Conny is a German mother of three adult children with three grandchildren. She's not only a great photographer, but she's also a great writer and poet. She also operates her own firm. I'm amazed at what she's accomplished and I care for her very much.
Since we met, she has learned quite a bit about the American political system. Of course, it's different from her country's, not just in its structure, but also regarding the issues we choose to publicly debate. For many of us, it can be a head-shaking experience, so can you imagine what an outsider must think?
And that's especially true about the GOP and its hard line against such a personal issue as abortion, even in the case of rape. She understands there are disagreements in such sensitive areas, but the outlandish words that have been thrown around have totally confused her. Can you blame her?
One example is Republican Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, who is running to unseat Democrat Claire McCaskill from her U.S. Senate seat. He justified his extreme opposition against abortion in an interview with local television station KTVI-TV using his now-infamous "legitimate rape" theory:
From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist.
Then, there was GOP Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, who is running for reelection against Democrat challenger Tammy Duckworth. He told reporters that there should be no abortion exception for the "life of the mother" because "with modern technology and science, you can't find one instance" in which a woman would actually die.
But what really disturbed her were the words from the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana, Richard Mourdock. A Tea Party-backed state treasurer, he declared during a televised debate why he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived due to rape:
The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
"Something God intended to happen?" Conny asked. To say she was angry would have been an understatement. She was absolutely furious.
This wasn't helped when I told her that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has "proudly" endorsed Mr. Mourdock.
"That's a joke, right?" were the only words she could muster. She didn't even answer when I told it wasn't.
Even in her male-dominated country, she can never understand why men believe they have the right to make decisions about a woman's body. And she believes this is especially true when it involves rape and pregnancy. She was immediately moved to write a poem. One about her own experiences. You see, Conny is also a rape survivor.
Originally written in her native German language, after reading her poem it moved me so much, I helped her translate it into English for her to publish on her English-language blog.
With her permission, I'm sharing it with you. I can only hope I helped her translate it well enough to feel its full impact.
You cannot see my pain
You cannot feel my anger
You cannot hear my silent cries
You cannot understand my despair
You think you know how you can help me
You cannot see my tears
You cannot feel my fear
You cannot hear my hate
You cannot understand my hopelessness
You think you know how you can help me
You cannot live my life thereafter
You cannot feel my love to me
You cannot hear my forgiveness
You cannot understand my will to survive
You think you know how it feels to be raped
© 2012 Cornelia G. Becker. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Follow Lawrence D. Elliott on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lawrence_author