Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bizarro biology and women’s bodies

   As Isaac headed into the gulf, the Republicans were talking up a storm. Not about elixirs for the economy their policies helped wreck, but about a subject that is a certain loser in November:

   How best for government to dictate the result of a woman's unwanted pregnancy.

    Mitt Romney says he would allow an abortion exception for rape, incest and the health of the mother. Paul Ryan echoes the GOP national platform: no abortion; none; never.

     Meanwhile, Congressman Todd Akin soldiers on despite Romney-Ryan pleas that he vacate the Missouri U.S. Senate race. His offense: saying what his right-wing constituency believes to be true about rape and impregnation.

   At the same time, Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Tom Smith pooh-poohs the whole pregnant-by-rape matter by comparing it to —  oh, ah — having a child out of wedlock.

    Keep talking, boys.

   As you do, you diminish your electability, and the nation gets a useful opportunity to discuss what abortion rights truly are about and why most Americans support them.

    This is a special moment — when the ban-abortion minority (check any poll you desire) is on the defensive, not in its supposed perch on the moral high ground.

   The moral authoritarians get a pass too often when they tout empty phrases like "culture of life." Meanwhile women face the realities of life that accompany unwanted pregnancies.

    Poor  Todd Akin. His head is spinning. He parrots a claim embraced by his core constituency — bizarro biology about how a rape victim's body supposedly fends off pregnancy — and suddenly is getting muscled out of the race.

      But, you see, the anti-choice players can cite you a study to back up this claim even if  it is rejected almost universally by the scientific community. They can do the same linking abortion and breast cancer, and classifying homosexuality as a choice and psychosis.

     To fit their agenda, they could find a study confirming that the moon is made of Roquefort.

      As I say, soldier on,  Todd Akin. The more Republicans like you talk about abortion without understanding, the more people in the middle understand the stakes involved, and the ramifications.

    While Romney's position of allowing exceptions for rape, incest and medical necessity may seem centrist and pragmatist, it is time to ask him:

    How, within an atmosphere where abortion is otherwise prohibited, would government determine whether a pregnancy were caused by any of the situations under which you'd allow it to be terminated?

     Would these matters be up to a judge? An arbitrator? How many months would this procedure entail as the woman's abdomen swells? Three months? Six? Nine?

       Every time anyone calls himself or herself "pro-life," two questions should emanate. One: Would you require the victim of a rapist to bear the assailant's child? Two: If not, if you would allow exceptions, how would government ensure that those exceptions weren't just words on paper?

     Regarding these matters, particularly poor, tongue-tied  Todd Akin, USA Today writes, "GOP trying to keep focus on economy, not abortion."

   In due respect to the headline writer, this is not true in the slightest.

   The very first Republican bill filed in this GOP-controlled House would have cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and its vast array of health care services. The pretext? Abortion, of course — its authors disregarding the fact that no agency in the country does more to help low-income women avoid the abortion dilemma through contraception and education.

  So, why the headlines? Why the surprise that Republicans like Akin, Smith, Ryan and Romney want to interfere with women's reproductive choices? Of course they do. That's how they got nominated by the party of the anti-choice minority.

   It's the perfect storm, and one of their choosing.

   Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

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