“In Cases of Rape and Incest…”

CAUTION: As indicated by the title, this is a blog on a sensitive topic.…
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“In Cases of Rape and Incest…”

 

The way we treat something often becomes the way we feel about it. Traditional religions knew this—bowing to the altar, kneeling in the middle of the creed. Just saying things with our mouths can alter how we think and feel deep within. That was the point of liturgy and tradition and custom—not to express attitudes, but to create them. They did it, because it works.

 

These are positive emotions—but it works even more strongly for negative emotions. That is how bullying works too—peers despise the bullied kid because they are already pressured to mock and ostracize that kid, and then, once they have, the feelings follow, to validate what has already been done. Nazis forcing citizens to spit in the Jew’s face…scared and cowed, the citizens cooperate—and then learn to hate, because they have done it. Guards in prisons, forcing fellow prisoners to inform on or torture other prisoners—first they do unwilling, and then with relish. There is no prior hatred, but after caving, it grows.

 

First you are forced to….and after doing it, then you feel and believe it. Peer pressure on the playground, on the school bus, in the dingy cell. It is all the same. Treat something as “degraded” for completely external reasons (e.g. not getting your own face slammed into the pavement)…and soon, you hate and despise. That is how children bully in the schoolyard, and how young of the Cultural Revolution were able to urinate on grandmothers, and how racist lynch mobs hanged men.

 

Or something we can all have done—after the rains, the earthworms on the sidewalk. Lift them up carefully onto the grass—one emotion about the worms comes into you. Or step on them with your boots, smushing into indistinguishable heaps of mush on the concrete—another emotion about them comes.

 

“But I believe in abortion in cases of rape and incest…”

 

“The most reasonable position in the world, why, even most rightwing conservatives admit to that. Who could be so unthinkable as to outlaw abortion in those cases?”

 

Niniel the young bride faces down a dragon, the nemesis of her wounded husband. Headstrong and passionate, she runs to his aid, as he lies unconscious, burned, poisoned, and bleeding. He is a cursed man. As she weeps, the dragon taunts her with her husband’s past.

 

In the confusion of warfare and the twists of fate, her husband Turin had inadvertently destroyed many whom he had loved. And she, his wife, pregnant, is his full sister. (Neither of them realized. During the chaos of war, he had been separated from their parents before she was even born). “Thou shalt know him: a stabber in the dark, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and a curse unto his kin, Turin son of Hurin! But worst of all his deeds thou shalt feel in thyself.”

 

The worst of all his deed thou shalt feel in thyself.” The dragon’s last words refer to her pregnancy. When Niniel hears this–she throws herself off of a cliff, to make an end to it all, this accursed abomination growing within her body.

 

This is the most ghastly painful thing Tolkien ever wrote. The worst part of it wasn’t Turin mistakenly killing his best friend in a panic, the worst part wasn’t him giving away the secret of the stronghold, the worst part wasn’t him unwillingly stealing the heart of his rescuer’s fiancee, wasn’t even him marrying his sister and their conceiving a child—the worst part was her throwing herself off of that cliff, believing the words of the serpent. That she was an accursed thing, a defiled thing, nurturing an unspeakable abomination within her body. The dragon died triumphant: she died loathing her own flesh and the life nurtured within her.

 

It is those words of the serpent–that your body is an accursed thing, that what is in your womb is the dreadful fruit of an unspeakable crime.

 

Violated? Your sexuality—yes, it has been. Your identity as a woman and a lover (or sister or daughter), yes, it has been violated by rape or incest.

 

But your very being? Your being as a mother? To say “abortion in cases of rape and incest,” implies “kill the abomination!” It is to say that your body is somehow defiled by this *unclean function*….of nurturing life itself. That your very being as a mother, the natural functioning of your body, as your ovaries release the egg, and the uterine wall accepts the zygote, implanting it, providing nutrients to grow, the placenta forming…that your very biological nature, your very fundamental innate biological nature…is defiled. It is saying that you are defiled, accursed, and must be *purged* of the unspeakable crime. Must destroy, destroy at least this function of life. To throw yourself like Niniel, because of this worst of crimes, within your body?

 

As if your body, your womb, by conceiving and bearing life…is somehow *cooperating* in a dark crime, in a gross sin.

 

“You defiled creature your very flesh nurturing that monstrosity, that horrible monstrosity, that thing that should never have been!”

 

I know that is not what some advocates intend when they say “abortion in cases of rape and incest”. But intentionally or unintentionally, it makes no difference in effect. Like the kid stepping on the earthworms on the sidewalk—that is what it becomes. Actions make feelings. Especially actions of killing.

 

This is the message of modernity, which advocates abortion: pregnancy, itself, can be a shame. Pregnancy, itself, can be a defilement.

 

And THAT is a damned lie. A damned, accursed, serpent’s lie.

 

Because: “We believe…in the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life.” Those of faith have been reciting that in the ancient creed for the past seventeen centuries. The HOLY Spirit. He gives life. Not the rapist, not the lover, not the woman, not the girl. Whatever acts, sins, and crimes have gotten things to that point… Life is ultimately given by God—by a Holy God. Who is all that is Good and Pure and Love.

 

Whatever foul crimes and brutalities have forced that situation….ultimately, when the zygote is created as a living member of the human species, when the nuclei of the gametes fuse and the cell membranes become impervious, dividing cells into a little blastocyst, to implant and become blood and cord… that LIFE is an act of the Holy Spirit.

 

Every conception is holy. Every pregnancy of a human being, imago dei, is holy.

 

Your body is not an accursed thing for “making” life, for conceiving “the rapist’s child.”

 

This lie…believed and accepted by our society in the name of compassion and justice…violates victims of sexual abuse to the core of their very being. Because it violates your being more fundamentally and more profoundly. It is even more degrading, for it takes your very physical, biological identity and names it as an accursed, abominable thing.

 

Yes, we live in a world plagued by unspeakable evils. It’s a cursed world. But we are not accursed. We are the Image of God, every one of us, sacred. Every one of us is created by the Holy Spirit, the giver of Life.

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