How about we trade?
At the same time, and you don't know how this pains me, I'm starting to wonder about the paperwork necessary for me to emigrate to... well... shit, how about Belgium?
Why am I contemplating such a move? Hey, you tell me. You will recall when I recently commented on efforts in South Dakota to ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest. Well, it turns out I was a little too "harsh" on them Dakotans. It now appears, based on the fine reporting of the folks at PBS, that there is a potential exception:
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli [William Napoli, S.D. State Senator] says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.
BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Much like Digby, I wonder about this absolute clusterfuck of a legal standard. Does the victim have to be sodomized "as bad as you can possibly make it," or will just "really, really fucking bad," suffice? This, of course, raises the subsidiary question: how bad is sodomy when it is as bad as you can possibly make it? Have there been studies, or something? But we can save that for another time. Next, must she be a virgin? Does "virgin" mean abstaining from all sexual activity, like "heavy petting" and oral sex, or must she only avoid vaginal penetration? Now, what if being forced to carry the child isn't enough to threaten her life, but just exacerbate a case of PTSD, which will prevent her from being able to function normally? Is that good enough?
Never mind that, as the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) clearly shows, most rapes are not savage, brutal affairs committed by men jumping out of the bushes. No, most women are instead raped by a friend or acquaintence. Moreover, 87% of rapes in 2004 did not involve a weapon of any sort, so many rapes are not what you might call "violent," although they are certainly coercive. This is not, of course, to say that there aren't many rapes with and without weapons that are violent, but you see my point. Then, when you get into the fact that only 35.8% of rapes were reported to the police in 2004 (and I'm guessing a police report is necessary for Napoli's "exception") it becomes apparent just how heinous a lie William Napoli is telling. The average female rape victim was attacked by a friend or previous associate who did not use a weapon, and then the crime was subsequently not reported to the police. I'm guessing this person is about as far from what Napoli would consider a legitimate case for an exception as it's possible to get. Describing his conditions as an "exception" for the case of rape is like outlawing abortion with an "exception" for women who both have a birthmark in the shape of Lyle Lovett and were impregnated during a full moon.*
And finally, what about the religious part? Must a woman be religious to get an exception? If so, must she be Christian?
That last part seems particularly likely in light of this interesting tidbit: (Free registration may be required)
State bill proposes Christianity be Missouri’s official religion
Missouri legislators in Jefferson City considered a bill that would name Christianity the state's official "majority" religion.
House Concurrent Resolution 13 is pending in the state legislature.
Many Missouri residents had not heard about the bill until Thursday.
Karen Aroesty of the Anti-defamation league, along with other watch-groups, began a letter writing and email campaign to stop the resolution.
The resolution would recognize "a Christian god," and it would not protect minority religions, but "protect the majority's right to express their religious beliefs."
The resolution also recognizes that, "a greater power exists," and only Christianity receives what the resolution calls, "justified recognition."
State representative David Sater of Cassville in southwestern Missouri, sponsored the resolution, but he has refused to talk about it on camera or over the phone.
It wasn't enough when we started spending tax money on faith-based initiatives, not to mention the plan to reimburse religious organizations for assisting with the Katrina disaster,** now we're apparently just giving the hell up on the separation of church and state entirely. Sure, go ahead, declare Jesus the official god of the United States while you're at it! As long as we're going batshit insane, why not go whole-hog with it? How about a bill requiring that menstruating women sleep in a separate room from their husbands? That sounds like something the bible would support! Hell, for that matter, it might even help the U.S. get along with nations adhering to other religious traditions. I know! As long as women are menstruating, we can make them wear a special garment. I'm sure there's precedent for that somewhere, too!
So, here's my plan: I'll let the TDEC take my place in the United States and I'll move to Belgium. How about that, INS, do we have a deal? Hell, I'll do you one better: I'll send my Sainted Girlfriend in my place. I know this shit bugs her as much as it does me but I like to fight over it lots more.
And damn if this isn't worth fighting over.
* Okay, some of you are probably wondering if this is an exaggeration. Well, probably, yes. On the other hand, much as I love math, I don't know how to do a decent job actually calculating the real likelihood of this exception. The reason for this is a lack of data, and a lack of independence. So, for example,I don't have reliable information on how many women actually DO save their virginity until marriage (for obvious reasons I think self-report may be a bit iffy) and I don't think the probability of doing such a thing is independent of the probability of being "religious." So, as a consequence, getting a more accurate figure that isn't sheer speculation is, at present, beyond me. If we do it roughly, and assume that all the probabilities are independent (which they're not) then we need to know the probability of being "religious," a "virgin," being raped savagely (which I'll operationalize as including a weapon, and being perpetrated by a stranger), being "sodomized as bad as you can make it," being impregnated, reporting the crime to the police, and being so "messed up, physically and psychologically" by the experience that carrying the child would threaten the woman's life. With me?
Great. So, here goes. Let's set the probability of being "religious" at about 50%. The GSS, as well as more recent opinion polls, put the number of people identifying as fundamentalist or born-again at around 30%, and we'll roll another 20% in to catch any strays. Then, for virginity, let's just assume that 50% of females intend to remain virgins until marriage. I think this figure is absurdly high, but I'm not going to spend the time finding a better one, and frankly, this gives more credit to Napoli's exception. Next, the likelihood of being raped savagely. Since only 8% of all rapes (according to the NCVS) included a weapon, and 31% were committed by a stranger, we have figures all set there. Next, what about sodomy? This is tough, since some states consider oral AND anal sex sodomy while others only consider anal sex sodomy. I'm guessing Napoli was employing the common usage, meaning anal sex. Sources disagree but as the prevalence of anal sex among heterosexuals is somewhere between 20% and 50%, I feel comfortable setting the sodomy probability at 35%. Then, we'll assume "charitably" that of the rapes that involve sodomy, 50% will be "as bad as you can make it." In terms of impregnation, we'll go with a 50% probability, which again is absurdly high, but whatever. It's not like I'm expecting this to be even ballpark accurate. The NCVS gives us a reporting probability of around 35.8%. Finally, there's the issue of how messed up the victim is. Since PTSD may be observed following rape as often as 80% of the time, but not everyone with PTSD is a serious danger to themselves, I'll set the probability at 40%. Everyone with me?
Okay, so the final calculation, converting from percentages to probabilities, is: Pr(Exception)= .50*.50*.08*.31*.35*.50*.50*.358*.40= 0.000078. In other words, there's a 0.0078% chance that a case will meet Napoli's criteria. That's a helluva rape exception there, genius.
So long as we're engaging in bullshit calculations, let's get even more ridiculous. The NCVS suggests that around 1/3 of American women may be subject to an attempted sexual assault at some point in their lives. Now if we take the estimated population of South Dakota based on the 2000 census, we get a figure of 775,933 people. Of those, 50.4% should be female giving us around 391,070. Of those 1/3, or 130,356, should be subject to a rape event at some point in their lives. So, if we apply our calculated probability for Napoli's exception (0.000078) to the "vulnerable population" (I'm doing it this way because our calculated probability assumes that rape has taken place- in other words, it doesn't reflect a woman's overall risk of being eligible for Napoli's exception without our first knowing that she has been raped) of 130,356 we get a figure of 10.17, which we'll bump up to 11 just for the hell of it. So, out of 130,356 women, roughly 11 would qualify.
Anyone think the Lyle Lovett birthmark comparison is unfair now?
I didn't think so.
Of course, again, these calculations are radically, absurdly rough and treat everything as independent, so they are effectively worthless. Don't trust them. Supply me with the data necessary for me to do better estimates, though, and not only will I do so, I'll give you a gift certificate good for a post by me on a subject of your own choosing. Have fun.
** My issue here is with reimbursing organizations that are tax-exempt. If they're exempt because they provide useful services- like in a disaster- then reimbursing them is essentially double-dipping.