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Tuesday 21 August 2012

Rape And The Rest Of The GOP

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

The less than stellar prospects for the Republican Party for making any advance at the upcoming elections for Congress and the Presidency were not advanced at the weekend as Rep. Todd Akin, who is challenging Claire McCaskill for the Missouri senate seat, “mis-spoke” (that is, he opened mouth and inserted foot simultaneously) on the subject of rape and abortion.

Todd Akin? C'mon guys, I don't agree with him, not since the weekend, anyhow

Asked if women who get pregnant due to rape should have the option of abortion, he replied “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. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child”.

Quite apart from somehow not getting his facts right, the use of the term “legitimate rape” was most unfortunate, the use coming because there has been an attempt (see below) to push the idea that a defined “forcible rape” is somehow different to other forms. Akin has been widely condemned and with him as the candidate the Missouri race looks to be going from a possible win to a certain loss.

So far, so bad for the GOP, but then the thought entered elsewhere that Akin’s stance on the issue of rape and abortion is no different to that of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Ryan was an original co-sponsor of the HR3 bill, introduced in the House of Representatives after the 2010 mid-term elections, which tried to redefine “rape” and introduce the idea of “forcible rape”.

Ryan also sponsored the Personhood idea of “no exemptions for rape from the criminalisation of abortion”. For the whole of the USA. Ryan also sponsored a federal version of the Virginia “forced ultrasound” legislation. This bill had no exemptions for rape or incest. The “forced ultrasound” bill is thought to be what finished Governor Bob McDonnell’s chances of becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate.

But Romney has instead picked Paul Ryan, whose stance is essentially identical to McDonnell’s. And in both cases, they subscribe to the idea that rape victims should be forced to carry pregnancies to term, because, well, getting pregnant through rape doesn’t really happen (well, not in GOP land, it doesn’t). If Akin is a liability in the Missouri senate race, what about Ryan in the Presidential one?

Well, what the Romney and Ryan ticket is now doing, in distancing itself from Todd Akin, is also distancing itself from the views its Veep nominee held, oh, just before last weekend. And that campaign is telling the press that it should ignore those “old” views. But they’re the views of Texas Governor Rick “Oops” Perry, Rep. Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin. Now the Romney campaign is trying to wish them away.

Anyone still want to put money on a Romney victory in November? Be my guest.

[UPDATE1 22 August 1035 hours: after the storm comes the spin, with the Telegraph's Tim Stanley (who you can tell as he's a doctor) putting on a priceless turn for the gullible. "Todd Akin doesn't speak for Romney, Ryan or any other conservative on rape" he declares, blissfully unaware that the background is already out there.

Perhaps Dr Stanley can explain how Paul Ryan came to be an original co-sponsor of the HR3 bill, a sponsor of the Personhood definition which has always lost in any vote to which it has been put, and that he sponsored a federal version of the Virginia "forced ultrasound" legislation (see above for details and links).

As I already pointed out, Akin's views are no different to those espoused by both Ryan and Romney before the furore hit at the weekend. It will take a lot more than a bit of spin at the Tel to stop this being a major problem for the GOP come November]

[UPDATE2 22 August 1840 hours: the HuffPo has noted that Paul Ryan has been trying to separate himself from his previous co-sponsorship with Todd Aiken. Sabrina Siddiqui's piece tells that "Ryan ... tried to distance himself from a bill he co-sponsored with Aiken to introduce language around 'forcible rape' into prior legislation, in order to limit federal funding on abortions for rape victims".

Ryan asserted "Rape is rape. Period. End of story". But that assertion contradicts his previous stance, and Democrats have been quick to exploit the disconnect. Expect much more of this as the Convention season approaches - and beyond]

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