Monday, March 06, 2006

I can't even begin to express my anger

But it's in my head, so I've gotta get it out somehow.

Bill Napoli, a state senator from that paragon of human rights, South Dakota, recently went on PBS's The News Hour talking about the state's ban on abortion. At one point, he was asked what stipulations would he personally felt an exception could be made:

A real-life description [of an exception scenario] to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.


I'm not going to get into the very questionable nature of his "vivid" description, since the folks over at I Blame the Patriarchy have those bases covered. What I'm going to talk about is how he has categorized what makes someone a deserving victim.

  • It must be a "brutal" rape. Um, aren't they all?
  • The girl must be a virgin. 'Cause once you have sex, you're ready for it from anybody at any time, right?
  • there needs to be sodomy. 'Cause plain old vanilla rape isn't bad enough.
  • the girl must be religious.

    WHAT?????????? Since when does your religious belief impact the severity of a rape? Do atheist women not mind getting raped?

    And considering his supposed worldview, wouldn't the religious women not want abortions? Aren't we to believe that Christians should see their rape and subsequent forced pregnancy as part of God's divine plan for them? So let's let the good little Christian girls suffer the consequences of the laws that the wingnut "religious" right has invoked for them. I say it's the non-religious women who need the abortions. (Only the godless would want an abortion anyway, right?)

    Here's my other suggestion: I think the only exception Napoli should make is for nuns and lesbians, because what could be more traumatic than a raped girl who was saving herself for marriage? That's right: a woman with no intention of ever having sex with a man.

    So his own discussion of exceptions betrays some serious problems. It demonstrates that even he believes there are exceptions to an outright ban. And if we allow exceptions, then who gets to decide which women "deserve" abortions? The women who have to live with the results, or twisted sickos like Bill Napoli?

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  • 14 Comments:

    Blogger Neel Mehta said...

    I'd say that you've begun to express your anger quite well.

    I think I'll suggest that maybe religious women would have an easier time than those poor little atheists, because believers at least can see their rape and subsequent forced pregnancy as part of God's divine plan for them.

    Yeah, your letter will be a lot more effective if you leave this argument out. Rape is horrible all around; no victim has an easier time with it.

    Personally, I believe that there is no divine design that can explain a rape. Instead, it is the one of the most unfortunate consequences of free will.

    The South Dakota enactment is a matter of politics (even though the rights of its citizens get squashed). Anti-abortion conservatives want Roe v. Wade challenged in the new Supreme Court ASAP.

    I don't think an outright reversal is going to happen, but you may see the precedent begin to chip away.

    3:59 PM  
    Blogger Quinn said...

    Yeah, I was being a little facetious in that portion. (A little?)

    4:38 PM  
    Blogger Andy said...

    How does one get pregnant from sodomy? I'm confused.

    5:32 PM  
    Anonymous KR PDX said...

    I fit makes you feel any better about us wingnut righties, some of us have figured out what the lefties figured out a long time ago--actually, lots of us never forgot it in the first place: abortion is all or nothing. If it's morally wrong, it's morally wrong. No exceptions. Why should the "innocent" suffer for the sins of the father?

    However, I throw your outraged arguements about this guy's admittedly wacked out relativism back at you: at what point does it become morally wrong to kill, for trauma or for convenience, a zygote-->embryo-->fetus-->newborn-->infant-->baby-->toddler-->child-->tween-->teen-->young adult-->adult-->elder (in other words, a genetic, developing, living human) ? Where do you draw the line? What if I don't agree? What if 65% of people don't agree with you? Does that mean you are wrong? I am? What if only 45% of people disagree? Are they all wrong? Who gets to Play God in our country and decide who lives and who dies--and perhaps worse, who has "the right" to live? That's a pretty horrific thing to call down on any set of people.

    I have of course many other tacks on this issue, but it frustrates me when a pro-choicer complains about pro-lifers drawing arbitrary lines defining humanity and social values. Um, yeah, because abortion advocates _never_ draw arbitrary lines. Partial birth "abortion"??? Come on! Baby kicking = OBVIOUSLY WRONG.

    There is no non-arbitrary line to be drawn on the abortion issue, and the only way to guarantee you are not killing someone is to NOT KILL THEM.

    Whether or not you have been raped.

    Someday I hope people can see that babies are an object for hope and healing--whether they keep them or put them up for adoption. And birth as empowering instead of something to fear or dread or feel trapped into--whether you keep the baby or give it to others to keep.

    (And holy crap don't ask me to explain "Catholic abortion," which I'm not even sure is still a phrase the Church uses and never has made too much sense to me ... I take comfort from miracles, and I've heard some doozies. But then, I am a religious freak ;). )

    I love you--I'm sorry we disagree on this.

    (PS I agree that if one thinks abortion is ever OK it makes more sense for non-theists, for exactly the reason you stated. Head up their ass conservatives won't understand that at all though.)

    6:36 PM  
    Anonymous kr pdx said...

    PPS
    "Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now?
    Would it be a cop-out (an umbrella term) to say the unequal distribution of power? That encompasses poverty, colonialism, racism, sexism, etc."

    Prolifers are known to compare the dehumanization of preborn persons to other historical and current dehumanizations (Naziism, slavery, chauvinism, etc).

    Something to consider when righting the wrongs of the world.

    7:43 PM  
    Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

    What Andy said. I'm still intrigued by the fact that he threw in "sodomized," when -- by definition -- women cannot become pregnant through acts of sodomy.

    This reminds me of that idiotic N.C. politician (whose name will come to me in a minute) who said that women couldn't get pregnant if they were "truly raped" because her "juices wouldn't be flowing." Apparently, this guy wasn't aware that pregnancy is caused by the man's "juices," not a woman's lubrication.

    Great post.

    7:44 PM  
    Anonymous kr pdx said...

    OK, people, the sodomy thing: Mr. Wingnut would mean that as "insult added to injury," ... as roughing her up had to do with the overall trauma he was trying to convey, but would not impregnate her.

    Virgins or lesbians have an additional self-conception to be traumatized. Psychological/emotional rape is traumatic. I think suggesting Rapes Are All Equal denigrates the individuality of the victims for the sake of a political stand.

    The raper's ("rapist" sounds too much like "artist" to me right now) evil actions should be the measure for sentencing ... if he knew he was "taking her virginity" he probably intended for that to hurt her, which should be considered.

    (Personal hx: I was oh-so-delicately psychologically raped in 1991-92. For people who don't think that's not valid, I also helped several friends who were oh-so-NOT-delicately physically raped at my oh so Enlightened college.)

    A lot of the problem might be solved if the woman was allowed to shoot the man upon his conviction. From what I have seen, most(?) women could the trigger, eyes open. "Right"? Probably not. A better deterent than minimum prison time? Probably. And he couldn't rape again (added bonus).

    (I'm pro Human life. Unrepentant folk have chosen to renounce their humanity--free will and all that.)

    8:52 PM  
    Blogger Elle said...

    She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married.

    I just can't get past that. I have no words right now, believe it or not.

    9:52 PM  
    Blogger Elle said...

    OK, I thought of some words. At least he shows that the argument of people like these, that they value all life, is an outright lie. When I pray tonight, I'm going to ask God to reveal to me how much more I would be worth if I was a fundamentalist virgin.

    neel, quinn may be on to something when she says (facetiously, i know), believers at least can see their rape and subsequent forced pregnancy as part of God's divine plan for them. a well known conservative Christian blogger insists that the Christian rape victim knows that, despite the "badness" of her rape, God may mean a resultant pregnancy "for good"

    and if you're non-Christian, why just look to one of the enlightened to see the goodness of "God's plan": Whether or not you have been raped....
    Someday I hope people can see that babies are an object for hope and healing--whether they keep them or put them up for adoption.

    10:02 PM  
    Blogger Andy said...

    You know, the other thought that occurred to me is that this reads more like this guy's fantasy, rather than a realistic situation where in his mind an abortion might possibly be justified.

    9:54 AM  
    Anonymous kr pdx said...

    Andy, Come on, that was an obvious tweak. It might be, but some heterosexual males, despite media conditioning, really are (properly) revolted by that sort of thing.

    elle, I agree that he is not a good thinker (which tends to produce stupid statements).

    I don't know you except through the last week or two of reading this blog, but I have this question: Would you be as speechless if he had instead said, "She was a lesbian. She wanted no man-sex"? or, "She had been raped before and wanted no man to touch her?" Although his comment was idiotic in its implied exclusion of that huge portion of Americans who are not his-type-of-religious, he was trying to work (clumsily) toward the idea that psychological trauma is an added hurt, as sodomy and beating are added hurts. And, yes, he probably thought that losing virginity was in itself some weird spiritual hurt, like God isn't smart enough to tell who the badguy was and will blame the female. (That would be, like his clearly unthought answer to a question he was OBVIOUSLY (duh!) going to have to field, another example of his not being a thorough thinker on these issues.)

    When I was twelve, I considered the exception for "You know, rape and incest and stuff." My dad, who is atheist, pointed out to me how that didn't work. (My dad is pro-life, too--which prior to that painful discussion I hadn't had any idea about.)

    Pity this guy got elected thinking like a twelve year old.

    I too wish Righters (parallel: Nutters) would stop thinking the hymen (or the entrance to the vagina, for those of us Moderns who use tampons) is vital to a female's value. That seems to have been pretty fundamental ancient Indo-European thinking; hopefully someday folks will get past that weird prehistorical hangup.

    "At least he shows that the argument of people like these, that they value all life, is an outright lie." An outright untruth. If one has never turned their brain on, it's hard to choose to (visciously) lie.

    And there are pro-lifers who really do value all life. And he never said he valued all life. I object to being lumped in with his "thinking," or with the opinions of 'all prolifers.' Lots of abortion supporters think abortion should have a cut-off date. "People like them" do not ALL think that it's OK until birth, nor do they ALL think fetuses older than 32 weeks have a right to be born alive. Picking the most idiotic statements of a cause to characterize the cause doesn't help society have a useful argument/discussion.

    And I am NOT arguing that [subsequent baby = rape was part of God's plan]. I agree with Neel that rape "is the one of the most unfortunate consequences of free will." I am not some weirdass "It's all God's will" Christian ("free will" = not everything is God's will, duh).

    I _am_ agreeing with lots of secularist, eastern, pagan/Wiccan, and New Age thinkers that at every point you can choose life, joy, and healing. And that mostly that choice is a matter of outlook. And that inflicting harm on another being to bring "healing" to yourself isn't terribly effective. Comfort, maybe. Healing, no. (Many friends might laugh that I was called "enlightened," however sarcastically--the Enlightnenment is one of my least favorite historical events, because of the glorification of the ridiculously mysogynistic Roman and Greek cultures which lead to beautifully idiotic medical "care" of women and a re-emphasis of women-as-non-citizens, which was especially damaging here in America, where lots of businesses and households were run by women before the Enlightened Founding Fathers got The Nation all organized.)

    (And, no, obviously, I don't think women shooting their rapers is a solid idea. The apparently effective ideas aren't always the right ones.)

    Q, I am sorry to take up so much space on your blog, but I seem (from reading of it off and on over the years) to be the only counter-voice on this issue in a crowd of Quinn-agreers. (Only you know the number of issues I haven't previously responded on ;). )

    10:57 AM  
    Blogger Quinn said...

    K, no worries. That's what the comments are for.

    I respect the "all or nothing" argument about the issue -- if it's a woman's choice, it's always a woman's choice. And if it's murder, then it's always murder, no matter if it's rape or consensual sex. That makes a lot of sense in many ways.

    I don't agree with your overall interpretation (either about the status of humanity or about the meaning of birth and pregnancy -- what is it or what it should be -- in our society), but I see where you're coming from. Thanks for taking part.

    11:33 AM  
    Anonymous kr pdx said...

    :).
    Sigh.

    Oh, on rereading his blundering statement, I have a sillier comment: I wonder if he realizes that sodomy is a different thing than vaginal rape? Laugh--but every once in a while, even in theatre(!), I would run into someone who just didn't know these things somehow. (One woman had never heard of oral sex. She was married and 30ish.) Reread the comment (if you can): it could be read that way. Lots of conservatives do what they can to make sure "sexual propaganda" never reaches their homes and communities.

    (Double sigh.)

    Awright, folks, I'll leave you all alone again. This Very Bad Mommy just fed her kids ice cream for lunch because she was weary :P. I know I never convince anyone--but hopefully someone new thinks prolifers aren't all across-the-board bigots and idiots. (I generally try not to be either.) Oh, and PLEASE don't think we are all ... Republicans!

    :Phhhbbbttt!

    3:15 PM  
    Blogger Neel Mehta said...

    It's a little late to the party, but I thought you might enjoy this comic.

    3:22 PM  

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