Republicans just keep talking about rape and they should probably stop. First it was Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin saying, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Then it was Rep. Steve King saying that “he’s never heard of anyone getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest.”
While these two statements are insulting for many reasons, including their disregard for elementary science, the most recent Republican to discuss rape and abortions, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Murdock, beat them both in audacity and absurdity when he effectively implied that God wanted rape, saying, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
While these comments should make it clear that those who said them are unfit for college, let alone to structure our public policy, they also speak volumes to the extreme nature of the social positions of the Republican Party and remind us what is truly at stake in the 2012 election — the Supreme Court and undoubtedly Roe v. Wade, the legendary 1973 Supreme Court case which, if overturned, would allow Congress and state governments to outlaw and criminalize abortions.
It is more than likely that the winner of the 2012 election will be in a position to swing the balance of the court. Looking at the nature of the court right now, it is very possible that the new administration could replace up to four justices — Justice Stephen Breyer (D) is 74 years old, Justice Antonin Scalia (R) and Justice Anthony Kennedy (R) are both 76 years old and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (D) is 79 years old.
Romney would undoubtedly nominate to the Supreme Court only pro-lifers that would make it a point to overturn Roe v. Wade. He has gone so far as to say, on the campaign trail and on his own website, that “he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
Additionally, Romney has not separated himself from the more extreme positions we are told are outliers, as he endorsed Murdock and has refused to pull his support from the candidate, declining to even request that the Murdock campaign stop airing an ad featuring Romney. Moreover, Romney’s handpicked vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, shares the view that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest and co-sponsored an abortion bill with Todd Akin that sought to narrow the definition of rape to “forcible rape.”
Unlike some campaign issues, this will fundamentally affect people’s lives and would undoubtedly be implemented. As put by The New York Times, “There is every indication that about half the states would make abortion illegal within a year of Roe being struck down, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenges abortion restrictions around the country, puts the number at 30 states. For one thing, abortion bans already on the books in some states would suddenly kick in. And some Republican-controlled state legislatures would outlaw abortion immediately.”