By Teresa Welsh |
Abortion has been pushed front and center in the 2012 election after comments from Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri that in cases of "legitimate rape" women are able to prevent themselves from getting pregnant. Both Democrats and Republicans have condemned the comments, with some Republicans even calling for Akin to drop out of the race (which he staunchly refuses to do).
Akin is running for the seat occupied by Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, and his victory in the close race could hand over control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans. Democrats, however, are attempting to use Akin's comments not only against him in Missouri, but as an example of what the Republican Party stands for on a national scale. The latest focus on abortion has renewed accusations that there is a Republican "war on women" and the party does not understand the concerns of women voters, a bloc with the potential to decide the presidential election.
Republicans, however, say the Democrats are only using the issue to distract from the economy, which until now has been the focus of the election. While some agree abortions are permissible in cases of rape, incest, or when the health of the mother is jeopardized, Republicans stand by their pro-life views and argue that the majority of the country does not believe in abortion. This could be advantageous for Mitt Romney, who some party members see as too moderate, and could also help turn out single-issue voters who are social conservatives. Will the focus on abortion help Democrats in the 2012 election? Here's the Debate Club's take:
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'