Republican Woes with Women
The hapless Missourian observed of rape, based a view of unnamed doctors, that "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." The comment was so inane, not to mention insensitive, that it was an injustice even to the most sincere and morally opposed critics of women's abortion rights.
Was Akin really suggesting that the female anatomy has some built-in defensive mechanism against pregnancy that can be triggered by what anti-abortion folks call "forcible rape" -- as opposed to unforced or consensual rape? The remark can only fan an impression among many abortion-rights sympathizers that organizations that advertise themselves as pro-life are loaded with fanatics.
The Missourian futilely said he had merely "misspoke" in "off-the-cuff remarks." He later "clarified" by saying he had "made a mistake" and "used the wrong words in the wrong way." If he had just misspoken, what had he really intended to say about this mysterious inner power of women to avoid pregnancy in a "legitimate" rape? And under what circumstances can it be turned on?
Romney himself seemed so startled by Akin's observations that all he could say at first was that they were "insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong," while later joining other party leaders to pressure Akin to withdraw from the race in
The incumbent he was challenging, Democratic Sen.
Beyond being another diversion from his desired focus on the state of the economy, such a discussion can draw the campaign into another round of argument over social programs. And the Obama campaign can to characterize it as more of Romney's war on the poor and middle classes, not to mention on women's rights.
Obama himself wasted not a split second seizing the political opportunity afforded by Akin's remarks, and particularly by the reference to "legitimate rape." The president insisted that "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 certainly doesn't make sense to me."
Obama helpfully pointed out that Akin's comments underscored "why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health-care decisions on behalf of women." If the late Betty Friedan were still alive, she probably would have said: "Keep your hands off my abortion rights."
This latest hiccup in the presidential race by way of a "misspoken" absurdity from a
Presidential nominees in an ideal world would be able to speak for themselves and not be burdened with the blundering of party allies. But party allegiance comes at a price, and
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Republican Woes with Women | Politics
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