I am a father. I have a ten year old daughter. She is the light of my life, just like the kids in your life are probably the light of yours.
In the interest of full disclosure and before we go any further, I am a registered Democrat who actively votes. I voted for Clinton. I campaigned for Gore but voted for John Hagelin when I lived in Maryland. I voted for Kerry both for Senate and for President. I voted for President Obama. I intend to do so again.
I am a liberal.
But, hot damn, the issue of rape and basic biology are not and should not be a liberal/conservative issue.
The extreme right wing of the GOP, however, has consistently come down against women–against victims–on the issue of rape, and it is sickening and terrifying.
You are all likely aware by now of GOP Representative and MO Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comments that a “legitimate rape” is unlikely to result in pregnancy, because he believes a woman’s body has ways of “shutting that down.”
What a relief that must be to the more than 31,000 American women alone who were impregnated by non-consensual sex each year to know that they were not “legitimately” raped, and they can just go about their lives freed of that burden.
Today, GOP Rep. Stephen King said he had “never heard of” a woman or girl being impregnated by statutory rape or incest. That’s right – apparently, it’s not going to result in a baby if you rape a relative or young girl.
First of all, these elected officials somehow do not understand that human beings are evolved (well, there’s part of the problem right there–you have to understand that EVOLUTION IS A THING) to be baby factories, and that mindset is *not* relative to fertility. Fear will not make you less fertile. Pain will not make you less fertile.
RAPE will not make you less fertile.
This assault on rape victims by the GOP is not new, or an isolated incident. It is a matter of clear policy, with a clear public record to back it up.
In 2011, Rep. Akin, Rep. King, Rep. Paul Ryan (yep, the GOP Vice Presidential candidate) and a number of other House Republicans sponsored H.R. 3. This bill would have changed existing law, which allowed federal funding of abortions to rape, incest, and in instances where abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother. The proposed new language would have changed “rape” to “forcible rape,” opening the door to forcing women to carry to term pregnancies resulting from statutory rape, incest, instances where the woman was drugged or incapacitated, or mentally unfit to consent to sex.
The current – as in, approved yesterday (note, just days after the Akin outcry) – GOP abortion plank to be put forward at their convention next week calls for a constitutional anti-abortion amendment that makes no exception for rape. It is the official position of the Republican Party that a woman who is pregnant as a result of a rape must carry that fetus, that daily reminder of her violation, to term. She must carry 50% of the genes of her rapist with her, for nearly a year, and then decide whether to raise the child or put it up for adoption.
GOP-controlled legislatures have tried to put forth “Personhood” amendments, claiming that life begins at conception (or, in some cases, before conception!). These have by-and-large failed thus far, but claim Paul Ryan (again, the GOP Vice Presidential nominee) as a supporter. If life begins at conception, it is conceivable that a raped and impregnated woman could be called a murderer–legally–for terminating the pregnancy.
Next month, Governor Romney, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, and other members of the GOP hierarchy will be speaking that the “Values Voters Summit,” billed as the “premier conservative event now in the country” by Sean Hannity, alongside Bryan Fishcher. Fischer is a policy director at the American Family Association, a conservative “think-tank,” and GOP assault arm. Fischer has also emerged in the past days as an avowed Akin supporter, claiming that the media has grossly distorted Akins comments (yeah, watch the video) and going so far as to quote a widely debunked 1999 essay by the former president of the National Right To Life Committee:
To get and stay pregnant a woman’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that 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. So what further percentage reduction in pregnancy will this cause? No one knows, but this factor certainly cuts this last figure by at least 50 percent and probably more.
Fisher went on in his statements to say “In other words, ladies and gentlemen, Todd Akin was exactly right.” Yeah, sorry, but science doesn't work that way, and to paraphrase Neil Degrasse Tyson, the wonderful thing about science is that it works even if you don't believe in it.
Speaking of the National Right To Life Committee, this group–whose former president wrote the ridiculous article quoted above–gave Todd Akin a “100% Favorable” rating just prior to his primary win earlier this month. That’s right, they are actively working to influence elections – both at the primary and general election level, and Republicans actively work to achieve their highest ratings. Oh, and by the way, they have endorsed Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
So, for the sake of our daughters, and sisters, and mothers, and women we’ve never met–it’s time to tell the Akins, Kings, Ryans, and Romneys of the world to take a hike. They have no place dictating women’s health to women, or victimizing already terribly traumatized rape victims further–and that is precisely what they intend to do.