Tom Smith is a Tea Party (i.e., GOP) candidate running for the US Senate against Bob Casey. Listen to this ridiculous bit of inanity about how rape and pregnancy out of wedlock are just the same. Via ThinkProgress Health, the transcript:
MARK SCOLFORO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?
SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.
SCOLFORO: Similar how?
SMITH: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.
SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape?
SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.
When the reporter came back around to get him to clarify for the record what he actually meant by that, he said this:
Smith: (Pause.) A life is a life, and it needs protected. Who’s going to protect it? We have to. I mean that’s, I believe life begins at conception. I’m not going to argue about the method of conception. It’s a life, and I’m pro-life. It’s that simple.
If only it were that simple. It's just not that simple. What if, for example, the rapist decided he wanted visitation rights? Or worse yet, custody rights? It happens. It happens more often than anyone might imagine. Or what if that rape victim carried the pregnancy to term in order to put the baby up for adoption, only to discover that she had to notify the rapist of his parental rights and force him to relinquish them? That happens too.
"Another survivor, a 14-year-old girl, decided to give up her baby for adoption. She was required by law to give notice of the adoption to the rapist, an adult man. While she was permitted by a court to give up her rights to the child, the rapist retained his and then sought child support payments from her," the lawyer writes. "Another survivor, who gave birth to twins after a date rape, raised them peacefully with her intimate partner until they were five years old, at which time the rapist learned of their existence and filed a lawsuit to establish his paternity and gain visitation rights, and attempted to use the mother's sexual orientation against her in the legal proceedings."
It's not simple. It's re-victimizing the victim. In each of the cases I described, the women involved had a choice as to how they wanted to handle their pregnancy. They chose to carry the babies to term, only to discover that doing so gave their rapist an opportunity to re-victimize them over and over and over again. What these crazy Republicans want to do is to force women into an untenable position with regard to choice over their own bodies, their futures, while protecting all of the rights of the men who caused them to have to confront these issues in the first place.
Yes, custody and parental rights issues arise in the case of pregnancy outside of marriage, too, and again, women currently have options as to how they handle those pregnancies. At least, they do in most states but not all, where getting an abortion -- a legal procedure -- is so impossibly difficult they're more or less forced to carry the child to term. But at least in those cases, they are not also forced into contact and litigation with someone who caused that pregnancy by forcing himself on her. They are not victims of violence and cruelty, and as Mr. Smith pointed out in his own situation, she CHOSE what she wanted to do.
What bothers me most about his truth-telling in that interview is this one line:
But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought.
What was it he didn't have to do? He didn't have to beat her within an inch of her life? He didn't have to lock her up until it was too late for an abortion? He didn't have to force her to marry the father? He didn't have to...what?
If that daughter's pregnancy had been the product of a rape, would he have blamed her for it? Would he have told that daughter her blouse was too low-cut, or her shorts were too short, or that she asked for it? Would that discussion have taken place before or after he locked her up to keep her from seeking an abortion?
This is the Republican Party. Tom Smith is not the exception, nor is Todd Akin. They're the rule.
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