Nel's New Day

August 23, 2012

Rape: The GOP Downfall?

As the craziness of this year’s Congressional election built up, I decided to save some of the looneyness of what these people are saying and put all these people together. It seemed like a fairly simple task: just put down the person’s name and then the one or two oddities that came out of the person. Until Todd Akin.

When I began to keep notes, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) had said just a few things such protesting student lunches for poor kids while campaigning for his state’s senate seat;  last Sunday, however, he said in an interview that the female body can keep itself from being impregnated in cases of “legitimate rape.” Something about stress keeping women from ovulating, information discovered during Nazi studies during the Holocaust, and women secreting some kind of magic fluid. The storm began. Republican lawmakers began to work on explanations of different kinds of rape and backing off, sometimes running from both Akin and the topics of rape and abortion.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who co-sponsored a bill outlawing abortion except—maybe—to save the woman’s life, now proclaims, “Rape is rape.” Once again the VP nominee is denying that he said anything else, statements that are on video in the Ethernet. Unfortunately for him, there is written proof that he co-sponsored a bill with Akin that, by limiting federal funding of abortion to cases of “forcible rape,” could make rape survivors give birth to their rapist’s child. Outrage caused the term “forcible rape” to be taken out of the bill, but Ryan had signed on before that happened.

Over his career in the House, Ryan cast 59 anti-choice votes and endorsed a large number of measures to limit or completely bar abortion in the United States. He also said that the health exception, allowing women to have an abortion because of health reasons, would make the law against abortion “virtually meaningless.”

2012: Ryan supported the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that would ban abortions in Washington, D.C. after 20 weeks gestation. It failed in the House on July 31.

2011: Ryan was one of 145 sponsors of the Protect Life Act passed in October allowing hospitals to refuse any involvement in abortions, including providing referrals. At this time, religious hospitals that accept federal funds but refuse to provide abortions must provide emergency care and transfer the patient to another hospital does provide abortions. Ryan’s measure would let women die without any health care.

2006, 2007, and 2010: Ryan cosponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act that grants fertilized eggs the same constitutional rights as adult humans. As residents in Mississippi discovered when this bill was on the ballot, this measure would classify in vitro fertilization and some contraceptive forms as murder. If this bill had gone into law, Mitt Romney’s son Tagg and his wife would have been considered murderers because they have had three children with in vitro fertilization. The measure would also force doctors to lie to their pregnant patients because of its requirement to follow a specific script that contains lies.

2005, 2007, and 2011: Ryan supported the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act that would federalize state laws on minors seeking an abortion and parental notification. Doctors would have to notify the minor’s parents or guardian in writing and wait another 24 hours before performing an abortion.

Some of Akin’s ideology probably came from his mentor, Reverend D. James Kennedy: Akin cites Kennedy’s sermons as important intellectual influences and has been named in Kennedy’s book How Would Jesus Vote? as one of the Reverend’s “favorite statesman.” This is what Akin learned from Kennedy:

Rape victims who chose abortion are “hysterical.”

Rape victims can be responsible for being raped.

The Bible should set our laws about rape and abortion.

Husbands should determine if their wives can have abortions.

Akin’s idea that women experiencing “legitimate” rape won’t get pregnant goes back to Dr. Fred Mecklenburg’s 1972 article “The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician’s Perspective.” These two pages were included with 18 others in the the 1972 anthology Abortion and Social Justice compiled by Dr. Thomas W. Hilger. Mecklenburg had been chairman of obstetrics at Inova Women’s Hospital in Fall’s Church (VA).

The “proof” from the sadistic doctors in the German concentration camps during World War II omitted the fact that highly abused women suffering from malnutrition may not ovulate. Mecklenburg’s wife, Marjory, chaired the National Right to Life Committee and served under both Presidents Ford and Reagan. Her husband conveniently gave her the “science” they needed to show that pregnancy from “legitimate” rape is nonexistent.

Since Akin made his radical statement about “legitimate” rape, Dr. John Willke of the National Right to Life has supported Akin’s belief about rape, claiming that trauma prevents pregnancy. According to Wilkie, “The tubes are spastic.”  [?] Wilkie has strong connections with both Ryan and Romney. He said he met Ryan, who listened to Wilkie’s views and then said, “That’s where I’m at.” Wilkie praised Ryan as “a very obedient Catholic.”

One of Romney’s official campaign surrogates during Romney’s 2008 run for president, Wilkie also met with Romney last October. “He told me ‘thank you for your support–we agree on almost everything, and if I am elected President I will make some major pro-life pronouncements,’” Willke said.

There are at least four scary pieces to the Todd Akin situation:

Akin is already in Congress: he is already making law for the nation. In fact, he’s a member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Akin is not alone in what he believes. Other conservative lawmakers may not struggle with the issue of “legitimate” rape, but they do believe that women are faking rape so that they can abortions for their personal satisfaction. They also believe that women should not have the right to control their own bodies

Akin represents the Republican platform. The platform just passed wants a personhood amendment to outlaw all abortion as well as in vitro fertilization and the most popular forms of contraception.

Akin shows everyone where the Republicans want to take the country.

On MSNBC Tuesday evening, Howard Fineman said: “What matters here and what makes this important politically is not what it might or might not do to the Missouri Senate race, whether he stays in or not, et cetera, Claire McCaskill’s chances of re-election or not. What matters is that the views that Todd Akin has espoused and the legislation he’s supported is exactly in line with what the perspective Republican vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, believes and supported. That’s what turns this into a huge issue. Because Todd Akin is the Paul Ryan of Missouri. And this created a huge problem for the Romney campaign today and yesterday as they sought to sever Todd Akin from Paul Ryan and unite Paul Ryan with the somewhat different view that Mitt Romney now has.” Fineman is right on target.

Once Ryan declared that “Rape is rape”—changing his earlier position–he tried to weasel out of the debate by saying that whatever Romney says, goes, because Ryan isn’t running for president. Sure—just vice president.  Evidently Ryan doesn’t understand that the vice-president might become president. In addition, we’ll never know what Romney thinks because he never takes a position, except in the case of not releasing his tax returns.

New evidence of this comes from Shawn Boyd from the Denver CBS affiliate who talked about Romney’s ground rules for an interview:  “The one stipulation to the interview was that I not ask him about abortion or Todd Akin.” No questions such as whether Romney agrees with the federal ban on all abortions, even in cases or rape or incest, from his own party platform. Or whether he agrees with the 38 anti-abortion bills that his running partner co-sponsored. Or if Romney still supports his 2007 position that he’d be “delighted” to sign a bill that would no longer allow abortions “at all, period.” Does Romney keep to his position, that he revealed to Mike Huckabee, that he “absolutely” supports a “Personhood” measure that would ban abortion and some forms of birth control? Nope. No questions on the subject.

While many Republicans continue to call for Akin’s resignation from the Senate race, it appears that they don’t oppose his views. They’re just afraid of losing votes if their views become openly known. Even more frightening is that it’s now public information that the GOP party platform wants to take away reproductive rights from every woman. All voters need to remember that the Akin agenda is the GOP party platform. Republicans call for Akin’s resignation only because they think he can’t get elected; they want to find somebody else who might in order to get another Republican into the Senate.

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has an excellent suggestion: “As GOP convention planners consider platforms and pledges, they also might contemplate a seminar for Republican men about how the fairer sex works.” If they understand current science regarding women’s bodies, they might come up with better arguments.

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