You’ve started a 50-year war with your kids and neighbors over rapist rights and forced birth. You won’t enjoy it.
Smirking advocates of rapist rights and forced birth imagine they’ve won something. In truth, all they’ve done is kill a tenuous 50-year peace.
There is no blunter, greater, rawer expression of state dominion over a woman or girl than — “I, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, and I, Sen. Kelli Stargel, hereby force you to risk your life to carry and give birth to the fetus of your rapist.”
Pregnancy termination prior to viability is far safer than giving birth, a fact of this debate not widely known or acknowledged.
Legally, the state of Florida now values the right of a rapist to procreate far more than it values the rights of the woman or girl he raped during her pregnancy. I see only two ways for genuinely moral people to approach that fact:
Repeal that fact.
Own that fact and restate clearly: “Yes, because life begins at conception (or before) and because a fetus cannot protect itself, I believe even a rapist’s fetus must be chosen over a flesh and blood woman. If she dies in child birth — or suicide or endures that trauma for the rest of her existence without any child support from her rapist or the state — so be it.”
I disagree profoundly with position #2. But I do respect the moral commitment of someone willing to say it and defend it while I attack it ferociously it with my own morality.
However, if you support the DeSantis/Stargel rape empowerment law based on the moral argument of #2 — while fearing to say it — then you’re a coward who doesn’t believe what you claim to. I have zero respect for you as a person or a public figure.
Having experienced the dark cowardice of Florida power for a long time, I expect none of the Republicans who voted to empower rapists to do or say either 1 or 2.
In that abject personal moral weakness lies endless opportunity for counterattack, against both rapist empowerment and government-forced birth. Rapist rights elevation severely erodes the morality of forced birth arguments — especially if one refuses to explain it on moral grounds or own its full moral implications.
Start with a federal rape and incest exception
The pursuit of power through competitive politics of any kind — voting and otherwise — is, in great part, the art of making your opponent or obstacle confront what he or she would like to avoid.
Let’s look at an example with my own congressman.
Here’s a text I sent to Alice Hunt in U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Lakeland’s office this weekend:
I’m asking this of as many politicians as I can: does Scott agree that there should be no rape or incest exception for forced birth by the state?
The Florida Leg. and gov. recently empowered rapists relative to raped women and girls more than any state government in history. Would Scott seek to impose federal forced birth with no rape exception?
You’ve tended not to answer me when I’ve asked you for positions before after telling me you would get me a position. If you’re not going to answer me this time, please actually make that clear explicitly. Thanks.
I doubt I will ever get an answer. But we’ll see. Alice has often answered me via text in the past, told me she would get me a statement, and then failed to. I would be shocked if this turns out any differently. But, if I get a “No” answer, my next question will be: “Does Scott support a federal rape and incest exception.”
Indeed, if I were running for Congress in 2022, I would run hard on a federal rape and incest exception as an explicit political starting point in the coming 50-year moral and political counterattack against deadly forced birth. I would make Scott Franklin take an explicit position on it and then hammer him with the implications.
Forced birth advocates want to talk about “abortion,” not rapist rights or forced birth. Don’t give them what they want. Make 2022 a referendum on the Republican rapist rights movement — and use it as a foothold in the longer term fight against forced birth and dominance of women’s bodies. Make them knuckle under; or make them defend rapist rights.
Democratic failure to weaponize the rise of rapist rights in the Republican Party — in Florida and beyond — is moral and political malpractice. But what else is new?
The selfish, timid power centers of the Democratic party are probably a lost cause and too weak to do this. With some exceptions, they’ve proven themselves generally unworthy of their voters. (I’m an NPA.) But at least 2022 is likely to forcibly retire all the failed boomer institutional leaders — from Pelosi on down.
The younger people behind them — whether as part of a Democratic party or something new and different — are far better suited to challenge petty dictator wannabes than the self-protective, self-congratulatory ancients. This is true both in continued “democracy” or in some half-assed, anti-voting authoritarian state. Politics does not end with voting; it just gets uglier. Ask Lake Wales Charter.
Attacking and defeating rapist rights and forced birth will be a powerful motivation and weapon for the young in the fight to take back their bodies from cruel, over-reaching state power.
Shattering a tenuous legal truce is not victory
I suspect, today, you smirking and celebrating forced birthers and rapist rights advocates imagine you’ve somehow won a 50-year war over pregnancy termination and morality. In truth, all you’ve done is start the real 50-year political and social war by destroying a tenuous 50-year legal peace.
This unnecessary war of choice will last for the rest of our lives. Many women and girls will die unnecessarily as casualties. More babies might be born into what are definitely worse circumstances. And your government will do nothing to help care for them or their mothers after forcing their birth — because you care about power, not life.
The political and social tactics of fighting those realities are highly unpredictable. But they’ll be uncomfortable for everyone; and you, forced birth/rapist rights supporters will always be on defense.
Your opponents will no longer have an unsatisfactory, tenuous status quo to defend as you chip away at it. That’s liberating. Expect your opponents (not me) to get more physically aggressive, drawing clear lessons from your own long-time physical aggression toward them. You’ve taught them how to viciously harass people in service of a moral principle. Expect to reap what you’ve sown.
The insurgent dynamic of the last 50 years will reverse. Your opponents will do the chipping while you support the right of rapists to procreate.
You will not enjoy this change in dynamic.
I expect the very name of the issue to switch, from “abortion” to “forced birth” and “criminalization of women” and “rapist rights.” You’ll get to defend the morality of “forced birth,” “criminalization of women,” and “rapist rights” endlessly, forever, to your kids, your neighbors, and through your campaigns.
And I suspect, 50 years from now, if civilization still exists, there will be greater aggregate reproductive freedom, including access to pregnancy termination, than there is today, especially in so-called “red states.”
Why do you value a rapist’s right to procreate more than the life of the girl he raped?
That’s because, like Alice Hunt and Scott Franklin, you can’t and won’t morally defend rapist rights in the context of forced birth. You won’t even try to defend them; you’ll just impose them because you can — for now.
And if you won’t defend rapist rights morally, as part of your “life” schtick, your case for forced birth will start to fall apart, too. It will become clear this has always been about power, not life.
The political/social war against rapist rights and forced birth may not even last 50 years. You could lose much sooner; but I tend toward conservatism in my predictions.
And in the meantime, knowing they can’t and won’t defend the morality of their positions, I will get Colleen Burton, Jennifer Canady, Phillip Walker, Dennis Ross, and any other Republican candidate on the record explaining their support or rejection of rapist empowerment.
When offered a choice between rapists’ pro-creation rights and vulnerable women, you chose rapists, Mrs. Burton. Can you explain why?
Because my party told me to and I have no will of my own is a lousy answer. But it’s what’s true.
Each of you will individually eat the position of your party and your own personal weakness if I have anything at all to say about it. I care far far more about discrediting and inflicting moral discomfort on petty, weak authors of cruelty and abuse than I do who wins individual elections. I think my record shows that.
And always remember: you chose this path of combat over compromise or collaboration.
Pure, unnecessary, anti-neighbor, anti-human aggression
Government-forced-birth is vexing, morally, as an issue.
Genuinely moral people — with sincere motivations — can differ on its morality, sincerely. Thus, I’ve generally tried to avoid talking about it over the years, for community cohesion reasons. I was content-ish with the status quo — while noting its ongoing erosion — and saw no point or value in unnecessary combat.
I was fully prepared to work with forced birthers within the status quo to achieve mutual goals of more, happier, safer babies. Indeed, I spend most of my public life trying to build shared community spirit.
Indeed, those of us who don’t want to empower rapists and criminalize women and force them to risk their lives in child birth under pain of punishment didn’t ask for your assault on our shared community life and the bodies and lives of our loved ones.
You assaulted us all the same.
This is a metaphor for how many of you have chosen to approach your neighbors in many aspects of public life — in an ongoing way. You expect that assault to unfold without any personal consequences or discomfort.
You’ve got your war now. It may take a little while to get going; but it will get going. And it will be more intense in 10 years than it is now — because rapist empowerment is a target that will never go away until it goes away.
Do you really expect the country to passively accept this without a grinding years-long counterattack? “I, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, and I, Sen. Kelli Stargel, hereby force you to risk your life to carry and give birth to the fetus of your rapist.”
And having taken the power of rapists away, the war effort will build on its growing power to come for forced birth in “red states,” too.
Every woman risks death to create life
My great grandmother and great aunt died in childbirth. Multiple family members experienced difficult and dangerous pregnancies that would likely would have killed them and their children prior to modern medicine. That shapes my thinking profoundly.
I know that every woman risks her life to create life. I don’t believe the government should coerce that sacrifice. I’m conservative that way. I don’t believe women facing that reality are pre-meditated child murderers who should be executed if they terminate a pregnancy. I don’t believe human life begins at conception.
Sincere forced birth supporters, who sincerely believe life begins at conception (or before), believe a collection of cells or a fetus is life in exactly the same way a pregnant woman is. And they generally believe a woman must sacrifice herself for that life — that the state must choose a collection of cells over a fully-developed human life. A woman who chooses herself is a pre-mediated child murderer of life that began at conception (or before). That’s Marilyn Paul’s position, whether she’ll acknowledge it or not.
It’s already hard to reconcile those sincerely held moral positions within a community; DeSantis and Kelli Stargel and Colleen Burton and Melony Bell and the rest of Florida’s Republicans have now made it impossible. They just empowered rapists in relation to women and girls more than any government in the history of Florida. That’s the objective fact of a forced birth requirement that does not include a rape or incest (often the same thing) exception
As noted, terminating a pregnancy is far safer for a raped woman or girl (or any woman or girl) than giving birth. Rapist rights now far supercede that fact. A rapist’s fetus has far more value for Ron DeSantis and Kellis Stargel than the life of a pregnant woman. Kelli Stargel doesn’t demand a rapist risk his life for his fetus; she does demand that of his victim.
That’s just a fact. Own it, if you support the law.
Indeed, consider that Ron DeSantis and Kelli Stargel would force the victims of Russian mass rape in Ukraine, many of whom are now pregnant, to risk their lives to carry and give birth to the fetuses of their invaders and rapists, if they were to emigrate as refugees to Florida. That’s one way to “build the wall,” I suppose. And it’s quite a position for the party that bleats on and on about “grooming.”
Pick a side
When the state declares, “I hereby force you to risk your life to carry and give birth to the fetus of your rapist” it leaves only two possibilities: submit or fight.
This act of social and community aggression that every elected Polk Republican silently or loudly “supports” makes it much harder for people of conscience who disagree about the morality of forced birth to live together. It’s a community-destroying act; and I lament it for that reason, too.
Rather than work together with your anti-forced-birth neighbors to reduce pregnancy termination and avoid forced-birth through human support and kindness, you — you know who you are — started a war between the value of a rapist’s fetus and the value of woman’s life.
It’s your war; you wanted it. We didn’t.
But now you’ve got it. Some Americans are on the side of rapists in that war; most are not.
Pick your side.