What is it about Republican politicians that make them such ardent defenders of conception by rape? Two years after the U.S. Senate campaigns of Todd Akin (MO) and Richard Mourdock (IN) ran aground over insensitive comments about rape, the GOP is still casting itself as the party of rape apologists.
Re-branding has failed because Republicans have embraced anti-choice dogma so thoroughly that many of them won’t even consider permitting abortions for victims of rape or incest. This rigid ideological position puts them in the awkward situation of having to defend the indefensible.
The idea that women who are victims of rape or incest should have no choice to terminate their pregnancy is ridiculous. Ridiculous stances lead to ludicrous arguments. So it should come as no surprise that a Republican lawmaker has once again stumbled, when trying to defend compulsory childbirth for rape victims who become pregnant.
In a debate over West Virginia’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Delegate Brian Kurcaba (R-Monongalia) stated, “Obviously rape is awful. What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.” You see, rape is bad, but just think of the opportunities it provides. What starts out awful, could lead to something beautiful. Therefore, Kurcaba reasons, we should not let rape victims terminate their pregnancies after 20 weeks. Never mind the woman’s trauma, think of the cute baby that could result.
Clearly the Todd Akin wing of the Republican Party never went away. The 2016 Presidential primaries will give each Republican candidate a chance to clarify his or her position on abortion. It will also pose some risk for one or more of the candidates to stumble on the issue of rape, as it relates to reproductive choice.
Republican candidates have a habit of trying to burnish their conservative credentials, by being more anti-abortion than the candidate standing next to them on a debate stage. Proving how pro-life one is, by wading into the murky waters of being an apologist for rape, may be a good strategy for winning a Republican primary. However, it’s a position that demeans women, and in a general election, it is also a recipe for political suicide.