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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gail Collins, "The Sexual Spirit of ’76": She's Also Right

I have regularly savaged the New York Times op-eds of Gail Collins. However, her latest opinion piece, entitled "The Sexual Spirit of ’76" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/collins-the-sexual-spirit-of-76.html), is an important read. Collins concludes her op-ed by stating:

"Politicians who say they oppose all abortions are making perfect sense, except for the part where they try to impose their doctrinal beliefs on the vast majority of the country, which does not share that particular religious conviction. It’s the abortion-except-for-rape-and-incest position that doesn’t compute. Rape victims, yes, but not a 14-year-old who was impregnated by her 15-year-old boyfriend? The impoverished mother of six kids whose birth control method failed? There’s no way to set the worthy-of-compassion bar unless you trust women to set it for themselves.

Maybe Akin’s real sin is that he exposed the phoniness of the rape-and-incest exception, which is just an attempt to make radical extremism look moderate. That and the theory of the delighted womb."

Collins is right. She could also have referred to women who have contracted measles or other diseases during pregnancy which can lead to children being born with severe mental retardation. Or women with alcohol addictions which have affected the development of the fetus. Or instances where it is known in advance that if born, the child will suffer from Down syndrome. The bottom line: It is indeed for women to decide for themselves concerning abortion.

And although Akin's ignorance is a source of repugnance, the Republican Party plank, "which would ban abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest"
(http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/todd-akin-defies-mitt-romney-stays-missouri-senate/story?id=17048232&page=2), presumably the product of careful collegial consideration, is much more revolting.

Then, too, there can be no ignoring the contribution to this national scandal of the Democrats, who spent $1.5 million to ensure that Akin would be the Republican candidate facing the unpopular Democratic incumbent, Senator Claire McCaskill. As reported by The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/why-todd-akins-win-gives-democrats-hope-in-missouri/2012/08/08/6e0246b8-e16c-11e1-ae7f-d2a13e249eb2_blog.html):

"There’s a reason why Democrats spent over $1.5 million trying to help Akin win his three-way primary. He was the most conservative candidate in the field — and the most unpredictable one. He shook up his campaign staff late last year. He recently released a head-scratching and jumbled campaign ad. And Democrats have already launched a microsite highlighting his controversial statements that won’t play well with moderates. ('America has got the equivalent of the stage III cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,' Akin once said.)"

This assistance from the Democrats to Akin was ethical? What if he should continue to insist on running (there remains a chance he will drop out of the race) and win?

Yup, there's plenty of blame to be shared by both parties for me wanting to lose my breakfast this morning.

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