Abortion is fine as long as rape is “legitimate”.

In the “Moderated Abortion Debates” Facebook group, one of my pro-choice friends linked to this story.


“A Republican lawmaker in Missouri is introducing a bill that will require women to receive consent from the man who impregnated them before getting an abortion, Mother Jones‘s Molly Redden reports.

State Representative Rick Brattin filed the bill, which states that “[n]o abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion.”

The two exceptions to the requirement are “in cases where the woman upon whom the abortion is to be performed or induced was the victim of rape or incest,” or if the woman has “a notarized affidavit attesting to the fact” that the man who impregnated her is deceased.

Brattin told Mother Jones that while the bill allows for an exception in the case of rape, the woman seeking an abortion will have to prove that she has been raped.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” he said. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped,’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.”

He insisted that he was using the phrase “legitimate rape” differently from former Missouri representative Todd Akin, who claimed that women cannot become pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because her body will “shut the whole thing down.”

“I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed,” he said by way of clarification. “That’s just common sense.””

I am baffled about what the intention is behind this law. Will it result in fewer abortions? I think not. The bill is flawed in so many ways.

First, a man who gets a woman pregnant has already given his “consent” to whatever the woman does. Whether her “choice” is moral or legal is entirely beside the point. If a man is pro-choice, he will gladly sign any consent form stating his approval of the abortion. If he is pro-life, he won’t be having sex with a woman who will desire an abortion. This law is so useless that I would not vote for or against it even if I was asked to.

Second, let us consider the problem of proving that a pregnancy was caused “legitimate” rape. How is this to be done? Even if a woman can prove by some evidence that she was raped, can she prove that it was “legitimate”?

I did a Google search for the word “legitimate” and got the following:

adjective: legitimate

conforming to the law or to rules.
“his claims to legitimate authority”
synonyms: legal, lawful, licit, legalized, authorized, permitted, permissible, allowable, allowed, admissible, sanctioned, approved, licensed, statutory, constitutional;
informallegit, street legal

Given this definition, my understanding of this is that as long as the rape conformed to the laws or rules of a society, then it should be just fine to abort children conceived because of that rape. Such would give people a cause to legalize rape. Since they have already legalized abortion, I guess the next step is legalizing rape too. I am not joking, it is possible for such a thing to happen. If there is anything I have faith in, it is human stupidity.

The third problem however is that if someone is against abortion(as I am) because it is murder of a baby, then no justification for it is “legitimate”. If someone is pro-choice and believes it is a “woman’s right to choose”, then the father’s consent is “illegitimate”. I think this bill is stupid but is a great thought experiment. I would love to know what everyone else thinks about it. It can still reveal much about our beliefs to talk about it.

Since I am the anti-choice determinist, I will also try to explain how this relates to the illusion of free will. Even if a woman has a “right” to choose abortion, it does not follow that she has the “freedom” to choose. No matter what the law says, the genetics and conditioning of the mother determine her choice.

If she believes abortion is wrong, she will not choose it of her own will. She may be forced into it by her husband, parents, or economic situation. However, if she is caused to do so, then she cannot logically be held responsible for it.

If the mother believes that there is nothing wrong with abortion, then she will seek abortion if she gets pregnant. Whether she was raped or not would have nothing to do with it. She may be convinced during that time that abortion is killing of a child and may be talked out of abortion, but that too would not be a freely willed decision.

In either case, all of the determining factors that caused her beliefs about abortion all were completely out of her control. Even more importantly, her mind is determined about it before she is pregnant in the first place. It is for this reason that I do not believe women should be punished for having abortions. Instead, any punishments inflicted at all should be on either the fathers or the abortionists. Without them, abortion is impossible.

The overall point is that we don’t have a free will and cannot choose contrary to our nature and nurture. A proper understanding of this is required to understand what laws will or will not make a difference. It is all about what we believe will be the effect of such laws. Another name for this is consequentialism. The simple fact that there are consequences for our actions is what morality is grounded in. It is only because an action causes pain that it is wrong in the first place.

And since our “choices” have consequences, we have no choice but to choose our actions based on the effects that we believe will happen if we do X or don’t do X. So our choices are not “up to us” but are determined by the causal past and the causal future which has not happened but that we imagine. What we imagine is also determined by our worldview which is a combination of our genetics and condition. We don’t choose our beliefs. They are forced on us just as much as our existence is forced on us. It is for this reason that I don’t leave people alone to freely choose. Such a thing is impossible.

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