Commentary — Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith has reignited the controversy over the GOP’s plank on rape and abortion today, just as the Todd Akin furor was receding.
Pennsylvania Republican Tom Smith’s comments serve as another reminder that whatever the GOP’s position on rape, abortion and reproductive rights is, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily able to articulate the specific issue’s nuances nor speak coherently publicly about it, not to mind write real-world policy.
Of course everyone — Republican, Democrat, Independent, what have you — is entitled to a stance. But when a candidate like Tom Smith or Todd Akin betrays the fact that he doesn’t really understand all that goes into the issue on which he or she is expected to make decisions for millions of constituents, it can be kind of worrisome.
Monday, Smith was asked about the controversy during a campaign event, and wound up likening out-of-wedlock births to rape, in a roundabout, hamfisted, reducing-women-to-property sort of way.
Look, not everyone is going to be an expert on every aspect of public policy there is — but lawmakers like Todd Akin and Tom Smith are perfectly willing to stand in and make these decisions for the millions of women they are elected to serve. Which is abjectly terrifying, when you consider that Smith’s comments didn’t seem to indicate understanding of much of a difference between rape and babies born to single or unwed moms.
A Philadelphia paper quoted Smith, and his discomfort is palpable when pressed on the issue of abortion — and you know, my discomfort would be apparent too if someone asked me to say, drive a train, because I can’t drive trains. So I would probably decline position that involved train driving. But Smith feels comfortable enough to say:
“I lived something similar to that with my own family, and she chose life, and I commend her for that. … Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.”
Smith is asked what is like rape but not rape, and to him, the situation of not being married before having a baby is apparently as shameful, as he explains the circumstance:
“Having a baby out of wedlock.”
When asked by what one can only imagine is an incredulous reporter whether the two were the same, Smith explains again:
“No, no, no, but well put yourself in a father’s position. Yes, I mean it is similar.”
We can only assume that Smith means the pregnant woman or girl’s father in this scenario. While it’s apparent that GOP members are consistently against abortion, regardless of circumstance, it seems the responsible thing for the party to do at this point would be to come clean, stop the weasel-speak and clarify their positions to give voters a chance to be truly informed.
And of course, they should probably quit trying to redefine rape in order the get that done.