Monday, April 20, 2015

New Negotiations on the 20 Abortion Ban Would be Comical if They Weren't So Tragic by Jim Sable

As someone who is conceived in rape, who has dealt with the trauma and stigmatization that this conception story engenders, (I now see my story as a gift), it is very exciting to see an increase in awareness on this issue.  There is now much more public debate, a growing number of articles and stories reaching the mainstream media, and lots of discussion on internet social sites and blogs.  The rape exception has entered the new presidential campaign early.  Rand Paul has used questions about his personal views about the rape exception to effectively turn the tables on abortion supporters in order to demonstrate their extreme, unwavering support of abortion on demand for any reason at any time.  (Although we wish that he will be able effectively defend a no-exceptions pro-life philosophy at some point.) 

Save The 1 was launched to help facilitate this burgeoning awareness (and perhaps has been a catalyst in the spike in interest in this topic), and to provide a venue of support and expression for “the hard cases.”  Our population of rape and incest conceived persons willing to bring stories of redemption to society as a whole, and to the abortion debate specifically, is growing daily.

Within this context, it is valuable to examine how some of this increase in awareness has and will impact our rape and incest conceived lives and the lives of those yet unborn, conceived through similar trauma.  There is a new surge of enthusiasm to pass a national 20 week, pain related abortion ban (Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act -- PCUCPA); to find a way to undo and correct the failure of the effort in January, 2015.  Recently, pro-life protesters were actually willing to get arrested in order to jumpstart the legislative process -- to keep reporting requirements in with the rape exceptions.  However, negotiations, again, stall on the complications surrounding a rape exception.

These new "negotiations" for the 20 week law would be comical, if they weren't so tragically pathetic.  Renee Ellmers is still the face of a group pushing to define and broaden the rape exception and their initiative was one of the reasons the January bill stalled.  Not mentioned much, if at all, is the effort by others, advocating a principled, no exceptions position, who were and are working to have the rape exception removed entirely.  Now, Ellmers is demanding an even lower standard.  Her new exceptions language would only require that the physician know the pregnancy was a result of a rape.  She actually said, “'I’m much more comfortable with this new language,” which is ridiculous. 

The people involved in crafting this bill don't seem to realize that, from state to state, the legal reporting requirements for rape are counted in years, not in months or trimesters.  (Please see and, among others.)  Ironically, from a rape crisis/post rape support perspective, Ellmers is correct in attempting to remove reporting requirements from the 20 week bill.  No rape crisis support organization would approve of shortening the reporting requirement.  There never seems to be much thought given to the enforcement of these laws either, especially a law with Ellmers’ goofy exception language.  (We are depending on the abortion clinic to enforce them.)  They don't seem to realize that including the exception causes the crafting of this legislation to be so difficult.  There are many who are mad at Ellmers for being an exceptions candidate and legislator who just wants a different kind of exception, one that she, not others can define.  The problem here is the rape exception itself.  The problem is the folly of combining the morass of rape laws with any abortion-restricting law.

And, of course, whose voices are the least considered?  The voices of those who are the most impacted: the rape and incest conceived, and their mothers who love them.  Again, our viewpoints are held at arm’s length and our right to life is negotiated away.  To make matters worse, we have legislators who don’t seem to consider what they are saying and don’t realize what effect their words have.  A sponsor of the 20 week bill – Congressman Trent Franks -- actually used the Federal Humane Slaughter Act as a defense of his position supporting the PCUCPA with exceptions to ensure that unborn children are provided the same protection as common farm animals.  When the exception is added, the rape conceived effectively have less value and less protection under law than a pig or a chicken, using the logic of the sponsor’s statement!

Where is the leadership from our pro-life "leaders"?  It sure seems like they are leading from behind.  National Right to Life claims their official position is that the rape exception should not be added, but there doesn’t seem to be much conviction behind the rhetoric.  A popular, national pro-life blog boldly and unequivocally calls the rape exception "unnecessary and repugnant", then equivocates and supports any and all exception-laden bills that go up for a vote.  Countless elected officials proudly crow about their pro-life credentials, despite the fact that the rape exception is part of their pro-life legislative template.  Many of the national pro-life organizations accept the rape exception with hardly a whimper, or write it into their model legislation automatically, yet they now seem to be bragging that they are taking a stand against the reporting requirements being removed.  If only they’d take a stand against the rape exception itself!  These organizations give cover to the politicians through their ratings and endorsements.  They are not leading -- they are following and enabling.

As a pro-life community, we are represented by many organizations and leaders along with the pro-life lawmakers, and they eagerly accept any support we offer them.  Sometimes, I wonder which is the cart and which is the horse?  In actuality, they work for us -- the pro-life grass roots community, not the other way around.  I am hoping they hear the voices of the so-called “hard cases” and begin to work for a higher standard of what it means to be pro-life.  Let’s stop living with the rationalizations that pro-life people are forced to live with when they accept the rape exception in law.  "No exceptions" should be the standard.

BIO:  Jim Sable is a husband, father of three,

and a national pro-life speaker and blogger

for Save The 1, from the Chicago area.  He

serves on the Board of Save The 1, as well