ARTICLE

Making sure abortion remains safe and legal

By Iowa City Press-Citizen

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Let’s be clear: How a woman gets pregnant shouldn’t matter in terms of what health care options are made available to her.

Thus, when it comes to access for abortion, the consistent standard for all women needs to be that:

— The procedure is kept safe and legal.

— And the decision ultimately is left to the woman involved.

Any proposed state laws seeking to weaken that standard need to be fought against. And the “human life amendment” proposed in the national Republican Party Platform needs to be fought against as well. After all, such an amendment not only would outlaw abortions without exception, but it also would criminalize many forms of birth control.

And that’s why the asinine, unscientific, calloused and insulting comments of Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri have ignited such a national fervor. Indeed, there don’t seem to be enough words in the English language to express fully the stupidity of having anyone — let alone a candidate for the U.S. Senate — suggest that, if a rape victim finds herself pregnant, that means it probably wasn’t really a “legitimate” rape or even a “forcible” one.

And editorial writers from throughout the nation have tried to rise to the challenge of sufficiently ridiculing Akin’s comments along with his even more controversial apologies:

— “(Akin) didn’t merely `misspeak; a word or two, but rather revealed a disturbing agenda built on a preponderance of falsehoods” — Poughkeepsie Journal (N.Y.), Aug. 21.

— “`The female body has ways of shutting the whole thing down,’ Akin said of rape and conception, citing doctors he said he had spoken to. Let’s find these doctors, in the dark about biology, physics and anatomy, and make them take some remedial classes” — Asbury Park Press, N.J., Aug. 22.

Experts in the scientific community — along with many pro-life activists and politicians — have had a field day this past week disproving the pseudo-science behind Akins’ comments about rape. And many Republican leaders tried in vain to have Akin drop out of his Missouri senate race.

But the proposed “human life amendment” in the Republican Party’s platform suggests that the second half of Akin’s comments — “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child” — still resonates strongly with many members of the pro-life community.

It should go without saying that such language presents a false choice. The question is not about fetus viability versus punishing a rapist. It’s about whether any state should demand that rape victims be victimized all over again — first by the actual sexual assault, and second by either forcing them to carry the resulting child to term or by requiring them to prove that the rape was either “legitimate” or “forcible” before being allowed to terminate the pregnancy.

This is a difficult choice that should be made only by the woman involved. And that’s why we think all women — regardless of how they became pregnant — need to have the same safe and legal options available to them.

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