As a pro-life apologist, I am more than just disappointed with Todd Akin. I am also angry. Over the course of the summer, I gave seven speeches on abortion - all of which addressed the issue of the so- called rape exception, which first appeared in my native state of Mississippi seven years prior to Roe v. Wade. In all seven lectures, I urged students to use caution when talking about the sensitive issue of rape and abortion. But I urged them not to run from the issue. In fact, I went so far as to say that we cannot win the debate until we make a reasoned argument for banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
In the event that there are prospective Republican congressional candidates who want to argue the issue (on CNN or elsewhere), here is how I would advise broaching this difficult subject. I would also request that Todd Akin keep his mouth closed until he has finished reading the following guidelines for discussion of the so-called rape exception:
A. Assess your opponent’s true position. In all likelihood, the person urging a rape exception does not really believe in it. In order for there to be an exception to a rule banning abortions, there has to be a rule banning abortions. That much is obvious. It is also obvious that pro-choicers do not merely want abortion to be available in cases of rape. They want it available in all cases. Call them out on it. Tell them you will write the rape exception into law just as soon as they write the law banning all other abortions. They will never take you up on it. The reason is simple: they are lying.
B. Build a bridge to the central issue. Get to know an adult who is a product of rape. Then, ask the proponent of the rape exception whether it would be permissible to kill your adult friend who is a product of rape. They will, of course, say that it isn’t permissible to kill them now. Ask them why not. They will likely say that killing the unborn is “different” because of size (they are smaller), level of development (they are less developed), environment (placement in the womb), or degree of dependency (the unborn are not “viable”). Each of these arguments is flawed and each tends to undermine human equality. For example, the argument that one’s right to life is contingent upon size means that women have less of a right to life than men. It also means Asians have less of a right to life than Caucasians. As you defeat each “that’s different” argument, you will gradually lead them to conclude that the unborn are indeed innocent human beings and that there is no meaningful distinction between the terms “human being” and “person.”
C. Capture the moral high ground. People often say there is a double standard is displayed by those who support the death penalty and oppose abortion. But that is absurd. A double standard exists when one applies two different standards to the same thing. Clearly, an unborn innocent is not “the same thing” as a convicted murderer. True moral inconsistency exists among those who would execute the product of rape while allowing the rapist to live. That moral inconsistency is enshrined in our current constitutional jurisprudence. The rape victim has a right to abort the product of rape because the unborn have no rights regardless of the circumstances of their conception. Yet the rapist has a constitutional right to be spared execution. It is simply morally indefensible to execute the innocent product of rape instead of the guilty perpetrator of rape. Ask the proponent of the so-called rape exception to defend killing the innocent and sparing the guilty.
Getting in the driver’s seat on the abortion issue is important. Staying in the driver’s seat is just as important – especially when the conversation takes a turn toward the difficult cases of rape and incest. But you can do it without concocting false arguments that really only avoid the issue. It’s just as easy as learning your ABCs.