ATTACKS ON THE HEALTH RIGHTS OF WOMEN: Since 1976, the Republican Party has launched consistent attacks on abortion and other women health rights. In 1980, James Leon Holmes, former President of the Arkansas Right to Life Group, led an effort to amend the state’s Constitution to ban all abortions even in instances of incest or rape. Holmes wrote a letter to the Moline Daily Dispatch on December 24, 1980, stating, “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” Although the amendment effort failed, as a reward, former President George Bush gave Holmes a life-time appointment as a Federal judge. He is now the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
In 1988, a long time anti-abortion party leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives argued for criminalizing abortions even for rape victims by saying, “The odds are one in millions and millions and millions that a woman would get pregnant for being raped.” He also said, “Rape, obviously, is a traumatic experience. When that traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has a tendency to kill sperm.”
Clayton Williams, a 1990 Republican Party Governor candidate in Texas, was beaten by Democrat Ann Richardson in the general election but not before Williams told reporters that rape was a little like the weather. He said that, “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”
Henry Aldridge, a Republican Party State Representative in North Carolina, told the Associated Press in 1995 that, “The facts show that people who are raped—who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.” He said, “To get pregnant, it takes a little cooperation.”
The former president of the National Right to Life Committee published an article in 1999 that said, women don’t get pregnant when they are raped.
In 2010, it was the position of a number of Republican Party Senate candidates including Sharon Angle, the Republican Candidate in Nevada, when speaking about the government forcing a woman to bear a rapist child said, “…my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was a lemon situation into lemonade.”
By February 2012, in the Republican Party Presidential Primary, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum each signed on to Personhood as their policy position. Rick Perry even went so far as to repent on the campaign trail this year for previously saying that there should be rape and incest provisions to criminalizing abortions. Perry said that watching a Mike Huckabee DVD changed his mind that rape and incest victims should be forced by the state to give birth against their will. Personhood amendments in Colorado got voted down by huge margins in 2008 and in 2010. Even in Mississippi in 2011, Personhood was also voted down.
In the past couple of years in Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, Republicans have overtly gone after rape and incest victims in anti-abortion laws, removing protections that they used to have.
In the Republican led House when they voted on a new abortion ban for Washington, DC, there were no exceptions for rape and incest victims. H.R. 3, the third Bill introduced under John Boehner’s Party leadership, was not just a Federal roll-back of abortion rights but it initially tried to re-define rape in Federal law creating a new category called “forcible rape.” The previous definition of rape apparently included two many things that were protecting women. The current Republican vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, was one of the original co-sponsors of the Bill to re-define “rape” to make it harder for rape victims who wanted to get an abortion. The Bill eventually dropped the “redefined” language but Ryan was an original sponsor even while the language was still in there. He was also a sponsor of the Federal Personhood Bill that had failed in Colorado and Mississippi. In addition, Ryan sponsored a Federal version of Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell’s version of a vaginal ultrasound bill in which the government forces women to have an unnecessary and invasive procedure against their will and potentially against their doctor’s orders. The fury over Virginia’s forced ultrasound bill may have contributed to preventing Donnell from being selected as Romney’s running mate as “Governor Ultrasound.” It is astonishing to me why the McDonnell potential vice presidential candidacy was derailed yet Paul Ryan, who has the same policy record as McDonnell, was chosen.
Now that Missouri Senatorial Candidate Todd Akin has become the latest Republican Party politician to articulate the extremely radical thinking about his lengthy period of Republican politics concerning rape and abortion, the Republican Party has freaked out about Akins remarks. Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin went on to say that, “there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate who co-sponsored House Bills to re-define rape and to force women to have medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds. He picked a politician who has never in his entire political career supported exemptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest while advocating criminalizing abortions. But now apparently disgusted by Todd Akin’s comments and the fury surrounding them, we are told by the Romney Campaign to ignore Romney’s previous statement about supporting Personhood and Paul Ryan’s entire political career, that what has been their policy position is no longer the position of the campaign. Unfortunately for Romney, however, the Campaign has not come up with a plausible explanation as to why Paul Ryan changed his position and why he thinks that rape victims deserve more empathy from the government now than he thought they did just a few days ago.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell may not have gotten the vice presidential nod, but he has been given oversight responsibility for the Republican Party Platform for this year’s election. The Republican Party’s National Platform has supported criminalizing abortions since 1976 with no exceptions for rape or incest. Their hope continues to be that the American people, especially women, will not notice their vicious attacks on the health of women.
CONTINUED IN PART IV