Abortion-rights advocates love to jump on ill-considered statements by pro-lifers in order to distract from the primary issue of abortion, and the controversy surrounding Todd Akin is no exception. But this should not be a surprise. After all, if I supported killing unborn children, I would want to distract from it too.
This is not to defend what Akin said. It was an astonishingly stupid, offensive, and anti-factual thing to say. If a U.S. Senate candidate is going to make an argument about a highly controversial social issue where highly motivated people on both sides will be combing over everything he says, then he needs to be sure what he is saying is factually accurate. That's not what Akin did. There is no evidence that women who are raped are less likely to get pregnant. Women who are raped have about a 5% chance of getting pregnant - the same percentage as women having consensual sex without using contraception or birth control.
But let's not fool ourselves here. The discussion of whether or not there should be an exception for rape if we restrict or outlaw abortion is a distraction, nothing more. According to the Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) only 1% - one percent - of all abortions are due to rape. The hard cases of rape, incest and life of the mother account for a tiny percentage of all abortions. Simply put, this is a non issue designed to cover up the fact that the vast majority of abortions are elective abortions.
Akin's policy position is certainly a defensible position, and virtually every mainstream anti-abortion organization (including the American Life League and the National Right to Life Committee) holds a position identical to Akin's position. The argument is simple: If you truly believe that abortion is the willful, intentional termination of a human life, then why would you allow that child to be killed for the crimes of his or her father?
The problem is that Akin does not appear to have the skills or knowledge necessary to articulately argue for the pro-life position without making himself look like an idiot, and this controversy over his foolish statement has become too much of a drag on the Republicans Party's hopes of capturing the U.S. Senate. He needs to step aside so that someone else can take his place in this election.
This does not need to be a compromise on pro-life principles - the GOP could easily pick someone who is just as pro-life as Akin, but able to articulate his position in a coherent and intelligent way. For the good of the party, the good of the country, and the good of the unborn babies Akin wishes to protect, he needs to step aside.
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