Rape, Abortion, and "Personhood" The 2012 election cycle has brought a number of controversial declarations about rape to the fore. In 2011, Congressional Republicans sought to restrict Medicaid funding for abortions to "forcible" rape, in effect demanding that poor children who are victims of statutory rape should be forced to carry any pregnancies that result from the crime. Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan was a co-sponsor of that bill. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who ran for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, explained that if a rape was an "honest rape", he would overdose a woman with estrogen in order to compel a miscarriage. Missouri Senate candidate, and current State Representative Todd Akin, went so far as to suggest that if a rape is a "legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that down". Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who won his Republican primary race against conservative stalwart Sen. Richard Lugar, declared that a pregnancy resulting from rape is God's will. Washington congressional candidate Josh Koster (R-1) simply refers to "the rape thing", and suggests that it is inappropriate to abort a pregnancy resulting from rape because it is "putting more violence onto a woman's body". He apparently does not believe there is any violence about forcing a woman to carry a rape pregnancy to term and risk permanent physical injury from delivery. And all of this is because Republicans, who disdain birth control, oppose abortion. None of the anti-abortion advocates can explain what happens to a woman's status as a human being during pregnancy. Perhaps the problem is in our laws. Thus, a proposition. In the end, politics in effect is an art of compromise, and as much as I disdain the proposition of compromising on human rights, we need to recognize that however distasteful we find anti-abortion misogyny, there might well be some middle ground. Therefore: • Acknowledging "personhood" (life at conception), from the moment of conception, a woman's general human rights are suspended. Legislation affording them specific interim "maternal rights" will be crafted to preserve all but the woman's right to govern her own body and what takes place within it. • Any rape is to be charged as a federal civil rights crime carrying a minimum sentence of life in prison, in addition to state laws pertaining to rape itself. • Any pregnancy resulting from rape demands a second federal civil rights charge on behalf of the "person" created by the crime. • Any miscarriage or other loss of pregnancy resulting from rape brings a charge against the rapist of Murder in the First Degree With Special Circumstances. (As long as capital punishment is in effect, it is a viable sentence.) • The public trust, either federal or state, assumes paternal financial responsibility—i.e., child support—until the offspring reaches twenty-one years of age measured from conception; if the offspring is enrolled in college, the state obligation for educational assistance extends to the completion of a degree program. • Public responsibility for financial support is not severable by adoption or other transfer of child custody or parental authority. • Any rape of a minor female that results in pregnancy will oblige the public trust to rehabilitative, medical, educational, and other financial support of the rape survivor, as well as the offspring. • Any rape of an adult female that results in pregnancy will oblige the public trust to rehabilitative, medical, and other financial support of the rape survivor, as well as the offspring. • Any person found to be complicit in any rape will be charged as an accomplice to whatever crimes are charged against the rapist. (To wit, if the pregnancy miscarries, resulting in Murder 1 Special, the complicit individuals will be charged as accomplices to that crime.) • The public trust willingly accepts these and other responsibilities in exchange for its authority to suspend a woman's general human rights. And that's just for starters. There are other complications stemming from the "personhood" argument: • Any miscarriage or other termination of pregnancy must be investigated as a potential homicide. • Menstrual irregularity in heterosexually active women must be investigated to ensure that there has been no miscarriage. • Any person found to have contributed to miscarriage or other termination of pregnancy will be charged with Murder in the First Degree With Special Circumstances. One might certainly point out how complicated this is, and note the difficulty of enforcement. But these are not excuses for refusing to enforce the law. After all, this whole "personhood" suggestion of life at conception isn't just about abortion, right? If a pregnant woman continues to work, and miscarries after tripping over a plastic chair-mat and colliding with the desk, this must be investigated as a homicide. If a husband slams on the brakes to avoid a deer running into the road, and his pregnant wife suffers a seat-belt miscarriage, this must be investigated as a homicide. As is well-known, in questions of pregnancy and termination, I assert a dry-foot policy; as long as an organism exists inside another person, it is that other person's jurisdiction. Quite clearly, anti-abortion advocates disagree with this outlook. Very well; if they want "personhood" at conception, these are the minimum demands before that outcome is even negotiable. After all, it is also well-known that I am a voracious advocate of equal protection. If a blastocyst is a person, it has human rights. And if the excuse for not enforcing those rights is that it is too complicated or expensive, the lie of the "personhood" argument is exposed. Time for the pokies, indeed. So ... these are the minimum terms for getting my outlook to the table in order to negotiate "personhood". And when I say minimum, let there be no question: There will be no watering down of a rapist's culpability. There will be no dilution of the public trust's responsibility. We can pile onto the rapist and public trust as much as one thinks is necessary, but we will not diminish these minimal obligations. I find the whole "personhood" assertion unethical and distasteful. But if I am to compromise on these points at all, yes, I have a list of demands. My fellow liberals and feminist neighbors need not remind me that I am a man and have no standing to bargain for a woman's human rights. Nor do I need to remind them that I am a parent of a daughter, and responsible for defending and upholding her human condition. So I would note to my pro-choice neighbors: I know, I know. But this exercise is more intended for anti-abortion, pro-life, "personhood", or whatever else we might call it, advocates. Is this an ethical compromise, in their outlooks? Is it just? Or is this whole "personhood" thing really just about putting women back in their places?