Republicans are in the news once again this week for opposing abortion even in cases of rape.
The latest GOP candidate to get in hot water is Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who says that if a woman gets pregnant as a result of rape, it’s because God wanted her to get pregnant. This comes after Missouri Republican candidate Todd Akin peddled the scientifically incorrect notion that if a rape is “legitimate,” a woman’s body has ways of shutting things down so she won’t get pregnant. And don’t forget that this year’s Republican platform opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest. Indeed, Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, the GOP vice presidential candidate, personally opposes abortion in cases of rape and has called rape “another mode of conception.”
It’s insulting that these candidates don’t trust women to make decisions regarding their own bodies and their own childbearing. It’s the height of hypocrisy that Republicans advocate constantly for smaller government, but when it comes to women’s bodies, they are totally comfortable with government intrusion into our bedrooms.
Mitt Romney has disavowed Mourdock’s comment and has said he supports abortion in rape cases. However, when asked a while back whether he supported the “personhood amendment,” which would outlaw abortion in rape, Romney said, “Absolutely.” So on abortion in rape cases, as on a variety of other issues, it’s not entirely clear where Romney stands — or where he will stand tomorrow.
However, it is crystal clear that Romney opposes abortion. He is often shown on TV saying: “Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes.”
Everyone expects that the next president will get to appoint at least one Supreme Court justice, and perhaps more. There is no doubt that Romney would nominate someone who would vote to overturn Roe, the landmark 1973 decision that supports a woman’s right to control her own body and to get an abortion. It is widely assumed that right now the court supports Roe 5-4. If one more opponent to the ruling were named to the court, legal challenges would be filed immediately.
Without Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion would be thrown back to the state legislatures, and it is estimated that abortion would soon be illegal in as many as 30 states. Then rich women and their daughters would travel to states allowing abortion. Middle-class women would spend scarce resources to do the same. Poor women would be forced to have unwanted babies, try to self-abort, or resort to illegal providers, and some of them would die.
As MSNBC’s Ed Schultz recently noted, this could be a benchmark election for overturning women’s rights. Candidates who oppose a woman’s right to control her own body are close to gaining power. How women — and the men who love them — vote will make a big difference.
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