Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Religious Right Around the Globe: Van der Staaij, Rape, and Pregnancy

Rep. Todd Akin's recent remarks about pregnancy and "legitimate rape" ignited a firestorm in the U.S. Unfortunately, another political leader made a similar remark, this time from the Netherland's Reformed Political Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, or SGP). The SGP, a Calvinist Christian political party, resembles its American Religious Right counterparts in its pro-Israel, anti-gay, anti-abortion stance. Apparently, they even take the Sabbath very seriously -- when I visited their web page this morning using Google Translate, I discovered that their website content is not available on Sundays!

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that during an August 28th news interview with Dutch television station RTL-Z, SGP leader Kees van der Staaij claimed that rape-related pregnancy is rare. He claimed that the SGP wants rape victims to be treated compassionately, but will not compromise its anti-abortion stance.
"What struck me in that discussion is that it often goes wrong. If you don't pay attention to the enormous problems that women always face when they are raped. The risk of becoming pregnant is very small, but the problems are immense. We believe these women should be treated with a lot of compassion, but that doesn't alter our position that protection of the unborn life is paramount."
As I explained in a prior post, this is nonsense. Rape-related pregnancy is by no means a rare phenomenon, as several studies have demonstrated. The assumption that rape rarely results in pregnancy is a convenient tactic that some anti-abortion voices use to deny the painful, complex realities of rape.

Immediately, Van der Staaij's comments drew condemnation from Dutch political leaders. According to Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Labor Party MP Jetta Klijnsma demanded that Van der Staaij apologize to all of the Netherlands' women. Green Left leader Jolande Sap called the rape comments "ridiculous" and joked that a biology lesson wouldn't be sufficient for Van der Staaij. In a commentary at the Amsterdam Herald, columnist Nicola Chadwick accused Van der Staaij of being "selective with the truth."

Predictably, some voices in the SGP have depicted Van der Staaij as the victim. The Amsterdam Herald quoted a SGP spokesman as saying that the response to Van der Staaij comments "comes close to verbal lynching, even though our position hasn’t changed from yesterday or the day before.”

Both Akin and Van der Staaij illustrate the problems with an uncompromising anti-abortion stance, as well as the global Religious Right's callousness toward women. Despite his claims that the SGP wants to show "compassion" toward rape victims, Van der Staaij's misinformation about rape-related pregnancy and reluctance to empower rape victims have exposed his true colors for all to see.

To visit the SGP website, visit www[dot]sgp[dot]nl


  1. I suppose there is some solace in knowing that we are not alone in our stupidity. But then we can't put it down to "something" in the water then can we? lol

    1. Sherry -- Unfortunately, stupidity knows no nationality. As I'm slowly learning, the American Religious Right doesn't have a corner on ridiculousness.


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