Paul Ryan, in a little-noticed interview, said the other day—talking about abortion—that rape is simply another “method of conception.”
This is very much in line with Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remark, although it contradicts Akin’s point—which was, somehow, that the reproductive system of a woman being raped (really raped, not sort of raped or falsely raped, by which I infer he means things like date rape or marital rape or being rufied, or anything less than being threatened with death, beaten to a pulp, or gang banged) “shuts down” to prevent pregnancy. Ryan seems not to be aware of this bit of folksy biology and considers rape as a vector for reproduction.
It’s ironic. He is also an antievolutionist, but in this he has lent inadvertent support to one of the basic ideas of evolution—that Nature only cares about producing the next generation and will take advantage of any vector to get there.
It’s a confused message, to be sure, and based just as solidly on a categorical denial of women as full citizens.
I say citizen rather than human because the term human brings into this all the distraction about what is human, which people like Ryan have used to completely obscure the downside to their unblinking support of fetuses over women.
Citizens have rights. You have to be a citizen to be accorded rights and for that to be the case, you have to be here. Technically, you also have to be able to participate in the polity—vote, work, etc.
We have so geared the idea that citizenship is a given, like breathing, that we forget that citizenship is a membership issue. It is a legal definition, one which accords rights but also requires that we meet certain criteria.
The argument over illegal immigrants should, if nothing else, give us all a clear lesson in this. It doesn’t matter to many people that they are humans—they do not have the same rights as Citizens. There are certain legal standards that must be met and they have to meet them before we grant them citizenship.
(I know, we like to pretend that rights are somehow drawn from nature, or for some “god given”, but it is simply not true. Claiming it doesn’t make it so. Rights are legal conditions. Even our boldest and most eloquent statements about rights—like the Declaration of Independence—required further legal guarantees to have any real force. We have the rights we claim and make common through law. If it were otherwise, we would never have required the 13th and 14th or a 19th Amendment to the Bill of Rights, nor would we need a Supreme Court.)
The same folks who are unequivocal and clear about that are considerably less so in the case of women’s rights and the question of so-called unborn rights.
Unborn rights are dependent on the rights of those gestating them.
I phrase it that way to strip it of the kind of sentiment that obfuscates the issue and turns it into an impassioned exercise in guilt-driven irrationality.
We have a long history of what it means to grants rights to some by taking them away from others.
Mr. Ryan’s formulation of rape as another “method of conception” cuts right to the center of the problem. Stating it that way, he implicitly reduces women to what used to be so “charmingly” and euphemistically referred to as A Vessel. (And, depending on the period, a weak vessel or a filthy vessel or a corrupt vessel—almost never a strong vessel or beautiful vessel or vessel of great
value.) We have almost two thousand years of this kind of reduction of half the population to nothing more than a means to an end.
If that doesn’t tell us all we need to know about how he thinks and why he should not be holding political office, I don’t know what would.
But I do wonder how he intends to square himself with his apparently latent Darwinist inclinations.