Monday, August 20, 2012

Akin's election hopes may be slipping "off the cuff"

By Nathan Rothwell 

Pictured: Rep (MO) Todd Akin

I've written before about my ties to Missouri, and the embarrassment I invariably feel when another local political figure attracts the wrong kind of spotlight to my home state.

We couldn't even go another six months before Todd Akin, longtime Representative of my voting district and newly anointed Republican candidate for the Senate this year, brought the spotlight back to Missouri - and just when it seemed like everyone had forgotten about Roy Blunt drafting legislation to placate religious figures who had the audacity to shrill that contraceptive services amounted to "rape of the soul."

As I'm sure you've all heard by now, Akin gave an interview on KTVI-TV in which he made the outrageous claim that female rape victims rarely become pregnant. He added further: "From what I understand from doctors... if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Akin has since backtracked from his not-so-artfully-worded comments in this interview, although his apology comes qualified with more attacks against pro-choice advocates and non sequitur criticism of the Democrats' handling of the economy. As my mother always told me, "If your apology contains the words 'I'm sorry, but....', it's not really an apology."

While Akin presumably hopes that his backtracking will put this issue to rest, his non-apologetic apology actually deserves more investigation. He claims he "misspoke," and his remarks were "off-the-cuff." defines the term "off-the-cuff" as "with little or no preparation; extemporaneous; impromptu."

Presumably, Mr. Akin knew he had this upcoming interview with Charles Jaco, and had time to prepare for it. And since Akin is one of the throngs of politicians who campaigns primarily on "family values" and has throughout his career been an outspoken pro-life politician, one can also presume that he knew (or should have known) that he was going to be asked about the subject. When the question inevitably came up, Akin attempted to lend his painfully-small level of medical knowledge by claiming doctors had informed him that women rarely become pregnant when they are "legitimately" raped... whatever that means.

So why on Earth is Akin making "off-the-cuff" remarks about a subject where he is clearly passionate and claims to be knowledgeable, in an interview for which he had ample time to prepare? Who are the doctors who gave him information that flies in the face of a study conducted by the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which found that over 32,000 women become pregnant after being raped each year? And just what the hell is a "legitimate" rape, anyway?

No matter how one falls in the great abortion debate that has sadly raged for decades in this country, I think we can all agree that it's a heavy subject with no clear answers. If we must be forced to continue debating government's role in the reproductive rights of American women, then it serves us no good for crackpots like Akin to be allowed to forcibly insert misinformation into the conversation. Dividing rape into a variety of categories simply for the purposes of determining which warrant an abortion and which do not is both offensive and dishonest. There has always been and always will be only one kind of rape; the kind that is abhorrent, has no place in society, and has no business negating a woman's reproductive rights. 

Todd Akin should damn well know that innately already. But if he can't be bothered to do that, I would hope that he at least prepares for his interviews in the future.

EDIT: President Obama, Mitt Romney, and political figures on both sides of the aisle have now weighed in to condemn Akin's remarks. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senate Committee, has advised Akin that it will not endorse his campaign if he chooses to stay in the race against Claire McCaskill. With a "soft" deadline approaching tomorrow (in which it would be a lot harder to replace Akin if he removes himself from the race), his senatorial helps could very well slip "off the cuff" in a matter of hours.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Nathan! I've been reading a lot about this, as it has indeed brought national media attention to the Missouri Senate race. The odd thing is, although Akin has made an official apology, as you noted, where he said his remarks were made "off the cuff," he also made a recent appearance on the Mike Huckabee show. A lot has been made over what Akin meant by the phrase "legitimate rape," and what he meant by it (he says he was referring to "forcible rape" whatever that fucking means, as all rape is forced against a woman's will of course). However, I find it odd that no one has grilled him on what he meant when he said that a woman's body has a way of getting rid of a pregnancy if she does get pregnant by rape. No one. Not even Huckabee. I'd like to see a bigger conversation about this point. It seems as ignorant to me as the notion that women can prevent pregnancy with aspirin between the knees. I would also love it if the media would ask other politicians who also do not believe in abortion even in the case of incest and rape if they likewise believe abortion is unnecessary, because a woman's body has ways of dealing with it, so to speak?


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