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Pennsylvania Senate Candidate: Out Of Wedlock Pregnancy “Similar” To Rape

Does, the GOP have another Todd Akin on its hands? That’s the question some may be asking themselves after the Harrisburg Patriot-News talked to the GOP nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, Tom Smith:

 Struggling to explain his “no exceptions” abortion policy, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Tom Smith likened rape to having a child out-of-wedlock before walking back the remark Monday.

Smith was fielding reporter questions after a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon at the Harrisburg Hilton when he was asked about Missouri Congressman and Senate candidate from Missouri Todd Akin’s remark that women can biologically prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

The retired Armstrong County coal executive condemned Akin’s comment, then reflected on one of his own daughters conceiving a child out of wedlock.

“What that congressman said I do not agree with at all,” Smith said. “He should have never said anything like that.

“I lived something similar to that with my own family,” he went on to say. “She chose life and I commend her for that. She knew my views but fortunately for me … she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.”

Smith was then asked if his daughter’s unwed pregnancy and rape were similar. “No, no, no. Put yourself in a father’s position, yes, I mean it is similar,” he said.

The retired Armstrong County coal executive condemned Akin’s comment, then reflected on one of his own daughters conceiving a child out of wedlock.

“What that congressman said I do not agree with at all,” Smith said. “He should have never said anything like that.

“I lived something similar to that with my own family,” he went on to say. “She chose life and I commend her for that. She knew my views but fortunately for me … she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.”

Smith was then asked if his daughter’s unwed pregnancy and rape were similar. “No, no, no. Put yourself in a father’s position, yes, I mean it is similar,” he said.

Asked again to clarify his statement, Smith said he wasn’t comparing the two.

“No, I didn’t not say that,” Smith said. “I said I went through a situation (with a daughter). It’s very, very difficult. But do I condone rape? Absolutely not. But do I propose life, yes I do. I’m pro-life, period.

So, the clarification is what it is but, really, what would ever cause a person to try to equate an out-of-wedlock birth as a result of consensual sex and rape? Do these people not think before they speak?

Smith is essentially sacrificial lamb in Pennsylvania. The most recent poll has Senator Bob Casey leading him by some 19 points, and the RCP Average gives Casey a +14.5 advantage. This seat is staying Democratic in any case, but Smith’s dumb comments could potentially harm GOP prospects on the Presidential level in the Keystone State.

H/T: TPM

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    From a point of view that view’s a woman’s womb as not her own, it is, in Ryan’s words “just another form of conception”…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  2. Rob in CT says:

    I think the most revealing part is this:

    Smith was then asked if his daughter’s unwed pregnancy and rape were similar. “No, no, no. Put yourself in a father’s position, yes, I mean it is similar,” he said.

    “Put yourself in a father’s position.” Huh?

    Hmm. As in the Conservative patriarch father who is ashamed because his little girl was a slutty Mcslut [note: I don’t see if that way, but the no-sex before marriage crowd clearly do]? Ah, now it starts to make some sense. Rape = very bad. Daughter disobeying her father and having unauthorized sex? Very bad. So kinda sorta similar, in a father’s position.

    That’s the best explanation I can come up with for the thought process that compares pregnancy via rape to pregnancy out of wedlock. Both are unauthorized sex from the standpoint of the father (whereas if you consider the standpoint of the daughter, um, it’s a wee bit different).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Have you ever been to Pennsylvania? Hell, I’m not entirely sure the junior Casey would disagree with this position. especially if some of his constituents were paying attention. I’m fairly certain back in the day the senior Casey would have agreed with it. After all it’s not called “Planned Parenthood vs. Horowitz,” it’s known as “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.” There’s a reason for that. Older, socially conservative blue collar Catholics are not exactly NARAL supporters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  4. @Rob in CT:

    That quote revealed to me that he believes that having sex outside of marriage is as bad as rape.

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  5. Fiona says:

    These guys would do better if they just stuck with saying they supported the “no exceptions” plank of their party’s platform. It’s when they try to explain their views that they get themselves in trouble.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  6. Rafer Janders says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    After all it’s not called “Planned Parenthood vs. Horowitz,” it’s known as “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.” There’s a reason for that.

    Yes, the reason for that is Casey happened to be governor at the time the suit was filed, and that’s how court cases get named, as a rule of universal applicability.

    One of the marriage equality cases in California, for example, was Perry v. Schwarzenegger and then renamed Perry v. Brown. It had nothing to do with how Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jerry Brown felt about marriage equality, since they both personally supported the right of all American citizens to marry. The cases were named that because both men were the governors of California, and therefore their names are automatically attached to the suit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  7. Rob in CT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t think he thinks exactly that. I think he puts them both in the “bad” box, obviously.

    I think a lot of Conservative thinking on this issue is exactly about this:

    Put yourself in a father’s position

    without much thought given to this:

    put yourself in the woman’s position

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Unbelievable.

    I think a good question is whether or not this (Tom Smith’s view) is in fact the majority view of the current Republican Party? It sure seems like it’s short step, and a logical companion to, the viewpoints of Akin and Ryan on their not-so-nuanced opinions concerning rape.

    It is interesting that Republican women haven’t yet weighed in on all this. Maybe they’re comfortable in letting Republican men take the lead on the subject?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  9. wr says:

    @Rafer Janders: Thank you for explaining this incredibly obvious piece of legal trivia to the troll who keeps pretending to be a lawyer. Apparently he passed the bar without actually ever having to learn anything about laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  10. Franklin says:

    After that word salad, I’m not really sure what the man thinks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Doug: “That quote revealed to me that he believes that having sex outside of marriage is as bad as rape.”

    I disagree. He’s not saying that out-of-wedlock sex is as bad as rape, but that the baby conceived by rape is just as deserving of life as the baby conceived out of wedlock or in wedlock.

    Again, understand the context of the question. He was being asked to explain his “no exceptions” abortion policy. I.e. why abortion shouldn’t be allowed in cases of rape — because the source of an unwanted pregnancy is irrelevant to the rights of the unborn baby.

    You know I don’t take a strong side on either side in the abortion debate, so it’s not a point that I really want to debate… But I’d ask that you debate his actual position, rather than your strawman characterization of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  12. @Brad Warbiany:

    I understand where you’re coming from, but it seems to me that when he added the “as a father” comment, he showed that he meant something different. I would suggest it means to him that getting pregnant via out-of-wedlock sex is just as bad as getting pregnant via rape. It’s as much a moral judgment on his daughter’s choice to have sex without being married as it is anything else, I think.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  13. Nikki says:

    That quote revealed to me that he believes that having sex outside of marriage is as bad as rape.

    It is becoming quite clear that the Republican party as a whole doesn’t believe that there is such a concept as rape. When the VP candidate himself states in public that rape is just another method of conception, it just drives that point home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  14. BarryBarryd says:

    @Rob in CT: “Rape = very bad. Daughter disobeying her father and having unauthorized sex? Very bad. So kinda sorta similar, in a father’s position.”

    More and more it’s like they see these two things as merely variations on property offenses. An analogy might be a slave either running away, or being stolen; in both cases, it’s a property crime against the slaveowner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. BarryBarryd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “That quote revealed to me that he believes that having sex outside of marriage is as bad as rape.”

    Well, by the appropriate verses of the Bible,….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. BarryBarryd says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “I understand where you’re coming from, but it seems to me that when he added the “as a father” comment, he showed that he meant something different. ”

    I agree. What amazes me is that they could say ‘don’t punish the child for the crimes of the father’, add a big ‘.”, STFU, and be in a good position.

    But they keep doing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Barry says:

    Test

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. “I understand where you’re coming from, but it seems to me that when he added the “as a father” comment, he showed that he meant something different. I would suggest it means to him that getting pregnant via out-of-wedlock sex is just as bad as getting pregnant via rape.”

    Or, you could read it charitably, and suggest that he’s acknowledging that rape is terrible and horrifying for a woman. But that from the standpoint of a father, after the fact, the pregnancy caused by rape is just as valuable to save as the pregnancy caused by out-of-wedlock sex.

    I think you can make a case that Smith “misspoke”, whereas you can’t make any case that Akin misspoke. That’s why I’m saying it should be read in context, and that you should consider that perhaps he actually isn’t a moral monster who considers out-of-wedlock sex to be just as bad as rape.

    I’m a firm believer in assuming the best of your opponent, and debating their best. In this case, I think his statement can be read two ways, and you’re choosing the worst way it can be read, not the best — despite the fact that he tried to clarify himself in the moment…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  19. Anderson says:

    I would suggest it means to him that getting pregnant via out-of-wedlock sex is just as bad as getting pregnant via rape.

    That would make him a really, REALLY horrible father.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis: An equally plausible interpretation is that he believes rape is no worse than out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  21. swbarnes2 says:

    Remember, these are Republicans, the same party that finds the word “vagnia” so offensive, they don’t even want to say it in front of women.

    Of course they are tongue-tied, they literally lack the vocabulary to talk about half the species in a meaningful way. I figure he was talking about the shame he felt when he found out that his daughter was pregnant, which would be largely the same no matter the details of conception. The feelings and wishes and psychological condition of the woman herself isn’t relevent to that, that’s what to take away from his confused ramblings.

    Or, to put it another way, I bet he felt that when he found out that his daughter was impure and that soon everyone would know it, he felt like he’d been violated. That’s why the whole situation is like rape to him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. An Interested Party says:

    After all it’s not called “Planned Parenthood vs. Horowitz,” it’s known as “Planned Parenthood vs. Casey.” There’s a reason for that.

    Umm, but that reason has nothing to do with equating out-of-wedlock pregnancies with rape…

    Older, socially conservative blue collar Catholics are not exactly NARAL supporters.

    Nor does that mean that they would equate out-of-wedlock pregnancies with rape…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Or, you could read it charitably, and suggest that he’s acknowledging that rape is terrible and horrifying for a woman. But that from the standpoint of a father, after the fact, the pregnancy caused by rape is just as valuable to save as the pregnancy caused by out-of-wedlock sex.

    From the standpoint of a horrible father. The entire point here is that the only standpoint being considered is the father’s. And actually even worse than that — that the father could even HAVE a standpoint that doesn’t take his daughter’s standpoint into account. What kind of a father is that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Janis Gore says:

    @Nikki: It might be closer to the academic feminists’ view that through patriarchal eyes all sex is rape for a woman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Janis Gore says:

    On the other hand, my mother was buying me peignoir sets and perfume when I was nineteen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. James Joyner says:

    I’m a little late to this controversy and don’t know this guy from Adam. He might be a retrograde nut; there are unfortunately a few of those among the GOP’s nominees. On the other hand, he might just have gotten a bit flustered trying to talk about an intensely personal matter to make a connection on the issue to demonstrate that he actually cares about the woman’s perspective.

    Taken charitably, it’s quite possible that he was simply saying that, like a woman who’s pregnant as a consequence of a rape, his daughter had an unwanted pregnancy and a ridiculously hard choice to make. While the path isn’t at all comparable, the consequence is. The child was unplanned and will be a constant reminder of an act she’d like to forget. And yet she chose to give birth to the child, anyway, presumably out of belief that it’s a human life even at early fetal stage. As a father, he both shared her anguish over the choice and was proud that she’d made what their value system told them was the only morally acceptable one.

    He’s clarified that he doesn’t otherwise think that rape and premarital sex are similar. Absent other evidence that he’s a horrible human being, I’m prepared to believe him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Barry says:

    @SKI: “From a point of view that view’s a woman’s womb as not her own, it is, in Ryan’s words “just another form of conception”… ”

    From a certain Old Testament view, it make sense. The daughter is the property of her father until he sells gives her in marriage to her husband, at which point she is her husband’s property.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “Taken charitably, it’s quite possible that he was simply saying that, like a woman who’s pregnant as a consequence of a rape, his daughter had an unwanted pregnancy and a ridiculously hard choice to make. While the path isn’t at all comparable, the consequence is. ”

    Except that he did compare them.

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  29. James Joyner says:

    @Barry: He was comparing the pregnancy, not the sex. And, again, he was speaking off the cuff rather than giving prepared remarks. Again, I’ve got no stake in this guy, who I’ve never heard of before this incident and who is almost certainly not going to win; I just think we need to avoid jumping on every hamhanded extemporaneous remark as if it were a developed policy plank.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. bk says:

    @James Joyner:

    I just think we need to avoid jumping on every hamhanded extemporaneous remark as if it were a developed policy plank.

    The problem is, there is very little (if any) daylight between a lot of these “hamhanded extemporaneous remarks” and the GOP’s “developed policy planks”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Kathy: “From the standpoint of a horrible father. The entire point here is that the only standpoint being considered is the father’s. And actually even worse than that — that the father could even HAVE a standpoint that doesn’t take his daughter’s standpoint into account. What kind of a father is that?”

    You think parents shouldn’t be allowed to have opinions about what their kids do?

    How about you look at a couple other things he said and the language he used:

    “She chose life and I commend her for that. She knew my views but fortunately for me … she chose the way I thought. Now don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t rape.”

    Choice. He said it twice. It’s not the language that lends one to the idea that he believes his daughter and her uterus is his property.

    It sounds like, as James mentions more eloquently than I did, that his daughter had an unwanted pregnancy. He may have relayed the story because he was proud of his daughter; the situation could be today that his daughter’s unwanted pregnancy brought her a child she loves dearly. It sounds like his daughter was faced with a hard choice due to an unwanted pregnancy, not unlike the hard choice that a woman who had an unwanted pregnancy caused by a rape might face. That doesn’t mean that he thinks his daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy is “just as bad” as if she were raped.

    Again, I don’t know this guy. Nor am I a pro-lifer (nor a Christian, for that matter). I just wish people would perhaps take Napoleon’s advice when it comes to Tom Smith: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.” The easiest explanation from reading all the quoted statements was that he was talking about the value of life, whatever its source, not suggesting that all sex outside the confines of marriage is wicked and as bad as rape.

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