Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Party Of Forced Pregnancy

In the ongoing spirit of not letting Romney and Ryan get away with using Rep. Todd Akin's more grotesque rape comments to bypass the issue of their support for forced pregnancy, let's start by noting the Republican Party's years worth of rape apologia, forced pregnancy enthusiasm and myth spreading, leap to Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) support for Akin today, and continue with a key highlight of their 2012 party platform.

A party platform is necessarily the work of many hands, and this year, as usual, those hands include representatives from the Family Research Council and the Eagle Forum. If you're keeping score at home, the Family Research Council, an officially designated hate group, continues to support Akin and the Eagle Forum has long been a leading opponent of protections against domestic violence and spousal rape. What their abortion plank is, specifically, is a constitutional fetal personhood amendment, of the sort that Paul Ryan has previously endorsed and that Mitt Romney has already promised to sign:

"Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the draft platform declares. "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

Zygote/fetal personhood laws, such as the one Paul Ryan co-sponsored in the House last year, declare that a fertilized egg is a person. This means no IVF, as each instance of discarding excess fertilized eggs could count as a murder. It would criminalize both IUDs and the birth control pill, which act to prevent the implantation of fertilized eggs. It would open the door to, if not logically require, criminal investigations of all miscarriages, an idea that proved too controversial to enact last year when a Georgia Republican introduced it to the state legislature.

Not only did Ryan's cherished bill have dozens of House co-sponsors, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tried to attach a similar fetal personhood amendment to a vote on flood insurance, holding an uncontroversial disaster relief bill hostage for several days in his attempt to undermine female personhood.

It isn't like it's a mystery to Republicans that these types of laws would ban several widely-used types of birth control, nor do any of them seem to have been bothered by 2012 Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum's belief that contraception is a danger to the country. They don't mind championing the rights of employers to unilaterally exclude contraception from health coverage, and they plainly don't care what women think about that. Certainly, birth control must be a bigger danger than letting rapists have parental visitation rights, which none of them ever seem to have been bothered about.

Again, Rep. Todd Akin is business as usual for the Republican Party, including rank-and-file Missouri Republicans.

Forced pregnancy, including for victims of rape and incest, has been a staple of the Republican Party's platform since the Reagan era, and this crew isn't going to walk away from that just because they've been talking about it so long among themselves that they sometimes slip and say it out loud during election season.

Today's Republicans just don't believe that women have the self-evident right to determine the use of our own bodies when it comes to sex and reproduction. It's that simple. I can only hope that having Akin's partner in misogyny on the national ticket makes it harder for Mitt Romney to pretend otherwise.

Update: links added.

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