The Republican Obsession With Re-Defining Rape

Candidate for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat Republican Richard, Mourdock participates in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly and
Candidate for Indiana's U.S. Senate seat Republican Richard, Mourdock participates in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning in Indianapolis, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

It's an epidemic! Across the country, Republican candidates are afflicted with a chronic condition -- they keep accidentally revealing their party's true thoughts on women's rights, on women's access to health care, and really, on women themselves. And the truth isn't pretty. Last week during a debate, Republican Senate candidate from Indiana Richard Mourdock said, "... I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Something God intended to happen?

I wish I could say that I'm surprised, but this is a thoroughly predictable event. From Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin in Missouri and Joe Walsh in Illinois, who opposes abortion even to save the life of the mother, to Paul Ryan who has referred to rape as a "method of conception," and attempted to redefine rape, the Republican Party has an endless supply of candidates who are eager to make inaccurate and offensive comments about rape and abortion. What's worse is that they continue to receive support from party elites. Mitt Romney knighted Paul Ryan and his anti-woman agenda by making him his running mate. Romney is also a big supporter of Mourdock's campaign, and is still appearing in one of his campaign ads.

And this brings us to our main problem -- once again, a Republican has shown blind ignorance of and a cruel disregard for women, including those who have experienced sexual violence. Once again, it has become perfectly clear that Romney supports the most extreme members of his party. And they're committed to crafting health care policy based on those regressive beliefs.

Republicans, plain and simple, do not trust women. Instead of fulfilling their campaign promises to get people back to work, they're mired in conversations about forcible versus non forcible rape, legitimate versus illegitimate rape, and emergency versus non-emergency rape.

Let me be clear: Rape is rape, period. And women must always have the freedom to make their own life choices.

It's 2012, and American women do not want to re-litigate these issues. They want to focus on getting back to work, and having access to equal pay and health care. Luckily EMILY's list candidates all across the country are changing the conversation during their debates and focusing on the future. This week alone, Ohio Representative Betty Sutton, Cheri Bustos in Illinois, and New York Representative Kathy Hochul, all showed the voters exactly how they're going to expand women's access to health care and economic opportunities.

Sutton is a three-term Congresswoman who has stood up to Republican attacks on women's health care, and was responsible for the wildly successful "cash for clunkers" program, which helped save the American auto industry. Representative Hochul is committed to innovative jobs training programs that will prepare young people for the workforce, and has been a tireless advocate for seniors. And Cheri Bustos is a working mother and public servant who has dedicated her career to increasing government accountability and transparency, and expanding access to health care.

All three candidates easily exposed their Republican opponents' destructive plans to dismantle Medicare and implement anti-middle class economic policies. And the best part is that women voters are listening. EMILY's List research shows that when independent women voters learn about Republicans' backward policies on issues like reproductive health care access, Medicare, and equal pay, they are overwhelmingly less likely to vote for them.

Our 29 House candidates and 10 Senate candidates are talking about building a stronger future for women and families. They're changing the conversation, and after this election, they're going to change the way Washington works.