KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Views On Akin And Women’s Health: ‘A Debate The GOP Had Hoped To Avoid;’ Views Harkening Back To Colonial Times

Commentators examine the repercussions of the Missouri Senate candidate's comments about rape and abortion.

Kansas City Star: GOP Can't Avoid Todd Akin -- Or Abortion
They phoned. They wrote. They rebuked him publicly from coast to coast. They cut off funding and support. Yet Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin didn't cave. He refused to withdraw by the initial 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline, sticking with his November race against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. His choice means women’s health and abortion remain top issues, causing a debate the GOP had hoped to avoid (8/21).

Los Angeles Times: Rep. Todd Akin's Ideas About Rape Hark Back To The Colonial Era
Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP's candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, caused a huge stir the other day with his comments about how women who are true rape victims rarely get pregnant. … In a piece that was typical of the widespread outrage the remarks stirred, the Atlantic magazine called them the "contemporary equivalent of the early American belief that only witches float." … The writer was onto something important. Akin's ideas truly do date back to the colonial era (Thomas A. Foster, 8/22).

USA Today: Akin Not Alone In Distorting Abortion Debate
Rep. Todd Akin's spectacularly ignorant remarks about rape and pregnancy ignited a political furor that may yet doom his Senate candidacy, and deservedly so. But in all the commotion, something more significant than the political impact has been missed: The Missouri Republican's inane belief that women's bodies can somehow magically prevent pregnancy by rape is extreme, but it's not the only fantasy distorting the debate over abortion. In fact, many state laws misinform women or twist medical evidence in order to scare them (8/21). 

Minneapolis Star Tribune: GOP's Attack On Women
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's ignorant claims that the female body can reject pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape" reinforces the significance of women's reproductive issues in the 2012 campaign. The growing influence of extremist positions within the GOP ranks is an alarming threat to women's rights. ... With regard to women's rights, voters need to hear from candidates on whether they embrace the backward policies of Akin and others on the far right, or if they value women's rights as much as those of men (8/21).  

Meanwhile, the New York Times and Politico offer several opinions that look at the broader issue of Republicans' positions on women's reproductive rights.

The New York Times: What The GOP Platform Represents
In passages on abortion, the draft platform puts the party on the most extreme fringes of American opinion. It calls for a "human life amendment" and for legislation "to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children." That would erase any right women have to make decisions about their health and their bodies. There are no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, and such laws could threaten even birth control. The draft demands that the government "not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage," which could bar abortion coverage on federally subsidized health-insurance exchanges, for example (8/21).

The New York Times' The Female Factor: For Women, It's Not Just About The Economy
No doubt, this is Paul D. Ryan's moment. Once he bounded onto the national stage as Mitt Romney's running mate, the precocious 42-year-old Wisconsin conservative has captivated many in the media, fired up the hard-core Republicans and converted some undecided voters. … But there's the other side. Mr. Ryan, a married Roman Catholic, would overhaul women's health rights; Medicare, … Social Security, … and President Barack Obama's controversial health care law. Far to the right of mainstream America on many issues, he has actively fought abortion rights, government funding of family planning and insurance coverage for contraceptives. He wants to impose criminal penalties on doctors who perform what opponents call partial-birth abortions, and he co-sponsored a bill to give a fetus so-called personhood rights — legislation so extreme that it was rejected by voters in conservative Mississippi (Lopez Torregrosa, 8/21).

Politico: For Women, The Differences Are Stark
Obama's health care reform law provides coverage for millions of women and allows parents to keep their children on their policies until age 26. Vital new benefits for women and children went into effect as of August 1. Women’s preventive health care, such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services, are now covered with no cost sharing for new health plans. Romney on the other hand, has declared that if he becomes president: one day one he will “repeal ObamaCare.” This would throw many women back into the “Individual Market” where maternity coverage remains largely unavailable (Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 8/22).

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