I imagine a public figure has a lot of pressure on them to never make a gaffe. I get that and sympathize with it. If I was on TV 24/7 I can guarantee you it wouldn’t take long before I said something patently idiotic. However, there is a difference between a single gaffe and a pattern. And there is a difference between what I say as a private citizen (and let’s face, a nobody) and that of, say, a U.S. Congressman.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent extremely unfortunate and offensive statement made by Congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) regarding rape. He essentially told a reporter that from what he “understands from doctors” that assuming we are talking about “cases of legitimate rape” the “female body has a way of shutting that down” (i.e. preventing pregnancy). Anyone that took Sex Ed (not the abstinence kind, but the kind that actually educated you about sex) would know that the line about a woman’s body being able to shut a pregnancy down is complete crap. Beyond that little bit of stupid it’s the word “legitimate” that really sets people off, and rightly so. This statement has made Akin an embarrassment for the entire GOP in a highly contentious election year and he has been roundly criticized and asked to exit the race for the Senate in which he is a candidate (against Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Dem he is trying to unseat). Until today, Akin has been defiant about exiting the race.
I would be willing forgive, forget and accept his defiance if this was a one time thing. However, it isn’t. Congressman Akin has a history of saying things like this and meaning it. He has been for many years now, an Anti-Abortion advocate who does not believe in exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. In other words, if you are raped or molested and get pregnant, in Akin’s world you will have that baby NO MATTER WHAT. 10 years old and underdeveloped bones? Doesn’t matter. 50 years old with high blood pressure? Doesn’t matter. Have cancer and need chemo? Doesn’t matter. You don’t get chemo, the baby will be delivered (presuming you live that long without treatment) and then you would have Akin’s permission to die. How do I know this? Because of the following:
- In 1991, as a state legislator Akin voted for an anti-marital rape law–meaning a law that would allow husbands to rape their wives.
- In 2011, Akin co-sponsored a bill to say that Federal monies could only help pay for an abortion in the case of a “forcible rape”1.
- In 2012, Akin has been pushing to ban the morning after pill–something routinely given to most rape victims when they are examined at a hospital
Dig a little deeper and I’m sure we would find MUCH much more in Akin’s history. In regards his co-conspirators you don’t even have to dig much to find them on the national scene. Paul Ryan, GOP VP Candidate, has been a part of and supported every single one of the most extreme Pro-Life legislation in the nation’s history. While he is on the campaign trail, he is scheduled to headline the Values Voters Summit headed by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council-a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center . The Republican Party has drafted their platform ahead of the convention next week and has added a ban on abortion, without exception to the list. In 2011, during an interview Mitt Romney said he would support an amendment to the Constitution that life begins at conception–i.e., a Personhood Amendment–and any violation of that would be a crime, no matter what (and he supported it while Gov of Mass). You get the point.
So Akin can apologize all he wants, but he meant the concept of “legitimate” as in “real” (because women are manipulative liars), as in “forced” (because women are slutty but lie about it afterward) and possibly “violent” (because it’s only real if you’ve had the crap beat out of you during the rape). And for all of that, he needs to go. Furthermore, the American people need to hold any politician2 regardless of party responsible for such statements AND for such beliefs, no matter how many apologies or disavowals they conveniently make in this election year. I’m sorry but Romney’s and Ryan’s calls for Akin’s withdrawal from the Senate race rings a little false to me because their actions have been speaking much louder than their words for many years now.
1. Silly me, I thought rape by definition means a lack of consent and thereby “forced”. I guess people like Akin are living in a different world than I do and speaking a different language.
2. Partial list of politicians who believe the same things and have taken action while in government to impose their extreme views on women.
- Mitt Romney – former Gov (R-MA)
- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
- Rep Steve King (R-CO)
- Eric Cantor (R-GA)
- Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL)
- Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)
- Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)
- Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI)
- Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
- State Rep Pete DeGraaf (R-KS)
- Rick Santorum – former Senator (R-PA)
- Michele Bachmann (R-)
- Newt Gingrich -former Senator (R-GA)
- Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)
- Mike Huckabee – former Gov (R-AR) and many, many more