Republicans’ feigned outrage over Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” statement didn’t stop them from falsely and conveniently negating it with a “both sides do it” reference to Biden’s shackles gaffe, as if a gaffe is the equivalent of years of policy.
Maybe everyone does say stupid things, but not everyone has a mountain of legislation backing up the stupid thing they said, proving that it wasn’t a gaffe but a policy. “Legitimate rape” was not a gaffe nor was it the opinion of one lone Republican in the House. The Medieval thinking behind “legitimate rape” runs wild in the Republican Party, and there is a mountain of legislation to prove it.
Todd Akin is begging for forgiveness today. Here’s his Roxie Hart “we both reached for the gun” I’m-a-sinner-please-forgive-me tap dance via Politico:
Transcript via Politico:
“Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them,” Akin says. “The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims.”
Akin continues: “The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”
Akin is begging for forgiveness for his words, but not one Republican is apologizing for how they have spent the last two years legislatively gunning for women’s freedom and dignity.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney both agreed to personhood amendments, which would make all abortion criminal – no exceptions, as well as criminalize some forms of birth control (because nothing cuts down on abortions faster than outlawing birth control?). Paul Ryan is on record pushing legislation with personhood amendments. Paul Ryan co-sponsored a bill to make women prove they had been “forcibly” raped. Mitt Romney promised to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, which as the name correctly suggests, supports women in getting access to birth control in order to plan when/if they want to become parents.
Legislation becomes law if passed. So no, saying something stupid is not the same thing as trying to legislate stupidity. Here’s proof of the difference: PoliticusUSA’s Hrafnkell Haraldsson has been collecting the legislation aimed at women’s rights from around the country over the past two years. It’s not pretty. It’s long. It’s deeply troubling.
If you were wondering why the Republican House never got around to a jobs bill, it’s because the House that “policy wonk” Ryan led was busy enacting the Blunt Amendment to deny contraception coverage to women. If you think that’s bad, look at your state government and tell me Paul Ryan/Todd Akin thinking isn’t running the show. As Rmuse wrote, in 2011 “there were nearly 1,000 bills in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s right to legal abortion services” (up from 950 in 2010).
Todd Akin’s comment only reflected what the Republicans have been doing legislatively for the past several years. Bad Todd. He said it out loud in an election year.
Paul Ryan himself couldn’t stop talking about his self-serving vision of forcible rape, and forcible rape was the premise behind Todd Akin’s “legitimate” rape. Legitimate and forcible are the same thing – the come from the same excuse for denying abortions. The assumption is that women are devious liars who will fake rape and incest in order to get an abortion, because society is so great to rape and incest victims (?) that they over-report.
Of course, the opposite is the truth, and that is what makes Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s position so truly despicable. Rape victims under-report, as do childhood victims of incest and rape. When they do report it, the chances of prosecution are slim unless there is physical evidence, and still she will need to prove that it wasn’t consensual.
Rape and incest are all too often he said/she said scenarios legally speaking, so by impugning women’s characters even further, the secondary goal is of “forcible rape” language is for women to lose whatever credibility they managed to muster since the 1960’s. This is why we call it a war on women. It’s not just our reproductive rights – it’s our very liberty, our souls, our dignity that they are attacking.
Republicans tried to change the word “victim” to “accuser” for rape, stalking and domestic violence cases. There would still be “victims” of burglary, but not of crimes aimed at women. Women would be “accusers”.
“Accuser” reeks of scarlet letters and “forcible rape” and “legitimate rape” reek of tying rocks to alleged witches (if they sank they were innocent) mentality.
“Legitimate rape” came from “forcible rape” (and is what Akin says he meant, if you believe him now). Both harken back to Medieval practice of Judicium Dei – the notion of God will help you if you are innocent.
Trial by ordeal is a form of Judicium Dei, in which the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined by subjecting him/her to a highly unpleasant or dangerous experience. If you survived, you were deemed innocent. Except of course, it’s not the accused as in the rapist, it’s the “accuser” whom Republicans are drowning in order to see if she floats.
I don’t buy Akin’s apology anymore than I buy Ryan’s running away from his own record. What has changed since they co-sponsored a bill to deny Medicaid funding to rape victims for an abortion unless they could prove it was a forcible rape? Can they even imagine the horror of having their trust and their body violated, and then discovering that they have been impregnated by the perpetrator of that violence? Have they looked into the haunted eyes of a rape victim, or held her as she tried to sleep?
What exactly have Republicans done to cut down rape? NOTHING. If anything, they are enabling it; they are refusing to pass the Violence Against Women Act. Ryan’s own Tea Party House refused to pass the VAWA, so they cut off funding and support for rape victims and then they cut off access to abortions for rape victims. And they refuse to cop to a war on women?
The facts have been accessible and we’ve been screaming them for the past several years, so it’s not as if Republicans like Paul Ryan and Todd Akin just didn’t “know” any better. They knew. Just like they know there are statistically speaking no cases of actual voter fraud (save from their own elected officials) that justify the need for voter ID laws. The fact is that rape is under-reported by a wide margin precisely because of obtuse and arcane attitudes like Todd Akin’s, Paul Ryan’s and now Mitt Romney’s.
Paul Ryan wasn’t gaffing when he sponsored a forcible rape bill. Was Mitt Romney gaffing when he said he supported personhood amendments? I’m afraid that I’ve lost all trust for Mitt Romney, and I believe he intends to be nothing more than he is now – a rubber stamp for whomever he needs to be in order to get the crown. Women can’t count on him to stand up for our rights – he wouldn’t even condemn Rush Limbaugh for his Sandra Fluke comments, and he’s bent over backward to appeal to the Ryan crowd.
These men tie a rock to a rape victim and tell her she can have an abortion if she sinks. If she can prove she was harmed enough, if she can prove her innocence via enough physical harm, then she can be relieved of carrying her rapist’s baby to term.
That is what Paul Ryan believes. He proved it by trying to make that the law of the land.
And this is just one more reason why men shouldn’t be engaging in the business of legislating women’s health, because clearly they lack both the information and the compassion needed to do so. This is why women fight for the right to choose for ourselves. Not because we are pro-abortion, but because we understand that rape is a common occurrence. We understand that incest is all too common. We understand that intimate partner violence often involves rape in order to control the woman via a pregnancy. We do not believe that just because we can be physically dominated long enough to be impregnated, our destiny does not belong to us. Paul Ryan and Todd Akin want us to be as farm animals, with no say over our future simply because we can be physically dominated.
One wonders if Ryan/Romney Republicans realize how their legislation enables and encourages abusers to use pregnancy as a domination and control tactic?
In order to protect our very liberty, we fight for something that no one “likes”. But the alternative is exactly what you’re seeing in Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and now even Mitt Romney. A medieval system of law where a woman has to “prove” her case to a panel of clearly moronic — if not morally despicable– men, and this is after she’s already suffered a horrific trauma.
So we stand in solidarity with our sisters, mothers and daughters. We remember the back alley coat hangers and we advocate for a better way for freedom and safety.
We cherish the women in this country by allowing them the dignity of choice, without forcing them to sink first. We fight to give them the privacy to make these difficult decisions without the glaring stupidity of men like Paul Ryan demanding that they prove they were raped enough.
This is why we fight so hard; not because we are “pro abortion” as they like to label us, but because we are pro-health, pro-dignity, pro-woman and yes, pro-children (many children are females, and too many of them are the victims of rape and incest).
I want to know why men like Todd Akin and Paul Ryan hate women so much that were they given free rein, they would treat us like the “cows, pigs and chickens” a Georgia Republican Representative equated us to while defending his junk science beliefs about high risk pregnancies.
We are human beings, not barn yard animals. We have the right to liberty, freedom and dignity. Republicans need to put their money where their mouths are: Pass the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act, apologize for the legislative assault on our freedoms, and stop using your alleged morality as an excuse for recklessly reprehensible witch hunts against American women and children.
It’s not about your words, Republicans. We’re used to being called barn yard animals, caterpillars and sluts by your party. It’s your legislative policies that diminish our rights to those of barn yard animals to which we are objecting.
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.