Let us stipulate for the record that Todd Akin is not the brightest light in the hallway. His remarks about “legitimate rape” have rightly set off a furor. First, believing that a woman’s body “shuts down that kind of thing” with regard to pregnancy is news to me. I imagine it is news to most doctors as well. And it sure as sunshine is news to impregnated victims of sexual assault.
Second, even if Akin were to believe such a load of manure, only a man of incalculable stupidity would say it in public. That he did, once again providing evidence that social conservatives cannot resist injecting poison into a political campaign for no purpose other than to…what?
Rather than try to explain the inexplicable, let me try to frame a narrow swath of the abortion issue in libertarian terms, starting with the obvious–there is no justification under any circumstances for a man to force himself upon another human being sexually. Since men do not have to decide on an abortion, let me further narrow the issue to the rape of a woman by a man.
Libertarians value individuals. In our view, there are few justifications for interfering in an individual life. Since not everyone behaves well, we generally believe that some mechanism must exist for protecting individuals against violence initiated by others. Hence, it would be perfectly legitimate for the government to forcibly stop a rape from occurring. So far, I think few would raise an objection.
After a rape has occurred, though, a number of other issues arise. An individual’s rights have already been violated, but more of them are violated in the aftermath. The victim’s body has the potential to be used against her wishes by the perpetrator–to have his baby.
If Akin, or the Republican Party for that matter, wishes to be completely consistent with the “life from conception” view of pregnancy, there can be no exceptions in the case of rape. This because the fetus has no control over how it was created–through mutual consent or forced intercourse. It would have rights from that instant no matter what circumstances led to the egg being fertilized.
At the risk of offending, I find this whole line of reasoning chilling in its disregard for the rights of the victim. To me, the idea that a woman must see a pregnancy through after having been raped is appalling. A fully formed, conscious, decision-making female clearly has the right to decide what her own body is to be used for if anyone does. To shred her rights in favor of the “rights” of a fertilized egg is an act of malice that I cannot quite get my head around. When I hear people argue the “no exceptions” rule for abortions, I wonder what other spiders are crawling around in that person’s skull. Should a person’s conscience dictate that the right thing to do is have the baby, they are welcome to do so. Neither I nor any other libertarian that I know of would object. Just let other victims make that choice according to their own consciences.
Which brings us to the real point. Why do people like Akin, who appears to have some other “interesting” views, even get past dog-catcher status? To wit:
Anybody who knows something about the history of the human race knows that there is no civilization which has condoned homosexual marriage widely and openly that has long survived. –Akin speaking from the House Floor in 2006
Mmmmmmm…yeah. Had I not actually heard someone make this same statement years ago, I would have accused the writer of making it up. Yes, folks, people actually do believe that civilizations rise and fall on the basis of what individuals do in bed together. Unless they are plotting to release a deadly toxin that will kill 90% of us instantly, I doubt bedmates pose a danger, but maybe that’s just me.
My own libertarian slant on marriage is that the government is irrelevant in defining what marriages are legitimate. Government’s only role should be to enforce a freely-formed contract between partners of any kind. Why Republicans insist on sticking their noses into bedrooms, marriage chapels, and wombs is beyond me. It manages to fire up a set of people who should be hosed down instead and does little else, certainly nothing good for the party.
Akin may well stay in the race and win. It would not be the end of the world, but it would be yet another indication that something has gone horribly wrong with the Republican Party. Is it any wonder that libertarians have stopped giving a rip whether the Elephants or the Donkeys win? Some of us fail to see how beating those nasty old liberals is any better than losing to them if the result is going to be more Akin’s sacrificing women’s individual rights on the altar of some bizarre mutation of Christianity.
Some of my limited-government-advocate friends are exercised about all that. They would like to beat Obama, no matter what. I despise the current President and the party he represents in ways that defy description. Even so, I cannot bring myself to support a party that has strayed so far into fascist territory. Yes, I said it. Fascist. When Republicans learn to disavow people like Akin before they have a chance to say idiotic things like the aforementioned, I may reconsider. Until then, they are a party non grata to me.