Raped, Pregnant and 11 Years Old: The Problem with the “Right-to-Life” Movement
FlaglerLive | September 5, 2012
By Mary Jo Melone
Gregory Johns had allegedly committed an unimaginable and depraved act.
The Pinellas County sheriff said the 42-year-old man had raped his girlfriend’s daughter. The girl became pregnant.
She is eleven.
Somehow, this child was unable to “shut that whole thing down,” as Missouri’s Republican congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin famously said last month.
What does he and the right-to-lifers and Tea Partiers who still support him believe? That this child is supposed to make lemonade out of a lemon? Surely, their moral compass points them in the direction of compassion in this case.
Or does it?
To borrow from Akin, this is a legitimate question. The Republican Party has long relied on the votes of abortion extremists. This is partly why Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. Now that he has the vice-presidency in his sights, he is deferring to Romney’s more moderate stance—he supports abortion in the case of rape, incest and threats to a mother’s life. At the same time, however, Ryan says he is proud of his record on abortion. He believes in so-called personhood, that life begins at the moment of conception. The GOP platform calls for a constitutional amendment banning abortion; the platform never mentions exceptions, even for 11-year-olds.
This is the problem with the so-called right-to-life movement. It has no real regard for life and its tragedies and complexities: for rape and incest victims of all ages, for teenagers who make mistakes, for women, single and married, who are without the resources, financial or emotional, required to raise a child, or whose contraception failed.
I am still waiting to meet a woman who regards a decision to have an abortion as breezily as a decision to go to the mall for a pair of heels. This is the other problem with the so-called right-to-life movement: it regards women as moral cretins, not just in terms of sexual behavior, but character as well.
And this is the problem with the GOP: for the sake of political advantage, the party feeds off this cruel thinking.
There’s no doubt that this 40-year-long fight over abortion has exhausted us. Decent people can certainly disagree, but it is impossible to reason with people who believe they and they alone occupy the moral high ground, especially when God has told them so. But now and then, pesky reality intrudes and the complexity of abortion is revealed. What provision for a child would a constitutional amendment banning abortion make?
Gregory Johns disappeared in June, after he learned his girlfriend’s daughter was pregnant. According to investigators, he told his girlfriend he was sorry, but it fell to two Pinellas deputies to serve up some rough justice. When they confronted him in a Treasure Island motel last Saturday, he pulled a knife and threatened to kill them. The deputies fired. So far, in public at least, no one has wept for him.
Mary Jo Melone, former columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, is a writer in Tampa.