August 22, 2012 — Several opinion pieces and editorials on Monday discussed the significance of Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) remarks that pregnancy from rape is rare and that women's bodies can block a pregnancy from "legitimate rape." Summaries appear below.
~ Maureen Dowd, New York Times: "In asserting that women have the superpower to repel rape sperm, Akin ratcheted up the old chauvinist argument that gals who wear miniskirts and high-heels are 'asking' for rape," columnist Dowd writes. She adds that Akin "reflects a severe stance on abortion that many in his party embrace, including the new vice presidential candidate," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). "Even as party leaders attempted to lock the crazy uncle in the attic in Missouri, they were doing their own crazy thing down in Tampa, Fla., by reiterating language in their platform calling for a no-exceptions Constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape, incest and threat to the life of the mother," Dowd notes (Dowd, New York Times, 8/21).
~ Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, New York Times: Although presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney denounced Akin's remarks, the comments "fed Democrats' message that Republicans are engaged in an all-out attack on women's rights," writes Lopez Torregrosa, an author. She argues that despite assurances from Romney's campaign that his stance on economic issues is appealing to women, many middle-class single and married women ages 30 to 45 are at odds with his approach to women's issues, including health care. She quotes one married, 41-year-old mother in New York as saying, "Yes, I'm worried about the economy. But I am also very concerned about many other important issues that affect me as a woman and my family over all, including health care, women's issues and education" (Lopez Torregrosa, New York Times, 8/21).
~ Kathleen Parker, Washington Post: "Akin's comments furthered the perception that Republicans are waging a war on women," writes columnist Parker. She adds, "Whether mandating transvaginal probes prior to abortion under 'informed-consent' logic or misunderstanding basic biology, Republicans have managed to alienate a fair portion of the female population," including women who oppose abortion rights but "will have a hard time standing by men who are so willfully ignorant" (Parker, Washington Post, 8/21).
~ USA Today: In the controversy surrounding Akin's comments, "something more significant than the political impact has been missed: [His] inane belief that women's bodies can somehow magically prevent pregnancy by rape is extreme, but it's not the only fantasy distorting the debate over abortion," a USA Today editorial states. "[M]any state laws misinform women or twist medical evidence in order to scare them," it notes. For instance, laws in five states perpetuate the myth that abortion raises the risk of breast cancer, while eight states falsely link abortion with a higher risk of mental health problems (USA Today, 8/21).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership