August 23, 2012
THE RESPONSE of the Republican Party to the “legitimate rape” remarks made by Missouri Congressman Todd Akin show once again how, on cultural issues, the GOP would rather concede than defend its views or attempt to persuade.
When asked to explain his position that abortion should not be allowable in cases of rape, Akin said: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” There is a reason why Akin felt the need to use a qualifier. The term “rape” encompasses violent assault by a stranger and coercion by a friend or “date.” While both may involve coercion, they do not have the same traumatizing effects. Judie Brown at LifeSite News writes:
While I am not quite sure what he meant to say, I can guess that he was attempting to define an actual criminal act in contrast to the rape claims sometimes attributed to dating experiences gone wrong, when the female in question changes her mind and decides she never said yes in the first place.
Regardless, that is not the point. Akin’s position is that when a child is conceived as the result of a criminal sexual assault on a woman, the baby should not have to pay for the sins of his father by dying a violent death at the hands of an abortionist.
This is really not about Akin at all; it is about the red herring that pro-abortion forces have used for years to define genuine pro-life apologists as zealots, fanatics and unrealistic Pollyannas.
Akin’s gaffe also involved an incorrect medical statement. Even in cases of severe trauma, pregnancy may occur. But this misstatement was dwarfed by the correctness of his larger position on rape and abortion. And the Republicans should have come out on the offensive.
It’s the Democratic Party that is anti-woman, calling as it does for disregard of innocent females in the womb and willing as it is to let a woman who has suffered the trauma of rape undergo the additional physical trauma of abortion, which may seriously and permanently harm her health and moral welfare. Severity for criminals is the answer, not abortion, which does nothing to protect women from rape in the long run. The Republicans should reiterate this point again and again.
Instead of taking the offensive and defending the overwhelming superiority of Akin’s position, the GOP has diminished its chances of winning the seat in the Senate he is seeking.
—– Comments —–
R., a female reader, writes:
I hate abortion and it makes me heartsick. Why don’t the Republicans make heartfelt appeals to women to not have abortions? Why don’t they try to persuade people?
It’s a horror, an absolute horror and a holocaust and worse than slavery, and no one talks about this. It’s all worthless, abstract platitudes.
Do they really think MOST women are for abortion? I would think deep-down women still have a motherly compassion that could be prevailed upon by the horrible reality of what would happen to a beautiful baby. Pro-baby killers get SO self-righteous in their arguments. What the hell do they have to feel self-righteous about?????
And for many years this dissuaded me from arguing with them because I thought, “Gee, they seem really sure of their position,” and I felt intimidated by this. But now that I have a baby, I see their arguments for the flimsy tissue of lies that they are. “Your baby is made of you, he looks like you, he trusts you, he hugs you from the inside, he loves you, he needs you. It’s your job and responsibility to protect him, don’t betray the only person in the world who completely depends on you. Don’t abandon him, don’t pay a mercenary to come into his safe little room and cut him up into little pieces or burn him with acid or use a vacuum to rip him apart. Don’t take a pill that will make him wither and die.”
I’m crying right now about this; it is so important that we stop abortion from happening to another little one. Not many people seem to want to do the work or even make the arguments.
Bruce B. writes:
“the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”
I don’t even understand what he was trying to say. Does he mean physical resistance to the act itself or is he claiming that a woman can, to some extent, will infertility?
No, he apparently did not mean physical resistance to being raped, but a sort of “fight-or-flight” hormonal response. I have no idea whether there’s any evidence that this is true sometimes in extreme circumstances. Akin made no attempt, as far as I can tell, to elaborate on this statement other than to correct the impression he gave that pregnancy does not ever result from rape.
Roger G. writes:
From a 1999 article:
“Finally, factor in what is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that’s physical trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. 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.”
Akin was apparently unwilling to defend himself with this kind of evidence. The Republicans immediately conceded defeat and made him look like a fool.
Bruce B. writes:
I don’t think his original statement gave the impression that pregnancy does not ever result from rape. He said “the female body has ways to TRY to shut that whole thing down.” If he’s describing a reaction of the female body to trauma, then “try” is technically inaccurate but I don’t think he meant “try” literally.
You are right. He did not say that rape never results in pregnancy. It was just interpreted that way.
And the “try” was obviously a figure of speech.
Catherine H. writes:
Your reaction was also my husband’s and my response–I feel such anger at the cowardly Republicans out there. This whole situation may very well destroy Akin’s career. Two things especially stood out to me: 1) That no one accepts apologies anymore, as we have also seen recently with the Greek Olympian who fell over herself in her haste to apologize for her silly Tweet about mosquitoes and their favorite food, and yet was still barred from competing. Akin immediately apologized and it only seemed to make people more indignant. 2) The Romney campaign’s swift assurance that Romney of course supports abortion in cases of rape. So there goes any interest I had in Ryan’s “conservative Catholic” credentials. This is a depressing episode all around.
“It’s the Democratic party that is anti-woman, calling as it does for disregard of innocent females in the womb and willing as it is to let a woman who had suffered the trauma of rape undergo the additional physical trauma of abortion, which may seriously and permanently harm her health and moral welfare.”
All of that is true, but even if none of it was, the Democratic party would still be anti-woman. To support abortion is to view pregnancy and motherhood as problems to be solved, calamities to be averted. It is to view the female body as a threat that must be neutralized. It is to deny the very thing that makes women women.
Terry Morris writes:
R. wrote: “… it is so important that we stop abortion from happening to another little one.”
As sympathetic as I am to that view, it’s unrealistic to believe that it will ever happen. It’s like Bush saying that America will not relent until we’ve eliminated evil from the earth, or however he put it. How are we going to do that? Ultimately the only way to significantly reduce the number of abortions in America is to re-establish Biblical-Christianity as the dominant worldview.
In the meantime the Constitution must be restored to its rightful place, and federal laws not made pursuant to the Constitution must be viewed as usurpations of state and local powers, and treated as such (Federalist no. 33, Article VI Supremacy Clause, Tenth Amendment, and etc…).
As with murder, it doesn’t matter whether abortion can ever be completely eradicated for us to have the desire to see it eradicated. It is reasonable to have that goal however unreachable it may be.
Mr. Morris responds:
I wasn’t questioning the reasonableness of the goal, but the expectation that it can be achieved, particularly on a nation-wide level.
On the other hand, government protected abortion can be eliminated in several states, if we’ll follow the Constitution.
… and that would be a good start, a shift in the right direction.
Yes, absolutely. I think R. was expressing revulsion not stating that it was possible to prevent abortion from every happening again.
Jesse Powell writes:
Rush Limbaugh has weighed in on this issue of whether Todd Akin should quit his run for the Senate. Limbaugh is basically saying Akin should quit for the good of the party and most importantly to maximum the chance of Republicans winning the Senate which will be important for overturning Obamacare. Limbaugh is basically characterizing Akin as being stupid but with a good heart, and Republicans shouldn’t be rallying around people who say such stupid intellectually indefensible things regardless of how good their intentions are. Furthermore, Limbaugh suspects Akin has spent too much of his time around pro-life advocates and has therefore succumbed to the pro-life “echo-chamber” where statements such as he made might sound reasonable but where the statement sounds totally outlandish to the mainstream voters. Limbaugh also mentioned the support Akin received from Democrats on the theory that Akin would be easy to beat in a statewide race.
After listening to Akin’s controversial statement myself what the Congressman said seems totally reasonable and totally defensible to me. It is reasonable to make distinctions between “legitimate rape” and other behaviors that are characterized as rape by feminists but whose harmful effects to the woman are less clear or less severe. In addition the idea that a woman’s body will “try to shut pregnancy down” in response to rape is conceivable. From an evolutionary point of view many animal species have mechanisms for the female to prevent pregnancy in response to forced sexual contact. There is no reason to think the human female is different in this regard. The central moral position in regards to abortion and rape is obvious regardless; the unborn child is not responsible for the sins of their biological father.
I think the more fundamental question here is the conflict between “pragmatic conservatism” in the sense of having to win elections in order to be able to effect change and what might be called “missionary conservatism” or the effort to promote truth and virtue regardless of what is “mainstream” or “popular.” In the Republican Missouri senatorial primary, Akin won 36% of the vote, Brunner won 30%, and Steelman won 29%. This makes Akin the Republican candidate for the Missouri Senate fair and square. Now after Akin’s “gaffe” Republicans nationwide fear that Akin himself is too radical to win and that furthermore Akin’s continued candidacy feeds into the Democratic narrative of the “Republican War on Women” and will therefore hurt Republicans nationwide.
My tendency is to favor “missionary conservatism” with the pragmatic qualifier of the potential candidate having to win the primary election of their party first. Akin did not make a “gaffe”; he merely promoted a politically incorrect view in a politically incorrect way. He did not pander to the feminist worldview and therefore became “extreme” and “stupid” or “irrational.” Akin’s support base in Missouri is primarily strongly religious voters and homeschoolers. Akin himself has six children whom are homeschooled. Any strongly socially conservative politician who speaks his mind will end up making “gaffes” similar to what Akin said. The effort to drive out Akin is the effort among Republicans to not go “too far” on social issues for fear of losing the election.
To me what is important is the long game, not so much the next election. Social conservatives should strive to “push the envelope” of acceptable thought so that the mainstream position will move in a conservative direction. It is time for social conservatives to play offense after decades of continual retreat. The trend is in favor of the socially conservative position; I think the more radical elements should press their advantage and make their case. The temporary setbacks that may result are not what’s most important; what’s most important is the long game, the moving of society overall to a more socially conservative position.
The Democrats and liberals don’t want to distinguish between a violent rape by a stranger and the morally lesser type of rape that reportedly occurs when a small minority of males begin penetration with the consent of the female and refuse to stop when the female decides she has made a big mistake. Mr. Akin used the word legitimate, which was an appropriate word to distinguish a purposeful violent rape from some sort of “hot blood” date rape where the female should share culpability for her big mistake. Mr. Akin’s mistake was mentioning a little known scientific hypothesis or theory (that I would not be surprised to learn the ultraliberal evolutionary biologists attribute to some species, so why not humans in accordance with their mindset).
An analogy is DWI perpetrators and their passengers. I am unaware of any jurisdiction where the contributory negligence of a drunk or sober passenger would acquit the perpetrator of homicide. I suspect that some states though (e.g., North Carolina) can prosecute the passenger with aiding and abetting. An additional analogy is that in many states, the contributory negligence of the plaintiff (in this case the female) bars any recovery in a civil suit. In most states, the negligence is compared, that is, the jury decides what percentage of fault is attributable to the plaintiff; this is the percentage used to reduce the plaintiff’s damages.
Therefore the liberals’ outrage is mindless or phony.
I almost never discuss abortion, except to point out what horrible “law” Roe v Wade is. As you will see, my position is so strident that it leaves no room for discussion.
If someone believes that humans are more than bio-mechanical sacks of meat, bones and water – that something transcends human existence – then the question of justifiable homicide is simply a question of self-defense. Can a women act with deadly force to save her own life when threatened by an innocent unborn baby that it has been determined is certain to kill her if carried to term? The mother and father have to decide who lives.
There are only two questions: when does human life begin and when is homicide murder.
Until societies’ view is that human life begins at conception and that therefore “stand your ground” thinking can’t possibly apply, because there is no such thing as a “confrontation” with perfect innocence, then the homicides, or murders, will continue to be sanctioned and unpunished by man’s law, by any society unwilling to make certain the distinction. Everything else is bull.
Clark Coleman writes:
I will happily throw Rep. Akin to the wolves, and will happily explain why.
1. If his position is that abortion should not be allowed even in cases of pregnancy resulting in rape, then he merely needs to make the point that very few abortions take place as a result of pregnancies that result in rape, and then move on to the bigger moral discussion. The only possible point of his remarks was to say, in effect: “First, let me say that almost all abortions do not involve rape, and we need to keep in mind that almost all abortions do not involve such emotional circumstances as rape. Pro-abortion advocates try to paint extremely unusual cases as being the norm in order to confuse the issue. Most Americans oppose most abortions, based on the reasons these abortions actually occur. Now, I will be glad to talk about this extreme example and my position on it. ……”
If we have a million abortions a year in this country, and (pulling numbers out of thin air because the details are not the point here) only 1000 abortions are after rapes, but that number would be 5000 if not for the hormonal reactions that occur after rape, well, so what? What is the moral distinction between the 1000 number and the 5000 number? That is not Akin’s point in the first place, so why is he going down this path in the first place? This brings me to the next point.
2. If a man has served several terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, presumably had some moral and intellectual life prior to his political career, has been thinking about major issues for a couple of decades at least, and is now running for Senate, then he should have well-reasoned views on issues, AND be ready to articulate them when questioned. When Douglass tried to pose conundrums about slavery issues in debates with Lincoln, the future president did not get tongue-tied and act like he had never thought he would be posed such a question. Nor did he send his apologists out the next day to complain that his political opponents, aided by the news media, were setting rhetorical traps for him.
We need intellectually mature conservative candidates. Akin projects a certain stereotype that many voters detest, and some of them are in the GOP, such as myself: the politician who thinks that his moral beliefs are qualification enough for office, and he does not have to do the hard work of thinking through the details of all those issues that are not moral issues, nor even of learning to articulate his views on the moral issues that are seemingly most important to him.
3. Finally, these politicians who are pro-life but who are not particularly knowledgeable or articulate never seem to accomplish much of anything even on the pro-life issues, because they cannot articulate and persuade. So, what good are they? What is the list of major accomplishments of the pro-life movement after forty years of single-issue focus? Thomas Sowell has repeatedly complained about the inability to articulate and persuade that plagues GOP politicians. They will not get help from the news media, so they need to be forceful and effective in their communications and get their points across without assistance in interviews, debates, and campaign advertisements. If they are only able to preach to the choir, they have little to offer.
I conclude that if Mr. Akin cannot state and defend his views without my help, then he cannot win the Senate seat in Missouri. I have no use for such a candidate. Your readers can talk about “missionary conservatism” all they want, and my question remains: What has forty years of it accomplished?
So you think he should drop out of the race.
Mr. Coleman writes:
It is too late to drop out of the race. He could have dropped out, but now he would have to tell voters to vote for a write-in candidate and ignore his name on the ballot. The deadline for getting his name off the ballot, and submitting another, was last Tuesday, I believe. Last Monday, I was saying that he should drop out, and I wish he had dropped out.