His main point — that Akin is a victim in this whole thing — should not go unanswered. And while Cal eventually arrives at a valid conclusion — that Akin's remarks are unhelpful even to his own cause — his reasoning is flawed. And that should be important, especially to those who agree with him.
Just to remind our readers, it was Akin who said last week, “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Here's how Cal responds:
“It's trapping season,” he writes. “The targets are Republicans, whom the Democratic-friendly media (the trappers) hunt in order to smear — especially the Romney-Ryan ticket — forcing them off message. The bait in the latest case is the issue of abortion in cases of rape. The hunter's target was Rep. Todd Akin, a Missouri Republican, who is running for the Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.”
No, Todd Akin is not a victim. This was not a case of an inexperienced, unprepared office-seeker falling into the clutches of a “gotcha” journalist.
Akin has held public office since 1988. He's fought many battles, at both the state and national levels, including battles over abortion. It's no good to say he was unprepared for such a question.
Finally, the question was not “bait.” It was a valid public policy question, about an aspect of the issue that's been discussed for decades. It didn't come out of left field (or the left wing). The question was straightforward: “What about in the case of rape: Should it be legal or not?”
And Akin bungled it. He blew it. He said something really, really stupid and offensive.
Whose fault is that? The “Democratic-friendly media”? No. It was Akin's fault entirely.
Cal is right to say that Akin “should have said that while rape is a horrible crime that should be prosecuted, the number of pregnancies from that criminal act pale in comparison to the greater number of unwanted pregnancies ending in abortion.”
But Akin didn't say that.
What's really offensive in Akin's comment isn't (merely) the bad science behind it; it's the logical conclusion: If a woman is raped and does get pregnant, then somehow it wasn't a legitimate rape.
Akin betrays even his own cause with that statement.
World magazine editor Marvin Olasky has written extensively on the social history of abortion. He notes that “Even when abortion was a crime and a strong societal consensus condemned it, I know of no situations where a woman was prosecuted for an abortion following a rape. Women did not do jail time following an abortion. The emphasis was on prosecuting abortionists, not women: They were seen as victims exploited by men, and American society showed no desire to re-victimize them.”
What interviewer Charles Jaco posited was a hypothetical victim — “in the case of a rape.” But there are real victims out there facing this very real horror.
And they deserve our compassion, far more than the false victim, Rep. Todd Akin.
I'll end with a note of agreement. Cal was right when he concluded, “But if the goal is to reduce the number of abortions, focusing on pregnancy from rape does not advance that worthy objective.”
Let's keep the real goal in sight.