The entire punditry is abuzz after Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin made the following remark yesterday on a local talk show, after being asked about his support for an absolute ban on abortion ban, even in cases in which a woman gets pregnant as a result of rape:
"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. … But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
While pundits far and wide seem focused on the term in bold above, and they question his scientific knowledge (seriously? A right winger lacks scientific understanding? How odd), I encourage everyone to look at the statement as a whole, because this illustrates a problem with the entire Republican Party. They want everyone else to live by their “moral code,” such as it is.
There is no such thing as an “abortion” debate. There is, however, a freedom debate. Who gets to decide whether or not a woman should stay pregnant against her will? Does the woman herself have that power, or should she be forced to cede that power to the government? The current incarnation of the Republican Party thinks their '”small government” should be big enough to try, convict and jail all of the women who choose to not stay pregnant.
Welcome to the “land of the free,” right wing style.
Here's the question I can never get a right winger to answer:
If we give the government the power to force women to stay pregnant against her will now, don't we also give them the power to force women to abort once circumstances change? Isn't that slope quite slippery?
And while everyone is focused on the two most outrageous words in Akin’s statement, and his lack of scientific knowledge, we're missing the most important point; the entire Republican Party is trying to take away a woman’s authority over her own body. Akin's use of the phrase, “attacking the child” should be every bit as disgusting as “legitimate rape.” Women don’t “attack” the fetus, jus as they don’t “kill babies.” These are inflammatory terms with no real meaning. In almost every case of abortion, the fetus is incapable of life outside the womb. Some women simply choose not to bring an unwanted fetus to term. No one is attacking it," they're removing it.
Think of this another way:
Suppose you went to the hospital for an appendectomy, and while you were recovering from surgery, one of the doctors attached another man to your lung and advised you that he had to stay attached to you for nine months, or he would die. Would anyone call you a murderer if you demanded the guy be removed from your lung, and he died as a result? Of course not. I even doubt that a right winger like Akin would consider “murder” the proper term for something like that, and I doubt seriously if he would demand that you be thrown in jail because you ordered him removed.
And yet, these same people would happily throw any woman in jail who wants a fetus removed from her body. They even claim to be honoring the “sanctity of life.” Apparently, they don't "sanctify" all life, because the woman's needs don't even enter into the equation, even in cases of "legitimate rape."
I would have more respect for this “sanctity of life” garbage, if the right wing actually showed some consistency on the issue, but they really don’t. The fact is, those of us who belong to the pro-choice crowd actually do more to prevent abortions than the “sanctity of life” folks ever dreamed of.
Think about it;
- It’s the “sanctity of life” goons who are most likely to work against welfare payments to poor mothers, thus increasing the likelihood that a poor mother who gets pregnant will opt for abortion.
- Every chance they get, these "sanctity of life" people cut programs and services designed to help poor families, including children, thus making abortion a more viable option.
- These same people actively advocate against the inclusion of contraception costs in health insurance, thus ensuring an increase in unwanted pregnancies and, subsequently, more abortions.
- These same judgmental people insist on labeling women who get pregnant outside of marriage as “sluts” and other derogatory terms, thus creating a “norm” under which women are more likely to try to get rid of the fetus before they can be '”found out.”
- Their “sanctity of life” spiel always touts “adoption” as an alternative to abortion, but there are 750,000 un-adopted kids in the system at any one time, and they actively try to limit the population of “acceptable” adoptive parents by advocating to deny adoption rights to single people and gay couples.
- They've been trying to kill sex education programs in schools for years, which results in a lot more unwanted pregnancies, and far more abortions.
- They actively try to kill Planned Parenthood, which prevents far more abortions than any “sanctity of life” group out there.
Essentially, the only thing the anti-choice movement wants is a law against abortion. They’re not really interested in reducing the number of abortions, or they would be on our side. They're interested in one thing, and one thing only; giving the government control over a woman's reproduction processes.
So stop calling this issue "the abortion issue," and call it what it is; a freedom issue. The far right doesn't want women to be free. It's that simple. And it's not just Todd Akin women should worry about; it's the entire Republican Party. Akin is not alone.