One Fleeting Moment

The GOP platform committee has put out the official position of the Republican Party going forward in the 2012 election and they have said that the party will not support abortion in any case including cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. All of this comes with the bizarre backdrop of Congressman Todd Akin’s remarks that: “from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare, If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  The Republican party has mysteriously called for Mr. Akin to drop his bid for U.S. Senate, but not his bid for Congress where he sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology.

What is fascinating about this is that Republicans want Akin to drop out because of the words he used not the beliefs that he espoused.  Indeed, many prominent pro-lifers believe this nonsense being spewed and many on the far right actually believe that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” and well, whatever else they call it.  Others back up Akin’s belief that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”  There is a great piece in the Washington Post about the frankly bizarre history of these ridiculous beliefs.  One of the people that is being cited in this debate is Dr. John Willke, a man who believes exactly what Mr. Akin espoused on Sunday, he said that: “There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape” and that: “this can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation, and even nurturing of a pregnancy.”  This does not give Akin free license to say what he said, but it does give a foundation for a belief in principles.

This belief is a false belief that women can somehow “self-abort” a pregnancy because of trauma.  This is a belief not based in fact.  No medical study has ever been produced to back up the claim that women have some supernatural ability to abort a pregnancy using only their body.  Such a belief is absurd.  Statistics show that the likelihood of getting pregnant from rape is equal to the likelihood of a woman getting pregnant from having unprotected sex or about 5% omitting all extenuating factors. What isn’t covered here are the differences between unprotected sex and the circumstances that go along with rape.  Rape can be oral, anal, or vaginal, all factors that could lead one to draw a statistical variation on the pregnancy rate.  Certainly if someone isn’t vaginally raped their statistical probability of getting pregnant goes down significantly, but the crime perpetrated against the woman is no less gruesome and no less cruel.  We should not have to qualify this heinous crime by the way in which it was perpetrated.  We don’t say this about murder, we don’t say this about assault, we shouldn’t say this about rape.

Mr. Akin also espoused another belief that is backed up by Dr. Willke and this is a far more troubling belief and that is that there is a difference between forcible rape or “legitimate” rape as Mr. Akin put it and other types of rape.  Dr. Willke separates them by saying that there are three forms of “forced rape;” ‘regular’ rape (whatever that is,) ‘date’ rape, and ‘statutory’ rape.  Dr. Willke feels as though statutory rape is not forcible.  Statutory rape occurs when a woman has not reached the age of 18 and therefore does not have the ability to consent to sex and therefore by definition it is an act of rape perpetrated upon her by a predator without the consent of the woman.  The victim in this instance cannot consent to sex because they are not an adult.  This isn’t something that should even be up for discussion.  Rape is rape.  When somebody beats you upside the head with a crowbar you don’t expect the cops to sit there and ask what kind of crowbar they used or how hard they hit you or where you were standing in relation to the person who perpetrated the attack.  It’s an assault or if you don’t survive it’s murder.  There is no wiggle room in the laws here.  There are no distinctions that can be made or that should be made.  When you attack someone you don’t do it with consent and by the same token when you rape someone you don’t do it with consent.

All of this brings to light what really should be a central part of the debate in our election and that is what do social conservatives really believe about the human body and let’s say science in general?  This Congressman from Missouri, Mr. Aiken sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology.  I’m going to repeat that because I don’t think enough people are outraged about that: he sits on the House Committee on Science and Technology!  I’ve been getting e-mails from groups like LeftAction, a group that came to prominence during the Rush Limbaugh spat with Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was viciously attacked by Limbaugh, who suggested that if taxpayers were going to pay for birth control that she should be forced to post videos of her sexual encounters for him to view.  Anyways, I’ve been getting e-mails from groups like LeftAction asking me to support their effort to get Mr. Akin thrown off the House Committee on Science and Technology.  I will reiterate the stand that I took yesterday and that is that I believe that Mr. Akin should step down as a member of Congress.

Mr. Akin’s comments are so off the wall that I don’t believe he should be serving in any body of elected Representatives, but obviously the voters of Missouri will make that call in November.  But my response to LeftAction was that he shouldn’t be thrown off the committee, in fact that’s the last thing that he should have happen to him.  If he remains in Congress he should have to stay after class.  That’s what happens when you didn’t understand something in school, why should the standard be different for members of Congress?  Seriously.

Another interesting point on this subject was made by the Daily Beast where they said: “states enacted a record 135 abortion restrictions last year, such as requiring women to view ultrasounds before abortion and banning abortion at the 20th week after conception, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that focuses on reproductive rights.”  This is an alarming trend.  As I noted yesterday the amount of votes that have been taken on abortion-related issues in the U.S. House of Representatives over the last year and a half is absolutely disgraceful.  We have a jobs crisis in America and Republican leaders are out touting bills that would redefine the law as it applies to women’s reproductive rights, where are their heads at?  Maybe they should spend a little more time legislating economic matters and a little less time telling women what to do with their bodies.

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