"Legitimate rape", Todd Akin & GOP VP Candidate Paul Ryan

Tisdag, 21. Augusti 2012     0 kommentti(a)

It is a worldview which Akin shares with the current GOP vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.

During presidential election years in the U.S. it is easy to forget that thousands of others are also standing for election throughout the United States, for local, state and national level offices. Even for foreign audiences it is important to follow congressional campaigns and the results thereof; hints about the direction of policies that can have global impacts can be discovered in both House and Senate campaigns.

Individual senators have a great deal of power, to stop legislation, to prevent the executive branch (president) from getting the staff he or she wants, and generally to impact the nature of countrywide legislation. As such, the policies and worldviews they (or those seeking to become senators) espouse must be taken seriously. The most recent example comes via current House member and GOP Senate candidate in Missouri, Representative Todd Akin.

Seeking to defend his view that abortion should not be legal, for any reason, he said in a TV interview, that in cases of “legitimate rape” the female body has mechanisms to prevent pregnancy. Some sought to present this as a gaffe – it is no such thing. As argued by among others Laura Hemuth, this represents a worldview. It is a worldview which Akin shares with the current GOP vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan.

This bears underlining: a member of the House of Representatives Science Committee, seeking to become a US Senator, thinks women can somehow prevent themselves from becoming pregnant if they were raped. This complete nonsense is offensive, and scary from someone who sits on a ‘science committee’ – it does however fit in the no-science approach favored by Republicans across the country.

Representative Aikin’s statements reflect an ongoing project by the mainstream GOP to redefine rape. This is why Akin corrected himself in a later radio show, saying he “was talking about forcible rape.” The distinction is important, in Aikin’s and many Republican minds, because it is language they have tried to insert into federal law, to further limit abortion rights. Using the modifiers “assault rape” and “forcible rape”, especially the House but increasingly the Senate Republicans have sought to redefine what rape is, in a continual effort to subjugate over half the population to their biblically inspired loathsome tripe.

For those wondering how this may impact the world outside the United States, two points of reference should suffice: (1) individual senators such as Akin (if he were elected) wield considerable powers in the committees they participate in, potentially stopping humanitarian and development assistance to countries if family planning or birth control are part of the program; and, (2) Representative and current vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan has been at the forefront of this attack on women, and he is eager to enforce his view on others.

The concept of ‘trial by ordeal’ is ancient, and in its Christian version is based on the premise that God would help the innocent – judicum Dei. In 2012, the GOP’s approach to women and rape can most closely be represented as just such an ordeal: if you are raped and become pregnant, it couldn’t have been a “violent”, “assault” or “forcible” rape because you became pregnant, therefore, an abortion is out of the question. If the pregnancy was caused by a “forcible rape” then the innocent would be helped by God to get through the ordeal; so if you become pregnant you are not innocent – in fact, partly to blame. As a political science researcher I am unfortunately not surprised that this worldview finds support among GOP voters. As a human being I am revolted.

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