Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Akin's rape comments will haunt GOP

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They phoned. They wrote. They rebuked him publicly from coast to coast. They cut off funding and support.

Yet Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin didn't cave. He refused to withdraw by the initial Tuesday deadline, sticking with his November race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.

His choice means women's health and abortion remain top issues, causing a debate the GOP had hoped to avoid.

Akin, who says he misspoke when he said "legitimate rape" victims can prevent pregnancy, has a long voting record against abortion in any circumstance.

Akin is in line with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, with whom he co-sponsored abortion legislation, in favouring an amendment providing rights to fetuses at the moment of conception. This stops all abortions, including in the cases of rape or incest.

For Republicans objecting to Akin's misstatements, it gets more complicated at their national convention next week, when the final party platform is adopted.

Presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and now-running mate Ryan are on record in support of abortion in cases of rape. Yet, the proposed platform espouses the no-exceptions position held by Akin. In addition, Romney's positions on abortion have ranged from an early pro-choice posture to the current promises to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions.

President Barack Obama clearly stated the difference this week. For him, a rape is a rape. And in a welcome addition, he said it's wrong for predominantly male lawmakers to make these kinds of health-care decisions for women. Amen.

While the anti-government, free-the-individual GOP often argues against government interference, they are all in for government control and limited access on abortion and birth control.

McCaskill's seat is considered critical to continued control of the Senate by Democrats, which is why Republicans piled on Akin after his false and offensive comments. She also represents a strong women's voice in the male-dominated halls of power.

The real heat of the campaign is still ahead. We expect pro-McCaskill ads will continue to remind voters of Akin's foray into false and inflammatory comments on the mythical biological powers of raped women.

What's no myth is the power of the women's vote. Women's health issues are about to get bumped up on the national agenda. It's time.

 

-- McClatchy-Tribune News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2012 A13

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