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John Krull commentary: A time for adults to be adults

Someday—soon, I hope—the fever will break, and we will find ourselves asking the same questions about this delirious, delusional age.

Why were we so crazy?, we will ask.

Why did we have to be so mean?

The saga of the 10-year-old girl who was raped and had to travel to Indiana from Ohio to get an abortion serves as evidence of just how insane we have become. It is a tale in which too many adults behaved like children—and ill-bred children at that—and the real child was victimized, again and again, by grownups who should have served as her defenders and safety net.

The story is a sad one.

A young girl who just turned 10 was raped by a 27-year-old man in Ohio. Because, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, the Buckeye state rushed to ban almost all abortions, even in instances of rape, the 10-year-old and her family came to Indiana to end the pregnancy.

Indiana has not yet banned abortion, but the General Assembly is hurrying into a special session to do just that.

Anti-abortion activists and their cheering sections in elected office and the media rushed to denounce the 10-year-old’s story when The Indianapolis Star first broke it. They asked why there was no documentation and why no arrests had been made. They wanted someone punished—either the journalists who reported the story or the doctor who cared for the girl—immediately and harshly.

Then, authorities in Ohio did arrest the man who raped the little girl. He confessed to the crime.

That didn’t calm the fury.

Conservatives then directed their rage at the doctor who treated the 10-year-old.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita did what he always does. He joined the pack of jackals and then did his best to scurry to the front of the pack, where the best camera angles can be found.

He appeared on Fox News and vowed to investigate the doctor. Without offering so much as a scrap of evidence to support his insinuations, the attorney general hinted that the doctor had committed a series of malfeasances.

The doctor, understandably, took offense. She hired well-respected lawyers, who issued a statement saying they would be considering ways to hold accountable those who had maligned and defamed the doctor for their actions and statements.

The lawyers’ statement singled out Rokita for special attention.

Thus, a first-rate donnybrook about the issue of abortion began to take shape.

Lost in the shouting—in the charges and counter-charges—was the humanity of the tragedy.

A little girl was raped. Because of that rape, she and her family were left with a hard and horrible choice to make—one that likely will affect her and those who love her for the rest of their days.

I know abortion is a deeply divisive issue.

I support reproductive rights myself, but I have known many people who oppose abortion whose sincerity and integrity I respect. The best of them are anti-abortion because they have a deep and abiding concern for the most vulnerable among us.

Surely, this 10-year-old rape survivor falls into that category.

One of the most distressing things about this age in which we seek to elevate every disagreement into a holy war is that it becomes easy, oh so easy, to overlook the suffering of real human beings who wander into the ideological, partisan and cultural crossfire.

This is particularly the case when politicians possessed by an ambition for advancement and a hunger for self-aggrandizement as great as Todd Rokita’s get involved. They do not care who gets hurt, so long as they get the attention for which they lust.

One of the defining qualities of maturity, though, is exercising restraint, especially when others might be affected by our actions.

This is even more true when those who might be affected are young and vulnerable.

Like a 10-year-old girl who has been raped.

This little girl had a right to think that adults would act like adults. She had a right to expect that we would put aside our differences long enough to make sure she was safe and cared-for before we started trying to score points in some grand debate.

Because that’s what adults should do.

To do otherwise isn’t just crazy or mean.

It’s wrong.

Plain wrong.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The opinions expressed by the author do not represent the views of Franklin College.