Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Sometimes, apologies are simply for semantics. There are times when we are sorry, not so much for what we said, but more so that it was even said at all. Just the fact that the “cat is out of the bag”, so to speak, is far worse than how we let it out.
This seems to be the quandary that the GOP finds itself in. Republican Missouri Representative and U.S. Senatorial candidate Todd Akin managed to let their actual platform regarding abortion out of the bag.
In a recent interview with a St. Louis television station, Akin had this to say about his stance on abortion and an exception for rape victims:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape; the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
All of Akin’s comments are easily disproved medically. Once uttered, they have caused a collective “well I never…” from women across the country. Everyone cringed at the use of the phrase “legitimate rape”, as if he was accusing rape victims who seek abortion of lying to get them.
Akin has made numerous apology commercials trying to re-explain himself, but there isn’t really that much to explain. Akin is pro-life, period. No exceptions, no sympathy, no nothing. To him, if you are a woman, then you are a vessel and no matter how the fetus got there, it’s now your gift from God…deal with it.
These comments from a Conservative Republican, particularly one backed by the Tea Party, should really come as no surprise to anyone.
In the last year alone, Republican legislators across all 50 states have introduced 1,100 bills regarding reproductive and health rights regarding women. Many have reached beyond the rape issue into invasive testing that doctors find neither medically nor ethically necessary. Some legislation seeks to ban the use of contraceptives which even 7 in 10 Evangelical Christian women use. Clearly, that’s the national agenda at play here by the GOP. 
However, despite the obvious trend toward abortion rights annihilation, Mitt Romney contends that he believes in the exception for rape, incest and if the health of the mother is at risk. Even this change is a sharp about face from his 1994 position during his failed Senate run against Incumbent Senator Edward Kennedy, in which he supported Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose. 
To make us believe him on this issue and to inspire confidence in women across the country that their rights will be in tact, who does he choose as a running mate? Paul Ryan.
He is on the record as having co-sponsored 38 anti-abortion bills, many of which do not have an exception carved out for rape, incest or the health of the mother. GOP Golden Boy as he may be, Ryan’s position on abortion is EXACTLY Todd Aiken’s. They crafted their abortion bill with the same language that Aiken used in his ill-fated television interview, word-for-word. He doesn’t believe in the exceptions at all. 
Democrats gleefully looked on as what was sure to be another easy fight to Akin’s demise, but then two things happened.
The first thing that happened was that Republicans, from Rush to Mitt, disavowed him and told him to get out of the race for incumbent Democrat Clare McCaskill’s Missouri Senate seat. It was an order he blatantly refused. He remains in the race today, sorrowfully apologizing to make up for millions of pulled campaign money.
The GOP’s platform, which they had planned to mask at the convention in Tampa next week, contains that same language on rape. In spite of the Romney campaign’s protests to the contrary, the GOP isn’t against what Akin is saying at all; Actually they would like to be quite loud about it. Only Romney’s staff stands between them and sinking the campaign’s image with socially moderate independents.
The platform includes an anti-abortion stance, with no exceptions. Many Republicans, such as Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, shrug it off, saying: “I don’t really care about the platform. And I don’t think most Republicans care about the platform”
Why bother to have a platform?
The above argument from Christie is one that Ryan is making as well; they seem to believe they can play lip service to the base with no intention of actually supporting it. Ryan has said that this is the Romney ticket and that his opinions on the matter are what will reign supreme. 
Their base is counting on them to deliver on their agenda. The question then is:
Are they lying to the base or to the rest of us?