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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Real Motive for Todd Akin's Comment

I just heard Hogan Gidley tell Thomas Roberts on MSNBC that Rep. Akin's comment about women not getting pregnant from "legitimate" or forcible rape has no connection to the view that life begins at conception and abortion should therefore be prohibited at any time after conception and regardless of the circumstances of conception (such as rape).  Gidley says "leftist Democrats" are seeking to "tether" Akin's comment to the GOP position prohibiting all abortion when in fact there is no connection between Akin's comment and the GOP position.

Other Republicans have said similar things in the past day.

And they're all untrue.

Why did Akin make his comment in the first place?   Clearly, because he was trying to justify the prohibition of abortion in cases of rape by saying in real or forcible or "legitimate" cases of rape, there would be no pregnancy (because, according to the junk, pseudo science that Akin alluded to, the woman's body would somehow prevent conception from taking place in cases of forcible rape).  Whether Akin - and others who quietly support his position - feel guilty about prohibiting abortion in cases of rape, or, more cynically, find such a position politically untenable, their motive in accepting this non-scientific nonsense is to hold that all cases of pregnancy are in some sense wanted by the woman or not resisted by the woman in "non-forcible" rape.  This shifts the burden of responsibility in such non-forcible cases to the woman, which in turns makes it less repugnant to anyone with any decency to insist that victims of rape be obliged to bring any resulting pregnancy to term.  The Republican implication is that, if woman would just practice more self-control, there would no unwanted pregnancy in the first place.

But the fact is that as even Akin now has been pressured to admit, all rape is, by definition, against the victim's will.    So does that mean rape victims should not be prohibited from having abortions?  Romney and Ryan, in the wake of Akin's statement, have said rape should be an exception from any no abortion policy - but this contradicts their earlier positions and the platform of the Republican Party.   Gidley's implication - in saying Akin's statement has no connection to the GOP policy of total prohibition of abortion - is that Republicans could condemn Akin's statement but still support a total no abortion policy. 

But if Republicans agree that Akin's statement is absurd, they'll have to come up with another justification for prohibiting abortion even in cases of rape.  The view that human life begins at conception - also nonscientific, because although the embryo has a full set of DNA, the DNA has not yet created a complete human being - is not only questionable, but not enough to warrant government regulation of women's bodies.

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