With astonishing regularity, media voices that won’t spend more than a minute examining Barack Obama’s support for keeping sex-selection abortion legal, or his opposition to a law guaranteeing equal treatment for children born alive after failed abortions, chime in feverishly when a Republican lawmaker speaks inaccurately about abortion and rape. Representative Todd Akin’s remarks prompted a CNN headline that abortion is now at the "center" of the 2012 campaign. If CNN means a full debate on the issue, so be it, despite this unfortunate entry point. More likely, there will be little real debate.
Rape is a grievous crime, always and everywhere, and the burdens imposed on women so assaulted dissuade many even from reporting the crime. Pregnancy does result from rape. Some women (more than we recognize) are able, through acts of unfathomable grace, to bear children conceived in so terrible a way. These women are heroic. Their children — read anything on the subject by remarkable people such as Ethel Waters and Rebecca Kiessling — are heroic as well, speaking to a world where political advantage, not profound compassion, is cherished first.
If some media figures use this occasion only to skewer one man, another chance will have been lost to move the abortion debate — all of it — to higher ground.
Editor's Note: This was originally published on August 21 at National Review Online.