Republicans' problems with women voters got a whole lot worse this week when a Republican congressman insisted he didn't do "anything morally or ethically wrong" when he referred to "legitimate rape." Under intense pressure, he later apologized for use of that phrase but held fast to his opposition to all abortions, even in the case of rape and incest.
Two days later, that same position was endorsed by the Republican platform committee and will be presented to the GOP convention in Tampa for a vote on Monday. It calls for a constitutional amendment banning all forms of abortion, no exceptions, and legislation extending 14th Amendment coverage to unborn fetuses, a tactic that could make any abortion premeditated murder.
Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan has consistently opposed abortion even in instances of rape; Mitt Romney this week said he would permit it in instances of rape.
Rep. Todd Akin, the numskull who said "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has a way to shut that whole thing down," defied pressure to drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, much to the angst of party leaders and the delight of Democrats who had rated their incumbent, Sen. Claire McCaskill, at the top of their most endangered list.
The story broke on Sunday but it took Romney until Tuesday to publicly call for Akin to step down.
McCaskill, whose chances were suddenly upgraded to "toss up," didn't have the good sense to resist the temptation to advise her weakened and disgraced opponent to stay in the race. It seems she'd forgotten Napoleon's advice: 'Never interfere with an enemy while he's in the process of destroying himself.'
All the party's big guns — Romney, Ryan, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove — were telling Aiken to drop out, but apparently his base among Missouri's large number of evangelicals was not as upset.
The New York Times noted in an editorial that the GOP outrage was not motivated by the "offensive and ignorant" remarks but fear by party leaders that "he might lose and cost them a chance at a Senate majority next year."
The GOP platform also reinforces the party's reputation for homophobia. Not only does it call for a constitutional ban on same sex marriage, banning it even in states where it is now legal, but it also opposes civil unions for gay couples. The best they have to offer is an endorsement of the "dignity and respect" of all Americans, but there's no mention of gays or lesbians.
Among the top issues keeping most Jews from voting Republican are the party's strident positions on women's health issues, abortion rights, birth control, gender equality, same sex marriage and gay rights. The candidates at the top of the ticket and the platform committee made it clear that won't change when the party faithful gather in Tampa next week.