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5 Crazy Things the GOP Is Still Saying About Women, Rape and Abortion--Even While the Convention Tried to Ignore It

As the convention pivoted away from social issues, conservative figures couldn't stop saying weird stuff about rape.
 
 
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A sign at a NYC rally for choice.
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer

 

If the Republican Convention planners had their way, their party's extremist hard-line position on social issues like abortion and gay marriage (See 10 Things the GOP Platform Hates About You) would be forgotten. Todd Akin’s "legitimate rape" comment would be forgotten, too.

Instead we’d be focused on bad jokes about Obama’s golf game and the fact that Mitt Romney is a businessman.

But here’s the reality impossible to hide: while the show went on, members of the party continued to insert their feet in their mouths on choice issues--or maybe that's not the right term. Maybe they’re just letting their true colors show despite the desire of some in the convention hall to change the conversation.

As Nona Willis-Aronowitz reported firsthand for Marie Claire, offstage the anti-choice rhetoric flowed freely and the ideologues fulminated:

What a difference a few thousand feet makes. New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte and Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who both gave stiff and lackluster addresses earlier in the week, came alive at the Susan B. Anthony-CWA event — and were fiercer than they ever could be on a nationally televised stage. Ayotte boldly repeated the falsehood about taxpayer dollars going toward abortion and quoted Ryan’s vague platitude about life Wednesday night, urging the audience to "think very hard about those words."

Here are five more absurd statements in the wake of Akin-gate that give the lie to the GOP’s quieting attitude on the culture war front.

1. Mike Huckabee, after making a grossly sexist dig against Democratic National Committee’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, continued to be unable to hide his Bible-thumping misogyny from the crowd, telling them that Obama supports infancticide:

Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care.

Amanda Marcotte and Ed Kilgore both neatly dispatch the not-so-subtle subtext here, based on a right-wing lie about a bill that would have forced doctors to pretend to resuscitate aborted fetuses, a bill Obama voted against. While Marcotte makes mincemeat out of this zombie lie Kilgore notes that Huckabee’s words show that evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons who are socially right-wing are willing to hold their noses and plunge into the cultural fray together.

2. Paul Ryan calls rape another "method of conception":

After the Akin brouhaha, Paul Ryan was asked his opinion on rape and abortion. He said that “the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”

Gottalaff wrote at the Political Carnival about where this easily deployed logic actually ends up:

So rape is just, you know, another way to conceive. There’s consensual sex, sex out of wedlock, and then there’s forcing a woman to do something against her will (rape), traumatizing her for life. All are equal, all are simply “methods of conception” and if a woman gets pregnant by any “method,” men like these, lawmakers like these, will tell her what she can do or can’t do with her own body.

HuffPo blogger Paul Slanskly worried about the lack of media coverage for this moment, “a far more offensive remark than Todd Akin's imbecilic blurt of last weekend. What, are we tired of stupid remarks about rape now, so Ryan gets a free pass?” he asks.

Good question.


3. Steve King has never heard of statutory rape pregnancies.

We didn’t think it was possible, but Republican Rep. Steve King said something that might be even moreclueless and scientifically absurd than Todd Akin’s remarks. Whereas Akin claimed that the female body has some sort of mystical power to avoid conceiving through rape, King stated that he had never even heardof such a thing happening to a woman (an underage woman, specifically). For real!

TPM:

King told an Iowa reporter he’s never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way,” King told KMEG-TV Monday, “and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”

So pregnancy-through-rape denialism is a thing now. Great.

4. Senate candidate thinks conceiving through rape is much like having a baby out of wedlock.

Rape victims who become pregnant are not a homogenous group with only one set of experiences. However, we can say that becoming pregnant from rape is often a nightmarish experience for both the rape victims and the children they conceive. Read this chilling piece from the New Yorkerto get a sense of some of the ways pregnancy through rape can cause serious, long-term emotional and psychic scars.

It’s disrespectful to those experiences when someone like Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith comes along to say that conceiving through rape is “similar” to having a baby “out of wedlock,” as his daughter did – and as is the case with more than half of U.S. births to women under the age of 30. Republicans love pointing to that statistic as an indicator of our nation’s moral decline, which is obviously ludicrous.

When Smith said that pregnancy-through-rape is similar to pregnancy-sans-wedding-ring, it was really misogynistic code for “those women are morally inferior.”

But what can we expect from a guy who thinks the only thing two grown women (“girls”) could possibly want to talk about is shoes?

5. Wisconsin Rep. dismisses pushback against false rape claims as playing “political football.”

Republican Rep. Sean Duffy (who, fun fact, was once a cast member on The Real World: Boston) minimized the wretched comments about rape made by his fellow party members by suggesting that Dems are just playing “political football” by pushing back. What jerks! How darethey correct lies!

Here’s Duffy’s full exchange with CNN’s Piers Morgan, via Jezebel:

MORGAN: What about Paul Ryan's positions on social issues like abortion? He's pretty right-wing, to the more extreme end of the party. Are you concerned that that will be perceived as anti-women?

DUFFY: Well I think what the issue's that extreme is when Barack Obama has voted four times to say if you have a failed abortion and the baby is born alive, you aren't allowed to save it. That is what is extreme. And I think we have to have a real conversation not just on social issues, but the real issues that Americans care about, which is the debt, which is the economy, which is jobs. Moms and dads across America, moms specifically.

MORGAN: But if you're trying to target women, which Mitt Romney has to do because he's way behind on women, is it really advisable to have people like Todd Akin rearing their ugly heads, coming out with all this guff about rape?

DUFFY: You want to know what I think is ugly? I was a prosecutor. I prosecuted rape cases for adults and children. And the Democrat Party is going to try to use rape as a political football, that's a disgrace. I'm disgusted by it.

MORGAN: Well actually, I thought Todd Akin's comment was a disgrace wasn't it?

DUFFY: And I called it a disgrace. But it shouldn't be used politically. You had virtually all Republicans stand up and say that was wrong, we don't approve of it, and now that it's being used politically – that's disgusting!

Actually, you know what’s really reallya disgrace, Sean Duffy? Saying that “virtually all” of your fellow Republicans have disavowed Todd Akin’s rape stance, when in fact similar views are commonplace among the party.

That’s why we have to keep writing these lists: because there are so many members of the GOP who have backwards views of women, rape and pregnancy that as soon as we’ve finished one roundup, there’s enough material for another.

Lauren Kelley is the activism and gender editor at AlterNet and a freelance journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Salon, Time Out New York, the L Magazine, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter.

Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at sarahmseltzer.com.

 
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