KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Views On Abortion Debate: Akin’s Defiance Hurts Romney; Sen. Snowe On Mending The GOP’s Image

As Republicans assemble for their convention, Rep. Todd Akin's comments about rape and abortion are still reverberating.

Politico: Why Todd Akin Hurts Mitt Romney
Rep. Todd Akin doesn't look like he's going away. And that's a problem for Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican nominee. Akin's open defiance makes Romney look like a figurehead. After Romney joined other Republican Party leaders urging Akin to step down as the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, Akin told the nominee to mind his own business. "Don't you think he may have built this thing up and made a bigger deal about it than he needed to?" Akin said on Sean Hannity's radio show. "Why couldn't he run his race and I’ll run mine?" The answer is that Romney is about to be chosen as leader of the GOP. He’s supposed to define what the party stands for (Bill Schneider, 8/27).

The Washington Post: Sen. Olympia Snowe On How The GOP Can Mend Its Image Among Women
This is not where I hoped my party would be in 2012. Today, the Republican Party faces a clear challenge: Will we rebuild our relationship with women, thereby placing us on the road to success in November, or will we continue to isolate them and certainly lose this election? The Akin controversy and the ongoing debate over abortion are especially regrettable given the fact that Romney had made inroads with female voters (Sen. Olympia Snowe, 8/24). 

The Washington Post: Republicans Don't Have To Cede Women's Votes
In the heated debate on abortion unleashed by Rep. Todd Akin’s comments last weekend, the gender gap has been cast as a Republican-Romney-Ryan problem with women. And it's true that the current double-digit lead that President Obama enjoys among female voters in some national and statewide surveys is alarming. Yet it is not insurmountable. In fact, Obama has a big gender gap among men, who seem way past buyer's remorse with him and headed to product recall (Kellyanne Conway, 8/24). 

The Washington Post: Women's Long Battle To Define Rape
When U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri used the phrase "legitimate rape" to defend his opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest, President Obama fired back, saying that we should not "be parsing and qualifying and slicing" types of rape. Yet for most of our history, that is precisely what Americans have been doing. Our legal definition of rape has evolved over centuries, and clearly, we’re not done fighting over it (Estelle B. Freedman, 8/24).

The New York Times: The Democrats' Abortion Moment
On the abortion issue, too, Democrats have a tendency to forget that the public doesn’t necessarily agree with them. Only 22 percent of Americans would ban abortion in cases of rape or incest, according to Gallup. But that’s an exceptional number for exceptional circumstances. The broader polling shows a country persistently divided, with women roughly as likely to take the anti-abortion view as men. (Indeed, the small minority that opposes abortion in cases of rape includes more women than men.) (Ross Douthat, 8/25).

Meanwhile, two newspapers offer views on a move in Texas to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

The Washington Post: How Is Denying Health Services To The Poor 'A Win' For Women?
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court lifted a preliminary injunction against a measure that excludes Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas from receiving state funds. In March, Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced that his state would rather forfeit $35 million in annual federal funding for the Women’s Health Program — a Medicaid waiver program that provides low-income women with contraceptives and cancer screenings — than see any more state tax dollars go to a supposedly pro-abortion organization. Planned Parenthood appealed, but Texas now has the authority to defund the organization. Bottom line: Hundreds of thousands of poor Texas women are likely to be denied a health-care provider because of their state's ideological zeal (8/24).

Houston Chronicle: Texas War On Planned Parenthood Hurts Low-Income Women
The state's continuing battle against Planned Parenthood strikes us as short-sighted and destructive. ... What will be the outcome of the state's adventures in anti-federal posturing? Either state spending will go up or women's health will suffer. We're betting on the latter. And abortions? Will their number go up or down as a result of the state's restricting low-income women's access to contraceptives? The question answers itself (8/24).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.