Commentary: Todd Akin's disregard for women and schoolchildren

The Kansas City StarAugust 22, 2012 


Mary Sanchez is a columnist with the Kansas City Star.

MBR — Kansas City Star/MCT

Just keep talking, Congressman.

At this rate, U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin will alienate swaths of voters long before November.

Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill’s GOP rival swiped at the federal program that feeds millions of hungry schoolchildren.

On Sunday, he spoke dismissively about rape victims.

Akin suggested that some rapes are more “legitimate” than others, as he tried to justify his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said. Later he backed off, saying he “misspoke.”

Sperm and egg, Rep. Akin. It’s a matter of what happens when sperm meets egg.

There is no spontaneous rejection of the egg because it was fertilized during the violence of rape.

Gaffes are one thing. All politicians verbally misstep, some more than others (looking at you, Joe Biden).

But this remark, like the school lunch comment, showcases Akin’s ideology.

He tried to diminish difficult abortion scenarios. Doing so makes hard-line views more comfortable to hold.

I oppose abortion, too. But I respect that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. I won’t belittle the horrific quandaries women can face. An estimated 32,000 pregnancies occur every year by rape, according to the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Teenage girls get pregnant from incest, too. Understandably, some want an abortion.

Akin was also speaking from a platform far from reality when he remarked that the federal government shouldn’t be providing school lunches.

That flows from the view that the federal stamp on American life has grown too large, that many social programs could more efficiently be handled by states or the private sector.

A GOP rallying cry is that charities can make up for slashes to federal entitlement programs. Yet the 2012 Hunger Report of the Bread for the World Institute reported that federal resources vastly outnumber charity efforts toward hunger 9-to-1. A bit more tithing won’t bridge the gap.

Neither will block grants to states, another GOP reply.

A 2004 study by the nonpartisan Urban Institute noted that block grant funding tends to decline over time. And the much-vaunted state flexibility erodes as Congress addresses ensuing problems. Both factors would make it less likely that child hunger could be equally answered state to state.

So far, Akin has displayed dismissive attitudes toward hungry children and rape victims.

Missouri voters await more of his views.

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