A new report from Buzzfeed has unveiled that Congressman Todd Akin once defended a fellow clinic protester who was charged with battery, using his official title and official letterhead to throw political weight behind his words. His argument? She can’t be held responsible for her actions, she was too emotional.
On July 29, 1989, Teresa Frank pushed a woman to the ground during a protest at an abortion clinic in Granite City, Ill., across the Mississippi River from St. Louis County.
When Frank, then 41, was convicted of battery and criminal trespass, Akin, now the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri and then a state representative, came to her defense in a signed note printed on official state letterhead.
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“I have known Teresa and her family for six years, and Teresa and her children for about three years,” Akin wrote to Judge Robert Hennessey. “Teresa has visited with my wife on numerous occasions, and her children have also played with my own children throughout the past years.”
“The mature and responsible behavior of her children, bear testimony of a devoted, gentle, and affectionate mother,” Akin continued. “It was probably these very instincts that prompted her unfortunate morning in Granite City.”
“Teresa is a deeply sensitive and caring person; but along with this, she is also one very frightened little girl,” Akin wrote.
What is most disturbing about Akin’s defense of Frank isn’t his use of public office to influence a sentencing, although that too is problematic. It’s his referral to a 41-year old woman as “one very frightened little girl,” a person too immature to be held responsible for her own actions. She was rash, she made a poor choice that wouldn’t have made if she weren’t so emotional. He suggests her motherly instincts were driving her, and the behavior of her children as a “testimony” of how good she truly is as a person.
The dismissal of her own actions, the painting of her as impulsive, regretful and needing to be cared for to protect her from her actions, the attempt to define her worth in the actions of her offspring. What is this other than a line-by-line explanation of how anti-choice activists view women? That they must be protected from the rash decision of terminating a pregnancy because they are actually “frightened little girls,” that they will gain worth as a mother, and that others should intercede on their behalf and steer them in the right direction when they choose poorly.