20, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Thank you, NCAA

    The MEAC, the MAAC and the MAC. Do you know? And how much do you know mixed with how much do you care? Now we know the MAC, they’re practically home boys. That’s Northern Illinois, Ball State and a handful of teams in Ohio. But you get reacquainted with some of these schools because of the NCAA Tournament.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Spreading news from one ‘Liz’ to another

    I received a letter the other day from a Yorkville High School classmate. It wasn’t snail mail, it was written in cursive writing and although it required more than the 3-cent stamp of my youth, it found our mailbox within a couple of days of posting.

    March 17, 2014

  • KIEL MAJEWSKI: Sexual violence demands the world’s action

    I have a lot to learn in life, but I am convinced of this: The day men share power equally with women is the day we will see true peace in this world. The day women and girls are valued as much as men and boys, and are treated with the same respect as their male counterparts, is the day we will finally see healthy societies.

    March 15, 2014

  • MARK BENNETT: All aboard!

    Find me a George Mason University basketball T-shirt in Indiana.

    March 15, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: One and done, 2014 style

    Hoosiers, this time of the year, turn their minds and emotions to the grand old game of “hoops.”

     

    March 14, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2

    The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.

    March 13, 2014

  • MET 031214 BACON MAYO.jpg MARK BENNETT: First BaconFest sure to cure your salty fried meat cravings

    Bacon taught me a life lesson.
    I wrapped strips of it around chicken livers and secured the cold, gooey bundles with toothpicks to earn money.

    March 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • RONN MOTT: SAWS

    A few days ago we talked to John Anderson of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church. He’s the coordinator for a mission of the church that builds ramps and stairs for those who are physically handicapped in Putnam County.

    March 11, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Human Antidepressants Making Shrimp Too Calm Swiss Unveil New Solar Plane for Global Flight
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity