Republican candidate for United States Senate from Missouri Todd Akin:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.
Republican Rep. Joe Walsh:
Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, running against Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, told reporters Thursday night that there should be no abortion exception for the “life of the mother” because “with modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” in which a woman would actually die, according to a radio station. Walsh, of course, is flat wrong.
Republican Rep. Steve King:
Iowa Congressman Steve King (R) pointedly refused to say whether he believes contraception should be sold legally in the United States. King, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the seminal Supreme Court decision of Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned a state ban on the sale of contraception.
As to whether he was “personally against” the sale of contraception, King said “I’ve not taken a position on the sale of contraceptives at all.”
Republican candidate for United States Senate from Indiana Richard Mourdock:
“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said.
Each of these statements, when viewed alone, strikes me as startling. None of them reflect well on the candidates or office-holders who spoke them. All of them indicate either profound ignorance, a perverted view of divine will, a distressing lack of respect for personal autonomy, or some combination thereof. By my lights, none of these men belong in Congress, most certainly not the ones who can’t be bothered to learn the basic facts about how women’s bodies work.
Viewed in aggregate, these statements are truly horrifying. They represent an immensely worrisome lurch to the hard right on the part of Congressional Republicans. For as long as I can remember, exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother were broadly accepted as reasons for abortions that few would question. (My co-blogger has already addressed the question of the particular stipulation regarding incest.) And yet we find ourselves faced with not one but several candidates who are on the record as thinking those exceptions are unnecessary canards or morally unacceptable. (Lest anyone claim these views are from the fringes of the party, there’s not a lot of daylight between some of what’s expressed above and the policy positions of a certain Vice-Presidential nominee.)
A few times during my residency I had the hard duty of caring for young women in the emergency department after they had been sexually assaulted. I strove to be as compassionate, respectful and supportive as possible, and to exercise tremendous care when collecting the forensic evidence necessary to prosecute the crime. One of the things I did for all of these patients was offer them emergency contraception to prevent them from getting pregnant as a result of being raped. It appalls me to think that men like these who would presume to set public policy about women’s reproductive rights would foreclose that option for rape victims, which is a perfectly plausible endpoint to consider when discussing what they’ve said.
Women can get pregnant when they are raped. Women can die of pregnancy-related complications. (I’m not even going to bother inserting links, because any halfway intelligent third-grader could find this information within seconds on the Internet.) Fools who dispute this should seek employment somewhere other than Capitol Hill. It boggles the mind that any answer other than “Of course!” would spring from the lips of a member of Congress when asked if women should have legal access to contraception. And telling rape victims they must carry their rapist’s child to term because that’s what you think God wants is one of the most nauseating example of fundamentalist extremism I’ve seen for a very long time, and offends not only my notion of civics but also my theology.
Yet here we are, America. When one moron from Missouri says something jaw-droppingly stupid, perhaps one could dismiss it as a fluke and watch as the GOP kisses its chance of an easy pick-up goodbye. (Sweet fancy Moses, please let the polls hold.) When numerous politicians from the Republican Party are inconveniently honest about their antediluvian views regarding women’s reproductive tracts, it’s time to think about what that party has come to represent. Especially when a politician of that ilk has been elevated to the national ticket.
It is no surprise at all that the gender gap in voting behaviors is at near-historic highs. As a gay man, I’ve noted the GOP’s views about what rights I should have and have come to the conclusion that I can’t possibly vote for one of them in the foreseeable future. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if many women had come to a similar conclusion.