Delegates show their support for Mitt Romney during roll call for nomination of president of the United States at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa on Aug. 28, 2012 during the Republican National Convention.
“God created human beings in God’s image…male and female God created them.” (Genesis: 1:27) According to the Bible, women are created fully equal in the divine image and thus fully, and equally, human.
You’d never know that from reading the Republican platform, especially in regard to the anti-abortion language that asserts the “sanctity and dignity of human life.” That section affirms that the “unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed” and calls for a “human life amendment to the Constitution.”
Astonishingly, there is no mention of an exception on abortion in the cases of rape or incest; no mention even of such an exception to save the life of the mother. No qualification at all when it comes to even the life of a woman being protected.
Aren’t women’s lives included in the category of “the sanctity and dignity of human life?”
The document also calls for “legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” The Fourteenth Amendment contains the “equal protection clause,” except that when it comes to women’s lives, apparently, women are not equally protected. They are not even mentioned. The sole emphasis in the document as published is on what is called “the unborn.” That is, fetuses.
Why doesn’t the GOP consider women as equal, or even worth mentioning, when it comes to preserving their lives? Aren’t women’s lives “human lives”? The omission of women’s humanity and its protection from the GOP platform is a serious theological error.
Some in the party may indeed consider women human, but they are clearly not the people crafting policy.
Nothing illustrates this reality as well as last week’s drama around “legitimate rape.” Rep. Todd Akin, the conservative Republican candidate for Senate in Missouri, precipitated a firestorm of protest when he said to an interviewer, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Both Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan called on Akin to quit the Senate race. Akin refused. Who is leading whom?
As I read Republicans’ platform, the extremists appear to be the ones crafting policy for the party. On Sunday, Romney policy advisor Avik Roy tried to reassure MSNBC host Chris Hayes, and more likely, the remaining GOP moderates, that the party’s platform planks such as the “human life amendment” to the Constitution “should not be considered a reflection of Romney’s personal views.”
Romney, of course, is the national “weathervane” of reproductive politics. His most famous “flip-flop” is his going from being “pro-choice” to “pro-life.” Is Roy trying to reassure moderates that Romney will flip-flop back the other way after the election? Really? What happens then to the “human life amendment to the Constitution”?
Going forward, Republicans might want to keep in mind a few fundamental points about women’s rights that come from the basic theological presumption of their full humanity.
Women frequently die or are maimed from illegal abortions. The coat hanger image that appeared in coverage of Akin’s comments brought back the horrors of illegal abortions. Keep this in mind: many women died or were maimed when abortion was illegal in the U.S. Protecting women’s lives is part of respecting their full humanity.
Women’s humanity includes their bodily integrity. Rape is an assault on women’s bodies and is a crime, regardless of the conditions under which it was committed. GOP candidates like Akin are assaulting women’s dignity by even bringing up such misleading and shaming terms as “legitimate” or “forcible” rape. Stop using those terms and concepts.
As human beings created in the image of God, women are ethical agents. Women can make informed choices about whether to carry a pregnancy to term or not. A good moral precedent for “Ethics and Experience: Moral Theory from Just War to Abortion.” Women should be considered “competent moral authorities” per the Just War paradigm and thus capable of making difficult ethical choices. Trust women to know what’s best for them and their families. That’s why it’s called “choice.”
There really is a war on women, and the front lines are women’s bodies, minds and spirits. My right to use contraception is part of my religious freedom, and any attempt to restrict or eliminate my health care coverage for contraception, or that of other women, places an unwarranted limit on all women’s religious freedom and freedom of conscience. This is in direct contrast to the GOP platform’s misleading, in fact, inaccurate language on “forcible secularization” by the Obama administration in regard to reproductive issues.
There is a war on women’s humanity being conducted by extremists in the Republican Party. I urge responsible members of the GOP leadership to take back their own party for the sake of all women and the men who care about them.
Don’t adopt a GOP platform like this one, and then hint to us that you really don’t mean to take these extreme positions. Why should any woman, indeed, any adult, trust you if you don’t have the courage to publicly and consistently stand up for women’s full humanity?