Todd Akin’s actual comments on women getting pregnant after being raped are more ridiculous than any parody:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

BUT, there’s some pretty funny spoofs out there. A few of my favorites:

Yes, Todd, you’re gonna be “Akin” from the ass kicking you’re about to receive.
With voter ID laws, purging voter rolls and by closing polls early in Democrat-leaning districts.
Don’t call this a vagina! It’s a childbearing vestibule.

All joking aside, I suggest that you read Eve Ensler’s open letter to Todd Akin over at Huff Po, which asks him to put himself in the position of a woman impregnated by her rapist. Everyone should try to do the same, to really understand what is at the heart of this issue. We cannot afford to be complacent. Women’s lives are at risk as long as this assault on women’s  rights continues. Personhood amendments threaten to make abortion a criminal act. Cuts to Planned Parenthood and other tactics are being used to further restrict women’s access to preventive healthcare and birth control. Several states have placed so many restrictions on abortion facilities that it is virtually impossible for a woman with limited resources to obtain one. 

The good thing about Akin’s ignorant comments is that it highlights the mentality of the far-right and is encouraging many to really scrutinize the positions of politicians on the subject. Republicans have been swift to repudiate Akin’s opinions, but the truth is that many of them agree with him, including Paul Ryan, who attempted to restrict abortions to women who have been victims of “forcible” rape (a.k.a. “legitimate” rape). Todd Akin, who is currently on the House Science and Technology Committee (seriously!), and Paul Ryan co-sponsored H.R. 3, or “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” last year, which attempted to broaden the ban on federal funds used to provide abortions. Federal law already prohibits federal funding for abortion unless a woman has been raped or her life is in danger. “Forcible” rape would exclude statutory or marital rape victims from the right to terminate their pregnancies, and presumably “shut down that whole thing” of women who “cry rape” for the convenience of an abortion:

Liberals may wish us to believe that no woman would ever stoop so low as to lie about being raped. But this simply does not comport with what we Christians know about fallen human nature. We, conservatives, all agree that millions of women annually conspire to commit murder on their unborn babies. So do you expect me to feel it unacceptable to believe they would lie about why? This is political correctness run amok. Why, after all, would someone willing to kill out of convenience not also lie for various reasons out of convenience?–Joel McDurmon

McDurman, the Director of Research for the Christian group American Vision, likens Republican calls for Akin to withdraw from the senate race to a “legitimate political gang rape.” He is outraged at the fact that conservatives have not leaped to the aid of Akin-not even Ann Coulter! And all for simply pointing out that LEGITIMATE rape is a different beast than other “rapes”:

He [Akin] was referring to cases of actual, criminal, forcible rape as opposed to several other conceivable definitions that are not actually “rape,” but only legally, socially, or anecdotally reported so, or claimed as such for whatever reason—true or otherwise.

Oh, actual, criminal, forcible rape is a different thing than other types unauthorized entry into an unwilling vagina. If the guy punches, physically subdues, chokes, brandishes a weapon, it is different than using size, intimidation, isolation, or other coercive means to impose his will on her. This jackass continues to elucidate the difference between legitimate rape and that other, softer, less rapey type of sex act. Rape-lite, maybe? He cites some dubious statistics and sources to back up the claim that legitimate rape babies hardly ever happen. THEN he goes on to say that the whole thing doesn’t matter anyway, because a woman should still be forced to bear a child conceived as a consequence of rape or incest. 

Although Paul Ryan now distances himself from Todd Akin, in the past he has said that he opposes ALL abortions, other than to save the life of the mother. No exclusions for victims of any kind of rape OR incest. His record on reproductive rights for women is very clear and unambiguous, as is Akin’s. The political chameleon Mitt Romney has also made his CURRENT position clear, that he would be “delighted” to overturn Roe vs. Wade. 

H.R. 358, the “Protect Life Act,” which passed the House last year, would allow doctors and hospitals to deny lifesaving emergency abortions to women. It would also eliminate funding for preventive cancer screenings for women and would even bar state insurance exchanges from offering abortion-related coverage EVEN IF PAID FOR OUT OF POCKET. There are several other hateful provisions in this bill that makes clear that there is a very real “war on women.” There are MANY other such bills that seek to restrict abortion access, criminalize abortions and miscarriages, and strip women of basic rights over her own person. At both the state and federal levels, the rights of women are under attack. 

It would be great if there were no need for abortion. How can we possibly reduce the number of abortions? NOT by outlawing them. Been there before, wasn’t pretty. We would just end up with dead women, unwanted children and more strain on the system. 

First of all, sex education and access to birth control is absolutely necessary. No more of this “abstinence only” BS. It doesn’t work! The other key to reducing abortions is reducing the economic strain on a woman who chooses to have a child. The single greatest reason that women cite for having an abortion is financial hardship. Republicans decrying the national debt want to privatize Medicare, gut Social Security, cut welfare and other services for the poor, and vigorously oppose Obamacare. Mothers who can’t afford to stay home with their babies are not even guaranteed more than 12 weeks without pay to care for her newborn (and even FMLA has restrictions). How will we care for these children after they are born? Republicans have been very clear on the position that once a baby is out of the uterus, they don’t care about the “sanctity of life,” at least where public policy is concerned. 

The cognitive disconnect between these two goals of the GOP of reducing spending and ending abortion means that if they are successful, we are going to have an even bigger mess on our hands in the future. Do we really want to throw women in jail for having an abortion or miscarrying? If women are FORCED to bear a child conceived in rape, will this make our society a better place? Will we provide her with counseling, help her support her child after it is born? What about if the father/rapist wants visitation or custody?

One thing is clear: far-right extremists are becoming more and more mainstream in the Republican party. With some advocating deadly force to “protect the unborn,” living, breathing women are being subjected to second-class status, as was the case before Roe vs. Wade. Todd Akin may have done women a favor by saying what others were really thinking. How betrayed he must feel after his party has largely forsaken him for being true to the Republican platform. Paul Ryan and others have now backed off from their previously espoused extremist views. I only hope that women and people who support true freedom are paying close attention. 


Further Reading:

Giving Birth to a “Rapist’s Child”: A Discussion
and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections
Afforded toWomen Who Become Mothers
Through Rape

6 thoughts on “The GOP’s Todd Akin Problem

  1. Thanks for the level-headed commentary. Perhaps it will help focus the discussion to a woman’s right to control her own body. And I can’t even imagine the horror of being forced to carry a baby to term that was the result of rape, legitimate or otherwise.

  2. Many members of my family continue to claim the GOP as their party of choice. When I point out they are agreeing to the disenfranchisement of half their family including their daughters, they shrug and say it is only a small fringe group. They simply don’t believe it is the entire party, it is the platform of the party. They refuse to see there is no more moderate GOP, it is the party of the fringe.

    1. I know what you mean. I have family and friends who support gay rights and are pro-choice, yet still vote Republican. When I point out the MANY bills in Congress and the laws that have been passed that take away these rights, they just rationalize it somehow. Personhood bills are just to protect a woman’s fetus from domestic violence, not to prosecute her if she has a miscarriage. Cuts to Planned Parenthood are because the federal gov shouldn’t be in the healthcare business. Gay marriage is pointless because they can’t have children. I guess the consequences are just not real to them.

  3. Amaya, this is terrific writing on an important topic. Akin’s ignorant comments are one thing, but to have it so closely mirrored by the GOP Platform which will be voted on in Tampa, is even more disturbing. Planned Parenthood is a wonderful organization that helps so many in need plan their families. I personally would rather see a significant uptick in sex education in schools and churches. As you note, abstinence does not work as kids are going to have sex. We need to educate them on the dangers of unprotected sex. We need to teach young girls that it is not OK to have someone physically force themselves on you as date rape is very under reported. Keep on banging the drum and encourage your friends to get out and vote. As an Independent voter, the GOP has so few answers to our real troubles and in some cases, embodies the problems. Sorry for the soapbox, but I am frustrated when leaders let us down. Well done, BTG

    1. Thanks you. I am so frustrated to see the progress we have made for women’s rights being threatened by these ideologically driven asshats in Congress and in state legislatures.

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