I have some common-sense, but apparently very sorely needed, advice for Republican lawmakers: You have one position and one position only on rape: it is bad. That’s it. If anyone asks you, you say it is a tragedy that no woman (or man, for that matter) should live through and your prayers go out to victims. Many on the right are, justifiably, frustrated that reporters continue to ask questions of candidates and lawmakers on rape, but, in the media’s defense, when Republicans keep giving answers as stupid as those of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, it’s hard to blame them.
Unfortunately for Republicans, another lawmaker has weighed in the rape issue, this time Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia. The Marietta Daily Journal reports:
“And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”
Gingrey pointed out that he had been an OB-GYN since 1975.
“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.”
In all three instances, Republican lawmakers were trying their best to justify their opposition to abortion in the cases of rape and incest. The media’s double standard here is clear. While Akin, Mourdock and Gingrey and other Republicans have been asked to defend their positions, Democrats with equally “extreme” positions on abortion never are. During the last election, Paul Ryan was repeatedly asked to explain his stance on abortion in the instances of rape and incest by a hostile media anxious to trap the vice presidential candidate in the same “gotcha” moment that ended Akin’s and Mourdock’s runs for the Senate. Fortunately for the national ticket, Ryan stuck to a very rehearsed and well-thought out script each and every time he was asked and started to sound like a broken record on the subject by the end of the campaign. His Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, was given a pass on favorable comments made in China about their one-child policy (that is often enforced by forced abortions and infanticide). President Obama’s incredibly controversial votes on the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act were also ignored by a media set out to trap Republicans fumbling over the issue of rape and abortion.
While this media double standard is incredibly unfair to Republicans, the deck has been stacked in this manner (against Republican candidates and politicians) for some time. It’s time for Republicans to practice the restraint that Rep. Paul Ryan did during the most recent election and decide on a script and stick to it. Continuing to talk off the cuff about abortion and rape has already sunk the careers of two senatorial candidates. One would think other Republicans would have learned from their mistake.