Monday, August 20, 2012

A Swift Punch In The Teeth

As the media ramps up for the two major parties' political conventions, the first of which starts a week from today, the 2012 campaign season is truly beginning in earnest. That means that the media - including us - truly needs to begin looking at how each major party and it's candidates plan to govern if they win.

A perfect example of the Republican governing philosophy towards women and rape was on display this weekend at a local TV station in St. Louis, Missouri.

According to Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin, "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," Akin said. “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

If, after hearing what that Republican politician said, you feel like someone punched you in the head with a horseshoe-laden glove, you're not alone  -  Rep. Akin's statement has also sent shockwaves through the political atmosphere.

Here's another punch to the head: Back in 2011, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, co-sponsored a proposed amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives with Rep. Akin that would have redefined the legal definition of rape.

The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would have only given legal protections to women who had been raped if they had experienced "forcible rape" - meaning assault with rape. Victims of statutory rape, rape by being drugged (including alcohol), rape by coercion, or virtually any other kind of rape would no longer have had the same options for help from authorities if it were up to Representatives Akin and Ryan, and many other Tea Party members of the GOP-led House.

This kind of anti-woman position is nothing new from the Republican Party. Both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum displayed their beliefs, earlier this year, that rape was something other than a violent attack. In fact, those who currently lead the GOP actually think ideas like these are something to be proud of. Paul Ryan even hailed Rep. Akin's leadership during the recent three-way Republican primary in Missouri.

While Akin had apologized for his comments by 5 PM Sunday, the fact remains that Akin - and in fact MANY of those in the current Republican Party leadership - believe that some forms of rape are "legitimate."

There are those conservatives who repudiated Akin's comments, and who might have thought for a moment that maybe Mitt Romney might use Akin's comment as a "Sista Souljah moment" - a chance for Romney to repudiate some of the most extremist anti-woman views of the current Republican Party.

We remind them that if Mitt Romney were going to have a more evolved view of women's rights, it's unlikely that he would have chosen the co-sponsor of a bill that rolled back the definition of rape half a century. All that the Romney/Ryan camp said Sunday night was that they "disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape."

That meek assurance gives us no real confidence at all.

Know that if you align yourself with the current version of the Republican Party, and you plan to vote for politicians like Mr. Ryan and Mr. Akin, this is the kind of legislation Republican lawmakers plan on enacting, should they win.

We sincerely hope that America's women and men remember this as they head to the polls this autumn - and hand those who believe in ideas like "legitimate rape" a swift and painful defeat.

No comments:

Post a Comment