It’s Junk Science by Brian Froelich

Let’s be honest. It’s not about the junk science. There were some crazy things said recently but they were crazy with a purpose.

Republican Rep. Todd Aikin (who is a policy blood brother to Republican Reps. Paul Ryan and Chris Smith) effectively said a woman’s subconscious can determine if she gets pregnant. He said as a result of a rape a women’s body can shut down its reproductive mechanisms. Of course this is junk science. And Republicans quickly reacted to the predictable public uproar by castigating Rep. Aikin and seeking his resignation from the race. (Two interesting exceptions to that list were former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and current Congressional candidate Rep. Chris Smith. Huckabee by his stout defense and Smith by his silence.)

But this had nothing to do with Republicans’ regard for science. In fact science is held in very low regard in the Republican party. This is best exemplified by the fact that the Republicans appointed Rep. Aikin to the Congressional Science Committee.

The real subject of Aikin’s discussion was not science but rape. And his real purpose was to delegitimize and trivialize rape. His implication is that, since pregnancies don’t really happen by rape, then it can’t be a real or serious reason for seeking an abortion. (Stated otherwise, a woman seeking an abortion for rape is probably lying about really being raped.) Further, his more insidious point is that there must be degrees and types of rape. Hence there must be ’legitimate’ and illegitimate rapes, etc. Of course this is a merely a logical progression from Rep Chris Smith’s proposal to distinguish ‘forcible rapes’ from, apparently, unforced rapes.

Why is it necessary to distinguish between types of rape? There must be a reason. And the reason is simple. Abortion is a simply defined act. If there are types and degrees of rape then rape is not a simply defined act. Rape is not rape. There must be a relative scale where some rapes are worse and some better than others. Some rapes might be important and legitimate and some illegitimate and unimportant. So if you are raising rape as a reason to do, or not do, something, you must further define and defend that rational by further classifying your rape into those categories. And there can be reasonable differences of opinion where different rapes fall on a relative scale. (Like science!)  So, as an example, simple rape alone is not a reason for claiming a simple right to abortion. And once you are on that slippery slope you have lost your moral ground. Rape cannot stand against abortion.

All of this has exactly one purpose- ‘personhood’. Todd Akin, Chris Smith, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and the Republican Party all support a constitutional amendment on personhood. A personhood amendment says “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed”. It says that ‘life’ begins, and is sacred and protected, at conception. It requires the logical destruction of abortion. It abides no exceptions. Rape is not an exception, incest is not an exception, a woman’s health is not an exception. Consequences be dammed. Only the imminent death of the woman can potentially stand astride this mighty and sacred right. Personhood rights also call into legal question many existing infertility, reproductive, and contraception practices

Of course all of that makes sense if you hold that religious position and are willing to legally impose it on women that do not hold it. So, in the end, it is not about junk science it is about religious and personal freedom. Republicans Chris Smith and Todd Aikin believe that women have the legal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness- unless they are pregnant. Based on these Republican religious beliefs, at conception women forfeit their legal rights to someone else. The real point of Aikin’s discussion was that women have ceretain rights and the Republicans want to take them away

War on!

Brian Froelich, Democratic Candidate for US Congress (NJ, 4th Dist.)

Brian Froelich is running for Congress (NJ 4th District) as a Democrat against the author of the ‘forcible rape’ language, Republican Chris Smith. Brian obtained advanced degrees at Boston College (BS, Finance), Rutgers University (MBA, Accounting), and Seton Hall Law School (JD).  He is a lifelong New Jersey resident, lives with his wife or 45 years in Spring Lake, and has five children and twelve grandchildren. He is an entrepreneur and has been a successful businessman in both large and small enterprises for decades. Brian has also been active in (and on the Boards of) several civic, business, and charitable organizations.

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Categories: Politics, Power relations, Rape Culture, Sexual Violence

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. While I almost totally agree with you, I’m not sure I see any connection with religion here. The blog is Feminism and Religion.

    • I see the connection in terms of this political discussion around the definition of rape and legislation about abortion as coming from a religious perspective that certain people then want to imposed on *all* women through legislation. Brian finally ties that point in on his last paragraph.

      And yes, I’m with you that I agree with most of what Brian writes, my wish would be that his language was more consistent with his feminist take. Using the rhetoric of war, as he does at the very end, is more of the same and does not reflect a more feminist vision of how we live and relate with one another in this world. No more ‘wars’ please of any kind. Resistance, revolutions, re-imaginations – all that – Yes! War no more.

      • Xochitl, I agree with you that ‘War’ is not a good word or one to be used lightly. But it is not one that I injected into the conversation. It is one that was being used and bandied in the public conversation on the subject. While I’ll ask forgiveness for taking advantage of that dialogue, I do think that the religious/political agenda that is being pushed is really and extremely dangerous- for women and men

  2. This is a completely on-target attack. I’m not a New Jersyite (if that is the right term), but I hope you win. And thank you for supporting the dignity of women.

  3. Thank you, Brian, for your response. I do appreciate it. And yes, absolutely, the rhetoric of war is already present and commonly used when people talk about the current situation around these topics as the “War on Women” – I definitely understand that. Thank you for your generous response. And yes, it is indeed a frightening and dangerous religious/political agenda that is coming out of the Republican party – I agree with you there one hundred percent!

  4. Thank you Brian Froelich for your response, care and dedication towards the American people; if you truly are here to help women gain their rights as equal citizens then I will listen to you further. As of right now your words leave a void within me; and nothing you said made a difference. I still cannot shake the feeling that we run around in circles with this subject of abortion. I do not hear the voices of women in political power in this country speaking on behalf of women worldwide on the issues women have experienced for centuries. I feel like I am a hundred years old listening to the same nonsense, same rhetoric, same excuses. It feels absurd that we want a solution to this problem and the problem is an outright emancipation from the controls of social, political and religious inequality.

    Inequality is the factors plaguing our society; let every responsible male make a conscientious action to have a vasectomy after he has fathered the amount of children desired by marriage. Young uneducated males can be stopped after they have fathered more than one child without financial support. If I was to hear males in power come up with laws that suggest the curtailing for men and their sexual irresponsibility’s, then I would say the problem is being looked at holistically. Women cannot have children with women; so why are we only trying to stop a birth while in the womb?

    Let’s not have abortions; let’s start stopping sperm from entering the vagina irresponsibly. So before we start the crazy rhetoric on abortion; to do or not to do an abortion we can also change the laws and the sexual freedoms of men by enforcing some stricter laws on the fathering of children without financial support. There are millions of children suffering in the system now, hungry, abandoned, murdered, and neglected; who is voicing their rights; they come into this world of chaos and suffer needlessly! No one is prolife, just look around to what is happening to the children already here Mr. Froelich Sir!

    • PreistessRafi2000; Wow, where to begin. The simple answer is that limiting men’s rights is no more an answer to the problem than limiting women’s rights. Rights come with responsibilities. Sometimes people (men and women) ignore other peoples’ rights or their own responsibilities. That is the nature of the free will that God gave us. Beauty in the world is created when people exercise that free will in concert with God’s grace. Unfortunately evil and ugliness can come as quickly when that grace is ignored. Human existence is the circular struggle between those two possibilities. We have the ability to help the people and children of the world. We just have to each chose, as Bruce Springsteen sings, to ‘take care of our own’.

    • I think you are not giving enough credit where credit is due. He is clearly advocating for change here and yes, change is hard, but it is through our allies and friends, especially the men, now that women are no longer present in congress at record paces, that we have to rely on getting progressive voices heard and then, getting women re-elected to congress, so they can vote on issues about their bodies rather than the male electorate. However, we have to be pragmatic here, “in a perfect world,” we’d have a congress where it was 50/50 but we dont.

      And Barbara, religion is all over this post both within Aikin’s own beliefs and how he chose to express them.

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  1. The Dignified Life of Magdalene Rose: A Pro-Life Story? by Michele Stopera Freyhauf « Feminism and Religion

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