Cross-posted with permission from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice blog.
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice issued a joint statement this week about the offensive remarks made recently by Congressman Todd Akin. Below is the full statement of Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:
In the statement following his “off-the-cuff” remarks about victims of rape, Congressman Akin misunderstands the Biblical meaning of the word “justice.” He talks about bringing rapists to justice, but he apparently doesn’t realize that true justice requires that a woman who has been raped have every resource available to her as she rebuilds her life after trauma. One of those resources must be the option to end a pregnancy caused by her rapist.
A woman with a pregnancy as the result of rape is facing one of the most difficult and confusing situations imaginable. Congressman Akin’s initial comments on the subject were a stunning display of insensitivity and medical ignorance that have rightly garnered criticism from people all across the political spectrum. However, his thin clarification—and the willingness of some media commentators to defend his remarks—is reason for us to be even more outraged at his actions and the ideology behind them.
Indeed, the larger problem remains, which is that Rep. Akin and his conservative allies in Congress and state legislatures stand by their desire to limit the health care options a pregnant woman has available to her. In all cases, but especially when the pregnancy is a result of rape, this kind of interference is unconscionable from my perspective as a pastor. The cardinal rule of providing support to victims of abuse is finding ways to give power back, as a counter to the power they’ve had taken away. If Rep. Akin’s views were enacted, I’d have to tell a woman I’m counseling that she had no options, because politicians had voted to take them away. It pains me to think of how devastating that could be, having to tell her that she must continue a rape pregnancy to term. I doubt very much that she would feel any of the “deep empathy” Rep. Akin supposedly has for people in her situation.
If Rep. Akin is truly empathetic, and wants to support justice, then he should ensure that a pregnant victim of rape has options. It will be a great day when more public officials—regardless of their own personal views—are willing to support a woman’s access to whatever healthcare she needs.