Richard Striner: Even in the case of rape, religious fanatics see only one outcome: birth


Staunch opponents of abortion believe that rape victims – regardless of age – should be forced to bear the children of their rapists. The cruelty of this does not bother them at all because they have never developed the capacity for consciousness that most normal people have.

They may think they have it, but they don’t.

“Awareness” implies a willingness to look at the different sides of an issue and entertain doubt. And that implies a will to think, but it is not a way of life for the people in question.

They only have notions that generate slogans, and they repeat these slogans endlessly.

The slogan that dominates their lives right now – the one that makes them activists – is: “Life begins at conception”.

It’s largely a matter of religious belief, and the people in question never question it.

In fact, they never question much.

Now, if they were the kind of people whose religion required them to sort out their own lives and no one else’s, there would be no problem. The situation would be simple: if you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have an abortion.

But that’s not the kind of religion that most of these people subscribe to, is it? No, they believe they should impose their point of view on everyone, and they see it as an act of conscience.

The question of “when life begins” involves a metaphysical mystery. Most Americans – the majority – support abortion rights in the early months of pregnancy, which means they view a fertilized egg as mere life potential.

And that’s apparently the way most people have tended to view the matter through the ages.

Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion of Roe v. Wade, proved it.

“At common law,” Blackmun wrote, “abortion performed before ‘acceleration’ – the first recognizable movement of the fetus in utero – was not a criminal act ‘for centuries because there was so’ little agreement on the precise moment” when “life begins.”

Most people believe they have no right to tell rape victims what to do. But in modern times, an arrogant minority believe they have this right. They have no respect for the separation of church and state, and they despise the very idea of ​​religious freedom.

They are religious fanatics.

They believe that their own religious beliefs should control the lives of everyone else, and they never doubt this proposition because their powers of conscience are non-existent or dead.

Roger Williams, the Puritan founder of Rhode Island and an early champion of religious tolerance, found that his religious conscience forbade him from imposing his religious beliefs on others. He proclaimed that “the common good cannot, without spiritual rape, force the consciences of all to one worship”.

Perry Miller, the eminent historian of early New England theology, summed up Williams’ legacy thus: People in America have “no right to impose their own definitions on others.” “No man,” Miller wrote, “can be so sure of any formulation of eternal truth that he has a right to impose it on the minds and minds of other men” or women. Because of this, Williams “became central to the meaning of democracy, along with Jefferson and Lincoln.”

Those who seek to ban all abortions under the law are incapable of understanding such things. They are tyrants. They are guilty of “spiritual rape” and are perfectly content to force a 10-year-old girl to become pregnant after being raped.

Is it any wonder the rest of us will fight them until hell freezes over if we have to?

Richard Striner is a professor at Washington College. His most recent book is “Spirituality for the Independent Thinker: Themes of Religious Exploration”.


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