Mo. politician’s comments take national stage
Akin’s gaffe gives way to bigger question
Marcus Clem | Collegio Reporter
Can the words “legitimate” and “rape” be used in any serious, let alone argumentative, manner while conveying a message that is not repulsive? Forget for a moment that the man who used this phrase is Todd Akin, a long-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
If we take that fact into account then the firestorm it triggered may well mark a new low bar for elected leaders. Or, in a Congress that has broken records for disruption and public disapproval, it only represents business as usual.
We might view Akin as a public official and trusted representative, completely exclusive from his current quest for a higher office, in which case Akin should be viewed as a decent human being, as all adults should be viewed until proven otherwise.
However, decent human beings do not call the characters of victims of rape into question.
Unfortunately, that is what Akin, one of Missouri’s representatives in the U.S. House and a man who is seeking to become a Senator, did on Aug. 19.
Akin created a stir, both state and nationwide, in an interview with KTVI-TV in St. Louis. He outlined his position that women who become pregnant as a result of rape should be prevented from getting an abortion. Only the most extreme, pro-life advocates demand that this position become law. I feel that this view is extremely questionable. A child is a great reward and a great burden, both for the mother and the child, especially when the child is raised by a single parent. Women who suffer the trauma of sexual assault should be cared for, not forced to accept a permanent reminder of their experience.
This issue has been raised since the debate over reproductive rights began, and it is not caused by Akin’s present political situation. Akin claims, without evidence and against common medical knowledge that a raped woman is not likely to become pregnant by her rapist is shameful. His further debasement of these situations through his references to them as “legitimate” rapes is downright despicable.
Since Akin repudiated his words and personally apologized for their use, this statement may be viewed as a verbal mistake, or a gaffe, something commonplace among office holders.
This is why Akin should be considered an adult and inherently decent until proven otherwise. He is not just a politician. Politicians do sometimes target victims for misguided political purposes. Decent men know better.
They should know that questioning the honesty of women who wish to abort the children of rapists goes beyond political issues and should be considered irrelevant to political ambition.
In that light, Akin did not gaffe; he openly engaged in misconduct. Misconduct he defended as a minor case of grammatical error until national pressure came down on him.
Todd Akin remains the Republican candidate for the 2012 Missouri U.S. Senate Election.
It is possible that this will not be the case much longer. Several of Akin’s would-be Republican colleagues in the Senate are calling for him to resign his candidacy for obvious reasons, and the incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill remains silent for the same reasons, probably hoping Akin does no such thing.
Should Akin fail to do the right thing and resign, both from his Senate candidacy and from his current seat, voters across Missouri need to answer one question for themselves:
is Todd Akin a decent man? If not, does that disqualify him from office?
Marcus Clem, junior in communication, is a staff writer for the Collegio.
Comments off-target, though-provoking
Zachary Botkin | Guest Columnist
At first glance, Todd Akin’s views on abortion and rape seem to side with rapists, in that he would seem to be forcing women to live with the child produced by rape. In a way, this is true — but the underlying ideas behind his views serve a more important purpose and should be the ideas we focus on.
There are many reasons a woman may choose to get an abortion: career opportunities, a lack of maturity and rape. However, among all women who receive abortions, the number who get an abortion because they were raped represents a tiny portion of the whole.
I believe abortions are only socially acceptable if the woman in question has been raped, and in an ideal world, this would be the only time a woman would consider getting an abortion. However, that is the problem; we don’t live in an ideal world. If we did, women wouldn’t get raped in the first place.
No, we live in a world full of people who constantly attempt to manipulate the legal system to suit their own selfish goals. As long as women are allowed to receive abortions because they were raped then there will also be many women who will abuse this exception.
Consider the following situation: A teenage woman has consensual sex with her boyfriend and gets pregnant. She tells her boyfriend and he leaves her as a soon-to-be single teenaged mother. In her desperation, she decides to get an abortion because she believes that there is no way she could take care of this child by herself.
However, she doesn’t want to deal with the negative stigma of an abortion, so she claims that her ex-boyfriend raped her. The end result is a scenario where the fetus has been killed, the boyfriend has been sent to prison for 10-15 years for rape, and the woman has to go through life with the knowledge that she gave up her unborn child and ruined the life of someone who did not necessarily deserve it.
In short, allowing the woman in this scenario to receive an abortion based on a false rape claim results in one fetus never having the chance to know life, and two people having their lives damaged severely.
The above scenario is realistic in a world where women are allowed to receive abortions if they are raped (whether they were or not being irrelevant). This scenario is guaranteed to happen, possibly on a frequent basis. Rep. Akin’s policies, if enacted, would prevent this from happening. That is why they are good and it is why they are necessary.
Zachary Botkin is a sophomore in chemistry.