Right on cue, Mike Huckabee’s insistence that rape doesn’t justify killing a child even when the victim is a child too has inspired a chorus of condemnation from abortion supporters:
- Cosmopolitan: “Paraguay’s draconian policy is now also a chilling preview of Huckabee’s America.”
- Jezebel: “it still strikes as immensely cruel to defend ‘no exception’ policies when faced with the real suffering of actual women (or child, in this case).”
- Daily Kos: “Anyone who has a daughter, was a daughter, wants a daughter, or knows a daughter should grab a pitchfork and head right over to the Huckabee campaign. Time to demand that these creepy Republicans get the hell away from our children.”
- Uproxx: “Huckabee does not appear to register the very real danger to the 10-year-old girl in carrying this pregnancy to term.”
- Wonkette: “Huck went retro, reaching back to one of his all-time classics: ‘Screw you, rape victims.’”
- ReverbPress: “Mike Huckabee just proved that conservatives care more about fetuses than they do about children.”
It is perfectly natural that an 11-year-old rape victim would further add to the already-intense emotional discomfort with forcing a rape victim to give birth. And it was inevitable that partisans for abortion would see this Paraguay case as a golden opportunity to discredit pro-lifers as heartless fanatics.
We have, of course, made the case against the rape exception many times. We have even shared stories of rape survivors near Mainumby’s age, whose decision to choose life led to joy instead of misery.
On the merits, Huckabee has the more moral and compassionate argument: we must show as much sympathy and support to rape victims as possible, but murdering someone blameless in the ordeal is an injustice that simply cannot be a part of that support. Indeed, for proof that the criticism is more emotional than intellectual, look no further than how much of it blasts Huckabee for putting fetuses above “actual” children—as if the baby isn’t also an actual child.
But while it will fall on deaf ears for those who simply oppose Huckabee’s stance because they’re pro-abortion ideologues, there is another element at work here that the more open-minded in their audiences should rethink.
As part of his answer, he said that “there are no easy answers here,” which is a noteworthy reminder, because implicit in so many abortion defenses is the assumption that there is an easy answer for everything—that there are no trade-offs to worry about, never a cost to the right outcome, and getting what you want always leaves everyone else happy (at least, everyone worth noticing).
Life doesn’t work that way, and to delude oneself into believing otherwise—to elevate that delusion to a guiding principle—is not just misguided, it is a rejection of maturity, adulthood, and any serious conception of responsibility. Whether one party’s interests outweigh the other’s may be debatable, depending on the situation, but whether there are two parties is not. In what other context is it respectable to pretend whomever your benefit is harming simply doesn’t exist? That’s not compassion–it’s narcissism in its purest form.
There are emotional reasons why many Americans who are not abortion zealots are uncomfortable with banning abortion in rape cases. We can have a serious, respectful discussion with them. We cannot, however, have a productive discussion with those who aren’t honest enough to extend the same basic decency to one person involved in the situation that they demand for the other.