Much could be said here. However, I will merely raise several issues that have not received enough attention in the mass media.
First of all, I think the main issue here is power — power over women by men, power in terms of getting votes to attain political power. My position on abortion is that of the Episcopal Church — that abortion is wrong with three exceptions: rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. I believe that abortion should be a woman's choice; hopefully after a discussion with clergy, family, doctors, etc.
It seems that men like Todd Akin cannot accept abortion under any circumstances. He and Paul Ryan attempted in 2011 to legislate a "personhood" law, which would give a fertilized egg all the rights of being a person. Such a law, if passed by the federal government, logically, would make abortion murder. It seems to me that these two representatives want power over women, limiting their options to zero if pregnant.
Now, with the uproar over Akin's comments, Paul Ryan has changed his position on abortion to include the exception for rape, which now is also Mitt Romney's position. The obvious reason for the change is because of the fear of losing the votes of women.
Mitt Romney was pro-choice while governor, but changed his position when running for president. This may have been a result of a crisis of conscience, as he claimed, or a desire to attain the nomination of a political party which wants to overturn Roe v. Wade.
As I write, there is a debate within the Republican platform committee about whether to include any exceptions in a hard-line abortion position. Will the ideology stay pure, or will it be adjusted in order to attain more votes from women?
When does life begin? Any biologist would argue that cells which begin dividing after conception is "life." If dividing cells were found on Mars, the headline would be "life found on Mars."
But when do dividing cells become a person with, to use a religious term, a soul? That has never been agreed upon by the Church or anybody else. Aquinas thought that in the third trimester the baby became a person with a soul. We are talking about a process, not one magical moment when a fetus becomes a person with a soul.
Babies can survive after 28 weeks in the womb. So, the intent of personhood legislation should be taken seriously, although calling a fertilized egg a person seems to stretch a valid point.
At lunch the other day with a friend, we talked about these issues, and he argued that if my daughter got raped, the government should force her to have that child. My reply was that this victimizes a woman twice. Secondly, I pointed out, who knows what gets transmitted genetically by a rapist to a fetus? Not to speak of what incest would do to a child genetically. Once again, in all cases, and especially in cases of rape and incest, the choice should be the woman's choice.
The Democrats are using the politics of abortion to attain votes just as the Republicans are. I wish we could keep such personal decisions out of our politics.
Where the politics of abortion do come into play, however, is in the selection of the next Supreme Court judge. Chances are that President Obama would appoint a judge that would not vote to overcome Roe v. Wade, and Romney would appoint a judge who would.
Perhaps that is the biggest issue in the upcoming election — not war, not jobs, not the deficit, but who will control a pregnant woman: herself, or the government, comprised of mostly men.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist