Kent Pitman

Kent Pitman
New England, USA
Philosopher, Technologist, Writer
I've been using the net in various roles—technical, social, and political—for the last 30 years. I'm disappointed that most forums don't pay for good writing and I'm ever in search of forums that do. (I've not seen any Tippem money, that's for sure.) And I worry some that our posting here for free could one day put paid writers in Closed Salon out of work. See my personal home page for more about me.


FEBRUARY 8, 2011 10:54AM

The Soft Language of Rape

Rate: 28 Flag

I wanted to at least make a couple of observations about this whole “redefinition of rape” thing in the H.R. 3 (the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”).

It looks like the GOP has backed down in the use of the qualified term “forcible rape” in referring to the rape exception. But I want my thoughts on the record anyway.

* * * *

Yes, it’s true: The legislation did not actually offer a definition of rape, and so technically it didn’t redefine it. It restricted instead the applicability of the term in a particular context. It didn’t say rape is only forcible act. Rather, it said that it exempted only situations involving forcible rapes. But this is a difference without a distinction, as I hope to show.

To reason about charged topics, I like to move them into a conceptually neutral space so that I can see clearly without worrying about whether I’m trying to bias the reasoning to my own preferred outcome. Please indulge such an example of wordplay in order to illustrate my point.

Consider that if the legislation needed an exception for Martians, someone might have written “except for white-skinned Martians.” But we all know Martians have green skin. So has there been an exception made for Martians? I’d say not. Have we redefined Martian? Well, no, not exactly. We have, however, so heavily qualified the term that it left out the important exception from the legislation—no Martians will get an exception. So it would be unfair to say “There is now an exception for Martians,” wouldn’t it? The only way such a statement would continue to make sense is if you intended, as a side-effect of the usage, to claim that the usage was the new definition of Martian. Saying, “oh, there’s an exception for Martians” is disingenuous at best. It makes sense only if we should construe the meaning of “Martians” to refer to the restricted set of Martians mentioned in the legislation, and so, implicitly, it seems to redefine the meaning of the word.

And so, back to reality, if you want to make this change, the minimum you should expect is for people to say “You have removed the rape exception.” For anyone to say there is still a rape exception is, in effect, for them to say that rape no longer means what it did.

* * * *

I’ve also seen it argued that:

“... even if Republicans were to exempt every type of rape from being paid for with federal funds, it still wouldn’t change the existing rape legislation. Rather, it would only change which of these abortions can swallow up money from unwilling taxpayers.”

No, that’s not right. See my article My Slice of the Pie (Again) for details of the argument. But it turns out that not all of the money in the budget came from those taxpayers with objections, and so if money is spent it cannot automatically be construed to have come from those taxpayers. There is plenty of money in there from “willing taxpayers” that will cover.

If anyone wants to talk unwilling taxpayers, let’s talk Iraq and Afghanistan war, shall we?

* * * *

I’ve heard it claimed that the Republican leadership doesn’t care about abortion. They just use it as flamebait to get gullible supporters to rush to the polls. The claim is, and I see no evidence to the contrary, that they’d rather these things not pass because it just infuriates their base more and makes them want to consistently show up to vote.

In The Atlantic Wire, Caitlin Dickson writes::

“I suspect the heinousness of this latest attack is no accident. The conservatives understand the art of negotiation and I think they have put this provision in there for the express purpose of creating a firestorm, drawing the attention of the pro-choice groups and then "reluctantly" giving it up in exchange for the Democrats giving in on all the other, less sexy, changes they really want. Changes which will restrict abortion for far more people throughout the country than this rape redefinition ever would.”

I think she’s hit it right on the nose.

* * * *

One final thought about how to drive all of this home. This is my own synthesis, just turning the arguments of the Right back on itself. Perhaps it will get the point across:

The No Taxpayer Money for Hypocrites Act

Resolved: That there shall be no federal money spent protecting super-wealthy individuals from any but forcible theft.

This wouldn’t really change the definition of theft. Theft would still be illegal. So it would basically be just an administrative variation on the status quo, right? What’s the harm? All this would do is, to paraphrase the quote earlier in this article, “change which of these thefts can swallow up money from unwilling taxpayers.”

I’m quite confident I can drum up some unwilling taxpayers to back that up, so this should just sail through Congress, right?

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In one way of viewing it, rape is theft. So, we'd have to make sure the super wealthy didn't also cry rape. It's a very popular word these days.
I'm torn between thinking the people who were behind this thing are sincere (and thus stupid and self-righteous and nasty) on the one hand, or OTOH deliberately calculating like Dickson suggests. Maybe these two possibilities are not exclusive.

Yeah, what about unwilling taxpayers funding the wars....ah, but the wars are *patriotic* and abortion is *sinful*. Get your righteous and unrighteous murders sorted out here.
This should have never ever been brought up. Women should be treated with dignity.
rated with hugs
I agree with you, Kent. The thing that I find untenable in the whole anti-choice position is this: either you believe that all life is sacred or you don't. So, if you believe that if life starts at conception, then you would be opposed to all abortion--even that of rape or incest--because it's not the "unborn's" fault.
If, however, you essentially want to punish sexually active women who get pregnant, than you make laws that restrict abortion for women except those who were involuntarily forced into having sex. So if you voluntarily have sex, you're bad and have to live with your mistake.
If you involuntarily have sex, then the "all life is sacred" argument goes out the window.
As far as I'm concerned, they can't have it both ways.
I personally think this is a way to slowly outlaw abortion by back door politics.
Nibble it slow and one day there will be no more legal options.
Abortion is a medical issue best left between a woman and her doctor.
Oryoki, yes, metaphorically, rape is theft, or theft is rape. The two are similar in various ways. But there is something intensely more personal about the “real” kind. And yet, I can see the Republicans getting worked up about the metaphorical kind and not the real kind. Which is why I titled the proposal “The No Taxpayer Money for Hypocrites Act.”

Myriad, I can't see any way an issue this hotly discussed is playing out by accident in any way at the level of the political players. There may be some backers out in the world at large who are ignorant/naive enough to think this issue is a minor, uncommon, or benign one. But among those who penned the bill? No. I'm with FingerLakesWanderer on this one. It's an implicit doling out of punishment, a willful desire to be the instrument through which a fantasized vengeful God acts. (And, I think, a misconstrual of any Biblical text on the subject, since I think God prefers to dole out his own punishments and to have people stop pretending they can act in his stead.)

Linda, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you're not a member of the Republican party. They pretty come very close to having a plank in their party platform which promises not to treat women with dignity.
Your title was quite the hook, Kent. Then, as I began reading into the post, I thought this might be about Martian rape and got hung up in some of the heady semantics, when I realized you were making a doggone good point/s, albeit, "...trying to bias the reasoning of your own preferred outcome." That's a meaty line! I very much like and appreciate how you mix seasoned humor with politically charged topics and often touchy matters that affect both our personal lives as well as our pocketbooks. Very enjoyable and well rounded post.

I appreciate you taking on this issue. you're so spot on especially at the end. what about some new laws against forcible murder. or forcible muggings. The word should be added to all crimes, if its added to this one.

muchas gracias.
FLW, as I understand it, the fetus (or, as they would put it, “unborn people”) are believed to somehow be morally pure in a way that, for example, born people are not, or people older than a certain age. I'm not clear on where jeopardy attaches, to use the legal metaphor. And, of course, this is all premised on the beliefs of one or more particular religions, notwithstanding the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment. So the fact that others among the citizenry disagree about this line, or where it is placed, seems of no consequence to those advancing these positions.

I think they see chaos in failing to define this, but I see greater chaos in the fight to be the one to control it if one insists on doing that. Living in a pluralism requires great care and considerable intellectual sophistication. I fear that, especially with our ailing educational system, many of us are just not up to it. How dreadfully sad. All the moreso because by any reasonable theory of this whole pure/impure theory, many of the victims of rape are also pure. And yet this stupid approach manages to split hairs and make some of the pure into impure, as you note. It's a terrible metaphor to start with and leads to horrible inconsistency in Justice.

But it's really the slice of the pie thing that offends me most of all, since this isn't going after whether you can have the abortion—well, not overtly. It's obviously the intent beneath the covers, so to speak. The fact that it just isn't the taxpayer dollars of the people trying to run the show is what's so obviously clear to me. If they want to be the only ones taxed, so they can control where the government money goes, that's one thing. But they want others to pay the tax, and then to deny those people who pay any say in where the dollars go.
I believe your reasoning is correct. This is classic bait and switch. While we're all looking over here, they're enacting changes we'd consider onerous - if we weren't so distracted - over there . It's sort of a variation on the Overton window idea. Ask for the moon, knowing you won't get it, but meanwhile, getting a star becomes possible, through your opposition's distraction and through their relief at you not getting the moon...
I think Fingerlakeswanderer has made a definite point: "Sexually active women are shameless and we want to punish them."

And unfortunately, I think the Right Wing is being damned devious about this. But their eventual aim is clear, they want to take away abortion and contradictorily would also like to severely restrict contraception, and if you get pregnant, expect NO help from them in the form of the WIC food program to get nourishing food for your child, don't expect a job for yourself, don't expect health care, day care, Headstart, Sesame street, decent K-12 public education or any of that other bleeding heart liberal stuff. Women, just stay pregnant, because the day you give birth is the day the GOP immediately stops caring about you. To them, you now just another welfare cheat.

We need to form a full-court press to defend ALL reproductive rights and care against these conniving bastards.

I'm furious at them, but thanks, Kent. Rated
Paraphrasing Honest Abe, "Anyone for slavery ought to have it applied to them ..." Anyone, most particularly males, who is a proponent of this, strategically or otherwise ... would most likely become a punk in the big house; in a self fulfilling prophesy.
I am always amazed at the power of obfuscation. Thanks for this thoughtful analysis.
rated with love
Of course, if you force women to pay for rape kits, as Sarah Palin suggests, there will be no rape, forcible or otherwise, because women who can't afford the kits can't easily prove they were raped (or at least by whom).

To me, this whole forcible rape thing does irreparable harm to social conservatives, who've endeavored for years to couch their concerns in terms of compassion for both the child and the mother. In effect, the sheep's clothing has just fallen off the wolf.
Bonnie, I agree the issue of prevention is important, but I think it is possible to separate them. Not every person can be involved in the solution of every problem. The least one can do is not stand in the way of those who are trying to solve things. I certainly don't stand in the way of people trying to work on prevention. But this matter is one where people seem to be trying to worsen a problem by removing a partial solution.
Mission, I agree with you that it is the death of existing rights by a thousand nibbles.

Cathy, glad the hook got you in and that you survived the headier parts. I know I go after some complicated issues, but I do try to keep things accessible. If I ever don't, you should let me know!

Dolores, yes, there's no end to it once you start down that path. Thanks for adding those very illustrative examples.

Blue, yeah, every time such horse trading comes up, I cringe, because I know how Obama will handle it. But at least the Democrats remaining in Congress are starting to grow a bit more spine. I think they should run a primary challenge, though, and offer a different candidate for President in 2012.

Shiral, yes, and the worst part is that some are “sexually active” (and I use the term loosely) only because they've been raped. How shameless of them, being victims like that, I guess we are to conclude. And yes, as soon as the birth occurs, “just another welfare cheat,” as you say. It's all just so sad.
Surfer, interesting that you should mention the slavery angle. I guess you're just trying to tee up mention of my article I am not Pro-Slavery. Are you?

Poetess, happy to accommodate in the clearing of the smokescreen. Thanks for stopping in.

Megan, to the extent that it's the aim of social conservatives to meddle in the private affairs of others, I hope it does set that goal back.
Having been the victim of rape, I find it hard to think rationally about this subject. Therefore, rather than fly off the handle, I will refrain from saying things that could and will be misconstrued.
CZPhoenix, I'm sorry it evokes such strong emotions, but I guess that's the nature of the beast. Thanks for stopping by!
Kent writes: " . . . as I understand it, the fetus (or, as they would put it, “unborn people”) are believed to somehow be morally pure in a way that, for example, born people are not, or people older than a certain age."

I think it would be more accurate to say that the belief is that there is no significant moral difference between a developing, unborn human, and an infant. Thus abortion is seen as a kind of infanticide. Many of these controversies surrounding abortion are at root differences of opinion on the moral status of the fetus.

Kent: "And, of course, this is all premised on the beliefs of one or more particular religions, notwithstanding the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment. So the fact that others among the citizenry disagree about this line, or where it is placed, seems of no consequence to those advancing these positions."

In what way in the establishment clause relevant? There is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits people from advocating policies inspired by religious faith (or the lack thereof).
Mishima, yeah, the thing about infanticide is something I know about but was not what I meant. The question wasn't why people object to abortion, but why they are comfortable with saying that a young girl has no rights in this situation. There's a sense that a fetus (what you would probably call an unborn child) has no one to speak for it, and so someone must speak for it; but there's no sense that perhaps the minor girl who's been raped has no one to speak for her, and that can be the case. The problem is that a 14-year-old girl may not agree with her parents—she may want an abortion, and the parents may not want that. And she has no voice. The pro-life people are all focused on the fetus, but no one is focused on her. So the question is, what did she do to deserve to have no voice? FLW appears to say that what she did was “have sex.” And it seems to be the case that the Republicans are saying that unless someone held a gun to her head, literally, whatever it was (even a drugging) is insufficient to allow her any say. And if forced to carry a child to term, she'll be 15 when she has the child and will spend 3 more years as a minor, then 15 years as an adult a prisoner of decisions she had no choice in, even though they affected her adult life. I get the part where, under your belief system, she has no more than equal rights in this situation, if you consider both she and the fetus are equals. But I don't get the notion that she has no rights and the fetus has all of them.

The relevance of the establishment clause is to say that no one's religion shall trump another's. We had issues with “Blue Laws” here in New England telling us that alcohol couldn't be sold on Sundays or that people couldn't work on Sundays. But not everyone is of those religions and that's not a good basis for law. Oh, sure, religious people can say “oh, it's not to promote the dominance of or even just preference for my religion but it's just by coincidence that I want to say no one should work on Sundays” but I think it will be transparent what's going on there. The same is true with abortion. It may seem like a great moral thing to you, but to people not sharing your beliefs, it is not. It's more akin, I think, to vegetarianism someone may think it's important to respect all animal life, but that doesn't mean they should be able to control everyone's existence based on that sincerely held belief. I would assert the establishment clause there, too, frankly.

Please let's not debate abortion here. There are other threads for that. I offer these not as arguments to convince you but merely as clarifications of my remarks earlier, so you'll know what I was referring to. I appreciate the clarifications you offered, but I'd like to keep this discussion narrowly to the question of whether all forms of rape should count as rape or whether there are some “lesser” rapes that don't allow a woman, whose entire life going forward hangs in the balance, to have a say in how she goes forward, and instead compounds the injury she has endured by telling her that as a consequence of the “lesser” rape, she must now endure the emotional, social, economic, and totally life-changing consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.
Kent - As you get to know me will surely know when I get something stuck in my craw. You'll be the 'first' to know. Your writing is very "readable," as in able to read you with ease, while gaining knowledge and perspective. Good stuff!
Good analysis Kent and I fully agree with you on the firing up their base angle, as well as the Caitlin Dickson bargaining chip point.
Cathy, thanks—good to know.

Abrawang, thanks for the support.
I will mention an idea I have once again. A check-off box on income tax returns that would not increase the tax, but would allow/disallow that person's tax money being spent on abortions.
I'm sure the Repubs would object, as their goal isn't what they say, it's to apply what can only be police state controls on women. The fetus as ward of the state; the woman as slave to the state.

Mish is right about religion being acceptable, and even an inseparable factor in public morality that decides law. However, the Establishment Clause does apply as it is meant to prevent law based on religion. A tricky line to play with, but that is why the anti forces are forever in search of other justifications, such as the idea that the woman might experience regret...abortion causing cancer, etc.

As an interesting side note as far as the evangelic religious right's "morality" goes -- they considered abortion a Catholic issue until a few players figured it was a great way to raise money, anger and votes. Cha-ching! Instant "morality."

I notice the Repubbies want to hold what would imply voluntary incest (as if being of legal age is the same as voluntary) abortion as exempt from funding. If I were prone to toss about a joke, I'd say that part is a strategic move that ensures the perpetuation of a demographically significant portion of their base.
Kent writes: " . . . I'd like to keep this discussion narrowly to the question of whether all forms of rape should count as rape or whether there are some “lesser” rapes that don't allow a woman, whose entire life going forward hangs in the balance, to have a say in how she goes forward, and instead compounds the injury she has endured by telling her that as a consequence of the “lesser” rape, she must now endure the emotional, social, economic, and totally life-changing consequences of an unwanted pregnancy."

As far as I know, the basic issue is the extent to which public funds should be spent on abortion. Rather than public money, which seems to be so controversial, why don't people who support unrestricted abortion raise money to pay for abortions for women who can't afford them?

The Supreme Court has already held that "a woman's freedom of choice [does not carry] with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices." [Harris v. McRae] So why not simply remove public money from the picture, and pay for abortions for poor women with private funds?

Everybody wins. Conservatives don't have to worry about public funding of abortions. Liberals get to contribute to what they see as a good cause. Poor women get abortions. Abortionists get paid. And Planned Parenthood already has a fundraising infrastructure set up. What's not to like?
Mishima, if it hasn't already done so, the same court would probably rule “a person's freedom of medical choice [does not carry] with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail themselves of the full range of protected choices.” That is, if I am to conclude there is any justice in that statement, the statement is that the mere fact of freedom is not a compulsion of the government to pay. One might also see the Court rule “a person's freedom of movie choice [does not carry] with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail themselves of the full range of protected movie choices.” That is, you can go see whatever movies you want but you can't compel the government to pay. It might also have said “a person's freedom of food choice [does not carry] with it a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail themselves of the full range of protected food choices.” And indeed one can't require the government to pay for caviar.

However, there is no special meaning in what you have cited that would lead me to believe or conclude “So why not simply remove public money from the picture, and pay for medical care, movies, or food for poor people with private funds?”

The answer is that the fact that there is not a compulsion on the government to pay for medical care, movies, or food is not license for the government to claim that if the government never pays for medical care, movies, or food then “Everybody wins.”

Everybody wins when everybody wins. Whatever we may conclude from this discussion, there is absolutely not in any sense of the word a “win” if private funds are required of people with no access to private funds.

It's clear that even in the extreme case of government payment for movies that everybody does not win by having people pay priivately for movies. Some people see movies and some don't. That's clearly not everybody wy wiinning. So at minimum if you can't bring yourself to admit there are winners and losers in this discussion by withholding public money, then we probably have nothing more to discuss.

It is legitimately within the realm of government to decide certain aspects of winners and losers. It is a myth to suggest that government does not by its every action decide winners and losers. Government does decide that people don't get to see movies unless that person earns them. It doesn't issue moviestamps. It's probably appropriate that it doesn't. But let's not confuse that with saying that everyone wins.

And so the question is whether it is right and just that there is no help for women in this case of abortions. You're alleging that somehow the fact that government has no necessary compulsion to pay for abortions implies, or should make us feel comfortable with, the conclusion that government has a compulsion not to pay for abortion. That's a big leap and not one of logic.

For you to say it requires you to feel that it is not a loss to omit such financial support, and to conclude that requires you to see it as not immoral to withhold such support, and for you to conclude that requires you to take a religious position.

I, on th eother hand, consider that it is immoral to withhold the money. My religion, such as it is, that is the moral code by which I live, indicates that it is nothing less than slavery to require of a woman to engage in an unwanted birth especially in the situation where the person has been raped in any way and has had no voluntary choice.

This is not to say that I think my religious belief, such as it is, means that the Constitution has a compulsion to pay, but rather the legitimate basis of my religion is that there is no Constitutional basis for denying payment as just another medical treatment. The question here is not “should the government pay for health care at all” but rather should the government take the extraordinary action of reaching into the privacy of the doctor's office and saying “this is a form of health care that a tax payer who has contributed money to the government should never receive that same money back for this purpose.”
There is no way you can blame the withholding of that money on the Court. The Court has not said anything that would lead to that conclusion.

It is simply legislation like any other. Shall we pay for flu vaccine? There is no Constitutional basis. We just decide. Viagra? There's no Constitutional compulsion to pay or not pay? We just decide. Abortion? Just the same.

And so it comes down to compassion and budget. The budget part there are willing taxpayers for. If the will of taxpayers is available, many of us would have wars canceled before abortions for lack of funds. So let's not talk of budgets.

And that leaves only compassion. “Everybody wins?” Mishima, I'm sorry. You may not want to support the people who win here, but please—don't suggest that everyone wins.

Government must do for people what they cannot do for themselves. I don't mean just the abortion. People can do abortions themselves. But the cash flow from the people in the country who would support this to the people who need it is impossible to arrange without government help. Moreoever, there are private insurance companies that wouuld pay, and yet the government support of such health care plans is something that is targeted by these laws. Money is flowing to these companies to do their ordinary business and yet the legislation says to stop that money in this case. No, that is not everybody winning. That's government deciding that particular people should lose.

Don't hide behind the Court on this one, Mishima. I respect your opinion on a great many things but on this you have a blind spot. There is no compassion in your position. If you expect me to have compassion for your position, and I assure you I do, you owe me the similar respect for mine and you are not offering it.

This situation is at minimum not one where everyone wins by the government refusing help.

If you and I disagree on morality, the best a pluralism can hope to achieve is not to make you the winner or I the winner. That is, if you think all walls should be painted red for religious reasons and I think all walls should be painted blue for religious reasons, the answer is not for you to argue my walls should be red nor I that your walls should be blue, but rather I should be allowed to have the walls as I need them for my religion and you as you want them for your religion even if we each think the other is being immoral. Sometimes that's the best that can be done. And if you don't want money spent on abortion, you have to realize that it's not all your money. I don't want it not spent on abortion in the cases in questions, and it's not all my money either. But if there is money going in from me and money from you, and the money from me and people like me does not exceed what is reasonably being spent, then there is no moral basis for you to suggest that your money is being spent inappropriately. And for you to say that people shouldn't do this for moral reasons is just to violate the establishment clause.

There. I hope that answers your question.
Kent--I gave this a very careful reading---read it twice-- as your consistently thoughtful work demands that. And the payoff for this was even better the second time. 3 thoughts.

1. I appreciate the fact that you are not re-debating abortion.

2. It never ceases to amaze me just how many linguistic contortions are required when the objective is to talk in code.

3. Where do I sign up to vote for your Act? That was one of the best
"payoff;'s to a piece I've ever seen!

Your dialectic approach to showing the speciousness of the "re-defining" of rape is much-needed, but sadly, not applied in law-making politics (or much of anything, for that matter). However, it all begs the question because it concludes that there needs to be an abortion clause on federal funding because it assumes abortion is wrong. Where's the dialectic to determine the validity of that stance?
Further, the whole concept of abortion needs to be dismantled and not identified as right or wrong, per se (how do I italicize in these comments?), because it isn't about that. It is about what works and doesn't work and what is at stake for acting a certain way. Again, putting more value on a cluster of cells than a fully sentient human being is ill-advised, at best.
ChicGuy, glad you got so much out of it. I wish there were a way to actually get the fun ideas to happen, but mostly the best I can do is to arm people with new ways to think or speak about things and hope that somehow contributes to the discussion.

Pedant, did you see the interchange between Mishima and me above? Does that go to some of the question you're asking? I could perhaps post something to put my long reply to him in some more coherent form, but let me know if you think I addressed the matter in the way you're asking for, or what was omitted from either the question or the answer.
Sorry, Ken. I just read your request to remove debate about abortion, after I wrote my comments.

As for rape, what would be done in the situation of rape fantasies acted out with the consequence of a pregnancy? Would the funding be so restricted that a woman would sell her partner down the river just to be bailed out? I am just playing devil's advocate with that example. While I don't defend the Republicans at all in this matter, I see how they might want to be removing any possible loopholes. The sick irony is that it isn't their motivation.
Ken, since everyone is so verbose (as they should be), I am guilty of leaving comments before reading everything, lest I forget what I want to say. Now, I've finished.

What about purple walls? Maybe not that even, because we can't assume that anything is universally right about the red ones or the blues. Religion should be private, so yes, those walls should be separate and whatever color the individual chooses. But at some point, those walls have to come down if we are going to reach a consensus on anything.
K- I just read slavery post, thx for link- a great post but my comment was independent (or, not) of it.

Authority Obsessed People: Keep your would-be controlling paws off the bodies of women- Butt Out!
Pedant, maybe wall was a bad term to use. My point with the walls was to pick a religious icon and I just used a colored wall as an example. But it could just as well be a statue to worship at. The point is that we can't observe that people disagree on which statue to worship (if they worship one at all) and then conclude that we should decide on a common one for them all. Pluralism requires that we agree everyone gets their own choice even though the statue of someone else's religion might be blasphemous to any given citizen. They'll just have to live with that, or else we can't tolerate people from all religions—and let's hope that is not the goal. So in this case, by analogy, everyone needs medical options that are suitable to their own religion, not to someone else's.
Surfer, glad you liked the other post. And yes, I agree, your point makes sense even outside that context.
Ken, I was just extending your metaphor further; it doesn't matter what it is, the analogy was apt. Basically, it means individual choices and how they could come together. Unfortunately, when dealing with diametrically opposed views, rarely the twain shall meet.

I have issues with the concept of tolerance, because I infer it as disapproval with a mask. Where is the acceptance? It goes out the window when people force their own beliefs on each other as opposed to that dialectic I referred to earlier. An example of forcing is to restrict funding to those who need it based on the lawmaker's own beliefs. Then again, aren't we being forced upon either way as taxpayers? Or, is a proper society tenet to collectively pay for our individual freedoms? Is that a fundamental right, or one implied in the Constitution? We have a fundamental right to healthcare that will keep us alive and prosperous, but the Constitution grants us a right to say whatever we want even if it is hurtful and incites violence. See, there is no clear answer once we start picking away at it. So there it goes back to my (of mine and others) original assertion that it is a medical procedure, it should be just that and not have an ism tailing it. I know this is about the defining or allusion of re-defining what rape is, but I wonder how with one flick of the wrist, it creates another shade of gray in the victim's world.

Peeling off the layers of that onion burns my eyes.
Pedant, democracy and freedom are often mistakenly assumed to be easy. Many resent the amount of work that's needed to maintain them in working order. (I'm not saying you do. You seem up to some lively discussion, at least.) I think the onion example is good because people have learned that it's worth using onions as a food even if indeed manipulating them during preparation can have painful side-effects.

And as to tolerance vs. acceptance, sadly, while there is a difference it's pretty much impossible to legislate it in a free society. For more discussion on this elusive matter, you might enjoy the right column boxed text in my 2008 article Whatever Should Be, Should Be.
a rose is a rose, rape is rape
Elijah, no argument from me. Thanks for visiting.
I wish this was on the cover as an EP. I am still parsing through the debates - all of which are amazingly coherent on two touchy subjects. I need to read through again before responding as a person who works in rape/crisis and before that worked in a reproductive health clinic. Two VERY different things end up being discussed, always, but it seems to me that rape and abortion being conflated is always troublesome. I'll say more, soon, but thanks, Kent, for posting something so rational and thanks to all the commentors for civil debate on such a personal subject.
Ok - plunging in, no guarantee of coherence. Re-defining rape to disclude abortion as a medical option seems to be the issue. That's truly bait and switch, and also, an ugly and apt metaphor of being "backdoor" politics.
I can tell you that my organization is on a first call basis for anyone who arrives at a hospital who has been sexually assaulted, and that our protocols, working with SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) nurses involves advice about Plan-B ( a high dose of basically birth control) as well as phrophylactic drugs to prevent HIV. The survivor has a choice, throughout, to state what she wants in terms of an exam and anything else that is offered.
So, the assumption is that a woman who has been raped and discovers that she is pregnant can have funding for abortion. It's impossible to prove rape in most courts (there are exceptions if there are witnesses, but that's rare) without the "rape kit" which is only performed by SANE nurses, so...the onus is on the woman to prove rape in order to get an abortion?
By the time she gets out of court, that fetus will be in elementary school. And I doubt judges want to see a huge caseload of trials for abortions. obviously, it would not happen because nobody gets a day in court in nine months unless he/she is arrested.
So, basically, a woman must prove rape to get an abortion is an impossible scenario.
As a reproductive health counselor I prevented thousands of abortions. It's called birth control, and since I can't prevent sex (God even failed at that) I was happy to dipense all manners of birth control. Plan-B was not yet over the counter, so we were one of the places to get it, after a 10 minute one on one counseling session. I counseled women about taking Plan-B.
I counseled young women to think more deeply and to come back -
or not - after learning they were pregnant. I never, ever encourage anyone to do anything they don't want to do.
Strange how abortion and rape could ever be conflated as similar issues.
But I see the backroom, always.
Aim, my understanding is that the proof is only difficult because of the burden of proof—the degree of certainty required in order to involve the government in asserting that someone else has responsibility to a degree requiring punishment. Since no one stands accused, such a strict degree of certainty is needless and only compounds the injury to the victim.
Pedant, I skipped the first question you had asked about selling out a partner. That answer is simple: The same question exists even if no such fantasy had occurred. People are already put in the awkward position of potentially selling out a partner even for normal (consenting) situations in order to gain access to an abortion. That's bad enough. The scenario you cite is just a subset of that. The specific details you cite only blur it since your scenario already presumes consent.
Exactly, Kent - which means given gestation that none of these cases would go to trial.
I also find it funny, myself, that the notion of a safe and legal medical procedure is, in fact, accessible. It's not. But I could truly rant right now...anyway, I wrote my own post about abortion and rape. Thanks for the inspiration, as weird as that sounds!