Appearing Monday on Mike Huckabee’s radio show, Representative Todd Akin (R-KS), the embattled Republican candidate for Senate, expressed regret for his bizarre comments about “legitimate rape” over the weekend. “I’ve really made a couple of serious mistakes here which were just wrong, and I need to apologize for those,” Akin said. “There is no such thing as legitimate rape. It’s an evil act and it’s committed by violent predators. …”
Later on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Akin addressed his assertion that women who are the victims of so-called “legitimate rape” are not likely to get pregnant. He claimed to have read a medical report confirming this notion, but now no longer believes it. He probably read such a claim because it’s common in pro-life circles, along with the canard that abortion causes breast cancer. It’s a central part of the argument many conservatives make when suggesting that abortion should not be legal, even in cases of rape and incest.
In reality, 25,000 rapes a year result in pregnancies, a fact that pro-lifers go to great lengths to dispute. Why? If a woman can only be impregnated when she’s consenting, this justifies completely criminalizing all abortions.
The crusade to ban all abortions includes many if not most elected Republicans. The runner up in this year’s GOP primary Rick Santorum endorses it, along with Rick Perry. Even soon-to-be vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was anti-abortion rights without exception — until he became Mitt Romney’s running mate. Romney once bragged about having the support of the man who helped Akin come up with his views on “legitimate rape.”
Romney now claims he believes in exceptions for rape and incest — yet when he was pursuing his party’s nomination, he supported the Human Life Amendment, which promotes a ban on all abortions and certain types of birth control.
Bryan J. Fischer–a conservative who is unafraid of clearly stating his anti-abortion rights views—defended Akin:
What Akin meant by “legitimate rape:” actual forcible rape, not consensual sex that later gets called rape. Come on, people.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) August 20, 2012
The idea of “forcible rape” is central to the pro-life movements attempt to criminalize all abortion,by planting into law automatic suspicion of women who are raped. Paul Ryan was co-sponsor of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which would have banned any federal funding for any abortion that wasn’t caused by a “forcible rape” — a definition that does not exist in criminal law.
Todd Akin made the unfortunate choice of choosing perfectly wrong words to express conventional wisdom among right-wing Republicans. Although party leaders may force Akin to withdraw from the Missouri Senate race, his views will continue to dominate the modern Republican party.
That outrage you hear from the right — the noisy clamor to drive Akin out — has nothing to do with his beliefs, but everything to do with people starting to pay attention to what the Republican right really believes.
In fact, the Republican National Convention is about to enshrine views that are closer to Akin’s than Romney’s new views on abortion rights in its platform. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children,” says draft language about to be voted on by the convention’s platform committee.
If Romney and Ryan want to show that they’re different than Todd Akin and believe that abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest, why aren’t they fighting to have that made perfectly clear in their party’s platform?
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File