Tuesday, August 21, 2012
What If Science
There was a great amount of solid analysis of the Akin/Ryan position on Roe V. Wade last night on the teevee--if you were watching MSNBC anyways. Over on Fox they were covering other "stories," and of course there was an infinite amount of other things to occupy your mind, i.e., direct it away from a pretty interesting bit of intellectual fencing with significant implications for all our futures, should the Republicans gain full control of the United States.
As many analysts pointed out--correctly--there is no difference between the Paul Ryan position on legal abortion and the Akin position, and they have cosponsored several bills just in the past year aimed at outlawing all legal abortion via the route of defining "personhood" as beginning with conception. This legal tack has been presented, as well, to several states for constitutional ratification, while even Mr. Obama currently concedes that states may well have the "right" to make such alterations in the constitutional landscape if they can pass such state constitutional amendments. So far, fortunately, the people have not gone along.
No one has really looked at exactly why that is. But in the insular circles of conservative thinking, an assertion of fact has been making the rounds for at least twenty-five years, and surfacing occasionally (as in Akin's off the cuff remarks this past Sunday). It's almost always couched in the exact same language, this medical claim. Akin must have learned it by rote: "Doctors tell me," he says, "that the female anatomy simply shuts down when a 'real' rape happens, thus subverting the possibility of pregnancy."
This is positively Shakespearean. Storms come up when the royals are roiled. Chimney pots are blown down. Comets portend. Yorick moans from the back garden. A rape is just so wrong that a woman can't get pregnant. Or--conversely--if she's pregnant, she must have enjoyed the process just a tad, or something.
Where does this claptrap come from? Certainly not from legitimate science, or from the real world either. Rapes are fairly commonplace, and so are pregnancies occuring from rape. According to medical statistic keepers cited on Rachel Maddow last night, there were over 32 thousand pregnancies occurring after a rape last year. Rachel, Ed, Chris, Lawrence--all of them demolished the "facts" asserted by Mr. Akin, and all of them explained clearly that Akin and Paul Ryan are in total agreement that there should be no abortion allowed, not even in the case of rape.
Oh yes, of course Mr. Romney has now said that abortion in the circumstance of rape will remain legal in his administration. This is exactly as believable as Mr. Akin's rediculous "apology" of "misspeaking" on the subject of female anatomy. Both of them are simply offering ad hoc lies in the circumstance of total exposure. This situation is no different than Mr. Clinton's "depends on what 'is' means."
But as I said, no one (at least that I listened to last night) has really got at the motivation for the Right's return, over and over again, to the assertion of this patently false science, this Shakespearean world of mystical congruence, where the physical world simple cooperates with our presumed "morality" and "immorality."
So here's the deal. For most regular folks, when they are forced by politicians to actually think about banning all abortions as a legal procedure, they mostly realize that such a course is a terrible solution to a gorgon's knot of a problem. Because the fact is, almost no one would be willing to force a rape victim to have the child of her rapist. Such an idea is patently abhorrent, obviously evil, lacking entirely in any empathy for the victim of the event. And of course one can spend a whole lot of time to further develop why such an idea is abhorrent, including much that might be said about why even the potential offspring of such a situation could well face a tragic life path from the outset. Again--Shakespeare spends some time on this, as do the Greek playrights. This is old old stuff.
But. What if there were a scientific truth that was little known until, oh, about 1981, when the Reagan revolution took hold and a sitting President actually took the position that a settled constitutional matter, e.g., Roe V. Wade, was in fact not settled. What if the Akin science were true. Well then, if that were the case, then Mr. Romney could still say that in his administration there would be legal abortion in the circumstance of rape--while holding another quiet thought--that there can be, as a matter of science, no pregnancy as an outcome of "real" rape, because--well, because the gods just wouldn't allow it.
And, moreover, if such science were to gain a "foothold" amongst the majority of folks who actually never really think much about what's scientifically true or false, and why, why then it might be that one of these days a constitutional amendment which defines personhood as starting upon conception or possibly even slightly before, even when sperm and egg are in close enough proximity to possibly meet and unite, such an amendment might finally pass. And then, the foolish people having voted themselves into the old hell of back-alley abortions, of girls bleeding to death in punishment for their sinful ways, we will have returned ourselves to 1950 again. Our country will have been, as it were, "taken back."
For Mr. Ryan and Mr. Romney as much as Mr. Akin, their moral certainty is enough to ground their lies. And this is how much they value honesty and truth, and respect democracy. Which, of course, assuming you've been paying some attention, is no surprise at all.
Care to delve deeper? Here's a good start: