Concerned Women for America’s Condescending Treatment of Our Female Troops

See all our coverage of the Shaheen Amendment here.  To tell Concerned Women of America that our female troops are adults who can decide for themselves what is best for them, see this piece by Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation.

Concerned Women for America (CWA) revealed exactly how little concern they have for actual women, much less for America, this week when they sent out a letter attacking women who defend our country for having the nerve to believe they deserve full medical care after being raped. The mind-bogglingly vicious swipe at female soldiers had a couple of doozies, including the claim that allowing raped service members to access abortion “serves as a political distraction” from national security, as if it’s in the interest of national security to subject raped service members to forced childbirth. CWA also pretended to care about female troops with blather describing being raped and forced to bear a rapist’s child as merely “difficult circumstances” requiring “compassion and support,” as if they themselves aren’t putting servicewomen who’ve been raped in infinitely worse circumstances by limiting their access to abortion. (Perhaps Orwell should have lived to write a book about the doublespeak of anti-choicers.)

But in a letter dripping with congratulatory faux concern and naked disregard for female service members who have been raped, the most attention-grabbing quote was this:

Women deserve better than simply being given abortion as a ‘cure-all.

It’s particularly maddening to see such naked hatred and disregard for women presented as concern, in no small part because some people will claim that they actually see this condescending faux-concern as real concern. First of all, they frame woman as mindless animals. Abortions aren’t, in CWA’s eyes, “sought” or “requested” by rape victims. Women don’t, in their eyes, have agency and therefore never make decisions for themselves about what they want. No, women are “given” abortions. Women, in their eyes, have less moral agency than my cat, who certainly has the ability they don’t ascribe to women to ask for what she wants and needs.

Beyond that is the poor logic of this quote. Let’s take their reasoning and put it into different contexts, to see how hateful it is:

  • Mugging victims deserve better than to have their wounds tended as if it were some “cure-all.”
  • Heart attack victims deserve better than simply being given Pacemakers as a “cure-all.”
  • Laid-off workers deserve better than simply being given unemployment as a “cure-all.”
  • Diabetics deserve better than to simply be given insulin as a “cure-all.”
  • Elementary school children deserve better than simply being taught to read as a “cure-all.”

Even conservatives of the most simple-minded sort can hopefully see the logic failures in these constructions, but in case it’s not obvious, let me spell it out: You can give someone help in one area without it being a “cure-all.”  Sometimes help is a complex thing, and requires many steps, and only toddlers believe that every single problem should have a simple solution enacted within 10 minutes or less. Pacemakers and insulin are not a “cure-all” for illness, but they can mitigate the damage substantially. A laid-off worker isn’t “cured” because he has unemployment, but it helps hold him over until he can find a job. Children don’t know everything they need to know if they learn to read, but learning to read is an important first step. And, in the closest analogy to what CWA is demanding, it is true that sending someone injured in a mugging to a hospital doesn’t put the mugger in jail, but only a monster would think that taking care of immediate medical needs isn’t a major priority and part of a larger constellation of responses to a crime.

Anti-choicers would have you believe that aborting a rape-caused pregnancy somehow suggests that the crime of rape isn’t being taken seriously enough. In fact, CWA says this specifically, by claiming that aborting a rape-caused pregnancy somehow stops anyone from preventing the crime, punishing rapists, and is in fact somehow a “cover-up.” By their logic, if a mugger breaks a man’s arm, the hospital shouldn’t set it, because if he heals properly, that’s “covering up” the severity of the mugging. Justice is, in this mindset, only served if the victim’s pain is maximized.

Of course, in the real world, they don’t argue that mugging victims should be deprived of medical care, so what is it about rape victims that’s so different? Why do they believe that there’s no use in minimizing the damage to a rape victim?

It’s a combination of factors. For one thing, you have the tendency of conservatives to automatically disbelieve most women who claim to be raped or sexually harassed. As the reaction to the Herman Cain situation shows, victims of sexual abuse or violence are assumed either to be lying or have brought it on themselves. Those made pregnant from the abuse, therefore, are seen as eligible for forced childbirth as punishment for their deceitful and/or slatternly ways.

Additionally, you have the purity myth in play. As defined by Jessica Valenti, the purity myth is the belief that women’s “only real worth is their virginity and ability to remain ‘pure’.”  Abstinence-only, contraception-hostile CWA are big proponents of the purity myth that reduces a woman’s value to the number of penises that have touched her vagina. Your average service woman suffering a rape has probably had consensual sex outside of marriage before, so in the eyes of CWA she was already worthless. But even if not, the rape renders her not-a-virgin by their strict accounting, terminating any moral value she has. (That they tend to believe easily that rape victims either secretly consented or brought it on themselves only makes this leap easier to make.) Unlike mugging victims, who are still seen as human beings deserving of actual care after an assault, rape victims still have the whiff of “untouchable” on them. Of course CWA sees no reason not to force them to bear a rapist’s child. Unless you can find the “cure-all” of going back in time and un-raping the victim, she has no value and deserves no real care, in their blatant estimation.

The world is watching in horror as a woman in Afghanistan who was raped was jailed for it, and is now only being set free if she promises to marry her rapist. And we should be horrified at the fundamentalist logic that erases the value of a rape victim that way. Our fundamentalists at home wouldn’t force you to marry your rapist, of course. No, they just want to force you to have children with him. Same song, different note: fundies around the world working hard to make sure that once a rapists chooses you to rape, he owns you forever.  

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  • veggietart

    Well, women DO deserve better than an abortion after they’ve been raped–they desrve not to have been raped in the first place, but the misogynistic creeps at CWA don’t care about that.

  • crowepps

    Our fundamentalists at home wouldn’t force you to marry your rapist, of course. No, they just want to force you to have children with him.

    Apparently if a woman isn’t using her uterus, it’s available to anyone who wants to be a daddy, and the court will enforce his rights.

    The following action alert is a result of many bad examples of judges forcing mothers to let convicted sex offenders visit their children, sometimes overnight.  These programs of reunifying serial rapists/child molesters through prison visitation with their very young children, is done at the expense of taxpayer money.

    This legal analysis is well worth reading:

    Giving Birth to a “Rapist’s Child”: A Discussion and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections Afforded to Women Who Become Mothers Through Rape

    Approximately 25,000 women become pregnant through rape each year. … few states have passed laws to aid the large numbers of raped women who choose to raise their rape-conceived children. Without such laws, in most states, a man who fathers through rape has the same custody and visitation privileges to that child as does any other father of a child.

  • radicalhousewife

    Not ONE word about how to end the epidemic of rape in the armed forces.  NOT ONE!  Sure says a lot about where their “concerns” truly are.

  • amanda-marcotte

    The only solution conservatives ever seem to come up with for that problem is eliminating women’s access to military work. Since CWA has dropped that as a platform—they focus now on trying to exclude gay people instead—they aren’t exactly going to come up with a ton of ideas.

  • ahunt

    The only solution conservatives ever seem to come up with for that problem is eliminating women’s access to military work.


    This is absolutely the case, and will come to pass if the “personhood” of fertilized eggs becomes law of the land.

  • deardear

    …they deserve caring medical professionals who will not only treat them in the immediate aftermath, but stay with them throughout their entire recovery process, however long it may be. They deserve to be given the option of emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. Should they become pregnant, they deserve a chance to receive factual, unbiased pregnancy options counseling, as well as access to both abortion services and prenatal care. Should they opt to carry to term, they deserve access to resources that will fully facilitate what that decision entails, whether it’s adoption or parenting. They deserve family, friends, and partners who will listen, support, and guide, not judge or pressure. They deserve forensic investigators who will handle every reported rape seriously, the way the fire department responds to every reported fire, and will actively pursue the case instead of letting it go cold. They deserve courts that remember they are trying the accused, not the victim, and deliver verdicts based on the evidence against the former, not smears against and baseless assumptions about the latter.


    When pro-lifers advocate the idea that simply not having an abortion is a solution to every pregnancy that results from rape, but do little to nothing to address the real and varying needs of rape victims, they are failing women on the deepest level imaginable.

  • littleblue

    I agree.  I think fetal “personhood” is a total game changer, I don’t think women out there either know about it or believe it could actually happen.


    I read the Georgetown Law article Crowepps posted above and it makes me wonder if fetal “personhood” would make rape reports to the police, already statistically low, go lower.  The article talks about Russian Roulette style gamble with parental rights.   Under “personhood,” would raped women just not report a rape and then not list a father on the birth certificate (can you even do that anymore?) so that they don’t have to go through an (unsuccessful) attempt at conviction then only to have the rapist sue for paternity rights?  Could rapists who aren’t prosecuted then wait until the statute of limitations runs out, then seek paternity and parental rights?  Could there conceivably be a case where pregnant-from-rape women lose their maternal rights at the legal maneuverings of their attacker?

  • crowepps

    Could there conceivably be a case where pregnant-from-rape women lose their maternal rights at the legal maneuverings of their attacker?

    Easily.  All he would have to do is convince the court that she is resisting his “right to have a close and meaningful relationship with his child” and that her dislike/fear of him was ‘alienating’ the child from him and he’d have a new little victim all to himself.

    Most pedophiles get away with what they’re doing, because they grow their own victims and train them the abuse is normal.

    Why do you think they get so hysterical about the idea of sex education for kindergarteners?

    Why do you think they home school their kids?

    They don’t want anybody telling their kids about ‘bad touch’ and that daddy’s not supposed to be doing that.  It would spoil their ‘fun’.