The one time I don’t take advantage of in-flight wifi and I land from the Left Coast to find that all hell has broken loose in the Missouri Senate race. During a television interview yesterday, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who is running against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), was asked about his views on abortion. Akin’s remark on rape and women’s bodies was nothing short of stunning — and stupid.
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 let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.
After I picked my jaw up off the baggage claim floor, my mind started whirring. Akin’s twisted view of rape and the role of abortion in its aftermath sounded familiar. Last year, Akin was one of 227 co-sponsors of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which would bar use of health savings accounts to pay for an abortion and deny use of tax credits and deductions for medical expenses for an abortion. As if that weren’t bad enough, just when federal funding of an abortion would be allowed was chilling.
(1) if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest;
The definition of “forcible rape” was left vague until I and others pressed for a definition. The bill ultimately adopted “the original language from the Hyde Amendment...,” which bans federal money from being used to pay for abortion. Whether “forcible rape” or “legitimate rape,” either concept is unbelievably ignorant, offensive, cold-hearted and wrong.
Akin says he “misspoke” in his “off-the-cuff remarks.” And later he disavowed via Twitter the whole “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” lunacy. He had no choice after we learned yesterday about a 1996 study that showed that “The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.”
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan issued a statement last night distancing their campaign from Akin. “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement,” the statement read, “and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.” I can’t wait to hear the reaction of the Republican Party base to the last part of that statement.
There’s a lot of speculation about whether Akin will indeed be the name on the ballot in November. Perhaps the GOP leadership will prevail upon the five-term congressman to bolt the race to allow another Republican to take on McCaskill, who until last night was seen as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent. I’d settle for him to change his views on rape. But it’ll probably be easier to get him out of the race — forcibly, of course.