Yesterday we were treated to Representative Todd Akin’s (R-MO) pronouncement that you can’t get pregnant during a “legitimate” rape because a woman’s body kills the sperm of an unwanted partner. To be precise, Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This man is not only a Representative but he’s running for the more highly esteemed Senate. He pretends to be clueless about biology, while at the same time presuming that he has the divine right to make medical decisions for women.
Romney and Ryan are trying to run away from Akin this morning, saying they are for abortion in the case of rape, but history tells a different story. Akin is aligned with our new Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, on women’s issues. Back in 1998 as he first ran for his seat, Paul Ryan said he was against abortion in all cases except the life of the mother. You might be wondering why Paul Ryan never got around to crunching the numbers on his budget, well, see, he was super busy redefining rape as only qualifying when it’s “forcible rape”.
In January of 2011, Ryan and Akin put women in a carrier atop their car and headed straight for high forcible winds until a public outcry stopped them from the language in the bill they co-sponsored (along with most of the Republicans in the House), called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, which attempted to redefine rape. Other kinds of rape would no longer count. It mattered not that the Hyde Amendment already keeps federal funding from going to abortions except in the case of rape, incest or health of the mother. Ryan and Akin et al needed more.
They needed to redefine rape that qualifies a woman for an abortion as forcible rape. Sure, that’s not a real definition but that’s the beauty of it. You’d have to prove to their satisfaction that you were forcibly raped in order to qualify an abortion, when most rapes do not involve that kind of “force”. Most rapes, in fact, go unreported. There are other kinds of force of course, but these are not recognized by the fact-averse gentlemen who think that women’s bodies kill the sperm of men they don’t like.
The boys must have missed the entire Catholic Church debacle and the Penn State deal. Force? How about the force of public opinion that enables predators to continue preying on innocents? Oh, no, the boys aren’t worried about innocents who are alive.
They allegedly care about the unborn innocents – the unborn part being the definer. You have to be very specific around these gentlemen, because once the fetus is born, it no longer qualifies as innocent or worthy of protection, food, shelter, medical help, etc.
Their job is to make sure the fetus is born. After that, you’re on your own.
They’re not worried about the epidemic of violence against women. This same House can’t manage to pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act because they are hung up on giving undocumented women the right to protection. Their version of the bill was so bad that it was basically pro-violence against women. These same folks allegedly justify going to war and killing over other culture’s treatment of women. They say we are spreading democracy and freedom! Just not here.
Here they are worried about Sharia Law, except when their allegedly Christian values mimic Sharia Law, and then it’s okay. Controlling women for Christ is okay because you are doing it under the right religion.
Letting children starve is okay if you do it under the right religion. Letting women be raped and killed is okay, if you do it under the right religion.
Ryan and Akin say this is all about their religious beliefs. They are holy men, come to save us all, even if we didn’t ask to be saved and even if this is supposed to be a country in which we do not legislate religious beliefs. They are both members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, recognized by the Family Research Council for their front-line status in the “battle” of protecting your right to pray, protecting “marriage” and protecting the “defense of your values”. War terminology from the religious leaders? Yes. But we are not allowed to call their legislative action against our freedom a war on women. No one, to my knowledge, is trying to legislatively deny them the right to marriage.
You might think that if Ryan and Akin were really concerned about abortions, they would champion things that actually diminish the number of abortions — like birth control, family planning, and sex education. I’d add abstinence-only programs if they worked, but the statistics say otherwise. So, using logic here, as if we cared to address the alleged issue at hand, you have to wonder why these gentlemen don’t support most of the proven ways to diminish the occurrence of abortion.
You also have to wonder why their alleged morality stops once the baby is born.
The answer is that the issue is not their moral outrage over abortion. The issue is the devil inside of these gentlemen, whose goal is to maintain their patriarchal power over women, children, and all vulnerable people.
What is most outrageous is that they presume that women love getting abortions and are just looking for ways to get more. In fact, women mother the infants in this country. Women care about the quality of life of their children and other people’s children. Women could get on board if these gentlemen showed one ounce of care toward diminishing the need for abortion, or care about the children who are born. We are, after all, more prone to be real pro-life than they are.
But as any mother will tell you, pro-life doesn’t stop at birth. It’s just getting started at birth. And at every turn, the real pro-lifers face the death squad of the let-them-starve Republican men.
Paul Ryan says he’s for “freedom”. He worships Ayn Rand, who was a staunch believer in abortion.
Unlike Paul Ryan’s heroine, I am not a staunch believer in abortion for its own sake. If there were another way to offer medical control over our bodies, I’d be all for that. I am a stanch believer in having the freedom to make medical decisions for our own bodies. I believe that a family can decide what is best for them. I believe a woman should be able to choose if she wishes to put her life in jeopardy. I believe a woman should be able to choose if she does not want to be a mother. I believe our doctors know more about what’s best for us than Paul Ryan and Todd Akin (clearly our doctors know more about biology and the female body). I believe that these gentlemen have no place coming between a woman and her doctor. I believe women are entitled to the same medical liberty and freedom as men, and I’m not swayed by their arguments to the contrary.
Perhaps if they were trying to force men to be responsible parents, I might be willing to get on board, but they aren’t doing that. They want women to bear all of the responsibility without any of the freedom. That’s not my idea of liberty.
I don’t know many women who say abortion is a great thing. But like many grown ups, we realize there are sometimes decisions to be made in which there is no perfect choice, no choice that feels good. Sometimes real life is more complicated than a fictional Ayn Rand novel. We can’t expect Paul Ryan to get this.
After all, Ryan’s emotional growth appears to have been arrested in his late teens, which explains his Ayn Rand fetish. You’ll pardon me as I venture into the personal psychology behind Ryan’s ideology, but he lost the right to privacy when he inserted himself into my personal medical decisions. There is no doubt the trauma Ryan suffered at that age is influencing his worldview. Childhood trauma is a common theme among super “conservative” authoritarians. So is the inability to feel empathy or compassion, and an enjoyment of inflicting emotional pain onto others as a way of coping with unresolved trauma.
The unresolved emotional issues of these men appear to be the driving force behind their ability to forget how biology works, and allows them to turn their backs on starving children while trying to redefine rape, as if our problem is that rape is overly reported instead of the opposite. After all, it’s not possible that they really believe this stuff. They convince themselves of it in spite of their knowledge to the contrary, because it suits their agenda.
You have to wonder why Ryan and Akin et al aren’t chasing men down to force them to stop running away from their born children with no repercussions. But then, the ever-present threat of abandonment and financial ruin is a great way to keep women in line. Force her to have her rapists baby, branding her as someone who must have wanted it or she wouldn’t be pregnant ‘cuz the female body kills sperm she doesn’t want, and then leave her financially destitute, while cutting social safety net programs for children as Ryan has voted to do consistently.
Paul Ryan lost me at hello. I don’t understand his idea of morality and I don’t see him as someone honest enough to find compromise or workable solutions. Instead, I see someone inflicting his emotional damage onto the population at large, and cherry picking his church doctrine to do it. It’s no different than Sharia Law to me.
And I’m not alone in this, for Priests and Nuns have admonished him for what they call his “immoral budget”. This is not a man who cares about our children, so he can’t try to redefine rape under the guise of caring about our babies.
The devil inside Paul Ryan has a louder voice than the angel. Dark forces and unresolved trauma dictate his policy on women and children. He knows what it’s like to be vulnerable; Ryan used Social Security benefits to his own betterment and security as a teenager and young man. But now, in what appears to be projected self-loathing (another common trait of authoritarian conservatism is the hatred of the weak), he viscerally despises anyone who needs protection, and goes out of his way to strip those protections away from them, finding new ways to brand them as unworthy of saving.
There will be no honest discussion about how to best reduce abortions with Paul Ryan, because the issue is not really about abortion. The issue is a pervasive sickness of mind and heart that makes him need to subjugate and belittle the vulnerable. Yesterday, I tweeted that having Republicans like Todd Akin in charge of anything is “legitimate rape”. The same goes for Paul Ryan.
And no, I won’t be retracting this opinion, until or unless Paul Ryan proves through legislative action that he cares about the family, the unwed mothers, the starving children and the vulnerable among us. If he presumes to have the right to dictate what rape is and who is worthy of protection in our society, then I presume to have the right to expose the devil behind his moral inconsistencies.
Paul Ryan stood proudly with Todd Akin when the eyes of the nation were not upon him. Now he is trying to run away from his record, and yet, his record is exactly why Mitt Romney picked him – to appease the conservative base.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.