Don’t you just love how deftly this latest crop of Republican candidates has managed to reframe the Roe v. Wade debate such that we’re now talking about exceptions to a ban on legal abortion? Apart from his role as distraction of the week, this was really senatorial candidate, and congressman, Todd Akin’s greatest accomplishment, creating a hyperlink to the underlying premise that, sooner or later, abortion will be prohibited, so we might as well start talking now about when to make exceptions to that ban.
Of course, Akin and other Republicans may say that the argument is really over whether taxpayers should pay for abortions for women who were victims of that divine Akin oxymoron, “consensual rape;” that’s simply not true. The argument is every inch about whether women should continue to have a constitutional, federally protected choice about whether to terminate a pregnancy. And, should there be any question as to whether Akin’s worldview is in lockstep with that of his colleague, Paul Ryan, the soon-to-be official vice presidential Republican Party nominee, Ryan now confirms that he thinks rape is a legitimate path to parenthood
As Raw Story reports, Paul Ryan says rape is “another form of conception,” and that he holds “the position that the method of conception doesn’t change the definition of life.”
But, Ryan won’t be the president, Mitt Romney will be, or so Ryan says, and Gov. Romney has already said he supports a personhood amendment to the Constitution, as well as giving fetuses constitutional protection under the 14th Amendment.
What is really fascinating, though, about all the recent hoopla over Akin’s remarks about “legitimate” rape is that no one seems to notice the underlying premise of this debate is the acceptance of what would, or would not constitute an acceptable exclusion to a ban on legal abortion. That there will be an imminent ban on abortion is presupposed. So it is then that radical right-wing Republicans have not only managed to hijack their party, but the discourse on women’s reproductive rights, as well.
By not challenging this underlying premise, Democrats are not vocally opposing the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but instead enabling the illusion of its inevitability.
This egregious assault on a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny has taken another sharp right turn from Congress, and even made it to a sheriff race in New Hampshire where the candidate, a fellow named Szabo, wanted voters to know that if they elect him, he would use what he sees as his constitutional right to do whatever it takes, including the use of deadly force, to stop doctors from performing legal abortions, that is until he saw that Todd Akin was practically excommunicated from the Republican Party for his statements.
Yes, this happened in New Hampshire, and could soon be coming to a town near you. Don’t think for a minute that there aren’t many in the Republican Party, and in the House, who share Todd Akin’s views. Indeed, the Akin doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Rescinding Roe v. Wade isn’t about protecting the rights of the unborn, but protecting the rights of white men who labor under the delusion that letting women loose in the workforce imperils their own otherwise bright financial future. The battle to reverse Roe v. Wade is essentially the same war being waged against undocumented workers, only on the reproductive front. It is a thinly veiled effort at subjugating what is viewed as a threat to job security. That the Republican Party has managed to succeed so effectively at changing the presumption of choice to the presumption of the inevitable overturning of Roe v. Wade is no small victory. It is has been years in the making, and one that must be quickly stopped.
Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.