On a local Missouri TV station on Sunday, Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that "legitimate rape" does not lead to pregnancy. Akin's claims have prompted outcries from both sides of the aisle, and caused increased scrutiny on the Romney-Ryan ticket's stance on abortion access.
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin said to KTVI-TV. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child." [Emphasis added]
This is not the first time Akin has trivialized rape. Last year Akin and current GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan were two of the original co-sponsors of the controversial "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Federal law already prohibits the use of Medicaid funds (as well as all other government funds) from paying for abortions, but existing regulations make an exception for women who are raped. The proposed bill would have narrowed this exception further, allowing only women who could prove they had been "forcibly raped" to terminate their pregnancies with government funds. The public outcry against this language eventually caused it to be removed from the bill.
The Romney campaign is attempting to distance their ticket from Akin's comments. Romney said on Monday that "Congressman Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong." Although Romney and Ryan may be able to disavow Akin's claim that rape survivors do not usually get pregnant, it will be much more difficult for them to distance themselves from Akin's central point, that abortion should be illegal in all cases, including rape. Both Romney and Ryan are on record supporting personhood amendments, which ban abortion in all cases. Ryan actually co-sponsored a personhood amendment at the national level in the House. In a 2007 Presidential debate, Romney went on record stating that he would be "delighted" to sign a bill banning abortion in all cases.
The race for US Senate in Missouri between incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Akin is one of the most closely watched in the country, as GOP hopes for reclaiming control of the Senate hinge heavily on Akin defeating McCaskill in November. Monday morning GOP Senator Scott Brown (MA) called on Akin to drop out of the race.
In response to Akin's comments, Senator McCaskill said, "It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape. The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
Media Resources: Think Progress 8/19/12; The Atlantic Wire 8/20/12; Boston.com 8/20/12; Jezebel 8/19/12; Fox2now.com 8/19/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .