Missouri Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Rep. Todd Akin became probably the 3rd best known Republican candidate in the country when in an interview last Sunday, after being asked why he would outlaw abortion even in the case rape he replied “First of all, from what I understand from doctors that [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.” He’s been apologizing profusely every since, saying he “misspoke” in “off the cuff remarks”. That’s not good enough for the GOP establishment, who haven’t stopped calling for Akin to withdraw from the race pretty much since the words came out of his mouth. A chorus line of GOP party bosses have all called for Akin to drop out of the Missouri US Senate race. When they couldn’t force Akin out with talk, they tried money – Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS Super-PAC says it won’t spend any money for the Missouri Senate race. For now. A GOP official said the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) would pull the $5 million it planned to spend on the race unless Akin quit. Why? While he may have mangled the explanation of his rationale for supporting making abortion illegal under all circumstances, even in cases of rape, incest, or when a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, that position is shared by Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan, and is a “plank” in the Party’s platform – the official position of the Republican Party. No, these GOP leaders don’t disagree with Rep. Akin’s underlying position – they just worry he might lose his Senate race because he spoke too frankly about what they support. Any hope that the GOP might win control of the U.S. Senate runs right through Missouri. They care much more about that then standing up for their close friend and collegue.
I don’t believe would be Republican Senator Rep. Akin really misspoke – the extreme right anti-abortion folks have been pushing this notion that somehow a woman’s body has this magic defense mechanism to prevent pregnancy from rape from some time. It’s their defense from being accused of being heartless bastards for wanting to force a woman carry a pregnancy from a brutal rape to full term. One of the folks Rep. Akin might have got this nonsense from is radical anti-abortion activist Dr. John Wilke who, despite overwhelming actual statistical evidence to the contrary, claims the pregnancies from rape are “very rare”. Willke, president of the Life Issues Institute, wrote a book with a chapter on rape from which Akin could have easily gotten his ideas:
“Her body is upset.Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle … Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain which is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.”
That’s likely also where Rep. Akin got his notions about “legitimate rape” – only a “real rape” would produce the trauma to trigger this magic defense to thwart pregnancy. In a “not-real rape” (she just wasn’t really in the mood, drank too much, or perhaps just had a headache?), there wouldn’t be the trauma to induce the magic defense. Never heard of Dr. John Wilke? Well, Mitt Romney knows exactly who he is. In a Press Release from the Romney Campaign, Mitt Romney enthusiastically accepted Dr. Wilke’s endorsement:
Today, Dr. John Willke, a founder of the Pro Life Movement, endorsed Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign for our nation’s highest office. Dr. Willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for Governor Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda. [...]
Welcoming Dr. Willke’s announcement, Governor Romney said, “I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country. He knows how important it is to have someone in Washington who will actively promote pro-life policies. Policies that include more than appointing judges who will follow the law but also opposing taxpayer funded abortion and partial birth abortion. I look forward to working with Dr. Willke and welcome him to Romney for President.”
In 2007, Wilke praised Romney as the “the only candidate who can lead our pro-life and pro-family conservative movement to victory”. Mitt Romney is happy to have the support from a man who formulated what Rep. Akin claimed, that women have a magic defense from getting pregnant from a “real” rape, yet now he calls for Rep. Akin to withdraw from the race? Et tu, Brute?
Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has an especially close relationship with Rep. Akin. They’ve served together in the House for almost 12 years, and Ryan has co-sponsored many of Rep. Akin’s anti-abortion bills, including including some that make no allowance for rape. Among the bills Ryan co-sponsored was a measure that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound first. Yes, that requirement that Virgina Republican legislators tried to pass last year – that any woman considering an abortion have her most sensitive body part be penetrated with a vagina probe, even if she had already been penetrated against her will as a victim of rape. Two bills that Ryan co-sponsored with Todd Akin last year would have restricted the definition of rape. The measures sought to prohibit federal funds from being used for abortion, except under certain conditions, with both bills as introduced using the term “forcible rape” as an exception to the funding ban. No bruises, no broken bones? No abortion for you. Yet Rep. Akin reports that his good friend Paul Ryan called him personally yesterday and “advised me that it would be good for me to step down”. Et tu, Brute?
Rep. Akin says “The people of Missouri chose me to be their candidate, and I don’t believe it’s right for party bosses to decide to override those voters”. That’s probably the one of the few areas in which I can agree with Mr. Akin. He won a hard fought primary battle just weeks ago, with Missouri’s Republican voters choosing him over two other conservative Republicans – two conservatives who stressed their fiscal conservatism, not religious conservatism that Todd Akin stressed. Republican voters chose Rep. Akin, and they deserve candidate they chose, not someone party bosses pick.
Rep. Akin also says the voters deserve a race based on the issues, and that voters deserves to know where the candidates stand on the issues. No disagreement from me there either. Mitt Romney says “Congressman Ryan and I disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape”. Oh yeah? Well, you say alot of things that change over time. And your Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan was a co-sponsor of a House bill last year defining human life as beginning with fertilization and granting “personhood’’ rights to embryos, a bill which would outlaw abortions in all cases, and would also restrict some forms of birth control such as the “morning after pill”. And the platform of your party says if they gain control they would pass a Constitutional Amendment that will outlaw any and all abortion forever, even in cases of rape, incest, or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. If you want us to really believe that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape, then repudiate those positions. As you told Harry Reid: Put up or shut up.