Mike Huckabee hosted his Fox News Channel talk show recently featuring a nice attractive young woman who was born the product of a rape. Her message, supported avidly by Huckabee, was how wonderful it was to be alive, how grateful she was that her mother didn’t decide to abort her, and why every woman who is raped and impregnated by her rapist should bring the product of the rape to term.
I happen to like Mike Huckabee. He seems like a genuinely good hearted well meaning and kind spirited human being. I don’t agree with his religiously oriented position on abortion and other politically charged social issues but I like him as a person none-the-less.
And I’m happy for the woman who was born the product of a rape. I’m glad she survived. She is understandably grateful for her mother’s sacrifice, just as we all should be for the sacrifices of our parents. Her life is just as valuable and important now as yours or mine.
But all of that is frankly beside the point. I consider myself just as “pro-life” as they are. Anti-abortion advocates do not own a monopoly lock on the concept of “pro-life” just because they have appropriated that term for their political causes.
The anti-abortion zealot’s are no more concerned with the value of “life” than me or anyone else, especially those of us who hold that the concept of liberty includes a woman’s right to control her own body and her own capacity for reproduction.
In fact, I have concluded long ago after much attention and study to the issue that it is not so much the matter of “life” that the anti-abortion proponents are concerned about as it is their desire to force their religious values upon the lives of everyone. It is not enough for them to follow their own consciences as to whether or not to reproduce themselves in their own lives; they want to force their personal life choices upon others.
Of course, that is one of the biggest problems with the Republican Party over the last several decades. All of the candidates must satisfy a so-called “pro-life” litmus test, and if they fail that test, their chances of securing a presidential nomination are next to nil.
The major consequence of that is the fact that a substantial majority of rational people in America believe in fundamental liberty and a woman’s right to choose. We simply don’t want to be governed by the right-wing evangelical’s religion. It scares us. This situation makes it much more difficult for Republicans, who might otherwise espouse good political ideas, to be elected president.
Which brings me back to Mike Huckabee and the new documentary movie he’s been touting to his flock of religious conservatives called “The Gift of Life,” about the story of the aforementioned “rape baby,” and her purportedly “powerful” anti-abortion message.
The premiere of the film last December before the Iowa caucuses was attended by all four of the presidential candidates representing the most ultra of the ultra-right-wing faction of the Republican Party -- Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum – each of whom boasted and pitched their conservative credentials to the assembled crowd for votes.
Santorum garnered the biggest applause line when he quipped against his competitors: “I have some problems with some of the folks running for office these days when they say, ‘I believe life begins at conception.’ That’s like, I say, ‘I believe the sun rises.’” “Why would you say you believe something that’s a fact?” he asked rhetorically.
Newt Gingrich had spoken just minutes earlier in favor of a congressional bill that would define personhood as beginning at conception, an idea which was seemingly not extreme enough to satisfy Mr. Santorum.
The fact is, however, that Gingrich, Santorum, and all the rest of them are blinded by religion and therefore badly mistaken in this regard. Life most certainly does not begin at conception. Not even the Bible, which is silent on the matter of abortion, supports that assertion.
Life is an ongoing continuum which began on Earth billions of years ago, and conception is merely one stage in the process. Every human egg and sperm is alive and has only to unite in order to keep a particular line going.
A woman produces hundreds of eggs within her reproductive lifetime; a man millions of sperm. It is therefore entirely a matter of random chance that any one of us became a product of that process. Chance determined the timing of our parent’s coital activity which resulted in our conception. Chance determined the selection of the one particular egg out of many which was present on that occasion. Chance determined the single sperm cell out of millions which happened to unite with that egg.
The odds against any one individual surviving are enormous. Had a different sperm cell succeeded on that same occasion, the product would not have been you or me, but a different individual entirely. There was no magic moment intended by God; just random chance as is the case with the reproduction process of every other species of animal and plant on planet Earth.
We are all extraordinarily lucky to be here – not just the “rape baby.” It’s as though each of us has won the multi-million dollar lottery. For every one of us who survived the ordeal, millions more have died and were discarded by nature in the process. Nature discards many lives – inevitably all lives – in the ongoing continuum of life.
Why are the religious conservatives; Huckabee, Gingrich, Santorum, and the rest of them not concerned with all these other discarded lives? The answer to that question is that it is not the life they care about but their religion and the importance to them in forcing it upon everyone.
They aren’t concerned with the life of a woman who has been raped. They want to force her to carry the spawn of the rapist inside her. They don’t mind if she feels that she is being raped again and again every day of her life thereafter, not only during the pregnancy, but until the day she herself dies. They don’t care about her husband or father or other loved one who would be forced also to witness her anguish.They don’t worry about the lives of victims; their only concern is religion. They are more concerned with an imagined afterlife than the fact of your life and my life. It is that profound irrationality that leads them to conclude that the spawn of a rapist is more important than the life of a victim.