In the aftermath of Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) offensive and medically inaccurate comments that “legitimate rape” doesn’t often lead to pregnancy, Republicans have been scrambling to distance themselves from Akin. However, in addition to pushing policies that are very much in line with Akin’s anti-choice views, some GOP candidates have similar ignorance about the nature of sexual assault.
Tom Smith, the Republican challenging Sen. Bob Casey’s (D-PA) seat, suggested that having a child out of wedlock was analogous to rape during an interview with a reporter at a press club this afternoon, claiming that it would have a “similar” effect on a father:
MARK SCOLFORO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?
SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.
SCOLFORO: Similar how?
SMITH: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape?SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.
SoundCloud WidgetEdit descriptionw.soundcloud.comAfter the reporter pressed Smith on his comments, he tried to backtrack by saying, “I didn’t say that” and reiterating that he doesn’t condone rape. Despite Smith’s condemnation of rape, however, his harmful comparison only serves to diminish the seriousness of rape’s impact on its victims. Clearly, it is impossible to equate women who have a child out wedlock from consensual sex with women who become impregnated by a rapist following a sexual assault. Smith’s paternalistic sentiment fails to recognize the weight of the crime of sexual assault, just as Akin’s outrageous comments did.