I wonder if, at long last, the pendulum of public opinion might be swinging away from anti-abortion extremists.
It seems as if the nation’s Republicans, who seemingly couldn’t find abortion restrictions crazy enough a few weeks ago, are now fleeing the sinking ship characterized by Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin.
Akin’s the guy who announced over the weekend that the bodies of "legitimate rape" victims have some mysterious means of shutting down their reproductive abilities. Therefore, he said – and continues to say – laws prohibiting abortion should extend to rape victims.
Not surprisingly, the idea that those being raped may not be "legitimate" should they become pregnant doesn’t seem to sit well with women. Male Republican politicians don’t want to be associated with it either.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign announced that neither he nor Congressman Paul Ryan agree with Akin and that, if elected, they would not deny women who become pregnant from rape abortions.
Now, one does have to wonder a bit, since both Romney and Ryan have endorsed policies that would do just that.
Ryan was a co-sponsor with Akin of a law that would prohibit all abortions without regard to cause, exempting only those women who face the possibility of death should their pregnancies continue.
Romney endorsed a "personhood" amendment in Mississippi that would outlaw all abortions – regardless of cause – an amendment so restrictive that even the voters of Mississippi – Mississippi! – could not stomach it.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised these guys no longer believe what they believed a couple of weeks ago. It seems to be their campaign style. Ryan spent the weekend accusing President Obama of cutting $719 billion from Medicare funding, even though Ryan’s own budget cuts Medicare almost exactly the same amount.
So now we have a presidential candidate who promises to make his first order of business the repeal of a law that is virtually identical to the one he, himself, championed in Massachusetts, and we have a vice presidential candidate who promises to restore the Medicare funding cuts he, himself, championed through the House of Representatives just a few months ago.
Well, sorry about the digression. We were talking about abortion.
The problem, as I see it, is that anti-abortion politicians have allowed themselves to be lulled into the position that all fetuses are, in fact, "babies." At the most extreme – the "personhood" extreme – a fertilized egg is a "baby." The problem is, if you’re talking about a "baby," then it is hard to justify any exception to your anti-abortion stance.
Even though that’s not where you want to go.
Pro-choice people faced a similar dilemma when they found themselves supporting partial-birth abortions. They were painted as being willing to kill babies only a few hours away from birth.
No one is talking about partial birth abortion this year. What people are talking about is forcing women who have experienced rape or incest to bear the babies of their villains.
For that, Republicans can thank their presidential primary politics and the lily-livered standard bearers they selected through that process.