Bridging the gap
Anti-abortion gaffes are quickly widening the gender divide
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Time for a lesson on rape and pregnancy from some of our country’s candidates for political office:
Todd Akin, Missouri Senate candidate, says pregnancies that result from “legitimate rape” are rare, and women have a way of shutting things down.
Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois asserted it’s never medically necessary to conduct an abortion to save the life of the mother. Because of modern medicine and technology, Walsh says, you can’t find one instance of such a procedure.
And just last Tuesday, Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, stated, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Think harder. Or at least think before you speak.
Mourdock later retracted his statement, saying “I don’t think God wants rape” (which is rather nice of God), and controversial or not, no one was really surprised by the comments. It just became another part in a long saga of ill-informed comments or faith-driven opinions that “come out wrong.” It would be different if they had no intention to apologize and just stuck with their gods and guns, but every time – usually a day or two later – they always have to come back and say they’ve been misinterpreted or misquoted.
Are these senators and congressmen who keep making these comments even paying attention? Do they not notice the backlash the last guy to make similar comments received or do they just not care?
They should care. The people who those comments are actually relevant to aren’t showing up to vote for you.
The New York Times’Nate Silver wrote about the gaping “gender gap” earlier this week. It’s, of course, nothing new – the biggest gap to date in the exit polls came in 2000, a 20-point difference between Al Gore and George Bush. This year the numbers look close to that. An average of nine polls put the gender gap this year at 18, meaning Obama has a nine-point lead among women but trails by nine points among men.
When polled by Gallup, 39 percent of women said abortion was the most important issue this election. Yet, the topic is thrown around frivolously and with total disregard.
Legitimate rape? God’s will? Whether you believe in God or not, he’s probably not a registered voter and doesn’t need your constant shout-outs. These are intelligent men with successful careers – there is no way they’re completely oblivious to how sensitive these topics are, and when you combine them (like when discussing rape and abortion and how it’s “God’s will” to get pregnant from rape and how dare you take the sanctity of life for granted), it’s double the trouble, and the odds are quite good in this gamble that a gaffe will occur.
It’s obvious what Mourdock was trying to do. Everyone always says make the best out of a bad situation, right? He decided to go off that advice. Despite it being a horrible situation, the child who can come out of it is a good thing.
If that’s what Mourdock meant, then that’s what he probably should have said in the first place. Even in his backtracking, the candidate said, “Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.” But backlash is too quick for backtracking – in two different polls conducted following his comments, Mourdock’s opposition, Joe Donnelly, has either tied the polls or is pulling away completely.
If the gender gap is indeed as wide this year as The Times says it is, men like Mourdock, Akin and Walsh keep making the divide bigger and bigger every time they speak. And the more they talk, the less they fix. The less they fix, the more people – specifically women in this case – will seek change.