Politics, that ever-fascinating spectacle which illustrates man’s (or one group’s) obsession to impose his/their will over the masses by shaping public policy has stolen the spotlight once again. In the last week, Republican Missouri Representative Todd Akin, who has been engaged in typically brutal (by contemporary standards) campaign to unseat the district’s sitting Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, has been the target of more slings and arrows than a Star Trek “redshirt” in the Hunger Games.
Since his now-infamous remarks about “legitimate rape,” calls have been coming from every nook and cranny of the political world for Akin to drop out of the race. While granted, his remark that women’s bodies have some heretofore unknown mechanism which prevents pregnancies resulting from rape smacks of the complex imaginings of a 3rd-grader who has an unparalleled insight into the nature of cooties, he has every right to speak his mind…or what passes for such. And although I do agree that the cheapening of human life exemplified by the death culture that both abortion and the death penalty should be abolished, I cannot help but bear witness and testify against how I see the Republican Party throwing one of their own under the bus to avoid losing power.
I also cannot help but wonder the obvious; whether Akin’s remarks are a reflection of similar beliefs—of some variation thereof—held by the majority of Republicans. After all, their party’s ideological anti-abortion fetish seems to take priority over other, more pressing issues relevant to the American people; one of the very first bills passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R.3.PCS). So as the Republican Party look for the perfect spot on the back of Akin to drive it’s knife, I find myself thinking about a great many things related to this issue.
In the current issue of The New Yorker (August 20, 2012), writer Amy Davidson piece, “Seven Simple Questions for Republicans Abandoning Akin” reflects many of my own questions surrounding the issue.
I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting the thought-provoking piece here.
What are Republicans renouncing when they run from Todd Akin? Akin, the G.O.P.’s candidate for Senate in Missouri—he had been leading in the polls—said in an interview yesterday that “the female body” had a mystery mechanism that prevented pregnancy in the case of a “legitimate rape.” (The full, awful details are in an earlier post.) He doesn’t seem to have expected the anger this occasioned; by the end of the night he had apologized, and, on Monday, he was roundly abandoned by Republicans from Mitt Romney to Scott Walker. (He was also, less surprisingly, denounced by Democrats, including President Obama, who said, “Rape is rape.”) John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told him that he wouldn’t be getting the five million that the Party had planned to spend on his race, the Washington Post reported, and others pushed him to drop out. Akin, though, isn’t making it easy, telling Mike Huckabee, “I’m not a quitter.”
And this shouldn’t be too easy for the G.O.P.—given that the actual policy positions, if not medical knowledge, of many in the Party are quite close to Akin’s. This is true of Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate. So here’s a test: Are you a Republican politician who would desperately like to distance yourself from Akin? Answer these seven simple questions first.
1. You’ve said that Congressman Akin’s remarks offended you. Can you explain, in your own words, what about them offended you? Was it just that he was wrong about how conception works, or do you see more problems in his statement? Please be specific; vague references to “empathy” don’t count.
2. Congressman Akin used the phrase “legitimate rape.” If you haven’t addressed that in question No. 1, can you do so now? Is it a phrase that you would use, or countenance, or one that you would object to? Also, Akin co-sponsored legislation changing a statutory reference to “rape” to “forcible rape.” Is that a bill you voted for, or would?
3. Do you support access to abortion for victims of rape? Have you ever voted on or introduced legislation, or signed a pledge, addressing that point? Would you require any qualifications—for example, would there need to be a criminal conviction first? Do you support access to abortion for anyone besides rape victims?
4. How about emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill? A University of California Study estimated that, in 1998, twenty-five thousand women became pregnant as the result of rape, and that twenty-two thousand of those could potentially have been prevented with emergency contraception. Would you classify this as abortion? Should all women, whatever their circumstances, have access to the morning-after pill? And should health insurance cover non-emergency contraception?
5. Congressman Akin is an educated man. Do you think this incident shows that there are shortcomings in sex education and scientific literacy in America? Would you support increased sex education? And could organizations like Planned Parenthood have a role to play there?
6. You and your colleagues have called on Akin to withdraw from the Senate race against Claire McCaskill. Why? Do you think that he is unfit to serve, or do you just think that he will lose?
7. Can you talk about what you’ve done in your political career to help victims of sexual violence? Have you listened to those women’s—and men’s, and children’s—stories?
Reprinted from The New Yorker (August 20, 2012)
The fact that I used Davidson's piece does in no way mean to imply that I am pro-abortion. As I stated before, I believe in the logical consistency of "pro-life;" both abortion and the death penalty should be abolished.
I am merely using this piece to illustrate how the Republicans can tree themselves by adhering to ideological beliefs rather than beliefs which reflect critical thinking...just as the Democrats do so themselves on the issue of gay marriage and "gender issues" (See: "The Politicization of Gender In America" for example)
I'm just wondering when will politicians from both parties will step away from their respective ideological stances and learn to govern based not on emotions, party allegiance, or ideology but on reason alone...?