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Carol Baker is the co-host of "BROADSIDED" with th... Read more


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The Opinionated Bitch – On Why It’s Not About Rape
08/20/12

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Not the headline he was hoping for...

My visceral response to Missouri Congressman Todd Akin’s ridiculous commentary on Sunday regarding “legitimate rape” and a woman’s ability to secrete something in her body that would prevent pregnancy, was to mock his stupidity and I did plenty of it.  A good nights sleep and a pot of coffee later, I awoke to the revelation that his views run far deeper than the tin foil hat thinking so common among Conservatives.  This isn’t a discussion about rape at all.  This is a continuation of the attack on women’s reproductive rights.  It’s about abortion.

Todd Akin’s quest for power has real

MO-(D) Senator Claire McCaskill - "Speechless"

consequences for me personally.  He is asking to represent me in the United States Senate in an attempt to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill, who, until yesterday, was in imminent danger of losing that Senate seat.  What most people don’t realize about Todd Akin is that he and GOP Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan were co-sponsors of the bill to make federal funds for abortion illegal.  Most knowledgeable people were flummoxed by the redundancy of that bill, given that the Hyde Amendment has been law since 1976.  So, why would the United States House of Representatives pass a law that has already been a law for 36 years?  Because so few people saw the hidden landmines dropped into that bill.  This was the jewel that attempted to redefine rape as “forcible” rape.  A man inserting his penis into an unwilling woman’s vagina couldn’t be considered rape unless she was sufficiently and obviously beaten in addition to being raped.  What about the woman who is too frightened to fight back?  Too weak?  Too old?  Too infirm?  What about the rapist who doesn’t even have the decency to beat their victims to show it was ‘forcible’?  And the darker part of that provision attempted to stop abortion in the case of statutory rape and incest.  Because so many statutory rapists use coercion and not physical force to perpetrate the crime, a 12-year old, emotionally manipulated into having sex with a 50 year-old uncle, could no longer access Medicaid funds to abort the resulting pregnancy.  Worse, her parents would not be able to use their tax-exempt health savings fund to pay for an abortion.  Let that sink in while I make you a little more nauseated.

They would "never" outlaw abortion in the case of rape or incest... or would they?

If it were really about rape, THIS would be the national conversation.

Before the sun set yesterday, Todd Akin claims to have “misspoken” when making off-the-cuff remarks.  He never apologized and he never specified what he said precisely that wasn’t entirely accurate.  His comments forced a response from the Romney/Ryan ticket because they understood the toxicity of the national discussion about the War on Women and they’d like for us to believe they would never support a law that would make abortion illegal in the case of rape or incest.  There’s one tiny problem with that: remember when I said Paul Ryan and Todd Akin were co-sponsors of the bill to redefine rape? There’s a reason Paul Ryan has been such an attractive Veep choice for the Far Right: while being held out as the champion of Fiscal Conservatism, he’s truthfully far more radical in his ideology than Willard Romney in matters of social issues – the number one issue being the complete repeal of women’s reproductive and contraceptive rights.  Paul Ryan was a co-sponsor of the Federal Personhood bill granting immediate and full Constitutional rights to zygotes while stripping women of their civil rights.  That same law will outlaw a woman’s right to use most forms of contraception. Women are being told that they WILL, by mandate of law, carry all pregnancies to term, thereby becoming unwilling incubators.  I refer to this as Gestational Conscription.

Look, six months ago, Ron Paul was talking about “honest rape” and now Todd Akin is talking about “legitimate rape”.  We know from the American Medical Association that rape is the single most under reported crime in the United States.  Law enforcement claims that roughly 3 percent of rapes reported are consider “unsubstantiated”.  That means law enforcement considers 97 percent of all rapes are both honestly and legitimately reported.  We also know that 32,000 women a year are impregnated as a result of those rapes. These old white men know that.  They understand that taking away a woman’s birth control choices, outlawing abortion and forcing all women to carry every pregnancy to term will shift political power in this country.  Once again, women will no longer be considered serious candidates for meaningful employment positions because of the increased likelihood that she will become pregnant.  Employers will once again be permitted to legitimize discrimination against female employees on matters of wages and advancement.  And if you think the poverty numbers of women and children will improve under such conditions, you’re deluding yourself.

Ilyse Hogue of The Nation Magazine put it succinctly:

“And whether or not Akin loses this cycle, his comments have already escalated the stakes. In his world view, the rape victim’s body will be the ultimate judge of whether a crime has taken place. If she gets pregnant, by Akin’s standard, her reproductive organs consented to the pregnancy, so she must have consented to the sex. This bizarre standard of innocence is reminiscent of medieval Europe, where the men in authority held the similarly scientific view that women guilty of witchcraft floated in water while innocent women would drown. Being cleared of witchcraft was of course not much consolation to the drowned women, though they at least got to skip being burned at the stake.

The same process is underway to undermine women’s voices in our own destiny. Mitt Romney has already flip-flopped from a pro-choice senate candidate and a governor who promised to be “a good voice” among Republicans on reproductive health to his new incarnation as Paul Ryan’s running mate and an anti-choice leader. While Ryan allows lesser candidates like Akin to carry the water on extreme views held by the right-wing patriarchy, his equally radical views become mainstreamed as his anti-woman credentials are embraced by the party leadership. If we don’t stop laughing and start drawing hard lines around scientific reality, how many Akins will it take before we see a President Romney ordering rape victims thrown into the water to see if they float?”

Conscripted Gestation... think about it.

Conscripted Gestation, ladies. Do we really want our daughters to be a part of that army?

Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific

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3 Responses to this article

Vicki Childs August 21, 2012 Reply

I think I will invent a penis belt that women have the key to. this way, if a man wants to rape or have legitimate sex he will have to get unlocked first. The first belt will be issued to Paul Ryan since Akin probably does not have sex anyway.

Ric Gerace August 20, 2012 Reply

I like Thom Hartmann’s redefinition of ‘pro-life’ – he calls it ‘forced pregnancy’.

carolbaker August 20, 2012 Reply

Love Thom.

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