Todd Akin and the GOP: Science and Ethics Failures


There has been plenty of coverage of the extremely stupid and dehumanizing statements of Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri’s 2nd district about how “legitimate rape[s]” don’t cause pregnancies. I mean, fuck, I hate even having to write what he said.

Rape is about the worst thing you can do to a person, perhaps even worse than murder because of the shame and guilt and weakness is causes the victim, not to mention potentially seeing your rapist again. And then having to raise a child due to the most horrific thing that could happen to you against your will? And by against ones will, I mean not being allowed to terminate the pregnancy.

Because that is what this crap is about from Akin and his acolytes. They want to end abortion in all cases. No matter how you became pregnant, be it through a passionate night with a failed condom or assault with a weapon and forced into compromising positions; all wish to be banned.

And how unfortunate that that statement is NOT an exaggeration. There have been numerous states submitting and something passing laws to limit access to abortion (Arizona passing law to make life begin effectively before conception; Utah producing legislation to make even miscarriages potentially illegal and acts of manslaughter), including language that has no exceptions, and now it’s going to go Prime Time. Various news outlets and commentators have discovered that at the Republican National Convention part of the party platform will be the effort to make all abortions illegal. No exceptions. No compromises. The Republican VP also sponsored a bill that make all fertilized eggs persons, which means it would ban stem cell research and prohibit in vitro fertilization (IVF). So even medical needs, from future treatments to people actually wanting children, are restricted by such a bill. That all means the anti-abortion stuff is right at the top of the GOP, not something in their fringes.

Which of course makes all the people in the GOP that poo-poo Akin for saying what he did ring perfectly hollow. And Akin himself claims he misspoke, but he still wants abortion to always be illegal. Which means he isn’t sorry about what he thinks, but he is sorry about the packaging he used to market his vile filth.

Moreover, he is not somehow isolated from the grassroots of the conservative movement in the US. His ideas about rape and conception actually come from “research” done by various duchenozzels. The Week nicely recaps the history of this line of argument, going even into the Middle Ages; however, the most recent version of this “theory” came into politics in about the 1980s with James Leon Holmes and state Rep. Stephen Freind. And it is clear that there is no scientific basis for it; an estimate puts about 32,000 pregnancies in the US as due to rape.

But why even think something so awful and patently untrue? Because an excuse is required to keep a straight face when proposing a ban on all possible pregnancies. It’s cognitive dissonance run wild! It also shows a contempt for women, since it means that if they are pregnant they must have wanted it. How different is that from the crass statement that drunk women in miniskirts are asking for sex (and potentially raped)? No, no, no. She must have wanted it to happen, and it’s her fault for not controlling her vagina correctly (oops! I just caused my blog to be censored in Michigan). Yet, the premises are delusional, far worse than merely false, and clearly anti-woman, and thus anti-human.

What also belies the GOP saving face is that there are figures in the right wing who still support what Akin said, claiming he was right all along. Bryan Ficsher of American Family Association (AFA) and the radio program Focal Point on American Family Radio tweeted this:

Mike Huckabee is also helping Akin, saying how even people conceived by rape can become contributors to society and be great. As if anyone is saying a child born but conceived under un-ideal circumstances is less a member of the community. No, the problem is forcing a woman to carry a child after she was forced in into sex and having the worst experience on her life. It also destroys any sort of family planning, meaning the child is less likely to have a stable home. And it looks like Mike has never heard of the philosophical mental experiment of the violinist.
Another ass of the Religious Right, D. James. Kennedy, who is Akin’s spiritual leader (no wonder he is dead to human compassion) also believes women invite rape; they had it coming because they wear clothing that’s attractive. Everyone, get your women burkhas, and don’t let them leave the house without a male escort. It’s what they deserve for having breasts, you know.
And you can guess where all things shit is derived: preachin’ from the Bible. And even though the book has rather little to say on abortion, it is religiosity that has done the most to prop up such anti-woman policies. It basically sacrifices the autonomy of the woman to religious dogma; it parallels all too well the sacrificing of Isaac by Abraham for his deity of choice (who just happened to be testing him). Put human compassion and well-being on the alter, for the fires create a perfume to the imagined sycophant.
What makes this worse is that the arguments promulgated by these nuts also infect the rest of secular society, including the atheist community. Do 20-week-old fetuses feel pain? There is not a consensus that favors it, mostly because the neural network of the body isn’t properly developed until later; the nervous system isn’t developed well enough until about week 27 to have some control of body functions, and studies seem to place the time to potentiality feel pain at about the seventh month (third trimester). How about a link between abortion and breast cancer or depression? Bullshit. And so on.
But if you are one to think that a fetus at any age is fully human and deserving of rights, that abortion is murder, and you wish to minimize deaths, then also consider this: the abortion rate in a country where abortion is legal is about the same or lower than a country where abortion is illegal (as determined by the World Health Organization). But worse, in the nations were abortion is illegal, it is much less safe, and that means women die in the process. That means no saved babies and more dead women. Abortion laws save none and kill others.
Now, this is not to deny that there are no circumstances in which abortion may be immoral; I do not claim to know what is necessarily right on the fringe ends of what could happen. However, it is very much the case that the sorts of laws that the folks in the GOP are trying to pass do only harm, save no one (not even babies), and demote women to second class citizens. Again.
This makes all this Kuhscheiße anti-humanist. It demotes human values, human suffering, human desires for a dogma not backed up by facts or the well-being of the people we know and care about (and know for a fact are sentient). And that means it should be against the values of what is being called Atheism+, elaborated on by Greta Cristina, and philosophically considered by Richard Carrier (Dan Fincke, another philosopher, has some useful observations as well). This needs to be the new wave in the atheist movement, one that actually cares about human rights. And human rights include women’s rights unless you a misogynist, in which case you are not a humanist. Same way a racist cannot be a humanist.
Being too kind, Obama campaign. The policies are pre-1900!
That makes the talks I showed in my blog post the other day, especially the one by Annie Laurie Gaylor, so very important. Women’s issues must be the sorts of issues of caring, compassionate, decent human beings, and all the flak that people like Rebecca Watson, Natalie Reed, and so many others have received is worse than unjustified–it’s down-right immoral and hurting everyone. This also means that when it comes time to vote, there is no way I can vote for anyone that associates with a party that in its platform and in its major candidates promotes legislation that will hurt everyone. “Babies” will still die; women will die; the sick will find less hope for treatment, and wanting couples will remain without the child other women are forced to have. Everyone loses. Add to that the anti-contraception bullshit that also seems to be going through the GOP this year, which will only increase the number of sought-after abortions, and you have a party of ignorant thugs. A vote for anyone associating with this party is a vote against humanism. And I don’t usually vote straight ticket, and I don’t want to this time either (I need to consider some of the other politicians more closely this year, at least at the local level), but with my added Ohio powers, I must do what I can to make sure this country doesn’t return to the 19th century.
Please, at least consider not doing the same.
Update: Awesome video from Mr. Deity on the subject: The Mourning After Pill, just in case you enjoyed your rape.
Note: this should and does NOT make fun of rape victims. It satirizes the idiotic arguments from the goons of the GOP and Religious Right. This is not Tosh.0.
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5 thoughts on “Todd Akin and the GOP: Science and Ethics Failures

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