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Friday, October 28, 2016

Akin Controversy Stirs GOP: Where Do Republicans Stand On Abortion Exemption?

Akin Controversy Stirs GOP: Where Do Republicans Stand On Abortion Exemption?

by Suevon Lee, ProPublica.


A Missouri congressman’s startling remarks about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy have set off a torrent of criticism from his fellow Republicans as well as from Democrats. And the episode has made the abortion issue an unwelcome focus for GOP candidates nationwide.

Key leaders in the Republican Party, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, are urging Rep. Todd Akin to surrender the Republican nomination for the Missouri Senate seat now held by Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who until now has been looking very vulnerable. As of Tuesday afternoon, Akin was holding fast to the nomination, despite backlash from party members and the irritating distraction for the top of the ticket.

Some political and religious spokespeople were expressing support for Akin. The Washington Post also pointed out that others in the past have embraced Akin’s assertion that the trauma of rape can block pregnancy.

By now, Akin’s words — since disavowed — are etched in the public consciousness: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin, who opposes abortion in all cases, said Sunday while interviewed on a St. Louis television station. The congressman later apologized, saying he “misspoke” and that “rape is never legitimate.”

The GOP party platform, which is staunchly pro-life, has not come out in favor of an abortion exemption in cases of rape or incest. Neither the 2004 nor 2008 platforms included such exceptions. News reports state that language of the 2012 platform, heading to a vote next week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, will similarly stay silent on these circumstances.

What these platforms do include is support for a “human life amendment” to the Constitution that would bestow variously defined legal rights on human embryos.

(In contrast, the Democratic Party has expressed a firmer pro-choice stance in recent years, stating in 2008 that it “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion” while in 2004, it stated that abortion “should be safe, legal, and rare.”)

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  • The answer to this rhetorical question is likely to be a tap dance. The ban on all abortions introduced by the GOP as part of their political platform leaves no doubt as to where the party stands on this issue, but getting politicians to state their position may be wishful thinking. Most will play both sides of the defense, if nothing else because they know that one of the reasons President Obama still leads in the polls, is because most women support his agenda and appreciate his accomplishments and focus on women rights.

  • dickensdame

    What I don’t understand is this: If the human embryo is legislated to be a person with all the legal rights of personhood, would an abortion then be a capital offense? Abortions are usually premeditated. If so, would the woman and/or the person who performs the abortion then be subject to trial for murder one? Can anyone clarify this for me?

    • frivolous01

      I would say that you are on the right track. If you do a little internet research you can find a number of cases where a shooting resulted in the death of the mother and the fetus. The person was then charged with 2 cases of murder. I don’t think it’s a reach that a mother would be charged with premeditated murder if she had an abortion under this type of law. Of course, that is also a slippery slope; if the fetus’ life is more important than the mother’s where does it stop? What if the mother does drugs, drinks, smokes, doesn’t eat properly, has rough sex, rides a horse, gets in a physical altercation? Since the fetus is so important than what charges would be levied against the woman if the baby was born deformed or mentally handicapped because of the mother’s actions?

    • The question, for many of us, is not whether or not abortion terminates a human life form, obviously it does. What many of us struggle with is whether or not some people, usually men, have the absolute power to judge and decide who lives and who dies. Take for example the case of a woman whose life would be in danger if she does not abort. Do people like Rep Akin have the right to declare expendable on the outside chance the fetus may survive? Does he have the right to tell a young girl who has been raped or is a victim of incest that she must not abort because doing so is offensive to him?

  • frivolous01

    I had a conversation with one of my sisters yesterday, she is a die hard Republican and very religious. She said that she does not believe in abortion for any reason, not even rape, incest, or the health of the mother. Her point of view was that God made the woman pregnant and that means he wants the baby to be born regardless of the mother’s wishes. Even if it is health of the mother, if he wants the mother to live she will. It was quite eye-opening for me; I would definitely say that Akin’s viewpoint is not outside the Republican main-stream regardless of their posturing otherwise.

    • johninPCFL

      Ask your sister how many jail cells for ex-moms they plan to pay for. Like prohibition, it makes for a nice bumper-sticker, but as public policy it has horrendous side efects.

      Does the rapist get family visitation? Does he have any say in the raising of the child, such as schooling or church? If the mother dies, is he the next of kin that raises the child?

      And even presuming that she has answers to teh secondary questions (which most don’t), these questions persist and will be decided in vacua between when the “personhood amendment” s adopted and when the various legislatures can adopt covering legislation. Adoption and cildren’s law is decided state-by-state, not federally.

    • WhutHeSaid

      You should tell your sister that if God made the woman pregnant, then God can step in and prevent her from having an abortion if He/She feels it’s warranted. The problem arises when people try to force their wishes on others in the name of God. Ask your sister how she would like to have somebody force her to have an abortion against her will. She has as much right to force her will onto others as others have the right to force their will upon her — None at all.

  • Several conservatives have disavowed Todd Akin’s remarks on rape and conception. From their statements, I can’t tell precisely what some of them are repudiating. Is it the junk science, divvying up sexual assault into serious and less-serious criminal acts, or the idea that women routinely fabricate rape charges? It’s more than just a poor choice of words, it’s a poor choice of core values.

    • 13observer

      You mean like “illegal immigration”? Perhaps rapists feel they are within their right to get-off on who ever they please, much like illegal aliens want to get ahead by entering our country illegally. Laws are in place for a reason but we can’t pick and choose which ones we enforce!

      • An illegal immigrant usually just wants to make a better life for his/her family. A rapist wants to force a women to have unwanted sex and may end up with either her becoming pregnant or maybe he just kills her so that she can’t turn him in. Other rapes rely on drugs, alcohol and being too young to consent. If you really are an observer, please note the difference.

        • 13observer

          Ok you obviously didn’t get it the first time so let’s try this. Shoplifters steal so their family can have things that only people better off could afford but……HELLO…… IT IS STILL BREAKING THE LAW! Laws prevent me from coming to your house and punching you in the nose everyday! Now do you get it?

    • bestofandy

      This is an example of Christian “morality” deluding people to think junk science to promote an agenda (i.e. pro-life). Akin is a devout Christian and attempted to delude people with his wacky theory of why raped women don’t get pregnant. He clearly has no respect for science. Where does he stand on Evolution?

    • What they are repudiating is that Akin stated out loud what they are whispering to each other behind closed doors. Their “belief” is that if a woman gets pregnant, it must be concensual sex, not rape.

      • OOPS! Spell check failed again – “consensual”

    • The conservatives don’t have a problem with Akin’s beliefs (misbeliefs?). They’re upset because it may prevent them from gaining a Senate seat and exposes the severity and fairness of many of their claims and beliefs on women’s rights. This could (and should) cost them women’s votes and votes of men who support equality of and fairness to, women.

  • Melvin Chatman

    Isn’t a Sperm alive as it SWIMS to an EGG to Fertilize it to become a “Person”, or is it swimming DEAD?
    Why don’t we just legislate men from having SEX with Women – Problem Solved – DUH!!

    • And Did You Know That Romney Own Stock In A Company Called Stericycle Who’s Main Job Is The Disposal Of Aborted Fetuses!!! How That For A Kick In The Head!!!

    • CPANY

      Yes, a sperm is alive. So is a toenail. So, if we cut our toenails are we committing murder?

    • Your attempt at a pun doesn’t even make sense. Edit your work so that we can know what your point is.

  • They Want To Shut Akin Up Why Most Of Them Believe The Same Thing They Just No Stupid To Get Caught Saying It In Public!! I Never Had An Abortion I Took Birth Control And Even Birth Control Is Something The GOP/Tea Party American Taliban Is Against!! They Need To Mind Their Own Business And Stop Trying To Force Women To Live By Their Rules!! They Will Find Out This November When All These Wars They Raged On Women, Blacks, Gays, Immigrants, Health Care And The Rest Of The Things And People They Have Raged Wars On Will Come Back And Bite Them In Their Asses!!

  • RonTruth

    Since there are more than 1.6 million abortions performed on women in the United States each year, and one statistic which has remained consistent for over 30 years; that 3/5ths of all abortions performed are done on certifiably poor women, with various levels of usually state
    and local funding to pay for it, are Republicans now saying that, because they want that approx.
    1,000,000 babies carried past the first trimester; that is…all the way to birth, that they are willing
    that tax payers, who now pay for abortions in all those cases (1,000,000+), are now willing to allow the use of tax money to pay for not only the normal in-hospital, or birthing center, care of
    mother and child, but also willing to have tax payers pay for the dietary, housing, clothing, medical
    care and education of each child born to a poor, most often single mother who has, in most instances, no family that is able to support her and child???

    I am a professional social worker, and I know what the figures are in the statistical breakdown relating to how abortions are, whether we like it or not (and I do not, but the numbers are what they are) paid for.

    • NutCutter

      According to one source that I read…which you can correct with your database: “93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).”

      There is no excuse 93% of abortions (or whatever your database will show) being for convenience. Why should taxpayers be expected to pay for that? Even a liberal should be appalled at what that number represents in the unneeded additional cost burden to their socialized medicine. Yet we are all expected to embrace it?

      Whatever happened to people being accountable for their own choices and actions? It looks like those who get their abortions of convenience paid for by the tax payer have no consequences for their choices and actions. And that, when people aren’t accountable for their choices and actions, I think, exacerbates the problem. If that’s not the fundamental problem…then what is?

      • english_teacher

        How do you define “convenience”?
        Does “inconvenient” cover a woman whose financial, familial, or educational situation would impose undue hardship on her and the baby, and the rest of her family if she has continues the pregnancy?
        Please offer reliable statistics that support what you say.

        While there is probably a small percentage of women who will use it as a primary means of birth control, it is a difficult and painful decision that the woman must make with the advice and counsel of her doctor. To assume otherwise is to assume that women are incapable of thinking clearly and rationally and of making sound decisions based on the evidence.

        Do you really want to go back to the days of back-room abortionists or home remedies?

        I think that the goal should be to make abortion as infrequent as possible. That means offering family and contraceptive services. If these services are all available, doesn’t that make it easier to be accountable for choices and actions? Because accidents do happen, fetuses become unviable and endanger the health of the woman, there are rape and incest.

      • RonTruth

        Most people do not want to say, even sometimes to themselves, that they are poor and simply have no ability to pay all the expenses that are normally incurred when a child is
        carried to term and born. Most of the time it is those who do not want to admit that poverty plays the most important role in a decision to abort within the first trimester, especially people like interviewers at hospitals and clinics who talk to young women when they go in for required initial contact with a physician to begin working toward an abortion whose reports say that such young women do it for reasons of “inconvenience” or because the child is “unwanted.” Depending on the level of male neglect and, or abuse of the woman, she develops and attitude that no one cares what happens to her, and she begins to look for some form of escape from not knowing how to handle a situation or what to do as her pregnancy moves forward. Too many men do not stay in situations where
        a child is soon to be born and he has no work, or education.

        They could, it seems, try to secure some form of financial aide, but, then again, that is what this whole political battle seems to be about: too many people do not want tax dollars to help anyone, but themselves when, heaven forbit, they are out on a limb and
        need it. It’s that old selfishness thing again.


    I want Akin to be permitted to continue his campaign. The more that voters see what a mainstream Republican stands for, the greater will be the probability that they’ll vote Democratic.

    Keep Akin out there on the campaign trail. He’s the bast thing that has happened to Obama’s campaign.

  • The problem with Romney’s acceptance of exceptions in the case of incest or rape is that he’s proven again and again that he’ll vacillate immediately to retain support.

    He accepts the need for the exception, fine, but he WILL NOT back it up in the face of opposition from the Republican party.

    He’s a waffle, just like the GOP like.

  • bestofandy

    Akin thinks that when women DON’T enjoy sex (i.e. “legitimate rape”) their bodies shut down and don’t get pregnant. He says this because he OPPOSES abortion in the case of rape or incest, and here is his logic. So in HIS CRAZY mind a woman should not get pregnant during rape or incest. No medical person can confirm this, and is his version of junk science. This is why Christians are stupid.

    • dtgraham

      That’s exactly why bestofandy. I’ve just been finding out about this. Didn’t know anything about it. This legitimate rape belief goes back at least 2 thousand years and Chris Hayes said he had quotes from doctors in the middle ages who linked “legitimate” rape with a woman’s reproductive system shutting down. I think he may read these on his show.

      So when you hear that Republican’s attitudes on rape are medieval, I guess that’s literally true.

    • I don’t agree that Christians are stupid. I think that sex and religion are a going commodity for the GOP. There are those Christians, and I fall into this group, that though they don’t like abortion, accept it as a necessary safety valve in the cases of rape and incest. Now, with a wife, daughter and four granddaughters (all teens) I have a little bit of knowledge to draw from. Women know their bodies better than men, so bow to their wisdom. Ok, first there is NO SUCH THING as a “legitimate rape”. Don’t care how the GOP try to bend it. Rape is rape, incest is incest. It seems this is another attempt at P.C., nothing less. Now granted,there are those that follow AKIN, and accept everything he says, as from the lips of God to him. Stupid? I don’t like to use that word, maybe misinformed…or just trying to deal with something that they find distasteful. There are some women, who can get pregnant with sex very quickly. But what about those women that, try as they might, just can’t carry to term…or even begin the process. No, Akin is talking out of his butt, cause his mouth knows better.

      • bestofandy

        I don’t think that Akin is a stupid man, nor did he talk out of his “butt”. Perhaps misinformed about medical science, but still able and seriously willing to become a US senator if he is elected. What leads him to say something so ignorant is his desire to ban abortion, very likely because of his LITERAL belief in Christianity. As Christopher Hitchens would say, religion causes sane people to say and do wicked and ignorant things.

        • I don’t know bestofandy, but it would seem to me that someone of his caliber would at least make the effort to research before making a statement like he did. And maybe, if religion is his base for this statement, we should really consider how much religion would play a part in his thinking process when getting laws pushed through. Not everyone may think like he does, but the laws will effect them none the less. I totally agree with Mr. Hitchens statement.

  • Republicans are against rape, abortions, for certain. On exceptions –incest, rape, death of mother– they change daily and offer No concensus.

  • dtgraham

    As the article points out, it isn’t just Akin. You have Personhood amendments to their party’s constitution which would criminalize all abortions for any reason with no exception and ban oral contraceptives, and Republican congressmen redefining rape into different categories, including forcible rape. The other categories being less important. In “forcible”, the woman has to prove that she fought back in some way, just as in Sharia law a woman needs 4 male witnesses to prove rape. Sort of similar. Now Huckabee and others are coming to the guy’s defence after the initial uproar.

    I recently saw a documentary called Saving Face which dealt with the prevalence of Pakistani women having acid thrown in their faces by their partners. Pakistan is a highly moralistic, horribly patriarchal, hyper religious society with non stop references to God and faith, and courts looking the other way on these matters. What do you think I was reminded of?

    I normally don’t like exaggerated rhetoric and overblown hyperbole, but I couldn’t help but think of Akin and the whole direction that the Republican party has been taking for the last number of years while watching this thing. You couldn’t help it. While obviously it’s not the same thing, it is the same idea—-it’s along the same lines. It’s a scaled down, mini-version of the Pakistani mindset, and as time goes on, I’m wondering just exactly how scaled down it is.