Rep. Todd Akin wants to ban the “morning after pill,” that prevents — not terminates — pregnancy, which is sadly ironic since some women are forced to use the morning after pill – and pry it works — to ensure after they’ve been raped they don’t get pregnant. Also sadly ironic, Congressman Todd Akin, a Tea Party Republican, thinks that the bodies of women victims of “legitimate rape,” as he called it Sunday, can automagically prevent getting pregnant — all by themselves — without the morning after pill that Congressman Akin wants to ban.
Akin, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Claire McCaskill, was leading in the polls by about eight points. The New York Times think that race may now be now McCaskill’s to lose, after Akin’s comments exploded on the Interwebs yesterday.
Akin, who by some miracle of Republican science, sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, of course, is totally wrong on every single point — the most important one, perhaps, his meddling in the personal medical decisions women make, often with their doctors and their families.
For the record, since no doubt — sadly, given the huge rate of rape in America – some young women will actually hear Akin’s atrocities and think they might not get pregnant because their rape was real, it should be pointed out that women can and do get pregnant by rape, some 32,000 women each year, according to some reports.
For those who think Congressman Akin’s comments aren’t a big deal, (or will quickly blow over or not affect his Senate race greatly,) over the course of their lifetime, approximately one in six U.S> women will be victims of rape. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, each year, there are well over 200,000 victims of sexual assault in the U.S., 80% of whom are under 30, 44% are under 18.
(And also for the record, men are not immune from rape either, although the numbers are reportedly far less.)
Senior Political Reporter Robin Marty at RH Reality Check noted earlier this month:
Speaking on a local radio show, Akin tells the host that he believes the morning after pill should be made illegal, because it causes an abortion. Confusing emergency contraception with RU-486, he claims it causes abortions, and abortions are always wrong. Except maybe, he allows, in cases where there is a tubal pregnancy, since in that case the woman’s life is in danger.
“Representative Todd Akin’s false statement illustrates exactly why politicians should not be meddling in women’s personal medical decisions,” said Planned Parenthood Missouri Advocates via email statement.
The fact is that emergency contraception prevents pregnancy. Abortion ends a pregnancy. Missouri women and families rely on all forms of contraception to prevent pregnancy and stay healthy.
Of course, the more insidious issue, too, is that Congressman Akin thinks that women who are raped actually want it. That’s where the “legitimate rape” concoction comes in. If your “that couldn’t be true” sixth sense is kicking in, read on.
“This isn’t the first time Akin has expressed fringe views about rape in the context of the abortion debate, Nick Baumann, writing for Mother Jones, says. “The idea that women who are ‘legitimate’ rape victims can’t get pregnant has currency in some corners of the fringe right. Akin embraces it. Does he embrace the conspiracy theory about the need for the ‘forcible rape’ language, too?”
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.
But Akin’s comments Sunday are going to cause a problem for the Romney-Ryan 2012 GOP ticket, as Ian Millhiser at Think Progress explains in even more depth:
Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”
Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term. Michelle Goldberg explains who Akin and Ryan would likely target:
Under H.R. 3, only victims of “forcible rape” would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.
Although a version of this bill passed the GOP-controlled House, the “forcible rape” language waseventually removed due to widespread public outcry. Paul Ryan, however, believes that the “forcible rape” language does not actually go far enough to force women to carry their rapist’s baby. Ryan believes that abortion should be illegal in all cases except for “cases in which a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother’s life.” So rape survivors are out of luck.
And, of course, as we learned today, Akin isn’t even sure that “legitimate” rape survivors can get pregnant in the first place.
Of course, Democrats will be using this to remind votes that the GOP is living in the 17th century.
— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) August 19, 2012
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