Never did I imagine that we would one day have a discussion over what constituted rape and what didn’t. In fairness, we did not start or create this conversation, but maybe it’s a good thing that it’s happening. Most people my age and younger sometimes take things like abortion and women’s rights for granted because we weren’t around for the struggle, much like we weren’t around for the great Civil Rights Movement. So for us to hear Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin “legitimate rape” comments last week, most of us almost couldn’t believe our ears. How could somebody in 2012 ever think — let alone say — such inexcusable and ignorant statements? The crazy thing is, Akin’s outrageous words aren’t unique to him; they’re actually symbolic of the view of many in the Republican Party.
It’s amazing how quickly members of the GOP tried to distance themselves from Akin and throw him under the bus, when their own voting records and past behaviors aren’t that far removed from his thought process. Let’s just look at who has been chosen to represent them at the top.
Paul Ryan, the presumptive vice presidential candidate, has supported laws that would severely limit or outright ban abortions with no exceptions made for rape cases. Now, is that really all that different from what Akin said?
If a woman who has suffered the horror and trauma of rape gets pregnant and is banned from aborting the fetus, doesn’t that in itself question the legitimacy of her rape?
While Ryan and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney may state that they would not oppose abortion in instances of rape, actions speak a hell of a lot louder than words.
As shocking and insane as Akin’s comments were, they really are representative of a larger problem: All across the country, women’s rights are under assault as if it were the ’60s again. From attacks against Planned Parenthood to closures of abortion clinics and other facilities, we are watching a reversal of progress. Some lawmakers are even bold enough to force women to go through invasive procedures and tests before receiving urgent medical care.
This is not the America I grew up in.
“Just last year, Paul Ryan joined Todd Akin and more than 200 other Republicans in co-sponsoring legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape, limiting which victims of rape were ‘legitimate’ enough to receive financial assistance for access to abortion care,” wrote Sandra Fluke recently. “Mitt Romney famously says he would ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood if he had the chance … Akin’s comments shouldn’t be surprising. But this isn’t about him – just like it was never about me.”
I couldn’t agree with Sandra Fluke more.
People always say that we learn about history so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. Well let’s make sure we don’t repeat the assault on women. We must fight to protect our liberties.