Todd Akin Comments Are Not Deterring Republican Women Voters

Representative Todd Akin’s (R-MO) unfortunate and overpublicized, stereotypically female-body-illiterate white male quip was prefaced by “From what I understand,” which in fairness, orally waves a white flag for anything uttered thereafter. Regardless, Akin’s undereducated comment wasn’t ill-prepared and his positions on abortion aren’t outlying, though Republicans have publicly denounced him as if it were.  

Talking Points Memo notes that “Akin’s past includes praising a militia group linked to anti-abortion extremism in the 1990s and voting against creating a sex-offender registry in 2005. Back in 1991, as a state legislator, Akin voted for an anti-marital-rape law, but only after questioning whether it might be misused “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,” according to a May 1 article that year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via LexisNexis).”

Akin’s perspective on women’s rights, driven by blind passion, is exemplary of the most socially conservative GOP in years, the aftermath of the Tea Party’s activism and lack of recognition that laws on women’s bodies blatantly contradict their emphasis “power resides with the people and not with the government.”

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and the Republican National Committee wanted to distance themselves from the sloppiness of Akin’s comment without sacrificing the Todd Akin policy: The platform panel for the Republican National Committee voted to propose a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion without exceptions for rape or incest.

As Rachel Maddow put it: “The GOP doesn’t have a Todd Akin problem, it has a Todd Akin policy.”

But Ryan publicly bowed to Romney’s oh-so-liberal allowance of abortions in the case of rape only “because it's a good step in the right direction,” a measure expected to be upheld in the Republican platform, to be officially revealed Monday.

But the ultimate question is in regards to votes, and whether or not the immensity of Akin’s comments will properly highlight the GOP’s female-body-literacy problem and deter Republican women from voting down party lines or rally more pro-choice women to the polls.

Republicans, such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, worry that Akin’s refusal to end his Senate run could imperil Republicans’ chances of taking over the Senate majority in November. They quietly shove him away from their spotlight, which is on the economy and jobs — Americans’ top priorities.

Touting itself as the economy-jobs party, concerned only with America’s true worries, the GOP hopes voters won’t recognize their side order of recklessness on women’s issues: And it might work. Social issues, regardless of their loud social presence, have been among the lowest on the list of what people care about in the next election: An unfortunate circumstance, considering the Supreme Court consists of one 80-year-old and four 70-year-olds, making it among the oldest courts in history. A New York Times article quoted Supreme Court historian at the University of Texas School of Law, “(Ginsberg) is betting everything she believes on either Obama winning re-election or her being able to survive until 2017. If she dies and Romney wins, the Supreme Court will be the most conservative in history.”

Though Obama’s health care law threatened daily, and changes in abortion laws down the Supreme Court pipeline, the issue of abortion is still much more important to Republican than to Democratic voters: Likely, this is because the legislation isn’t currently in their favor. In turn, this means that Akin’s comments and consequently their reflection on the GOP is more important for the rallying of liberal women, not the deterring of Republican women votes. 

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Stephanie Stark

Ohio transplant to NYC, marathon runner & freelancer on religion, politics, culture & society. Proud Ohio University graduate.

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