Just when the GOP hoped that it could finally move on from Rep. Todd Akin’s flawed biology lesson, two Republican politicians have once again revived the issue of rape and abortions in the clumsiest way possible.
Tom Smith, a coal mine owner who is the Republican challenger to incumbent Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, said yesterday that he opposes abortion in all circumstances, with no exceptions for rape or incest. He then went on to compare pregancies caused by rape to “having a baby out of wedlock.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
Asked by a reporter how he would counsel a daughter or granddaughter who had been impregnated by rape, Smith said: “I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. . . . Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t rape.”
Pressed as to what he was talking about, Smith responded: “Having a baby out of wedlock.” After that, he seemed to struggle to articulate what he meant.
“That’s similar to rape?” a reporter asked.
“No, no, no,” said Smith, who was referring to a daughter’s decision to have a child outside marriage. Then he added, “But, well, put yourself in a father’s position. Yes, I mean, it is similar.”
Although Smith quickly backtracked and reiterated that he did not mean to make the comparison, his staunch opposition to rape exemptions conveys his meaning perfectly well.
Smith is not the only Republican who’s struggling to talk about rape. Gawker recently uncovered a video of Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch ripping Akin’s comments as “abhorrent” and “insulting,” then declaring that “Rape is a rape. I don’t know how you can categorize it, and it’s disgusting that Todd Akin would have tried to categorize it.”
Just seconds later, after being informed that Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill categorizing “forcible rape,” Kleefisch pulled a remarkable 180 degree turn.
“Well, I think there is a way to have a more forcible rape, the same way there are different types of assault,” Kleefisch said.
Even without politicians like Smith and Kleefisch around to helpfully remind voters of the GOP’s extremist position on abortion, there are signs that this issue won’t go away. According to a new Pew Research Survey, Americans are more interested in learning what’s in the Republican platform than they are in Mitt Romney’s convention speech.
They won’t like what they find out. As thisDaily Kos/SEIU poll shows, 75 percent of voters oppose the platform’s “Akin plank” which supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion with no exceptions. Furthermore, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that Mitt Romney’s comfortable lead in Missouri completely evaporated in the wake of Akin’s comments, leaving him tied with President Obama in what now appears to be a swing state. If Romney loses Missouri, his chances of winning the election would be negligible at best.