The Extreme Right's Seemingly Savage Position on Rape
I offer this advice sincerely.
To all GOP male politicians running for office this year:
Do yourself, your party, and especially the women in your lives a huge favor and stop discussing sex or reproduction in interviews under any circumstances. In the space of two weeks you've managed to collectively paint yourselves as absolute savages on issues of women's health.
First there was Todd Akin, who asserted women who were being raped could flip some biological switch that would prevent them from becoming pregnant if the attack were "legitimate." The horrifying implication for any rape victim who conceived being she must have, on some level, not resisted enough.
Then in discussing Akin's refusal to step out of his tight Senate race because of that comment, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan casually referred to "rape" as a "method of conception." He was explaining why he opposes abortion rights even in the case of rape, but the means by which he sanitized rape to make his point revealed an alarming degree of disassociation.
Then first-time Senate candidate Tom Smith (R-PA) stepped in it during an interview at a PA press luncheon today:
Mark Scolforo, Associated Press: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?
Tom Smith: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.
Scolforo: Similar how?
Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.
Scolforo: That’s similar to rape?
Smith: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I'm pro-life, period.
As Slate.com asked about Smith's comment, "What are the odds that Smith would have gotten this question in an Akin-less world?" Probably pretty slim.
But that's kind of scary, actually. The notion that either many GOP leaders truly do hold barbarian opinions about sex and reproduction, or that they've spent so little time thinking about those issues that not only are they shockingly inarticulate in expressing their position, but they would seem to have no business at all legislating on such matters.
Many are calling for them to keep talking about the topic, because the more they do, the weaker their chances of getting elected become. While I see the wisdom of that, I'd rather they work out their positions in private. I'm actually rather sure that many of them would realize themselves how brutal they sound if they listened to their thoughts out loud. Honestly, I suspect many of them are not anywhere near that savage.