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More than Bad Grammar

“A word out of place.”

That’s what Representative Todd Akin has apologized for with regard to his ludicrous contention that victims of “legitimate” rape can somehow “shut down” their reproductive systems and thereby prevent pregnancy.

So, essentially, this is all a big grammatical misunderstanding.

Akin has repeatedly apologized for using the word “legitimate” as an adjective for the word “rape,” because “rape is never legitimate.” With regard to a victim’s magical birth control powers, he hasn’t recanted.

And guess what? That is, by far, the most offensive part.

Akin is doing a huge disservice to himself, to his party, to his country, and to the pro-life cause by remaining in this race. He doesn’t seem to realize that efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion to the legislative arena will be severely undermined by his unforgivable dippiness.

Abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in American politics because there is so little room for compromise. Yet one area where many people on both sides of the debate can find common ground is in the idea that women should have the option to terminate a pregnancy resulting from sexual assault. Akin doesn’t believe that, but Mitt Romney does. So does Stallion Cornell.

In light of that principle, Representative Todd Akin’s recent comments on this subject are scientifically, intellectually, and morally indefensible.  Indeed, there is so much that is wrong with what he said that it is difficult to know where to start.

Even if one forgoes the warped distinction between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” rape, as Representative Akin is now limply attempting to do, his standard would suggest that a pregnant rape victim didn’t “shut down” and therefore was likely not raped at all, legitimately or otherwise. This adds additional insult to injury, and it demeans the suffering of women who tragically find themselves pregnant after the most traumatic experiences of their lives. That’s an intellectually rancid position that immorally attaches a measure of blame to the victim. All such opprobrium should be reserved exclusively for the perpetrator.

Of course, scientifically speaking, Akin’s assertion is ludicrous.  Anyone with a knowledge of basic biology knows there is no known physiological mechanism by which the female body can “shut that whole thing down.” We might allow for that level of ignorance in breathless gossip passed between schoolchildren on a playground during recess, but to hear such nonsense stated by someone who wants to serve in the United States Senate is beyond excuse.

We live in a country that too often ignores the serious moral repercussions of abortion. We believe there is much work to be done in the public arena by those who want to reverse the current trend of devaluing human life, and there are many who are pursuing that goal in a thoughtful and effective manner. Their efforts are undermined by Representative Akin’s altogether reprehensible statement.

Drop out, Representative Akin. Drop out now. If it makes you feel better, don’t think of it as dropping out, but rather as a legitimate way in which your electoral future is shutting down.

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