Politics Magazine

Todd Akin: Not an Outlier

Posted on the 22 August 2012 by Erictheblue

If you take the view that a fetus is a person in the same sense as my 4-year-old, it follows that abortion should not be available to women who have been sexually assaulted.  Making an exception, in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, to a general abortion prohibition is tantamount to permitting a homicide if the victim's father is a criminal.  That makes no sense.  Nor would it make any sense to permit abortion when the pregnant woman's health requires it, which would amount to a health care professional killing one person to save another.

When a premise (a fetus is worthy of the same legal protections as anyone else) leads to outrageous conclusions (women who have been raped must not be allowed to have abortions), some people subject the premise to scrutiny.  But that is not an option for someone like Todd Akin, Republican candidate for the US Senate from Missouri.  Thus, asked about rape and his unqualified opposition to abortion in all cases, he naturally rejects the whole notion that women who have been raped might get pregnant:

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare.  If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

Yes, it's all nonsense, and one wonders about the doctors with whom he speaks, but why is everyone shocked, shocked?  What Akin said is well within the Republican grain, where thoroughgoing opposition to abortion is practically necessary if you want to advance.  Did he say a single thing with which Rick Santorum, the silver medalist, disagrees?  As for "legitimate rape," which seems to have been a flashpoint, it isn't any more incongruous, or outrageous, than the concept of "forcible rape," which congressional Republicans have written into national legislation that seeks to restrict federal funding for abortion even in cases of rape.  (For the ban not to apply, the rape must be "forcible.")  Akin says he meant to say "forcible rape," but "legitimate rape" slid out, and I believe him.  But I don't comprehend why he and a million others seem to think the one is controversial, a fit topic for civil discourse, and the other a scandal that disqualifies him for high office.

Andy Borowitz has more.  He thinks Akin is dangerous and that the people of Missouri should elect him to the Senate, where they can monitor him via C-Span, rather than just release him into the general population. 

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