As reprehensible as they are, current US Congressman and possible US Senator Rep. Todd Akin‘s (R-MO) remarks on the medical effects of “legitimate rape” are a gift to voters, who will now be exposed to the truth about vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who co-sponsored a bill that insisted on an abortion exception only in cases of “forcible rape.”
The remarks also shine a light on the Romney/Ryan ticket’s competing views on rape and reproductive freedom, issues that might otherwise have been overlooked.
In case you missed it, Akin told an interviewer that pregnancy resulting from rape is “really rare” because “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
The medical basis for Akin’s statement appears to be a recently-published study from The New England Journal of Todd Akin’s Ass, but the subtext is that not all rapes are created equal, an idea that was nearly codified into law by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan, along with 216 other Republicans (and 10 Democrats!).
H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, originally contained language restricting the exception for federally-funded abortions to “an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest,” and offered no further clarification of the term. On its face, the law would have eliminated statutory rape (on the premise that, what? That ten year-old clearly was into it?), but also left open the possibility that rapes involving drugging, or even rapes that did not result in serious enough injuries to the victim, would fail to fit the definition. He held a gun to your head? Where’s the gun? Did you check to see if it was loaded?
Under tremendous public pressure, they dropped the “forcible rape” language before passing the measure 251-175. It’s currently several Republican senators and a President away from becoming law.
Regardless of your beliefs about abortion rights, this bill demonstrates how Republicans (well, 216 of them) feel about women and girls.
Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was quick to link Ryan with Akin, in an email to supporters late last night, and while Akin’s remarks are undoubtedly a political gift for the Democrats, they are even more of a gift to voters, who deserve to know what kind of people they’re being asked to put in the Oval Office, and a heartbeat away from it. Here are a few of the things they can learn from this.
Mitt Romney’s First Reaction Was To ‘Disagree’ With Akin
You wouldn’t know it from reading this site’s resident conservative, but Mitt Romney’s first reaction to Rep. Akin’s comments wasn’t that they were “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” or even “offensive.”
No, the Romney campaign’s first reaction was to release a statement that said “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
It wasn’t until the following day, after a blistering wave of public revulsion, that Romney decided this was more than a “tomato/tomahto” deal, and his initial weak statement disappeared down the conservative memory hole. This is only a slight step up from Romney’s reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on women who use birth control as “sluts,” wherein Romney was pressed to say “That’s not the language I would have used.”
Faced with a chance to distance himself from the most insane (yet 216-congressman-strong mainstream) elements in his party, and his response was to “disagree.”
Paul Ryan Has A More Consistent Position On Abortion Than Mitt Romney
I’m not referring to Romney’s evolution from staunch pro-choicer to whatever he is now, but to the Romney/Ryan schism on “personhood.” Both men support laws that would define “personhood” as occurring at conception, which would criminalize all abortion and most birth control, but we now know that only Romney believes that a conception resulting from rape or incest should be excluded. Based on the logic of personhood laws, though, that means that Romney thinks it is okay to kill a person whose father was a rapist.
Paul Ryan, on the other hand, believes that a woman who is on birth control, who is then raped, is a murderer, even if she fails to become pregnant (or rather, because she fails to become pregnant). That’s true of his position whether she’s using emergency contraception after the fact, or regular hormonal birth control before.
It’s a completely insane position, but it is consistent. It also means that, if a President Romney becomes unable to serve, Paul Ryan will be signing laws for a possibly Republican-controlled House and Senate, and will likely be appointing Supreme Court justices.
Mitt Romney’s Position On Abortion Is Also Completely Insane
It should be remembered that, although not quite as crazy as Paul Ryan’s, Mitt Romney’s position on abortion is that any woman who seeks an abortion or hormonal birth control, unless she is coincidentally being raped, or unless delivering a child would kill her, is a murderer. Ditto almost anyone who uses in vitro fertilization. That’s what personhood laws say, and Romney supports them.
These are among a host of issues that the Romney campaign would rather not be talking about, but Rep. Akin has guaranteed that the insane Romney/Ryan positions on rape and reproductive rights will dominate political news for at least a week, and while that may please the extreme anti-abortion right, it exposes the ticket to withering scrutiny from everyone else. As a result, Rep. Todd Akin, ironically, just might become the best thing that happened for women in this election.
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