We all remember how Todd Akin killed his chances of winning a Senate seat with his inane and repulsive comments about rape and pregnancy, but the truth is that his argument, appalling as it was, has won politically. With the Republicans in control of so many state legislatures since 2010, they’ve been passing anti-choice legislation at an incredible pace — and the overwhelming majority of those new laws do not have an exception for victims of rape.
According to an analysis conducted by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), more than 70 percent of the new abortion restrictions enacted in the first half of 2013 don’t include any kind of exemption for pregnancies that result from rape. And state lawmakers proposed even more measures to limit rape victims’ abortion access that didn’t make it into law — the NWLC’s report finds that 86 percent of the anti-abortion bills proposed during the same time period didn’t have a rape exception.
U.S. Congress didn’t have a much better record during the first six months of the year. Seventy two percent of the bills proposed on a national level would have restricted abortion access even for rape victims.
The anti-abortion measures that apply to rape victims range from forcing a woman who has become pregnant from sexual assault to carry the pregnancy to term; to requiring her to look at an ultrasound of the fetus and listen to a fetal heartbeat; to banning her from using her own insurance coverage to pay for an abortion; to allowing hospitals to deny her abortion care.
Akin may not be in the Senate, but his view is the majority view in the Republican party, which controls the U.S. House and most of the state legislatures as well. This is one of the clear and incontrovertible differences between the two major parties. On matters of foreign policy, national security, the 4th Amendment and many other issues, there’s little room between them. But when it comes to women’s rights and choice, there is a huge difference.