Todd Akin More Strict on Abortion Than the Catholic Church?

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s position (shared bythe vast majority of the House GOP) advocating a complete abortion ban has brought to the forefront the issues stemming from religion in politics. Although Akin himself is not Catholic, the church has now felt it best to reiterate their own position when it comes to rape pregnancies in order to stem any confusion. 

Sort of.

Via National Catholic Register:

The Catechism teaches, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life (2270).

“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law (2271).”

Registered nurse Marie Hilliard, the director of bioethics and public policy at the 
National Catholic Bioethics Center and a canon lawyer, echoed this point: “No matter how violently that life came into being, the second victim of the rape is the human being that, through an abortion, would be treated as a perpetrator.”

Hilliard added that while “statistics concerning the frequency of rape victims becoming pregnant from the assault are less than precise (1%-5%), the right of the victim to utilize every means to defend herself against the fertilization of her ovum (conception) is supported by Catholic health care.”

Referencing “The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Facilities” issued by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, Hilliard noted that “medications that have the potential to stop ovulation, such as Plan B, should be provided if medical assessment of the victim indicates that ovulation can be interrupted. However, drugs, devices and procedures administered at a time when they will have an abortifacient effect violate human life and dignity” and thus cannot be used.

Wait, what?  Now they are saying Plan B is contraception and not an “abortion causing drug”? Doesn’t that run completely opposite of the entire argument for rejecting the contraception mandate in the first place? In fact Akin himself is a prime example, as he had already stated publicly that Plan B was an “abortion drug” and he would want to make its use illegal.

Is Plan B a form of contraception only when used by victims of rape but not when used after unprotected consensual sex? How can church leaders agree that emergency contraception can be used as a means of preventing ovulation to avoid a pregnancy after a rape but not agree that contraception in general applied to prevent pregnancy in consenting relationships is also a way to prevent pregnancy?

Sen. Scott Brown Begs Republican Party to Please Stop Endangering His Seat

One thing you have to say for Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown — he knows which way the wind blows.  He was able to turn the then fledgling Tea Party discontent over President Barack Obama’s election into a special election win, taking a traditionally Democratic senate seat away and shifting the power in the chamber. Now he’s ready to blow off all of the same fringe element that got him into office, worried that they are going to lose him reelection.

Sen. Brown is literally begging the GOP to be more inclusive when it comes to those who support abortion, even in small instances like pregnancy after a sexual assault. “Even while I am pro-choice, I respect those who have a different opinion on this very difficult and sensitive issue,” Brown said in a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, according to The Hill. “Our Party platform should make the same concession to those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose.”

That Brown is coming out as “pro-choice” after trying to carefully avoiding being too public on the issue is telling. He was under a fair amount of pressure both before and after his vote to allow employers to decide whether or not to cover medical options in their insurance plans if they have “moral objections” to them. Now, as the backlash from the Republican Party’s “no exceptions” anti-choice plank has incensed voters, Brown is even more vocal about declaring “It’s not me, it’s them.”

His rival, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren, isn’t allowing him to hide his support of the party’s anti-women legacy.

“Scott Brown can’t just back off and try to have it both ways, to vote against equal pay for equal work, to co-sponsor an amendment to block access to birth control, to support the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees and then say don’t count me as part of that bigger Republican agenda,” Ms. Warren argued. “He is working to put Republicans in control in the U.S. Senate so they can pursue that agenda and he is working to put Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in the White House.

It’s an interesting back and forth to watch simply because it is such a microcosm of the tug of war going on on a national scale, as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney also tries to have it both ways. On the one side he tells his conservative cohorts that he will de-fund Planned Parenthood, appoint federal judges that would want to overturn Roe v. Wade, support a Human Life Amendment, and adhere to their far right agenda. At the same time, he allows public statements to be made claiming that the “GOP platform is not the platform of Mitt Romney.”

Now that the party extremism has come out of the closet, candidates are desperate in their scramble to keep both their support and their distance.

“New Life” Trumps “Existing Life” in the Modern Republican Party

“I believe that if you have to choose between new life and existing life, you should choose new life. The person who has had an opportunity to live at least has been given that gift by God and should make way for new life on earth.”

These are the words of the late Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the conservative Heritage Foundation and a driving force behind the creation of the movement we know today as the Religious Right. As the above quote implies, Weyrich had no patience for those in anti-choice circles who advocated for an abortion exception when the life of the pregnant woman was threatened.

This sentiment, voiced by Weyrich in 1984, has never entirely disappeared from some sectors of the anti-choice movement, though for quite some time, it was not a position widely spoken of. This is hardly surprising given that a huge majority of Americans support access to abortion in life-threatening situations.   

However, the Republican Party’s official platform is one place where the absolute ban on any exceptions, including one to save a woman’s life, is retained. John McCain, as the presidential candidate in 2008, tried to change this to include exceptions for rape, incest and threats to a woman’s life, but was unsuccessful. The 2012 Platform just adopted by Republicans retains identical language as previous ones.

Yet another place where the Weyrich legacy of indifference to real women’s lives has recently reappeared is the Orwellian-named “Protect Life Act,” (H.R.358) passed by Congress in fall 2011 by a vote of 251-172, including 15 Democrats who voted with the majority. This bill, among other things, stipulates that hospitals may “exercise their conscience” and refuse abortions to women in life-threatening conditions. Till the Akin scandal, politicians could vote for such a jaw-dropping bill, hoping that no one but their adamantly pro-life constituents-–ready to “score” each abortion-related vote in Congress–would notice. And those legislators who actually don’t relish the thought of women dying in hospital corridors while family members plead and hospital staff argue, could rest easy that a Democratic-controlled Senate, let alone President Obama, would never let such legislation go forward.

But the Akin outburst has changed all this. The extremist positions taken by anti-choice  politicians are now finally becoming more visible to a larger public. Akin’s loony claim that “legitimate rape” can’t lead to pregnancy may not be widely shared, but refusal to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest has in fact become the new normal for those courting anti-choice votes, a position that expanded considerably when Sarah Palin entered the national stage in 2008. But Palin herself is on record as accepting abortions in the case of threats to a woman’s life. That 251 legislators were willing to vote for the “Protect Life Act” (or, as known in prochoice circles, as the “Let Women Die” act) suggests that the Weyrich position of absolutism has, after 25 years, finally triumphed.

This newfound attention to what politicians in thrall to the antiabortion movement have done poses obvious problems for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. With respect to the latter, the American people are now learning that this leading light of economic conservativism also voted for H.R. 358 and numerous other abortion provisions, including the bill containing the  notorious “forcible rape” language. And, of course, Romney and Ryan on a party platform that allows no exceptions to save the life of a pregnant woman.

To be sure, in normal times, the actual details of a party platform would not draw much attention. Nor would the minutiae of the numerous bills a vice-presidential candidate voted on while in Congress. But thanks to Todd Akin, these are not normal times. The attention that Akin’s remarks have brought to positions shared so broadly by others in his party, including the vice-presidential candidate, has vindicated those abortion rights supporters who have often been accused, even by sympathizers, of exaggeration and “shrillness” in their warnings of what anti-choice politicians were capable. Hopefully many Americans will now ponder what will become of their loved ones, or themselves, in a country where the Republican Party platform is made real by true believers.

Ralph Reed: GOP Belief in Exceptions “Mostly for Political Viability and Expediency”

Ralph Reed, the founder of the Christian Coalition, had a moment of pure honesty today, when he admitted that rank and file Republicans may not actually believe that rape victims should be allowed to terminate pregnancies. 

Via CNN:

“I don’t think that the Republican Party has ever nominated someone for president who didn’t advocate for an exception for rape and incest and the life of the mother,” said Ralph Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “So the party has always had a diversity of views on that point.”

Still, Reed said that diversity is mostly born of political reality, as opposed to reflecting serious debate among anti-abortion activists over whether abortion should be legal in certain circumstances. The fact is that Republican politicians who don’t advocate exceptions for abortion bans are less likely to win election.

To the extent that rape and incest exceptions have been advocated, said Reed, “it’s been mostly for political viability and expediency.”

Reed then goes on to explain that it’s not that big of a deal anyway since “abortions that happen in response to rape and incest are a ‘statistically insignificant portion of abortions as a whole, even as they represent a significant national tragedy.'”

Compassionate conservatism at its finest.

Candidate for Sheriff Calls Use of Deadly Force “Appropriate” to Stop an Abortion

Frank Szabo is running to be a county sheriff in New Hampshire. The only problem is that he’s not a big fan of following laws himself. Szabo has repeatedly stated that deadly force would be an appropriate way to stop an abortion from happening because “Just because a piece of legislation says it’s legal to murder the unborn doesn’t make it lawful.”

Via the Bedford Patch:

“The big issue here is the sheriff is supposed to protect all of its citizens,” he said. “Just because a person is not born yet doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t have same level of protection. Someone needs to stand up and tell federal and state officials they’re wrong if it’s in the best interest of citizens … but my main point is deadly force is always a last resort.”

Oh, a last resort. Much better. Wouldn’t want to jump straight to the murdering, right?

In case this sounds too crazy to be true, yes, there is a press release.

Frank W. Szabo, candidate for Sheriff of Hillsborough County, announced to his supporters last night his position on abortion. The County Sheriff is duty-bound and fully authorized to protect the Citizens, their property and their Rights. That includes all Citizens. A Citizen’s Rights are Natural Rights and unalienable simply by virtue of the Citizen being alive. Life begins at conception. Abortion on demand is murder. Once elected, Sheriff Szabo will arrest anyone involved in the murder of a Citizen of Hillsborough County. For those confused about this position in relation to Roe v. Wade, Frank points out the fact that there have been many court decisions which were unconstitutional and unlawful. The Office of Sheriff requires that the Constitution be honored and obeyed in agreement with Common Law. Aborting otherwise healthy fetuses violates both.

Sadly, Szabo isn’t an anomaly. There are entire factions advocating that as they deem Roe v. Wade to be unconstitutional, people should take the law into their own hands.  The “Ignore Roe” movement provides a long list of various ways that a president, the governor, attorney’s generals, and legislatures could simply pretend the ruling doesn’t exist. Now sheriffs are apparently being recruited into the movement as potential enforcers.

The solution is state sovereignty and each county acting in accordance with the principles established in the 10th Amendment. It’s you working with your county sheriff and locally elected officials to stand up for the Bill of Rights and to stand against the out of control federal government and its agencies.

The bottom line answer is your county sheriff. Ultimately, he is the one who will decide what is and what is not enforced in your county. He has the authority and is oath bound duty to interpose himself on your behalf to protect you from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. He is the people’s protector. 

The people’s protector.  At least on the laws he agrees with.

Romney Supports Total Abortion Ban, No Exceptions, But Fools the Media Into Reporting Otherwise

In the aftermath of the interview in which Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin outed the GOP’s misogynistic policies on reproductive health care, both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been running around the country acting offended and aggrieved. They have gone out of their way to try and convince the media that they don’t share Akin’s views, and now Mitt Romney has been all over the place stating his support for an abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. (I am putting aside here the fact that I believe creating exceptions for access to abortion care is totally unacceptable.)

The media has been parroting Romney’s new abortion conversion for two days now. Today in the Washington Post, for example, Ezra Klein wrote:

The Todd Akin controversy has highlighted the divide between anti-abortion politicians like Mitt Romney who support exemptions allowing women to terminate pregnancies caused by rape or incest and those like Akin and Paul Ryan who argue that the procedure should only be allowed when a mother’s life is at risk.

An ABC OTUS/Yahoo News piece stated:

Romney believes abortion should be legal in cases of abortion or incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. Ryan’s previous position only extended exceptions to protecting the mother’s life.

Throughout the day today, numerous MSNBC anchors, commentators, and reporters repeated Romney the line that Romney supported exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

There is only one problem with this. He doesn’t. 

Romney has stated repeatedly that he would sign a personhood or “sanctity of life” law.  Such laws allow no exceptions for abortion. None. Period.

Personhood/sanctity of human life laws pushed by a radical anti-choice movement are complete abortion bans. They would also ban emergency contraception, many widely used forms of hormonal contraception, in-vitro fertilization, and medical treatment for pregnant women even in cases where her life is imminently in danger. In fact, such a law is responsible for the death of a pregnant teen in the Dominican Republic two weeks ago, who was denied treatment for leukemia because she was pregnant. Both she and the baby died. Such laws also criminalize miscarriage and would land women suspecting of self-inducing abortion in jail. Indeed, this is already happening in the United States, but that is a different article.

This is the exact law Mitt Romney has said, unequivocally, that he would sign. The 2012 GOP platform asserts that legal personhood begins at conception. Translation: a fertilized egg (zygote), blastocyst, embryo, fetus all are deemed as persons with full constitutional protections, and the rights of such “egg-persons” in practice trump those of the women in whose body they reside and on whose body they depend.

Again, Romney has said that he supports this law, unequivocally.

In 2007, writes Teddy Davis of ABCNews.com:

“Romney was asked by George Stephanopoulos if he supports the Republican Party’s 2004 platform on abortion rights, which states, “We support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Romney replied, “You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform and I’m pro-life.”

Romney also told Mike Huckabee that he would “absolutely” support a personhood amendment.

In an October 2011 article, ThinkProgress’s Alex Seitz-Wald wrote:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) told Fox News host Mike Huckabee this weekend that he would support an amendment to his state’s constitution to define life as beginning at conception, which would outlaw abortion and potentially many forms of contraceptionas well. Noting that the state supreme court forced the inclusion of abortion coverage in Romney’s universal health care law, the GOP presidential front-runner said the only way to undo the decision would be a constitutional amendment. Asked if he would support such a move, Romney replied, “absolutely”:

HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?

ROMNEY: Absolutely.

In the aftermath of the Akin debacle, Romney now asserts he believes there should be exceptions in law for rape, incest, and life of the mother. That he has a new position this week on the right to safe abortion care is not surprising, given he has changed his position so many times it is difficult to keep track. But Mitt Romney is on the record many times as saying he “unequivocally” supports a personhood/human life law, which unequivocally bans abortion and as per above hormonal contraception and other critical health interventions. If Romney wins this election in November it will be in large part because of the support of radical anti-choice groups to whom he will owe a debt. Anyone who thinks they will not press their case, hard, for passing such a law has been living on another planet for the last 20 years. We’ve seen Paul Ryan co-sponsor and vote to pass a human life amendment, and virtually the entire Republican caucus in the House vote in favor of such bans.

Either Mitt Romney is very confused and does not understand the grave implications for women of the laws for which he is espousing support, or he is lying, or both.

The media should not be helping him out.

Personhood USA Unhappy With Ryan’s Dissembling on Forcing Rape Victims To Give Birth

If you had any doubt that the conservatives may be starting to fracture over being forced to either admit or deny that they are the party of “no exceptions” abortion bans, Personhood USA has offered the latest proof. Upon hearing that the proposed Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would not ban abortion in cases of rape, a message Ryan reiterated, the group expressed its “disappointment” in the candidates for refusing to publicly stand up for the GOP ideals.

After praising Congressman Ryan’s pro-personhood record last week, Personhood USA has now expressed concern about the appearance of compromise on the part of Congressman Ryan.

“Personhood USA does not endorse political candidates, but we had hoped that Congressman Ryan would be a good influence on Governor Romney, considering Romney’s liberal abortion record,” explained Jennifer Mason, Communications Director for Personhood USA. “Reading today that babies conceived in rape should suffer the death penalty under a Romney-Ryan administration is extremely concerning, and indicates that Congressman Ryan’s pro-woman and pro-baby positions would have little influence if he wins the office of Vice President of the United States.”

Mason then makes it even more clear that the GOP is for rape victims giving birth in all cases, a line that the ticket needs to start adhering to.

“Governor Romney claims to be prolife, but it appears he is prolife with exceptions — if the baby was conceived in rape, it seems that Romney does not believe that baby has a right to life. This position is contrary to the Republican party platform and contrary to the beliefs of prolife Americans nationwide. All babies have a right to live, regardless of the circumstances of their conception,” concluded Mason.

A clear message from the anti-choice extremist — it’s time to publicly get in step with the rest of the party.

Ryan, Who Voted to Ban All Abortions Without Exception, Now Claims Akin’s Position “Outrageous”

In keeping with Mitt Romney’s strategy of distancing himself from Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan is now distancing himself from Paul Ryan.

Yesterday, Ryan told a Pennsylvania CBS afflliate that Akin’s statements were “outrageous, over the pail [sic]. I don’t know anybody who would agree with that.”

Rape is rape period, end of story,” Ryan told KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano.

Ryan apparently doesn’t know himself very well, because he was an original co-sponsor of and voted for a bill that would have banned all abortions, no exceptions, and also a co-sponsor of and voted for a bill that would have created a category for what the GOP considers to be “legitimate” rape.

Moreover, the Romney/Ryan ticket is running on a GOP platform that includes a so-called Human Life Amendment, the implications of which are to ban all abortions, no exceptions; to ban many forms of commonly used birth control; to ban in-vitro fertilization; and to criminalize miscarriage among many other odious outcomes.

Robin Marty laid out all of Ryan’s positions here yesterday.

Here is the interview of Ryan by Delano:

Delano: “Should abortions to be available to women who are raped?”

Ryan: “Well, look, I’m proud of my pro-life record. And I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It’s something I’m proud of. But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration.”

Despite Ryan’s views, Romney says he will allow exceptions for rape and incest. Ryan also seemed to back away from earlier views on types of rape.

Delano: “You sponsored legislation that has the language ‘forcible rape.’ What is forcible rape as opposed…”

Ryan: “Rape is rape. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”

Delano: “So that forcible rape language meant nothing to you at the time?”

Ryan: “Rape is rape and there’s no splitting hairs over rape.”

As for the president’s claim that Romney-Ryan will restrict birth control, Ryan calls that ridiculous.

“Nobody is proposing to deny birth control to anybody,” says Ryan.

Ryan says women won’t fall for these side issues.

“And I don’t think they’re going to take the bait of all these distractions that the President is trying to throw at them.”

Actually, what I find most distracting, as a woman, is trying to figure out just how many Mitt Romneys and Paul Ryans are running for office, whose actions they are accountable for, and which one we should be listening to on which day.