Outrage over the comment made by a Republican Senate candidate, Rep. Todd Akin, has spurred reactions on both sides of the aisle. Akin, in what now may be an extremely uphill bid, is battling the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is running for re-election in a state where polls show presumpitve GOP nomineeleading President Obama.
When Akin was asked if he would support abortions for women who had been raped, Akin replied, “It seems to me 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.”
Akin later tried to take back his comment by releasing a statement that said he “misspoke” when he made the comment. "In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," according to the statement released later the same day. His statement also said that he believes "deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."
In reaction to Akin’s comment, Romney’s spokeswoman, Amanda Henneberg, said, "Gov. Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." During a telephone interview with the National Review Online, Romney said, “Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong. Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”
Obama responded by saying, "“Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and doesn’t make sense to me. What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians – the majority of whom are men – making decisions” about laws that affect women's health." When asked if Akins should stay in the race for his seat in Congress, the president responded, “He was nominated by the Republicans in Missouri. I will let them sort that out.”
Politicians are going to jump on this remark and try to use it to their advantage. Whether they are members of the Republican Party who want free press to separate themselves from it, or members of the Democratic Party who want to use it as a weapon, this will most assuredly be used as a tool by politicians on their path toward the election.
The concern here is where this leaves women who face this situation. The intention of the GOP to take away the power a woman has over her own body is becoming more and more prevalent. They are portrayed as “sluts” if they admit to having sexual relations. Then they are portrayed as irresponsible if they get pregnant. But when a woman is raped, there should be no room for discussion. This decision should be left to a woman and her doctor. Yet politicians have decided that they plan to intervene with this decision and they limit the amount of control a woman is given. Doctors in some states are now able to refuse to give an abortion due to their personal beliefs. Statements like this leave women feeling even less control over their lives than they feel they have following a rape.
Although Akin says he misspoke, he also sponsored a bill in 2011 that would let a woman die rather than receive a life-saving abortion. The "Protect Life Act," referred to by critics as the "Let Women Die Bill," HR 358 was passed by the House with votes from every Republican, along with 11 Democrats. This man very clearly has limited comprehension of the needs of a woman facing unwanted or unintended pregnancy. He would rather have her die than have an abortion.
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