It’s one thing to insist that “potato” has an “e” on the end as Dan Quayle infamously did while Vice President. It’s quite another to make an outrageous claim that a woman’s body “shuts down” during a “legitimate” (as opposed to illegitimate?) rape to prevent a pregnancy, as Republican Senate candidate from Missouri Rep. Todd Akin recently did. So despondent were some callers to Rush Limbaugh last week about this latest Republican gaffe that they refused to believe Akin was really that stupid—surely some Dem operative must have paid him off to make such a statement. Clearly the Democrats are going to extract every last mile-per-gallon they can get from this gaseous blunder.
Why do Republicans say such things? Is it the constant defensive mode they find themselves in when being interviewed by mostly hostile reporters who regularly engage in “gotcha” journalism, and whose every question is loaded with anti-conservative innuendo? Could Akin actually have been engaging in some sort of perverse wishful thinking, in which if he could rationalize a way to make pregnancies from rape disappear, then he wouldn’t have to explain why he was against abortion in cases of rape? Goodness knows.
The sad fact is, the whole business of whether or not a politician’s opposition to abortion includes victims of rape or incest is simply not that critical in the overall scheme of things. Akin’s ridiculous assertion aside, there really are not that many abortions resulting from rape or incest as a percentage of the whole. What this is in reality is yet another way Democrats and their all-too-willing accomplices in the media can divide the Republican politicians and voters on a key social issue. And they’ve managed to do quite well with this strategy, which has kept the pro-life movement off-balance during the almost four decades since Roe v. Wade.
Any time a pro-life politician is asked the loaded question about why they oppose abortions resulting from rape or incest, in a way that implies taking an extreme position, he or she should turn the question around. For example, point to the president’s opposition, not once but several times, to a bill in the Illinois legislature that would have provided protection and life support for a baby that survived the abortion procedure. Then they should proclaim that the Democrats are the party of partial-birth abortion which means abortion-on-demand, any time until just before birth. In other words, go on the offensive for a change.
Akin thinks he’s doing this by staying in the race despite numerous calls from his party leaders to step down. But if all he can offer is an apology for what he said, then whatever is left of his campaign will be ineffectual. With a key Senate seat up for grabs and against a weak Democrat like Claire McCaskill, that is simply unacceptable.