If you've wondered why so many Republicans are bent on criminalizing abortion — both for women and for physicians — and refuse to include an exception for rape or incest, wonder no more. Enter US Senate candidate Todd Akin (R) to explain that women don't get pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape.”
“If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.
Akin's claim that “legitimate rape” miraculously includes contraception is hogwash, of course. We should have known the Republican War on Science would eventually join hands with the Republican War on Women, but who could have predicted their offspring would be so willfully and offensively stupid?
The implication of his position is that if you were raped and became pregnant, you must have actually wanted it—it wasn't really rape.
The “forcible rape” language used in a Republican anti-abortion bill last year apparently reflects this new conservative dogma that there are different sorts of rape and not all of them are really bad.
This isn't the first time Akin has expressed fringe views about rape in the context of the abortion debate. Last year, Akin, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and most of the House GOP co-sponsored a bill that would have narrowed the already-narrow exceptions to the laws banning federal funding for abortion—from all cases of rape to cases of “forcible rape.”
Does GOP vice-presidential nominee-to-be Paul Ryan also believe “legitimate rape” provides protection from pregnancy? Do Alabama Republicans Robert Aderholt, Spencer Bachus, Jo Bonner, Mo Brooks, Martha Roby and Mike Rogers? They all signed onto the “forcible rape” language in HR3 last year.
Attempting to head off awkward questions, the Romney-Ryan campaign has issued a statement distancing themselves from Akins' boneheaded statement:
“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, told The Huffington Post.
Can we put any faith in this statement? Mitt Romney used to be pro-choice. Paul Ryan certainly backed the “forcible rape” language on the House floor last year and has a long history of opposing abortion for victims of rape. Both have misled the public more than once.
Has Ryan really changed his long-held belief, or can we look for another Romney flip-flop to the Ryan (and Akin) position? There's not much discernable daylight between Romney and Ryan on women's issues … and that's evidence of just how far to the right Mitt Romney has been willing to move. I suspect he'll move right again as soon as it's politically expedient.
Women have a clear choice this election: Move forward with Barack Obama or move backward several hundred years with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.