A broad, overall view or perspective of an issue is often referred to as “the big picture,” and it typically has several related facets that individually contribute to a larger agenda. If one steps back and takes an overall view of the 112th Congress, it is impossible to miss the big picture that Republicans have used a multi-faceted approach in their war on women, and especially their right to choose their own reproductive health. For the past couple of days, there has been a firestorm over comments made by Representative Todd Akin regarding what he calls “legitimate rape,” and although it is a big story, it is just a microcosm of the entire GOP’s overall view of women.
Akin’s remark that in the case of “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body mysteriously blocks conception sparked outrage and disbelief for more than one reason. Many were stunned at Akin’s lack of understanding of human biology and the reproductive process, and many more were dumbfounded that he differentiated between “legitimate rape” and an insane notion that there is something called “illegitimate rape.” However, it is unfair to single out Akin when his comments have been part and parcel of the entire Republican Party’s opinion of women and their right to choose their own reproductive health. It was curious to watch Republicans abandon and condemn Akin over his remarks on legitimate rape and conception, especially when they have voted with him to eliminate women’s right to choose throughout the 112th Congress.
The Romney campaign team issued a statement that a “Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” but as critics began connecting Paul Ryan to Akin it became glaringly obvious that Ryan and Romney share his twisted pro-life position. This column has pointed out that Paul Ryan co-sponsored, with Akin, a national personhood bill that defines a single-celled zygote as having all the rights of an American citizen ever since Romney tapped him for vice-president. However, Ryan’s history of support for anti-choice legislation goes back farther than his support for a personhood bill. Last year, Ryan co-sponsored the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” that redefined rape to limit access to abortion services, and his Path to Prosperity budget slashes funding for Medicaid and Title X that provides low-income women with contraception and family planning counseling. Last year, Ryan supported amending Title X to prohibit grants from being awarded to groups like Planned Parenthood, and Romney said he would scrap the Title X program entirely to cut costs. However, according to the Guttmacher Institute, every dollar spent helping women avoid pregnancy saves $3.74 in Medicaid spending so the issue is not cutting costs, but ending women’s right to choose when they give birth.
The prescient question is; what is the basis of Ryan, Romney, Akin, and the rest of the Republicans’ pro-life stance? It is based entirely on the Christian bible and not fiscal conservatism. In 2010 Ryan wrote that “I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights” and it explains his attempt at legislation granting personhood to a zygote. In fact, while Republicans were condemning Akin, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council (FRC) and staunch pro-life advocate stood by him and voiced their unwavering support. Perkins claimed the controversy was a “gotcha political” moment, and issued a stern warning to Republicans who considered criticizing Akin, and said the controversy was to divert attention from Akin’s Senate opponent Claire McCaskill. FRC’s Action PAC president Connie Mackey issued a statement that “We know who Todd Akin is. He’s a defender of life. He’s a defender of families and this is just a controversy built up,” but like Ryan, Romney, and Republican Party, Akin is not a defender of families.
Republicans love a zygote, but they hate babies and families based on their attempts and promises to slash spending on safety net spending that provide food, shelter, and healthcare for 10-million people. As mentioned above, Ryan and Romney plan to make drastic cuts to Medicaid and Title X, and slash food stamps and housing and heating assistance that poor women with children depend on to avoid falling into dire poverty. It is the ultimate hypocrisy for so-called pro-life conservatives to claim their agenda is protecting the life of the unborn, but their protection that starts at the moment of conception comes to a screeching halt the second the unborn exits the womb and breathes oxygen without assistance.
If any woman in America has not yet figured out that Republicans, all Republicans, hold them in contempt and believe their place is on the birthing table, then they better take a better look at more than just Todd Akin. It is true that Akin follows misogynistic principles like those of his mentor, Reverend D. James Kennedy, who believes women are responsible for being raped, the bible should set laws about rape and abortion, or that they are hysterical for choosing to abort a pregnancy resulting from rape, and has no qualms forcing rape victims give birth to their rapist’s child. Romney and Ryan claimed their administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape, but their record tells an entirely different story. Ryan opposes abortion in all cases except if the mother’s life is in danger, and Romney promised if elected president, he will “get rid of Planned Parenthood,” eliminate Title X, make Draconian cuts to Medicaid that forces women to give birth with no option for aborting an unwanted pregnancy whether it is the result of rape or not.
Todd Akin deserves every bit of criticism he is getting, but he represents Willard Romney, Paul Ryan, and the entire Republican Party who have voted consistently to eliminate a woman’s right to choose. It is hypocritical of Romney and Ryan to distance themselves from Akin because his stance on women’s rights is their stance. Ryan has stood shoulder to shoulder with Akin in the House attempts at redefining rape, defunding Planned Parenthood, and giving a zygote the same rights as every living breathing American citizen, except women. Akin IS the Republican Party, and the Republican Party IS Todd Akin and they represent the dire circumstances every woman in America will face if they are victorious in November. It is impossible to isolate Akin from the rest of Republicans in Congress and GOP-controlled states because their voting records, plans for the future, and lowlife opinion of a woman’s right to choose all stem from the same source; the Christian bible. Maybe Willard Romney adheres to an extra phony religious book, but his beliefs, upbringing, and campaign promises spell the same dire results as bible-thumping Republicans that relegate women to the same place every other religious fanatic believes they belong; at home, giving birth, and desperately attempting to prevent Republicans from taking away their rights.