UPDATE: This blog post has been edited to ensure an accurate communication of the ACLU position.
So much has been said about Rep. Todd Akin in the past few days and yet there’s so much more I still want to say. But I won’t (except for a little bit at the end) because, Todd Akin is just a piece of the story. In fact, as we speak, while the spotlight conveniently stays on Akin and party leaders continue to disavow and distance themselves from his comments, the GOP just adopted an official policy platform, calling for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with – you guessed it – no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
If you’re mad about Akin, then I would think you’d be really mad about that. We’re not talking anymore about the ramblings of a man who can’t tell the difference between a duck and a woman. We’re talking about elevating Akin’s very position on rape and abortion to a matter of national policy.
And if you’re mad about Akin, you should also be upset about Michigan and Virginia—states that continue to move closer and closer to shutting down every single abortion clinic throughout each state, making it nearly impossible for the women in those states to obtain abortions. There’s no rape exception to that either, you know.
Worse, what’s happening in Michigan and Virginia is not the work of a single legislator: it’s the coordinated effort of their entire state governments, from the Governor and Attorney General to the majority of their legislatures. In other words, we’re talking about governments full of Akins at work that show no sign of backing down.
Back to Akin, though. For many of us, and I’m not just speaking about women and girls, rape is reality. So, if it took the misinformed statements of an elected official to make this a part of a national conversation, then I guess that’s a good thing.
But I want the conversation to be clear: We treat abortion in cases of rape differently sometimes, not because these women are more “deserving” of abortion. We treat it differently because, for many women, pregnancy after rape means the rape isn’t over yet. It means merely compounding already unspeakable trauma. Thus, depriving a woman who’s been raped of the ability to choose abortion is exceptionally cruel.
Despite what Akin says, women and girls will be raped—all of them illegitimately. Some of them will become pregnant as a result. Some of them will have abortions, some of them will not. Some of them will continue their pregnancies and raise their children, some of them will not. In a perfect world, no woman would ever be faced with these decisions. But since this world is far from perfect, can we at least agree that, whatever her circumstances, every woman – not Todd Akin, the House of Representatives, or the more than a dozen state legislatures that took this power away from women this year – can make the decision for herself?