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Luke Ballmer: Akin’s not alone in ‘murky filth’

Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” seems to sum up politics in one short exchange. In an episode in which a bipartisan deal being negotiated by both parties must be axed by the Democratic administration in power, the Republican negotiating for the deal reminds the administration that if he can’t get the bipartisan bill he must run as far to the right of the political spectrum as he can to be competitive in the upcoming election.

This climate only gets worse when there isn’t even a pretense of compromise, and it’s this climate that’s led disgusting anti-abortion faux-science to surface to the top of our nation’s conversation from the murky filth at the bottom.

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, if you’re not already aware, recently imbued the female body with the ability to halt a pregnancy in its unwanted tracks. In cases of “legitimate rape,” he informed us, “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin has since apologized and asked forgiveness, hoping to remain competitive in Missouri’s Senate race against Claire McCaskill, even as support is pulled and the Republican establishment urges him to go hide under a rock.

I doubt that the mistake he made was really in the words he said rather than “in the heart” he holds. The way I see it, there are a few frightening possibilities.

The first is that Todd Akin genuinely believed that what he was saying was popular with the Missourian voters, even if he didn’t share those views. This possibility has grave implications, for many reasons.

Akin knew that he didn’t have to do much to win the election, as all polls had him routing McCaskill by a large margin. Akin could have been trying to widen the margin further with a cheap solidification of his supposed harsh anti-abortion stance.

If this were the case, then the commonplace practice of saying whatever it takes to make the room applaud, even if contradictory to your own views or the views of people who know what they’re talking about, is spreading. Romney’s method is gaining traction, in other words.

The Republican Party platform stands behind an amendment banning abortion in all cases, which begs the question, why such a harsh response from the premier members of the party? Akin’s views on rape don’t differ from theirs, and quite a few more have shared a similarly revolting belief in the past. Why not accept his apology and move on?

This raises another possibility. Akin is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Akin tried to use the findings of some unnamed doctor or another to validate the existence of the wonder-mechanism that shuts the process of impregnation down.

It’s clear that it’s completely acceptable within the Republican Party to oppose abortion in all cases. It’s not acceptable to try to craft some valid justification for that belief based in science.

Akin should have known better than grabbing for some imagined validation for his opinion in the world of medicine. Everyone with a conscious and brain, including the Republican Party leaders, seem to acknowledge that none exist. If they did, we’d see a gentle push in the right direction by the Republican base to a real medical expert.

The Republicans know the argument that works for them is one rooted in a misguided appeal to the faith of their constituents as the “God’s Little Shield” theory proves.

I think the former explanation is more likely, but either way, the Todd Akin debacle is another sad example of the politicization of personal tragedy. I hope that one day the full force of American politics–left and (mostly) right–will focus on preventive care.

Sex education and funding for Planned Parenthood will reduce the cases of rape and unplanned pregnancies nationwide, slowly lessening the infuriating fixation our body politic seems to have with abortion and punishing the victim, which is the mother and not the unborn child.

What do you think?
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Luke Ballmer: Akin’s not alone in ‘murky filth’