Todd Akin, Abortion, and Critical Thinking


As I was listening to a recent NPR story on the remarks of Todd Akin, what stood out to me was how out of touch this whole conversation was, and how little follow-up there was to seemingly illogical responses. Consider the following examples:

“I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their healthcare decisions or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape, I think those are broader issues and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party.” – President Obama

“I think it’s laughable that President Obama talks about men not having any business interfering in the healthcare decisions of women when his whole Obamacare does exactly that, requires people of faith who disagree with contraception, for instance, as a matter of faith, to disregard their strongly held beliefs in order to participate in paying for abortions and paying for contraception and so forth. So the idea that men aren’t involved in women’s decisions is a very laughable position to take.” – Janice Crouse

Put aside for a moment whether or not you agree with Obamacare and focus on the actual comments being made about this situation.

Obamacare would require employers, whether for-profit or non-profit, to include healthcare services for women, which can, if the woman chooses, include things like contraception and morning after pills.

But read that statement carefully. The key phrase is “if the woman chooses.” Whether or not you agree with this, what it does very precisely is take everyone else out of the decision (specifically employers) and leave the decision up to the woman. This is entirely consistent for Obama and does not the create the laughable counter-argument that Crouse thinks it does.

And this doesn’t get brought up or discussed.

“The position that a woman has the option of carrying her child to term when she’s been raped is a very legitimate position and there is disagreement about that position within the Republican Party, but some very fine people hold that view.” – Janice Crouse

This isn’t as straight-forward, but when I was listening to this, the impression I got was that Janice was implying that the counter-position is that women should not be allowed to carry children who are the product of rape to term. As far as I know, noone, anywhere, ever, has legitimately suggested that all children of rape should be aborted. Everyone thinks carrying the child to term is a legitimate option. The question, the debate, is whether the option of aborting the child is also a legitimate option.

My concern is that she either doesn’t know what the actual opinion of the other side is, or she’s creating a straw man: “To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.” (definition via Wikipedia)

And again, this doesn’t get clarified or addressed.

I am completely frustrated because we’re not having discussions. We’re not addressing the actual issues. There is an utter lack of critical thinking happening, and no one is being called out on it. You can criticize an argument logically without taking a side in a debate, as I have tried to do here. Nowhere in this entry have I given my personal view on this issue.

We need to hold our media and our candidates and our country to higher standards.

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