Tuesday, May 21, 2013
At last, someone has said something in the abortion debate on which almost everyone can agree. Missouri Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin's bizarre claim that a woman's body can self-terminate a pregnancy if it was the result of "legitimate rape," has been condemned so completely by people across the political spectrum that today probably even Akin himself would agree that he should have kept his mouth shut.
The Associated Press
It even drew what sounded like a clear statement from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who declared the comments to be "insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong."
Maine's Republican U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers went further, calling on Akin to resign immediately.
These are strong responses to come from members of Akin's own party. But before we change the subject and move on, it is worth remembering that this weekend's "legitimate rape" statement was not the only thing Akin has ever had to say about abortion rights since coming to Congress 12 years ago, and he has not usually felt so alone.
Akin is one of 62 co-sponsors of the "Sanctity of Human Rights Act," which would give all the rights of personhood to a fertilized egg, creating implications for birth control, fertility treatments and medical research in addition to threatening a woman's ability to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
Another co-sponsor of that bill was Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's proposed running mate. The personhood concept has been part of the Republican party platform for some time, and will likely be again as the party meets for its convention this month.
This is an extreme position on a volatile issue that is of concern to men and women of all political persuasions. Ryan has been a staunch social conservative who has taken strong positions in the past. Romney selected Ryan, in part, because of the message his nomination would send to social conservatives, who have had doubts about whether they can trust the former Massachusetts governor, particularly when it comes to his stand on abortion.
Now it is time for Romney to say specifically what that position is, and a blanket critique of Akin's blunder is not enough.
Where does Romney part ways with Akin, or for that matter, Ryan? Does he disagree with his party's platform on the concept of personhood? How would a Romney administration set policy on issues of family planning and women's health?
Just because everyone rejects Akin's comments doesn't mean the conversation should be over.