And you thought this election was going to be all about the economy. Silly you! In today’s of installment of “What the hell were they thinking?” I give you Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Missouri. Akin won a tough primary battle for the right to face one of the most vulnerable incumbent senators, Claire McCaskill. And the polls showed him doing quite well – up by 8-10 points in most. But then Rep. Akin went on the Jaco Report and, at the risk of underselling it, things didn’t go too well.
Click here and scroll down for the full interview. The abortion comments begin around the 4 minute mark.
Yes, you heard that right. According to a man who has been serving in the United States House, women’s bodies have some sort-of magical ability to determine if a rape is “legitimate” and, if it is, can prevent pregnancy. Stupidity like that, if it wasn’t so scary, would be hilarious. Oh yeah, Akin also sits on the House Science Committee.
It might be interesting to note that this is not a new issue that Akin just happened to bring up. The House passed a bill earlier this year with full Republican support and 16 Democrats which would have added language to the Federal Abortion Ban (which includes rape exemptions) to differentiate between “forcible” rape and other rape. The bill never made it to the Senate floor but, if it had passed, women who had been the victims of non-forcible rape (statutory rape, rapes that involve drugs, or verbal threats) would not be exempted from the ban. My guess is that Akin misspoke and meant to say forcible rape, not legitimate. To quote President Obama on this “Rape is rape.” Done. Simple. Right.
Either way, this is just another in a series of moves by factions of a Republican party that is so far out of touch with modern times, I shudder to think what they will come up with next. Now, I will acknowledge that many prominent Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Akin but it just doesn’t ring true in most cases. Mitt Romney, through a spokesperson, says that “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape…” Problem is, Congressman Ryan was a co-sponsor of the “forcible rape” bill and the RNC sub-committee tasked with the creation of a party platform approved this afternoon anti-choice language with NO exemptions (not health of the mother, not rape of any kind, nothing). Romney will be the leader of a party that believes a crucial issue this year is ensuring that Government doesn’t help women who get raped have abortions. This isn’t just Congressman Akin – this is a a GOP strategy.
Consider other instances, just in the past 12 months:
- Rush Limbaugh calls Sandra Fluke a “slut” for testifying before Congress regarding contraception
- Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum said, in regards to abortion in cases of rape that “women should make the best of a bad situation”
- Kansas lawmaker, Pete DeGraaf, suggested that women should plan ahead for being raped by buying abortion-only policies in the same way that he keeps a spare tire in his car.
- Legislatures across the country have introduced nearly 1,000 bills relating to female reproductive rights – nearly all of them designed to limit a woman’s ability to control her own medical decisions. (SIDE NOTE: Don’t you find it remarkable that the same Congress so concerned with “Obamacare” taking healthcare decisions away from the individual is so ok with it when it comes to these issues?)
This isn’t about religious freedom. This isn’t about one man making a gaffe. This is about a group of people – mostly men – who have decided that the pre-1950s era limits on women’s freedoms were the way to go. This is about a group of people who want to control a woman’s body. It is terrifying to me that these people serve in our government and I shudder to think what the United States of America would look like if they were in charge.
I’ll close with the words of Eve Ensler, in her heartfelt and powerful letter to Congressman Akin on the Huffington Post today.
“You didn’t make some glib throw away remark. You made a very specific ignorant statement clearly indicating you have no awareness of what it means to be raped. And not a casual statement, but one made with the intention of legislating the experience of women who have been raped. Perhaps more terrifying: it was a window into the psyche of the GOP…Why don’t you spend your time ending rape rather than redefining it? Spend your energy going after those perpetrators who so easily destroy women rather than parsing out manipulative language that minimizes their destruction.”