Reproductive choice under siege

So Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin is in trouble for having claimed that women have a way of stopping  “legitimate rape” from impregnating them. Mm-hmm. This is the kind of thing that makes political satire the easiest of all jobs. How can you even make fun of this? It’s just so damn stupid that you can just quote the man and it serves as an appropriate joke on Jon Stewart or Jay Leno’s shows. It doesn’t help that Akin’s “legitimate” qualifier seems to imply that lots of women — he provided no evidence, naturally — are lying their way into abortion. I’ve heard of false rape accusations, but this isn’t like that. A clinic’s got scientific methods to identify these kinds of conditions. 

That said, the death threats Akin has received are more than misguided. Threatening murder is not the way to fight this guy. It makes the controversy seem like it’s not warranted. And it is.

Within days of this, an even worse but somehow less-known abortion-related gaffe (if it was a gaffe and not too much candor) occured. Frank Szabo, candidate for Sheriff in New Hampshire, has vowed to do “everything in (his) power,” evidently including lethal force, to prevent abortions from occurring if elected. I guess it doesn’t matter that abortion is legal.

Needless to say, these  men have apologized for their horrible remarks. But it’s not like they didn’t have to. They might not even be sincere.

Republican platform to include constitutional amendment against abortion.

As of this writing, it is the night before the Republican National Convention begins. And the party platform includes a call for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. So the very same party leaders who wisely want Akin to leave the Missouri Senate race are proposing what is essentially his position on abortion. And claiming that they’d resort to changing the Constitution means that, like Szabo, they’re willing to take extreme measures to limit your reproductive rights if you’re a woman. If that’s fine with you, you know how to vote. If not, get out in November and send a message.

I know, they always call for an abortion ban in their platform. In the 1980s there was much talk about such an amendment because overturning Roe Vs. Wade wasn’t realistic. But nothing actually came of that. The small-scale abortion restrictions that republican governors of states like Texas and Virginia have passed, along with last year’s attempt by House Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood indicate that the Republicans may actually go for it this time, especially with primary challenges always looming these days. Plus, “liberal Republican” was actually far from a contradiction in terms in the Reagan era.

What I’ve outlined is Republican thinking.

Admittedly, opening with two horrible statements about abortion and then proceeding to name an extreme position in the Republican platform that is really only a guideline for the party’s candidates is kind of like kicking people when they’re down. Still, it goes to show that this party no longer compromises when it comes to abortion. Mitt Romney is sometimes said to be a moderate on the issue, supporting it in the cases of rape, incest, and health. Actually, he’s had three positions: pro-choice despite personal reservations, pro-life in all cases, and the position I just described. So he really has no position as such. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, is, if anything, even more highly rated by the Right to Life than Akin. And who’d have thought that possible?

Is abortion Murder?

As for me, I don’t see a mass of cells as human life. Killing a fetus is, at worst, like putting down a domesticated animal. Women absolutely should have the right to choose. Partial-birth might go too far — and “might” means “might” and not “does” — but first trimester? That should definitely be legal.

 I should note that we are nearing the forty-year anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade. The issue is settled; the statute of limitation has been reached.

The way I see it, pro-lifers should look to methods other than taking away women’s rights to stop abortion. The birth control coverage included in the Affordable Care Act will likely prevent many abortions. anti-poverty initiatives (whatever you think is the best kind) are also likely to reduce the number of abortions if they succeed.

In the end, abortion isn’t merely a life issue. It’s also a rights issue. And taking away rights is the slipperiest slope that can ever exist in the democratic system of government.


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