Consider the rape baby.
Like it or not, these entities cannot help but symbolize a rape victim’s ultimate powerlessness – amplifying it, even.
Rape babies, through no fault of their own, are living, breathing, eating, shitting, physical manifestations of violation, which often outlive the victim (and any psychologic peace achieved by her, however unlikely).
Carrying a rape baby to term represents an ethical clusterfuck not posited by consensual pregnancies. Obviously, the mother-child dynamic gets skewed, as does the relationship between offspring and father.
Questions arise: Is the mother of a rape-conceived child morally wrong for treating this child differently than one made with consent? Is it wrong to deny a rapist paternal rights?
Sacrifice, too, seems to be a key issue.
Having a kid under any condition obviously requires some measure of sacrifice on the part of the mother. She gives up elements of her childless life to take care of her child – this is expected and probably differentiates a good, semi-selfless parent (be they a mom or a dad) from a piss-poor, self-interested one.
But forcing a victim to sacrifice herself (her desires, her dreams, her future, her health, etc.) by forcing her to give birth under these circumstances, is patently wrong.
Much like rape, this situation wrests control from the victim without her consent – though the M.O. is purportedly different, they seem eerily similar when deconstructed.
Follow the right-to-lifers-even-in-cases-of-rape logic and you, too, will see. The victim is essentially told that she does not have the right to control her body – and must birth the child – because of a violation of her right to control her body. In other words: She loses the right to say no to motherhood because a rapist denied her right to say no, to sex.
However, a man who wants to be the next president of the United States thinks that rape babies are a gift from God and must be protected.
Meet Rick Santorum, a Republican, Roman Catholic, ex-Senator from Pennsylvania, whose name in popular culture has come to mean “the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”
Santorum, the most socially conservative of the GOP contenders, recently boasted to CNN’s Piers Morgan that he is against abortion in all cases.
He said that if his daughter had been raped and impregnated and begged for an abortion, he would not be swayed. Instead, he would tell his darling daughter, “to accept this horribly created – in the sense of rape – but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.”
He followed up with this advice for all rape victims: “Make the best of a bad situation.”
So here, a rape baby actually turns out to be a present from the lord, shrewdly disguised as a life-destroyer (or flat tire).
But let’s look at this position a bit more closely: If a rape baby is a gift from God, what does that say about God (or at least Santorum’s concept of God)?
There are a couple of options, it seems.
Either a rape baby is a gag gift and God has a real sick sense of humor, or it’s meant to be accepted as is.
Consider the first possibility. Say God exists, and that said God treats rape babies as a gag gift. That means he is finding humor at the expense of women.
The second choice isn’t much better: If God gives rape babies as a gift in earnest, it’s no longer an issue of bad taste.
In this situation, God wants you to have a rape baby. And the word ‘want’ is not too strong – you don’t give a gift if you don’t want the recipient to have said gift. So, if God clearly approves of you carrying a rape baby (à la direct and volitional gifting), this implies that God is OK with some elements of the rape – at least the end result, and that’s really giving God the benefit of the doubt.
So yes, Santorum’s position – that rape babies are a gift from God – suggests that God is either a prick with a penchant for bad jokes, or that God has a deeply troubling take on rape.
Unfortunately, Abrahamic religion’s relationship with women has been so poor that this sounds less and less like a joke than it does codified belief.