What’s all the Fuss About Todd Akin?

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

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