Ten Miles Square


August 21, 2012 9:00 AM What’s all the Fuss About Todd Akin?

By Jonathan Zasloff

Especially from the Republican side.

1) If you believe, as the Catholic church does and most conservatives do, that abortion is murder, then it is irrelevant whether a woman becomes pregnant through rape or through consensual sex. At the moment of conception, there is a human being with human rights attached to it. It really doesn’t matter if someone was raped. Making an exception for rape makes no sense, and in fact undermines the current right-wing anti-abortion position. For Republicans to proclaim that they are shocked, shocked by Akin shows that they lack the courage of their convictions.

2) Akin might have had a better argument if, in response to the reporter’s question, he responded something like this: “Look, rape is horrific crime. It’s a terrible tragedy for a woman if she is raped and then conceives. But that doesn’t excuse killing the child.” The only problem with that is that a reporter might have followed up: “well, then what do you expect that the government should do for the rape victim?” The answer for most Republicans would be, “nothing.” Stuff happens in life, and this is one of those things that happens. Deal with it. That’s essentially was the answer of the audience during the Republican debates when Wolf Blitzer asked what we should do with someone who doesn’t have health insurance and then gets in an accident or discovers that they have a terrible illness.

And that leads to the seam in modern Republican “thinking,” if it can be called that. If you think that the government has a responsibility to help the rape victim, why not the victims of other terrible accidents or illnesses? Why does the rape victim “deserve” help but the muscular dystrophy victim not deserve it?

So Akin tried to get out of the question, using the right-wing justification that as Mark points out has been there for a while in fever pits of Conservative America: if you get pregnant, then you must not have been raped. See? Everything works out okay! Everyone is totally and completely responsible for their own condition. There is no such thing as luck or the chains of circumstance. The safety net, as St. Paul Ryan explained, is really just a hammock.

Do Republicans actually believe this? I don’t know. But their leaders seem to. And they don’t want anyone to talk about situations when people’s lives are brutalized through no fault of their own. The more that anyone does do this, it shows how ridiculous official Republican ideology is.

No wonder they want Akin out of the race.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Jonathan Zasloff is a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles.


  • DCSusie on August 21, 2012 8:31 PM:

    Now that the Republipigs have been forced to publicly take the position that it is indeed possible to become pregnant as a result of a rape, I would love to see someone ask Ryan or another 'no exceotions' backer the following: If a married woman becomes pregnant as a result of being raped, should her husband be considered the legal father of the child, and be responsible for child support if they separate?"

  • stinger on August 21, 2012 9:51 PM:

    @DCSusie: Excellent! I'd love to hear the answer.

    "Everyone is totally and completely responsible for their own condition. There is no such thing as luck or the chains of circumstance."

    Agreed. House burned down in a forest fire? Shouldn't have lived in a wooded area. Home demolished by a hurricane? Shouldn't have lived on the ocean. Home destroyed by a flood? Shouldn't have lived near a river. Victim of a crime? Shouldn't have lived near people.

    There! Problems solved! We don't need no stinkin' government!

  • Tony Greco on August 21, 2012 10:16 PM:

    Your first point is of course absolutely correct. The willingness to make exception for rape or incest amounts to an admission that the zygote is not, after all, a person entitled to the protection of the law.

  • cwolf on August 22, 2012 2:49 AM:

    The fuss is because it takes romney's taxes, swiss & caribbean bank accounts and Shamus out of the headlines... at least for a little while.

  • Ted on August 22, 2012 6:21 AM:

    And if abortion is murder, and you believe in the death penalty for murder like most of these guys, then doctors who have abortions should be executed and probably the women too. You never hear about that, though.

  • PadrePio on August 22, 2012 8:54 AM:

    What I want to know if a married woman is raped and gets pregnant is her husband responsible for paying for the per-natal care and the expense of his wife giving birth to her rapists child? Who should pay for this? If the government imposes a standard that the pregnancy can not be terminated shouldn't the government pay all of the expenses associated with bringing a pregnancy to term?

  • emjayay on August 22, 2012 10:58 AM:

    All good questions that the media will never persue. Holding anyone's feet to the fire is not what they do. They ask a question, get a rehearsed soundbite, and move on. That is, when the Republican candidates actually give them a rare chance to actually ask them anything.

    As has been discussed a million times here, in this country in this TV and internet age, the top media people aren't journalists, but high priced newreaders and ass kissers and deliverers of pablum to their audience.

    As I have discussed, the President is really in a position to change this situation but doesn't get it, or his people don't get it, and has missed the opportunity.

  • boatboy_srq on August 22, 2012 11:41 AM:

    @DCSusie - I think this is where the Herodian approach would come into play: kill the spawn of the userper (which is perfectly defensible according to Scripture). I doubt strongly that "right to life" would apply, and it conveniently gets around the zygote-as-citizen issue. The flipside, of course, is the presumption by the wingnuts that the wife is the property of her husband, and the husband is merely caring for his property - by excising the illegitimate seed.

    It doesn't make it any less offensive (in fact it may be more so), but it does conform to the "logic" wingnuts tend to use.