GOP to Todd Akin: How dare you say what we think!
COLUMN: Top Republicans denouncing Akin share his extreme policies towards women
Republican politicians, including many from Wisconsin, were quick to denounce Rep. Todd Akin’s inane comments about rape victims. Tellingly as they were doing so, the Republican National Committee was voting on its party platform. And they voted to specifically oppose abortion access for rape and incest victims and affirm their support of a “personhood” amendment that would outlaw abortion in every instance, most forms of birth control and common fertility treatments.
The proposed Republican Party platform was not written by Rep. Akin. His beliefs mirror the beliefs of most the Republican politicians condemning him.
Akin critics, including Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Ron Johnson, U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson and Governor Scott Walker share Akin’s commitment to outlawing abortion for rape and incest victims and in almost every instance.
Ryan specifically has worked to redefine rape in federal legislation by introducing the words “forcible rape” to limit rape victims’ access to abortion services, implying that there are different categories of rape. Ryan has also opposed allowing women who have health complications during a pregnancy to access abortion and co-sponsored with Akin a federal “personhood” amendment that outlawed all abortion and most common forms of birth control. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has previously affirmed his support for the “personhood” amendment defeated by Mississippi voters early in the year, even as he tries to slightly distance himself from Akin’s and Ryan’s extreme views.
Republicans are condemning Rep. Akin’s comments, not because they disagree with his policy positions on reproductive health issues. It is because they know that their positions on outlawing forms of birth control and abortion even in tragic situations will not just result in the loss of a U.S. Senate seat, but could also hurt their chances at the U.S. presidency. Now that the national spotlight is on these issues, Republicans are trying to run from their voting records.
We’ve seen Republicans’ extreme positions being embraced at the state level in Wisconsin as well. In his budget, Gov. Walker proposed completely eliminating the state’s entire family planning program, which provides critical cervical and breast cancer screening to low-income women throughout the state. He also tried to eliminate our contraceptive equity law that guarantees coverage for birth control in state prescription drug plans. And legislative Republicans gutted Wisconsin’s comprehensive sex education statute in favor of an abstinence-only framework. They also passed a law to exclude abortion coverage in insurance plans and defund Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, the state’s largest family planning provider.
When the Republican party’s official position is that common birth control pills should be illegal and rape and incest victims should be forced to be pregnant, what they are really saying is that women should be treated like second-class citizens. And these Republicans know that American women will never accept going back to a time when that was a reality.