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editorial

Akin’s comments highlight the extreme GOP platform plank on abortion

It is hard to imagine that anyone in 2012 could believe that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant, let alone that a six-term congressman who sits on the House Science Committee would assert something so ignorant. By way of explaining his views on abortion, US Representative Todd Akin, the Republican nominee in the Missouri Senate race, voiced that egregious superstition in a television interview on Sunday, and has been facing calls for his withdrawal from the race ever since.

Akin himself has admitted that he was deeply flawed in his understanding of science and anatomy, and in suggesting that some rapes are “legitimate,” while some are not. But while his own political future is in question, his underlying position on abortion is, in fact, the party line. The substance of Akin’s stance — that rape should not be a valid exception to an abortion ban — is no different from that of presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, or from a draft of the national GOP platform, released Tuesday, which calls for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest. And Ryan, like Akin, cosponsored a bill that would have changed the language in laws that prevent federal funding of abortion, limiting exceptions to “forcible rape.”

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