As most of you have heard by now, the Missouri Republican nominee for Senate, current House Rep. Todd Akin, in a Sunday interview with KTVI-TV, justifying his opposition to any abortion ever, even in the case of rape, made the following incredibly absurd statement:
First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is 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 that maybe that didn't work, or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child. Amy Davidson, What Does Todd Akin Think 'Legitimate Rape' is?, New Yorker (Aug. 19, 2012).
Davidson makes a number of worthy points about this troubling statement by a sitting Congressman who happens to serve on the House committee dealing with science issues. The statement demonstrates:
- "biological ignorance" (women do get pregnant from rape
- disregard of women's interest in the matter ("Akin apparently has not [realized] that people possessing a 'female body' are also part of the political conversation")
- Akin's ethically challenged thinking ("There is the puzzling idea that the putative rarity of pregnancies caused by rape would make it any less of a 'tough sort of ethical question.'")
- absurd categorization of rape into "legitimate" and otherwise ("[D]oes Akin think that doing what one could to survive would delgitimze the rape--or that a legitimate victim is [only] one who sees rape as a fate worse than death? ...The problem here is not just whether Akin thinks conception during rape is possible, but what he thinks rape is." emphasis added)
Even when Akin tried to limit the harm done by his statement (he twittered "I have great empathy for all victims. I regret misspeaking"), he nonetheless confirmed his view that pregnancies resulting from rape don't merit abortions.
What GOP Rep. Akin's statement reveals is the craven indifference of the right-wing of the Republican party to the suffering of a woman left to bear a child of her rapist, its unconscionable disregard of scientific fact, and the inexcusable attempt to appeal to America's fundamentalist "value" extremists on the right who want to impose their views on social and fiscal issues on all the rest of us, no matter what the consequences.
As a recent poll by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation demonstrated, the strongest group of Republicans, albeit still a minority at 28%, is represented by Tea Party members who support radical social visions of 1900s morality rules being imposed on everyone (fundamentalist religious views enshrined in law and in "traditional" interpretations of the Constitutions, resulting in no same-sex marriage, no same-sex adoptions, no abortions (even for rape victims)) combined with 1900s ideas about tax revenues and spending provisions (removing the safety net provided by Medicare and Social Security and substituting some version of privatization or elimination of these programs, so that the elderly are thrown back on charity care; allowing today's robber barons (corporate moguls and private equity vulture capitalists) to fire workers and reduce their pay indiscriminately through dismantling of unions whenever possible; elimination of tax burdens on capital income; and remaking the corporate tax code to be even more favorable to multinationals). And Paul Ryan, Romney's vice presidential selection, is of accord with this group and opposes an abortion ban exception for rape victims (though Romney's campaign on Sunday claims that the Romney-Ryan ticket would not opposed abortions after a rape--as though we have any reason to believe that will still be Romney's position a few days from now.....).
As a commenter noted, Akin really just said what he believes out loud, betraying to everyone what he really has in mind. I hope Missourians recognize this snake in congressman garb for what he is--someone who shouldn't be allowed to touch a Senate seat with a 10-foot pole.