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Would Democrats regret making their convention an 'anti-Akin affair'?
Liberals see abortion as a winning issue going into the convention, but critics warn that a heavy-handed focus on women's rights could backfire
 
President Obama and Sandra Fluke during a campaign stop on Aug. 8: The Georgetown grad student who spoke out for federal birth control funding will be speaking at the Democratic convention.
President Obama and Sandra Fluke during a campaign stop on Aug. 8: The Georgetown grad student who spoke out for federal birth control funding will be speaking at the Democratic convention.
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Democrats have gleefully seized on recent comments about rape and abortion by Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri, to bolster their argument that the GOP is waging a war on women. Akin's preposterous claim that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant, as well as a proposed GOP platform that would bar rape and incest victims from receiving an abortion, has led Democrats to give several speaking slots to abortion-rights activists at the party's convention in early September. President Obama needs strong support from women if he wants to win re-election, but critics say turning the convention into an "anti-Akin affair" could backfire. After all, only 37 percent of Americans agree with President Obama's position that abortion should be generally available, while an equal number prefer stricter limits than the ones currently in place. Is the Democrats' renewed focus on abortion a bad call?

Yes. Voters want to hear about the economy: "The overwhelming majority of voters don't want to hear about social issues," says John Hinderaker at Power Line. "They want to know how we are going to climb out of the four-year economic funk" that still plagues the nation. "If undecided voters tune into the Democratic convention and hear all about abortion, and tune into the Republican convention and hear all about the economy, Romney will win in a landslide."
"Are the Democrats delusional on abortion?"

And it calls attention to Obama's extreme position: Akin's stance on abortion "is closer to the American mainstream than Obama's," says Rich Lowry at Politico. Yes, most Americans agree that there should be exceptions for rape and incest, but still, "most people oppose most abortions." Obama, on the other hand, is an "extremist on abortion," and "has never supported any meaningful restriction on it." He even opposed a partial-birth abortion ban that passed easily in Congress. The Akin controversy has underscored Obama's "extremism in defense of the widest possible access to abortion."
"Barack Obama the abortion extremist"

Actually, Democrats should expand the abortion discussion: The Democrats' focus on Akin is a mistake, says Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post, but only because they should be fighting a bigger abortion battle. Democrats "are delighted to focus on a tiny subset of abortion exceptions — even as they shy away from standing up for the broader principle that women get to decide whether to continue an unwanted pregnancy, no matter how it happened." The electorate is "disturbingly skeptical" of abortion rights, and a debate "that rallies voters to support the right to abortion in only the most extreme cases" is a disservice to the "vast majority of women who face unwanted pregnancies."
"On abortion, a matter of exception"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

 

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