Skip to main content

Wake up: It's not just Akin

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
August 22, 2012 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Todd Akin's "rape" comment offers glimpse into some conservatives' views
  • He says Akin's views politically embarrassing, but such views voiced by others in GOP
  • He says Paul Ryan's name on anti-abortion bill making odd distinction about "forcible rape"
  • Granderson: You can expect a GOP Congress to move quickly to ban all abortions

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

(CNN) -- They will say this is about one person.

It is not.

They will attempt to distance themselves from the controversy.

But they can't.

They will even try to claim the whole conversation is a distraction from the "real issues."

And yet they never shy away from using this same conversation to fire up their base, or hurl attack ads or raise funds.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

The truth is the "legitimate rape" comment made by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin -- as in pregnancy from "legitimate rape" is rare -- is not a GOP anomaly but rather another disturbing glimpse into the viewpoint too many social conservatives have about women's health and reproductive rights. And if abortion is not among the "real issues," why is the GOP platform committee considering adding a ban, with no mention of exceptions, to this year's to-do list?

Akin defies calls to withdraw from Senate race

Last March, in a discussion in the Kansas House about whether women purchase separate abortion-only policies, Republican state Rep. Pete DeGraaf suggested women should plan ahead for rape the way he keeps a spare tire. A few weeks later, Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner, a Republican, said some women might fake being raped in order to get free abortions.

Former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum suggested doctors who perform an abortion on a woman who becomes pregnant from an attack should be thrown in jail and this year suggested rape victims who become pregnant from an attack should be forced to keep the baby and "make the best out of a bad situation."

Pressure builds on Akin to leave race
Rep. Todd Akin's empty chair
RNC: Akin must decide his own future

And we're to believe Akin is just a one-off.

Please.

More than 200 Republican members of Congress joined him in co-sponsoring House Resolution 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, when it contained language restricting the exception for federally funded abortions to "an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest."

Forcible rape.

That's not too far from "legitimate rape"

So vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan can try to backpedal away from Akin as fast as he can, but his name is still on the record in support of that bill, with that language. He can say he's in line with Mitt Romney and would not ban abortions in the case of rape, but it's his name attached to House Resolution 212: Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would have done just that.

GOP platform committee approves tough anti-abortion stance

No wonder Romney chose Ryan as his running mate; he admires the speed with which the congressman from Wisconsin flip-flops.

So yes, the current general election conversation may be largely about Medicare. The dialogue may eventually work its way back to the economy and jobs. But don't think for a second that social issues -- particularly abortion -- are not in the GOP's sights. Since the tea party helped pull the GOP back into power in 2010 -- under the guise of controlling government spending -- close to 1,000 anti-abortion bills have been introduced across the country. I can't think of anything approaching that number of bills with the goal of creating jobs in that same time span, can you?

At a Personhood USA "tele-town hall meeting" in December, Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry all said they would work to outlaw all abortions, regardless of the circumstances. You can fully expect a Republican Congress to move quickly to ban all abortions, regardless of circumstances.

And given that a would-be President Romney said, "I will protect a woman's right to choose," when he was running for Massachusetts governor in 2002, only to become an anti-abortion advocate while running for president, there's no telling which side of the issue he will fall on, on any given day.

Opinion: GOP policy is the scandal, not just Akin

Some social conservatives talk of protecting religious freedom, but what they are really seeking is a theocracy that places limits on freedom based on a version of Judeo-Christianity that fits their liking. That language is also being considered for the GOP's national platform. Some speak of fighting abortion because of their religious convictions and then belittle the trauma caused by rape.

They think they can make this controversy all about Akin, as if Ryan's legislative history is just going to disappear. As if DeGraaf never suggested women should plan ahead for rape the way he keeps a spare tire. As if none of us are paying attention.

But we are.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 20, 2014 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
John Sutter boarded a leaky oyster boat in Connecticut with a captain who can't swim as he set off to get world leaders to act on climate change
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 2322 GMT (0722 HKT)
Is ballet dying? CNN spoke with Isabella Boylston, a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, about the future of the art form.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
Sally Kohn says it's time we take climate change as seriously as we do warfare in the Middle East
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says an Oklahoma state representative's hateful remarks were rightfully condemned by religious leaders..
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
No matter how much planning has gone into U.S. military plans to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Arab public isn't convinced that anything will change, says Geneive Abdo
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
President Obama's strategy for destroying ISIS seems to depend on a volley of air strikes. That won't be enough, says Haider Mullick.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Paul Begala says Hillary Clinton has plenty of good reasons not to jump into the 2016 race now
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1501 GMT (2301 HKT)
Scotland decided to trust its 16-year-olds to vote in the biggest question in its history. Americans, in contrast, don't even trust theirs to help pick the county sheriff. Who's right?
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says the foiled Australian plot shows ISIS is working diligently to taunt the U.S. and its allies.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Young U.S. voters by and large just do not see the midterm elections offering legitimate choices because, in their eyes, Congress has proven to be largely ineffectual, and worse uncaring, argues John Della Volpe
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1831 GMT (0231 HKT)
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
ADVERTISEMENT