Republicans really, really, really, really, really need to stop talking about rape
This week New Mexico Rep. Cathryn Brown introduced a bill that would charge rape victims who get subsequent abortions with “tampering with evidence.” The law would presumably apply to victims whose ER doctors prophylactically administered morning after pills as well. The tampering charge would be a third degree felony; victims of rape that did not bring their pregnancies to term would face up to three years in prison.
Brown claims that the intention of the bill is to crack down on sexual violence on women and that the swaddling clothed infants will be needed to put rapists behind bars – because clearly rapes that don’t result in a birth nine months later cannot be prosecuted.
Look, I get that by and large Republicans are anti-abortion, and that they feel the need to write creative legislation in order to circumvent Roe vs. Wade. But if they ever want a whiff of moderate vote in the next national election – and if they want to begin to close the gender gap – they really need to police their own better on the subject of rape.
Republicans eventually rallied around Todd Akins and Richard Murdoch, and it lost them the Senate – and it probably contributed to them losing the White House as well. I had thought that the party would have learned their lesson, but earlier this month a congressman from Georgia floated a test balloon that Akins might have been on to something. Brown is at least a women herself, which might have made it a little better from a PR standpoint had she not gone so far as to advocate jailing rape victims.
I have to say I find all of this baffling. I know a lot of Republicans – a lot. They are to a man and woman, good, decent, intelligent and reasonable people. So why do they keep electing people like this? As best I can tell, most of the ones I know simply aren’t from nutty districts, and feel it’s best for party unity to just ignore crackpots like this. I understand the inclination to not shine a light on the weakest link, but right now Republicans need to realize that when they ignore the Cathryn Browns of the world they do so at their own peril. At this point, I would argue, it isn’t enough to simply let the bill be defeated. Republicans need to speak out against Brown, and they need to do so loudly and clearly.
Otherwise they may find that come 2014 voters around the country don’t remember how many New Mexico Republicans voted to defeat the bill; they’ll only remember that yet another republican went after women who were victims of rape.