Rape & the Republican Party

(Trigger alert for rape & abuse survivors: this article refers to rape, & discussion of rape, many times.)

The election cycle feeds us talking points. Both parties do this & it’s up to us to sift through the propaganda & decide what’s true, & how we will use the information provided.

Back before the internet, when our news consumption was limited to newspapers & TV, it was hard to keep up with & remember things people said – therefore, more difficult to hold them accountable.

Someone told me yesterday that the Republican “War on Women” was exaggerated, that there wasn’t really as much anti-woman sentiment & ignorance as I’ve observed. His Libertarian reasoning is that he doesn’t see any difference between the GOP & the Democrats. His candidate, Ron Paul, didn’t make it to the ballot, so he’s not going to vote.

My dad was a Republican back when they weren’t identified with any positions on social issues, but rather with fiscal conservatism & smaller government. But that focus has shifted. If you ask someone what a Republican is today, they’ll likely respond it’s someone who is anti-gay-marriage & pro-life.

Members of the Grand Old Party have expressed disrespect for & lack of understanding of women.  This has increased in recent years & the Republican Party has recently adopted an official anti-abortion platform. There’s a valid conversation to be had about when life begins; science & technology has made is possible for younger embryos to be viable lives. But that choice must remain one between a woman & her doctor.

The GOP has also shown itself to be uneducated & uncaring about the issue of rape. (DISCLAIMER: I know there is female on male rape, & male/male rape. This following is about how this affects women.)

He sees no difference between the two parties, so, because the news cycle & our memories is now the length of a fruit fly, I’ve provided proof. A source for each quote or reference is provided underneath. Each of these incidents taken separately are kinda bad: read as a list they represent an underlying sentiment that’s disturbing. Maybe one quote can be taken out of context. But how many instances of one party saying similar things have to happen before a pattern is acknowledged?

There’s more events from 2012, & I thought I’d just be listing 3 or 4 examples. Depressingly, each one I came across referred to some earlier statement. When I Googled Republicans & women, *the first* suggested query I got was, “Why are Republicans attacking women?”


1988 – Republican Pennsylvania Representative Stephen Friend authored a law that restricted abortion rights that included “requirements that a married woman notify her husband, that there be a 24-hour wait before any abortion, and that doctors show patients a pamphlet with pictures of developing fetuses”.

He also said, when asked about exceptions in case of rape or incest:  “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are one in millions and millions and millions […] The traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to secrete a certain secretion that tends to kill sperm.”



1995 – Republican North Carolina Representative Henry Aldridge said, in debating whether to eliminate a state fund that helped poor women obtain abortions: ““The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever … to get pregnant, it takes a little cooperation. And there ain’t much cooperation in a rape…Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”



2006 – Republican South Dakota Senator William “Bill” Napoli made some statements regarding rape, & legislation H.B. 1215, enacted in 2006, to limit abortion access in South Dakota:

“When I was growing up here in the wild west, if a young man got a girl pregnant out of wedlock, they got married, and the whole darned neighborhood was involved in that wedding. I mean, you just didn’t allow that sort of thing to happen, you know? I mean, they wanted that child to be brought up in a home with two parents, you know, that whole story. And so I happen to believe that can happen again.”

Asked about a possible exception to that rule, Napoli replied:

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

Mr. Napoli’s statement is only one of many that have sought to define rape as something that only happens to “pure” women, virgins




2008 – Republican Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry addresses his colleagues on Feb. 8th, 2008 , saying:

“Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.

(Writer’s aside – So ya know, you unchaste women who get raped, you’re outta luck. Raped by your husband? Also forget it. Date rape? Good luck w/ that.)



2009 – President Barack Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 into law, his first as President.  This reversed the earlier Supreme Court decision of Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The L.L. Act extends the time period for which an employee who discovered that she or he was a victim of pay discrimination – getting less pay on basis of gender, race, disability, etc, as other workers for the same job – can take action. Although the act has been applied on cases involving race & disability, the Fair Pay Act is commonly acknowledged to primarily benefit women.

Most Republicans voted against this bill; most Democrats voted for it.

Via Wikipedia:

“The bill was re-introduced in the 111th Congress (as H.R. 11 and S. 181) in January 2009. It passed in the House of Representatives with 247 votes in support and 171 against. The vote was split along party lines, with two Republicans voting in favor (Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Don Young of Alaska) and four Democrats voting against (Travis Childers of Mississippi, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Allen Boyd of Florida, and Bobby Bright of Alabama)… The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed the Senate, 61-36, on January 22, 2009. Those in favor included every Democratic senator, two independents who caucused with Democrats, and five Republican senators – Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.”



2009 – Democratic Senator Al Franken proposed an Amendment – Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 2588 to H.R. 3326 (Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010). In short – “The amendment would prohibit the federal government from entering into contracts with any company that block their employees from pressing criminal charges for racial discrimination or on-the-job sexual assaults as a term of their employment.”

This amendment was inspired by an actual incident, in which an employee of Halliburton/KBR was allegedly drugged, gang-raped & imprisoned by her employer while in Baghdad. When she wanted to sue: “When she eventually did seek criminal action against her assailants, KBR resisted, citing the contract she had signed when she became an employee that required all sexual assault matters to be dealt with in private arbitration.”

This, let’s not give federal money to companies that make their employees sign away their rights (to not be raped, among other things) amendment passed the Senate, 68 – 30.

Every one of the 30 “no” votes were cast by Republicans.



2010 – Tea Party Republican Colorado Senate Candidate Ken Buck, who has a position of being against abortion int he cases of rape & incest, was the former Weld County District Attorney. In 2005, he refused to bring charges against a rapist, when both the victim AND HER attacker agreed on the facts of the case. Police fully expected charges to be brought & were surprised when they weren’t. Buck said the facts in the case didn’t warrant prosecution. “A jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse,” he told the Greeley Tribune in March 2006. He went on to publicly call the facts in the case “pitiful.”

The victim didn’t take this lying down & had a meeting w/ Buck, where she secretly, though legally, taped their discussion.

In the private meeting, which she recorded, he told her, “It appears to me … that you invited him over to have sex with him.”

Via the article: “He also said he thought she might have a motive to file rape charges as a way of retaliating against the man for some ill will left over from when they had been lovers more than a year earlier. Buck also comes off on this tape as being at least as concerned with the woman’s sexual history and alcohol consumption as he is with other facts of the case.

Though the Republicans supported Buck & suggested the rape victim was an agent of a liberal smear campaign, he was defeated in a very tight election.



2010 – Now Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate, (then a Wisconsin Congressman), Paul Ryan, gives an interview with conservative paper The Weekly Standard, in which he says: I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” Mr. Ryan said then. “You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life.”

Via a follow-up article in the N.Y. Times:

“Like most Republicans, Mr. Ryan has strenuously opposed the new health care law championed by President Obama. He has criticized Mr. Obama’s efforts to guarantee free insurance coverage of contraceptives for women, including those employed by Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies..“Congressman Ryan would ban a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest,” Mr. Axelrod said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So he is quite extreme.” ..Mr. Ryan voted in 2009 against a bill that would expand federal hate crime laws to cover offenses based on a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”



2011 – A largely Republican-sponsored bill, the “No Public Funding for Abortion Act” (H.R.3) is passed in the House of Representatives.

Via the Open Congress website:

“This bill would make permanent and expand the Hyde amendment restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortions. It seeks to prohibit even indirect funding streams that may potentially come in contact with abortion services. For example, it would deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans that cover abortions and it would block anybody with insurance that covers abortions from receiving federal subsidies or medical cost tax deductions, even if the abortion portion is paid separately with personal funds. Women who use tax-free Medical Savings Accounts would have to pay taxes on the costs of abortions.”

The first draft of the bill said there would only be exemptions for “forcible rape”. So women would have to “qualify” or explain the circumstances of their sexual assault, if they were raped. Has to be “forcible rape”, or no abortion funding. This language was changed after public outcry.

Current Vice-Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan was a co-sponsor of this bill.

This bill passed the House on May 4, 2001. Voting, again, was partisan. Almost all Republicans supported this bill; almost all Democrats voted against it.

“Yes”/Aye votes: 251; Republican = 235, Democrat = 16

“No”/Nay votes = all Democrats, 175

Abstaining = 6, 5 Republicans, 1 Democrat



1/20/12 – former Republican Pennsylvania Senator (& Presidential hopeful) Rick Santorum had an interview w/ Piers Morgan on CNN. Piers asked him what he would do if his own daughter had been raped, & begged Santorum to help her get an abortion. He replied:

“SANTORUM: Well, you can make the argument that if she doesn’t have this baby, if she kills her child, that that, too, could ruin her life. And this is not an easy choice, I understand that. As horrible as the way that that son or daughter was created, it still is her child. And whether she has that child or doesn’t, it will always be her child. And she will always know that. And so to embrace her and to love her and to support her and get her through this very difficult time, I’ve always, you know, I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you.

As you know, we have to, in lots of different aspects of our life. We have horrible things happen. I can’t think of anything more horrible. But nevertheless, we have to make the best out of a bad situation.



2/14/12 – Republican State Delegate C. Todd Gilbert, when the topic of a controversial trans-vaginal ultrasound measure was being debated in the House of Delegates said that in most cases, women having abortions was “a matter of lifestyle convenience.”



2/16/12 – Republican California Congressman Darrell Issa rejects the request of Sandra Fluke, A Georgetown University law student, to testify at a government hearing on hearing on government rules requiring employers to offer insurance coverage for contraception. Issa then said that was because the hearing was about the interaction of government & freedom of religion, & that contraception was just a side issue.

“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights but instead about the administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes  that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

No other women were, either, apparently, as not one of them testified in this issue that affects them. Democrats held a separate, non-official hearing at which Ms. Fluke was able to present her testimony of the importance of access to contraceptives for women.



2/16/12 – Foster Friess, millionaire back of first Republican Rick Santorum & now Republican Mitt Romney in their bids for the White House, said, in regards to contraception for women:

“”This contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so… inexpensive. Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives.”

Friess’s implication is that if women hold aspirin between their legs, they won’t open them.

“The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.”



2/29/12 – Rush Limbaugh, popular neo-conservative radio host, attacks Sandra Fluke (who has already been lambasted by other conservative publications) on the air. He says:

“”Can you imagine if you were her parents how proud…you would be?” he said. “Your daughter … testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she wants President Obama to provide them, or the Pope.”

What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Republicans don’t rush to condemn the host’s remarks. So the next day, Limbaugh continued his public attacks on Ms. Fluke, a private citizen:

3/1/12 – Limbaugh: “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is: We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

AFTER the public starts reacting to these comments, AFTER advertisers started to bail out of Limbaugh’s show, & AFTER Democrat lawmakers pressured him into it, Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman said that Limbaugh’s comments were “inappropriate”.

(Side note: 45 advertisers pulled out of support of Limbaugh’s program over the Fluke flap, & there was a 30% ratings drop in some cities. But Rush isn’t going anywhere.)




March, 2012 – Republican Idaho Senator Chuck Winder sponsored a “double ultrasound” bill, which would require women to have 2 separate ultrasounds before having an abortion. The first would be free, but performed at a pro-life crisis pregnancy center. If the woman still wanted the abortion, she’d have to pay for the second ultrasound. On opposition to the bill, Winder said:

“Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps, her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”




7/17/2012 – Republican Representatives Denny Rehberg of Montana & Hal Rogers of Kentucky announce a spending proposal that would strip away all Title X family planning funds for low-income individuals. Basically, the proposal sought to kill funding to Planned Parenthood, claiming that most of the function of Planned Parenthood was to provide abortions, which was an abuse of federal funds. In reality, abortion referral is about 3% of what Planned Parenthood does, & it doesn’t use federal money for those services.



8/19/12 – Todd Akin, Republican running for Senate in Missouri, said he believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape, because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”


(Akin – who is on the House Science Committee – has since referred to his opponent, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill as a dog, w/ his campaign speculating as to what specific breed.)

Akin was also arrested several times in the 80’s at anti-abortion protests:



8/20/12 – Republican Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee tried to give Todd Aken a PR opportunity by having Aiken appear on the Governor’s radio show the day after Aiken’s controversial comments hit the media. In trying to showcase Aiken’s words in the best possible light, the Governor shared some of his own views on the pregnancies that happen after rape:

“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: “I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”



10/10/12 – Republican Wisconsin Representative Roger Rivard, when discussing a high school senior who was charged w/ having sex w/ an underage girl, “Some girls rape easy.” That quote was given to the Chetek Alert newspaper back in Dec. ’11. When called recently to clarify his comments by Wisconsin paper the Journal Sentinel, Rivard said:

“He also told me one thing, ‘If you do (have premarital sex), just remember, consensual sex can turn into rape in an awful hurry,’ ” Rivard said. “Because all of a sudden a young lady gets pregnant and the parents are madder than a wet hen and she’s not going to say, ‘Oh, yeah, I was part of the program.’ All that she has to say or the parents have to say is it was rape because she’s underage. And he just said, ‘Remember, Roger, if you go down that road, some girls,’ he said, ‘they rape so easy.’

“What the whole genesis of it was, it was advice to me, telling me, ‘If you’re going to go down that road, you may have consensual sex that night and then the next morning it may be rape.’ So the way he said it was, ‘Just remember, Roger, some girls, they rape so easy. It may be rape the next morning.”



10/23/12 – Richard Mourdock, Republican running for Senate in Indiana, said pregnancies from rape were something “God intended to happen”.



10/28/12 – John Koster, Republican running for Congress in Washington state, says abortion shouldn’t be legal, even after “the rape thing”.

“But on the rape thing, it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?” Koster said in the exchange.



Lastly, in case you think the Republicans would, as a party, realize that all of the above seems to clearly indicate a lack of empathy of, or any care for, women voters, they have financially doubled down on the races of Todd Akin & Richard Mourdock by pouring cash into their campaigns AFTER the horrible anti-woman gaffes they’ve made.

Not before, after.



So to me, the GOP is a completely different beast from the party it was in my dad’s day, and that’s too bad. Reading all of the above together – not in separate news stories – it seems clear that Republicans as a party view women as baby-making machines, who don’t know when they’ve been raped, who aren’t responsible enough to handle their own birth control – but hey, insurance can cover Viagra, that’s just fine – & who can’t make the important choices of control over their own bodies.

If you’re a woman, & you vote Republican, despite all of that, I don’t understand how you could.

& if you’re a man, & you claim to care about women – really view them as equals – but you’re gonna vote Republican, just think about all that. All those things were really said, all those votes actually happened.

If *men* could get pregnant, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Via the actress, Tina Fey: “I wish we could have an honest and respectful dialogue about these complicated issues, but it seems like we can’t right now. And if I have to listen to one more gray-faced man with a two-dollar haircut explain to me what rape is, I’m gonna lose my mind.”

Thanks for reading.

— Eva Hopkins