Aug 24, 2012

Illegitimate Responses to Illegitimate Rape Remarks

Denny BurkBy Denny Burk

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I have been out of pocket this week and until now unable to comment on the controversy surrounding Rep. Todd Akin’s remarks about rape. As a result, much of what needs to be said in response to this enormous gaffe has already been said by others. Nevertheless, I would add one observation to the discussion that has been bugging me all week.

Todd Akin

Politics vs. Principle

I have been disappointed by Republican responses to Akin that are driven more by politics than by pro-life principles. Over and over, I have seen politicos trying to dissociate the Republican presidential nominee from Akin’s “illegitimate rape” remarks by emphasizing that Mitt Romney supports abortion rights for women who become pregnant through rape. This is, of course, Mitt Romney’s position, but it is not a pro-life position. Nor is it a Christian perspective on life.

Christian pro-lifers weep with those who are victims of sexual violence. We name it as an unspeakable evil and condemn it in no uncertain terms (see Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s helpful piece in CT). We also believe that children conceived as a result of rape are precious human beings created in the image of God. One cannot erase the evil or the trauma of sexual assault by killing these children.

If one is willing to deny the humanity of children conceived through violence, one cannot consistently defend the humanity of children conceived through consensual sex. To deny the humanity of the one is to deny the humanity of the other. That is why pro-lifers support the right to life of all unborn children. It’s not how children are conceived that makes them image-bearers. It’s that they are conceived that makes them members of the human community whose lives deserve to be protected in law.

I am concerned that these pro-life principles not be cast aside in the rush to defend the Republican nominee for president. Those who do cast them aside are profoundly wrong and are giving up the grounds upon which to defend any unborn human life. Legitimate pro-lifers respond out of principle, not out of political expediency.