Democrats deploy rape as a political issue

In the 1988 presidential election, Republicans successfully hanged Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis with Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who committed a rape and assault after he was furloughed.

Horton was free because Dukakis, as Massachusetts governor, vetoed a bill that would have stopped furloughs for first-degree murderers. That allowed GOP candidate George H.W. Bush to blast Dukakis as a typical liberal, a "card-carrying member of the (American Civil Liberties Union)."

Now Democrats are playing the same game, thanks to Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri Republican running for the U.S. Senate. He moronically said rape victims can will away a rape-conceived pregnancy. Enough nitwits already occupy the Senate without promoting Akin to that august chamber.

Democrats and a torrent of commentators, here and elsewhere, now are using Akin to promote the canard that mainstream Republicans agree with Akin's view that all abortions, even those in cases of rape and incest or to save the mother's life, must be banned.

They don't. And that fact won't be changed by whatever the party's leaders will put in their platform at this week's convention.

"The Complicated Politics of Abortion," a new poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, found that only 22 percent of Republicans say an abortion should be illegal in all cases. Thirty-eight percent say it should be illegal in "most" (not defined) cases. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans say it should be legal in most or all cases. That's 77 percent who don't agree with Akin.

A new Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that in one subgroup called "old-school Republicans," only 1 percent would ban all abortions. Obviously, other GOP subgroups fall into the more restrictive camp, but these and other polls all show that attempts to equate "mainstream" Republicans with Akin's views are either ignorant or fabricated.

By the way, polls show that large groups of Democrats support some abortion restrictions. A 2011 Gallup poll, "Plenty of Common Ground Found in Abortion Debate," said majorities of Democrats and Republicans would allow abortions in cases of rape and incest, but would make abortions illegal in the second and third trimesters. A majority in both parties also supports a 24-hour waiting period and "informed consent," parental consent for minors and a ban on partial-birth abortions.

Left-wing extremists, such as NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and Personal PAC of Illinois — all generous contributors to Democratic campaigns — oppose such middle-ground provisions. Will any of these moderate positions wind up in the Democratic platform? Will Barack Obama and Joe Biden disavow the extremist position of unrestricted abortions?

Not a chance. Yet, Democrats will escape being labeled extremists.

The pregnancies of rape victims

Making a rape victim carry her baby to term troubles me because it seems to be another form of violence. So I can't agree with the idea of a law that forces this on a rape or incest victim. But others argue otherwise — a view that isn't given calm, reasoned or respectful media coverage. It's a virtual media blackout, so I guess it's up to me to present the other side's arguments.

Feminists for Life (feministsforlife.org) makes a cogent and humane argument for protecting the lives of innocents conceived in rape. The group tells stories of innocents who now have a voice, and they say, "I have the right to be here," or "Did I deserve the death penalty?" The group also gives voice to mothers who defend their decision to give life to their children who are conceived in rape, children who go on to productive lives.

Shauna Prewitt, a Chicago lawyer and advocate for women and their rape-conceived children, has exposed a dangerous, unfair and widely held stereotype: that raped women hate their unborn children and view their pregnancies as continuing their rape experience. She notes that states give little thought to protecting rape-conceived children and their mothers, such as forbidding visitation rights for rapists.

She speaks from experience. "You see," she said in a CNN.com column, "nine months after my rape, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. You could say she was conceived in rape; she was. But she is also so much more than her beginnings."

This column also appeared Tuesday in the Chicago Tribune as my regular Tuesday op-ed column

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