Much attention has been paid in recent weeks and months to comments by conservative politicians who've staked out an extreme-right "no exceptions" position on abortion, with a particular focus so-called “rape exceptions.” Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while not distancing himself from supporting the Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks of the world, has attempted to position himself as more “moderate” on the issue of abortion by stating that he will make abortion a crime in all cases except to protect the life of the woman, and in the cases of pregnancies that result from rape or incest. In taking this position he intends to be seen as reasonable, perhaps even compassionate. But when the rubber hits the road,we see that focusing on abortion exceptions is distracting political theater, and, more importantly, disastrous public policy.
Last week, in a segment profiling this ongoing debate, Rachel Maddow asked a question: how would a President Romney implement the policy he's endorsed, namely to ban abortion in all but a few exceptional cases. Good question. Sadly, the question was left unanswered. Ms. Maddow offered some hypothetical scenarios: (who decides when a woman has been raped? a court? a cop? Mitt Romney?) but did not take the issue further. It’s too bad she didn’t.