Abortion: Will Akin’s ‘rape’ blunder hurt Republicans?

Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican congressman and Senate candidate, caused a national furor with his claim that women cannot be impregnated by rapists.

“I almost feel sorry for Todd Akin,” said Joan Walsh in Salon.com. The Missouri Republican congressman and Senate candidate triggered a national furor last week with his deeply ignorant claim that women cannot be impregnated by rapists, because in the case of “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies have “ways to shut that whole thing down.” Akin’s statement not only horrified women, it panicked his fellow Republicans, who knew it would put a spotlight on their alliance with right-wing religious extremists. So they unsuccessfully pleaded with him to withdraw from the Senate race. But in his clumsy way, Akin was just trying to justify what has become mainstream Republican thinking—that abortion should be banned in all circumstances, even in the case of rape or incest. “The truth is that Akin is typical of today’s GOP, not some outlier,” said Frank Rich in NYMag.com. This year’s Republican Party platform calls for the same total abortion ban Akin supports. Paul Ryan, the party’s vice presidential candidate, describes himself as being “as pro-life as a person gets,” and has co-sponsored nearly 40 anti-abortion bills in the House. He even joined Akin as a co-sponsor of a “personhood” bill that nefariously distinguished between “forcible rape” and other types of rape.

Akin is an idiot, said Mark Salter in RealClearPolitics.com. But his notion that rape victims “have special birth control powers” is his alone, not the Republican Party’s. What many pro-life Republicans do believe is that life begins at conception. If you sincerely hold that view, it follows naturally that the “unborn children of crime victims” deserve protection, even if they were conceived “in an awful act of violence.” Given the threats facing the country, why are we even arguing about abortion? said Mark Steyn in NationalReview.com. I’ll tell you why: Democrats don’t want to talk about Obama’s broken promises, the stagnant economy, or the ruinous deficit. Hence their phony claim of a GOP “war on women,” and their strenuous efforts to make Akin “the face of the Republican Party.”

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