By Lucy Draper
So there's some good news and some bad news from across the pond. The good news is that someone has finally decided that it's time to tell the Republicans that rape = bad. Following on from a series of startlingly appalling statements from certain Republican members (see Todd Akin, Steve King and Richard Mourdock), an organisation is offering a programme to teach candidates how to discuss the issue in a 'sensitive' way. The bad news? The training is being done by the terrifyingly strident, pro-life group, Susan B. Anthony List, because they think the Democrats are using rape as a 'tactic' to avoid talking about other reasons women have abortions.
The Republican Party has never been known for its sympathetic views on abortion, but in the recent presidential campaign, the arguments became increasingly - and confusingly - focused on the circumstances in which abortion should or should not be allowed, opening the floodgates for some jaw-droppingly ignorant claims.
How could we forget Richard Mourdock's belief that, "even when life begins in the horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen", or Missouri nominee, Todd Akin's biologically dubious claim that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Even the image of Mitt Romney, beating his head against a table, as he is forced to continually repeat his party guideline that "If you're about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop", fails to make these attitudes funny.
The problem essentially boils down to certain people believing that there is such a thing as 'legitimate' rape. Raped by your dad? Legitimate. Got drunk at a party and got raped? Nope, sorry, illegitimate - you're having that baby. Luckily, as we know, the American people decided that these were not the men they wanted running their country and the Republican's lost the election, meaning women retain the rights to their own wombs for another four years.
In the mean time, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA), have stepped in to help the Republicans recover from this foot-in-mouth syndrome that so blighted them during the campaign. The SBA are understandably worried that the party's pro-life agenda is being over-shadowed by their candidates seeming complete inability to be able to talk about rape without causing outrage, and so will offer lessons to "make sure that in future elections, a candidate can never with a straight face say, 'I never thought about that or I got caught flat-footed.'"
On a quick aside - the SBA website is well worth a visit. They describe Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger as a "eugenicist and an avowed racist", set out their two fundamental aims as "ending all federal funding of abortion and ending taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood", and, of course, have a quote from everyone's favourite Republican, Paul Ryan saying how committed he is to "providing a voice for the voiceless." But I digress...
Just as when Tory MP, David Davies called plans to legalise gay marriage "barking mad", then tried to justify his homophobia by explaining he hadn't had "diversity training", this newest development in the American abortion debate would be laughable if it wasn't so horrifying. The idea that politicians need training in matters such as sensitivity or compassion is worrying in the extreme. I imagine that by the next election, the Republican's will be referring to rape as 'uncomfortable sex', and abortion as 'child-killing'. Something to look forward to.
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