Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Christian Taliban's candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, culture warrior Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), sparked a firestorm of controversy on Sunday with an interview he gave to a local television station. Todd Akin On Abortion: 'Legitimate Rape' Victims Have 'Ways To Try To Shut That Whole Thing Down' (VIDEO):
In an interview with KTVI-TV on Sunday, the GOP Senate nominee was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape.
"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," said Akin said of pregnancy caused by rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist."
Watch the video (below the fold).
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was "stunned" by Akin's Sunday comments.
"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," McCaskill added in a statement. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
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Akin's comments on abortion and rape come less than two weeks after he suggested banning the morning-after pill.
“As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country,” he said in an Aug.8 interview with KCMO radio.
Now, many of you are asking "WTF is this idiot Todd Akin talking about, "legitimate" rape?" The idea that women who are "legitimate" rape victims can't get pregnant has currency in some corners of the fringe right. [Update: Where the whole "real rape can't get you pregnant" idea comes from.]
This goes back to the fight at the beginning of this Tea-Publican Congress in January 2011 when the Christian Taliban wing of the Tea-Publican Party sought to redefine rape to narrow the Hyde Amendment exceptions for publicly funded abortions. Nick Baumann explaines in The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape | Mother Jones (Jan. 28, 2011):
Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
So when Rep. Akin uses the term "legitimate" rape he actually meant "forcible" rape as the majority of the Tea-Publican Party has sought to redefine rape. Rep. Akin issued a statement saying he "misspoke" but he did not alter his fundamental position that a pregnancy takes precedence over the rape victim. Nick Baumann updated his reporting on Sunday, Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, and Redefining Rape | Mother Jones:
This isn't the first time Akin has expressed fringe views about rape in the context of the abortion debate. Last year, Akin, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and most of the House GOP co-sponsored a bill that would have narrowed the already-narrow exceptions to the laws banning federal funding for abortion—from all cases of rape to cases of "forcible rape."
After I reported on the "forcible rape" language in January 2011, a wave of outcry from abortion-rights, progressive, and women's groups led the Republicans to remove it. But a few months later, in a congressional committee report, Republicans wrote that they believed the bill would continue to have the same effect despite the absence of the "forcible" language.
So why was the "forcible" language so important? Pro-life advocates believed they needed to include the word "forcible" in the law to pre-empt what National Right to Life Committee lobbyist Doug Johnson called a "brazen" effort by Planned Parenthood and other groups to obtain federal funding for abortions for any teenager by (falsely) claiming statutory rape. Abortion rights groups, Johnson warned, wanted to "federally fund the abortion of tens of thousands of healthy babies of healthy moms, based solely on the age of their mothers." Richard Doerflinger, the US Council of Catholic Bishops' top anti-abortion lobbyist, echoed Johnson in congressional testimony, arguing that the "forcible" language was "an effort on the part of the sponsors to prevent the opening of a very broad loophole for federally funded abortions for any teenager." Planned Parenthood flatly denied having a plan to open up such a loophole.
Rep. Akin's comment reflects the mainstream view of the majority of the Tea-Publican Caucus in Congress. Akin's ignorant comment is not the product of the lunatic ravings of a madman. But that is what the GOP would have you believe today as they attempt to distance themselves from Akin's ignorant comment and to throw him under the bus. Mitt Romney Distances Self From Todd Akin's Legitimate Rape' Comments:
In response to Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) inflammatory comment on Sunday that "legitimate rape" victims rarely get pregnant and therefore do not need abortions, Mitt Romney's campaign said that he and running mate Paul Ryan support abortion rights for rape victims.
"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, told The Huffington Post.
While Saul's statement is consistent with Romney's position on abortion, it's a clear departure from Ryan's position, which is that abortion should only be legal in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. Ryan sponsored a fetal personhood bill, which would effectively criminalize abortion and some forms of birth control without exceptions for rape victims.
“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” he told the Weekly Standard in 2010. “You’re not going to have a truce.”
Ryan also cosponsored the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" with Akin in 2011.
Willard "Mittens" Romney on Monday rebuked Rep. Todd Akin for his assertion that "legitimate rape" victims rarely get pregnant. Mitt Romney: Todd Akin Rape Comments Are 'Insulting, Inexcusable':
"Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," he told National Review Online. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
He added that his view was "entirely different" and that Akin's statement was "entirely without merit and and he should correct it."
He did not, however, call on Akin to bow out of the race.
GOP campaign operatives are calling on Rep. Akin to exit the race and throw him under the bus for having the temerity to speak what the majority of the Tea-Publican Caucus actually believes.
Check out the GOP concern trolls Joe Scarborough and Mark Halperin on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning, who are joined by Sen. Claire McCaskill for the interview.
Sen. McCaskill warned top Republican officials on Monday that any efforts to push Rep. Todd Akin out of the Senate race against her, following his remarks about "legitimate" rape victims not getting pregnant, would backfire. Claire McCaskill Reacts To Todd Akin's 'Legitimate Rape' Remarks:
"I think for Washington party insiders to come in and try to invalidate the votes of Missourians would be radical," McCaskill said in a phone interview with The Huffington Post. "I think that would be a very radical thing to have happen, and I can't imagine how the Republican primary voters would think about that in Missouri."
"I think there would be a significant backlash," she added. "I'm not sure that would have a good ending for the Republican Party."
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By Monday morning, top Republican officials were calling on him to resign, with strategist Mike Murphy summarizing the sentiment in a tweet: "Akin should put good of GOP first and resign nomination now after his idiotic comment. Senate control too important."
Once again, Rep. Akin is being thrown under the bus for having the temerity to speak what the majority of the Tea-Publican Caucus actually believes, including GOP veep nominee Paul Ryan and the 227 House cosponsors and 36 Senate cosponsors of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" - including Arizona's Rep. Jeff Flake (who is running for Senate), Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Ben Quayle, Rep. David Schweikert, and Sen. Jon Kyl.
UPDATE: Excellent point from Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog, Defining Away Rape:
The enduring significance of Akin’s “gaffe” (which meets the Kinsley Gaffe definition of an utterance that reveals the pol’s true feelings) may be to force anti-choicers in one direction or the other: towards the morally repugnant view that rape and incest victims need to be forced to carry pregnancies to term, and the morally inconsistent position that a zygote’s status and rights depend on the circumstances of its conception. Defining away rape won’t cut it any more.