Abortion Issues Continue To Stir Political Pot

Although GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign advisers say they don't anticipate the need to adjust their strategy to respond to the latest fracas over reproductive rights, news outlets analyze the possible repercussions of the dust-up regarding Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin's statements about "legitimate" rape and pregnancy.

The New York Times: Romney Strategists Say They'll Stay The Course Amid Focus On Abortion
Mitt Romney's campaign advisers have concluded that they do not need any major adjustments in strategy to respond to the new focus on abortion and reproductive rights caused by Representative Todd Akin, betting that their candidate's economic message will still resonate with female voters after the controversy over Mr. Akin’s remarks about "legitimate rape" subsides (Shear and Weisman, 8/22).

Politico: Akin Fallout Could Stick to GOP Ticket
In the shadow of Todd Akin, the "Mediscare" battle suddenly seems like old news for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Romney, who entered the primary season hoping to steer clear of the culture wars, suddenly finds himself immersed in them after a Missouri Senate candidate’s comments about "legitimate" rape and pregnancy grabbed the spotlight this week. Despite sharp condemnation from Romney and Ryan and calls for him to leave the race, Akin’s remarks sparked a new look at the ways in which the former Massachusetts governor's own positions on certain issues, like abortion, differ in shades from those of his more conservative running mate's (Haberman, 8/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Remarks Put Spotlight On Definition Of Rape
An outcry over Rep. Todd Akin's use of the phrases "legitimate rape" and "forcible rape" is focusing attention on a long-standing fight on Capitol Hill over how to define rape in health-funding legislation. Antiabortion lawmakers have tried to use the term "forcible rape" in several bills in recent years. Their goal has been to exclude funding for abortions in cases of statutory rape when a girl under the legal age of sexual consent gets pregnant. Those efforts sparked accusations from lawmakers and activists who support abortion rights that they were trying to redefine rape or believed some cases were less serious than others. Antiabortion lawmakers see the parsing as a way to have tight restrictions on any federal funding for abortion. … But past legislative efforts supported by Mr. Ryan and other antiabortion lawmakers have sought to place tight curbs on federal funding for abortions through defining what falls in the category of rape (Radnofsky, 8/22).

The Boston Globe: Abortion Uproar May Hurt GOP Bid For Senate Control
Keeping control of the Senate seemed a Herculean task for Democrats just a few months ago. Now, the gaffe made this week by Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate in Missouri who initially asserted that women had biological defenses to prevent pregnancy from a "legitimate rape," has given Democrats a burst of energy heading into the final months of the campaign. "This is the Republicans' worst nightmare. They were hoping to define the campaign as a discussion about jobs and the economy, and now it's turned into a debate over abortion rights,” said Ken Warren, a political scientist at St. Louis University. "It hurts severely the Republicans’ chance of winning back the Senate" (Calvan, 8/23).

The Hill: Pro-Abortion-Rights Leaders Will Speak At Democratic Convention
Democrats on Wednesday announced a new slate of female speakers for their convention, including leaders from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Sandra Fluke, the law student propelled into the spotlight by the Obama administration's contraception mandate, is also scheduled to speak. The newly announced speakers are another reminder of how aggressively Democrats are working to win over women — particularly educated women — in 2012. The party has renewed that push in light of Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) controversial comments about pregnancy and "legitimate rape" (Baker, 8/22).

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