A few weeks ago, Congressman Ron Paul sat down with Piers Morgan (who took over Larry King's spot on CNN because, near as I can tell, he has a British accent) and departed from his usual “no abortion under any circumstances” position. The following exchange occurred:
MORGAN: You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped -- and I accept it's a very unlikely thing to happen -- but if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?
PAUL: No. If it's an honest rape, that individual should go immediately to the emergency room. I would give them a shot of estrogen....
Congressman Paul later added: "If you talk about somebody coming in and they say, 'Well, I was raped and I'm seven months pregnant and I don't want to have anything to do with it,' it's a little bit different story."
This is not the place to discuss in detail Congressman Paul's politics, which are often very controversial and, generally, far from mainstream. We will volunteer this: if President Obama's positions on civil liberties (e.g., the Patriot Act) were closer to Paul's, many of the president's disappointed supporters would be less disappointed.
Ron Paul sometimes words things in a peculiar way. His use of the term "honest rape" caused some pundits on the extreme left to have a conniption.
Jessica Wakeman, who writes for the Frisky, said this: "The thing I would love to know about people who claim women lie about rape all the time is whether any of them actually know someone who has lied about a rape."
Wait, wait, wait. Did Congressman Paul ever say women lie about rape "all the time"? We would have heard about that one, right? It would have been discussed a little bit by the news media, don't you think? In fact, has any rational person ever suggested that? This is the nation's leading site that gives voice to persons wrongly accused of heinous sex allegations, and we don't say women lie about rape "all the time." But nice straw man, Ms. Wakeman. The bottom line for her is that "Old White Men," as Wakeman derisively calls them, obviously are not entitled to opinions about things that affect women of child bearing years.
Over at the Maddow Blog, someone named Steve Benen even took offense at Morgan's question. "Morgan is working under the assumption that the daughters and granddaughters of prominent politicians are 'unlikely' to face a sexual attacker. Reality doesn't work that way."
Really? Those daughters and granddaughters are likely to face a sexual attacker, Mr. Benen?
Well, it's clear where Mr. Benen is coming from, isn't it?
Of course it's Paul's response that gets Mr. Benen's blood boiling. ". . . it's Paul's response that's truly offensive. Victims of an 'honest rape' should be allowed to go to the emergency room, but everyone else -- presumably victims of dishonest rape? -- should expect to have their reproductive rights curtailed under Ron Paul's vision of government power."
We are not going to get into the abortion debate here. But every rational person knows what Ron Paul meant. One of the ways that persons who favor legal abortion demonize persons who do not is to point out that the latter would not allow abortions even when the woman has been raped, akin to Morgan's "gotcha" question to Paul. Paul surprised Morgan by saying that although he opposes abortion, he favors an exception for rape. Implicit in that exception is that the claim must be an actual rape, not a false rape claim, so it was arguably redundant for Paul to add that it must be an "honest" rape.
Mr. Benen harrumphed: "I'll look forward to Paul or his campaign elaborating on what, exactly, 'honest rape' refers to, but the implication seems to be that American women are not to be trusted when it comes to rape claims."
Sigh. No, Mr. Benen, Congressman Paul's implication is that American women who lie about rape shouldn't get an abortion. Some women do lie about rape, you know, Mr. Benen. Spend a few weeks reading through this blog if you don't know that.
Benen continues: "Those who qualify as rape victims under this Republican's standards would be eligible for emergency contraception; those who failed to meet his standards would not. Who gets to decide? Apparently, Paul and other policymakers."
Sigh again. So, we're going to have "rape panels" to decide if women tell the truth? Doesn't that sound a lot like Sarah Palin's "death panels"? I never heard Mr. Paul say what Benen suggests.
Mr. Paul actually gave one example where, he thinks, a woman probably wouldn't qualify for an abortion. "If you talk about somebody coming in and they say, 'Well, I was raped and I'm seven months pregnant and I don't want to have anything to do with it,' it's a little bit different story."
Whether Congressman Paul's thinking on this point can stand up to scrutiny, I don't know. But, arguably, since the woman would not be reporting rape to police, she should have less reason to wait to come in for an abortion if, in fact, she was raped.
Mr. Benen continues: "Paul, a staunch of opponent of abortion rights, is pushing a line that's tragically common on the right: women's claims are not to be taken at face value, and it's up to government to draw the lines."
Oh, my, oh, my. I think I would have heard a "line" about rape that's "tragically common," since I follow this area closely. In fact, Mr. Benen has it exactly backwards. The law-and-order right is very quick to believe women when they say they were raped, the civil liberties of the presumptively innocent men they accuse be damned. Bob Dole was one of the architects of VAWA, which bought into the now-debunked two percent canard.
If I were cynical, I'd say that what's really going on here is typical feminist straw man building: how dare anyone suggest that some women lie about rape.