Thursday, September 09, 2004

Guest Post from "JHo" - The Children of Rick Santorum

Wild Democracy Ride's good friend "JHo" chimes in...

God help the children of Rick Santorum. Last week on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, he told the country a sad and alarming tale. After a child his wife was carrying died in utero, they took the dead 21-week old fetus home to show their children.
“We brought him home to bury him,’’ Santorum told Gross. “In a sense you could call it a viewing.”
In a tone that smacked of disbelief, Gross asked why the he chose to show the dead fetus to his children. The Roman Catholic senator from Pennsylvania replied: “For our children to see that they had a little brother. They got a chance to see this little gift, and remember him for the rest of their lives.”
Forgetting that would be pretty hard, alright.
Unfortunately, we are all, in a way, the children of Rick Santorum. He does not just represent his constituency, which presumably includes other people who think that showing dead fetuses to impressionable children is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. He holds the third-highest spot in the Republican Party, coming right after the admitted pet-killer Bill Frist. This man has power.
Gross’s interview with Santorum shed light on more than just his own terrifying child-rearing tactics, however. He said some pretty amazing things about pregnancy in general.
In a conversation about a proposed ban on abortion, which should be coming down the pike any day now at rate the Democrats are going, Gross pressed him on that niggling little detail, the life of the mother. He assured her that in the rare instances that a mother’s life is actually threatened by her pregnancy, current self-defense provisions in law would allow her to end that pregnancy.
“You can use lethal force if lethal force is being used against you,” Santorum reasoned. “If your life is threatened, you can respond in kind.”
When Gross compared his argument to the rationale of shooting someone before they shoot you, the senator gave a half-garbled “exactly.”
“If that child is a threat to your own life, you have the right to defend yourself, in a sense, against this child.”
So…does that mean it’s ok to shoot a five-year-old for setting fire to the curtains and burning down the house?
His logic unintentionally reveals a bizarre and fundamental moral misunderstanding of how women feel about child-bearing. (Who knew a guy could be so insensitive?)
Let’s indulge in hollow Republican stereotypes here for a second. Not even the most selfish, promiscuous, crack-addled single girl waiting at the Planned Parenthood to have her fifth abortion on the tax payer’s dime is going to view that potential child in such hostile “get-that-brat-before-it-gets-me” terms.
And not even the most saintly suburban housewife is- upon ending a dangerous pregnancy- going to feel the same kind of righteous adrenaline rush that I imagine one would get from, say, shooting a guy who has come to rob your house.
I feel for people who truly believe abortion is murder, I really do. If I thought that every aborted fetus was a massacred child, I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. But at its core their argument flies in the face of reality- so how do you argue against it? If a person is convinced that “a fertilized egg is a little girl or boy…It’s exactly like you or me,” how do you bring them round? By repeating: no it isn’t, no it isn’t, no it isn’t? It’s the same as trying to talk someone out of believing that the devil is sitting on their shoulder, whispering into their ear.
As on so many other issues, the Democrats have ceded the rhetorical ground on abortion. By constantly highlighting a “personal” opposition to abortion- our Fearless Leader Kerry being the latest in a long line- politicians have all but said: “It’s wrong! It’s bad! It makes me feel guilty! But I have to support it otherwise the East Coast lesbo-nazis will kill me!”
If politicians want to safeguard a woman's right to end a pregnancy, never mind win anyone over to the pro-choice side, there needs to be a more muscular approach to the argument on behalf of its so-called supporters in Congress. Clearly, the bet-hedging tactic of "I'm against it, but I'm for it" has not worked so far. Abortion is the most threatened civil right of them all.
Somebody needs to defend the act of abortion itself, because that is what’s under attack. Hey, it’s not pretty, but neither is child-birth or Family Court. The Joe Liebermans of the party be damned, that means they have to start saying in public that having an abortion is, as often as not, a relatively painless and sensible option. While it’s still legal, that is.

JHo is a journalist hiding from Dick Cheney somewhere in the Northeast


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