In an effort to explain his stance on abortion, Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked ire across the political spectrum on Sunday by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy.
Rep. Todd Akin is far from the only conservative to suggest women rarely get pregnant from rape. He’s not even the first lawmaker to make the assertion (which flies in the face of medical evidence).
A search of news archives by TPM shows a short history of Republican politicians espousing the idea of a biological defense against pregnancy in cases of rape, though there’s little consistency in their explanations of how such a mechanism works.
Although Mr. Romney has stated this position before, Mr. Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, has opposed abortion in the case of rape. During his first run for the seat in 1998, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that he opposed abortions in all cases except to save the life of the mother.
More recently, Mr. Ryan was a co-sponsor of a House bill last year defining human life as beginning with fertilization and granting “personhood’’ rights to embryos, a movement that supporters say will outlaw abortions in all cases, and may also restrict some forms of birth control.
Mitt Romney has already flip-flopped from a pro-choice senate candidate and a governor who promised to be “a good voice” among Republicans on reproductive health to his new incarnation as Paul Ryan’s running mate and an anti-choice leader. While Ryan allows lesser candidates like Akin to carry the water on extreme views held by the right-wing patriarchy, his equally radical views become mainstreamed as his anti-woman credentials are embraced by the party leadership. If we don’t stop laughing and start drawing hard lines around scientific reality, how many Akin’s will it take before we see a President Romney ordering rape victims thrown into the water to see if they float?
In an email, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz linked Akin’s comments to a larger trend of “backward statements from Republicans on issues affecting women’s health” and pointed to the anti-abortion bills that Akin and Paul Ryan have worked on together.
“Now, Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue here,” Wasserman Schultz said in the email. “The real issue is a Republican party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.”…..
The Romney campaign issued a statement distancing itself from Akin’s comments. “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement,” the Romney campaign said. “A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
But the statement is hardly a full-throated rebuke, and Wasserman Schultz largely dismisses it by linking Ryan’s and Akin’s record in Congress.
“And what do Romney and Ryan think of Akin’s latest statement?” she writes. “They’ve been trying to distance themselves from it — but Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women’s ability to make their own health care decisions.”