Sunday, 4 November 2012

Romney, Republicans, And Rape

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the uterus. A number of important and complex things happen here, and each of us owes our existence to this useful and multi-talented organ.

You've seen one before, of course, and understand what it spends its time doing. Of course, depending on our biology and education, some of us have a better idea than others of its purpose and function. Women, for instance, will understand it, perhaps, as something they don't have cause to consider unless something unusual happens there. Some men may think that it transforms the normally placid and genial women in their lives into raging hellbeasts with no grasp of logic or reason - indeed, some women may agree with them. But if you're a male Republican politician in the United States, you may believe that it's equipped with a top-of-the-range security system to repel invaders, or that it's an item that women aren't responsible enough to control independently and so must be marshalled and regulated by legislation.

If you are a Republican who subscribes to this school of thought, there's an excellent chance you've already shared your profound insight with the rest of us. Below, with the assistance of many of righteously angry bloggers and commentators, I present a list of some of the most  ignorant and insensitive statements ever to issue forth from Republican mouths.

  • Todd Akin: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that whole thing down” - 2012 Senate Campaign 
  • Clayton Williams: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it” - 1990
  • Chuck Winder: “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.” - March 2012 
  • Ken Buck: “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse … It appears to me … you invited him over… the appearance is of consent.” - October 2010 
  • Rick Santorum: “I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you… rape victims should make the best of a bad situation.” - January 2012
  • Richard Mourdock: "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happened." - 2012
  • North Carolina state Rep. Henry Aldridge: “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever … to get pregnant, it takes a little cooperation. And there ain’t much cooperation in a rape.” - 1995
  • Delaware state Rep. Stephen Freind: “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are one in millions and millions and millions […] The traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to secrete a certain secretion that tends to kill sperm.” - 1988
  • Dr. Richard Dobbins, 20-year GOP contributor: “Most women either are not fertile during assault or do not become pregnant because the trauma prompts a hormonal response that prevents ovulation.” - 2006
  • Judge James Leon Holmes, Bush appointee - “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

I don't even know where to begin addressing these, and I'm frankly disgusted that I should have to. If a British politician said something so crass, so ignorant, so entirely devoid of fact, he would be seeking new employment within days. In May this year, Justice Secretary Ken Clark was broadly castigated for making a reference to "serious rape" (which he later clarified as "forcible rape... with a bit of violence") - in response, his party were urged to sack him, and he will surely struggle to escape the contempt his comments provoked. Beyond a considerable online outcry, few of the men (and it is usually men, isn't it?) quoted above experienced any censure.

America, you can do something about this. You can prevent repeated challenges to Roe vs Wade. You can halt the decay of women's hard-earned rights. You can protect other countries from following you into disaster; your decision, and the political moves that result from it, will affect people the world over. You have a chance to stop this aggressive ignorance from spreading, and you can achieve it simply making an 'X' in a box. America, it's time to make the right decision.

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