Todd Akin knows pretty much zip about women’s reproductive health. A television reporter asked him why he opposes abortion in cases of rape. There are plenty of good reasons to oppose abortion. But those weren’t the reasons Akin gave. Instead, he responded:
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
His statement is pretty fantastically dumb. And it’s offensive that he specifies “legitimate rape” – as if to imply some rapes don’t count, somehow. I’m not kicking him out of the “conservative club” because he made an ignorant statement. I’m kicking him out because he just doesn’t qualify based on merit.
This is not a guy you would want to be your doctor.
He’s not trying to be a doctor.
He was running for Congress.
Those used to be two very, very different jobs. And they still are. But now that Obamacare has given the government a great deal of power over health care delivery in this country, we have to elect people who understand health. Todd Akin does not meet this new requirement – and he no longer is qualified to serve in Congress.
The question is NOT, “Why is Todd Akin so ignorant about women’s health?” He has no excuse for this level of ignorance. Part of being a congressman is having a basic understanding of the people you represent. Akin obviously does not have this understanding. He needs to acknowledge that he is not qualified for the job, and he needs to drop out of the race. If America is supposed to be a meritocracy, then we need to praise excellence while passing over the unqualified. Mr. Akin just is not qualified for the job. (Oh, and while we’re at it, I’d be curious to know who else in Congress is similarly ill-informed about health. Remember, these are the people who think pizza is a vegetable. There are 535 members of Congress. Nineteen of them are physicians.)
The real question is, “Why do we expect our elected officials to have any deep understanding of women’s health?” The answer, of course, is because they now meddle in healthcare to a greater extent than ever before. In addition to the usual things we look for in a candidate – expertise in foreign policy, domestic affairs, economics, and so forth – we must now be concerned with a candidate’s medical knowledge. That’s a scandal in itself – that Obamacare has changed the job description of members of Congress. The more things we let Congress meddle with, the more things we must expect our representatives to be experts in a field. No one can be an expert on everything.
Democrats have tried to make laws concerning women’s health, most notably with Obamacare. Republicans have also tried to make health a political issue, albeit on a smaller scale than Obamacare.
The true, small-government conservative argument here is “hands off my healthcare.” Please do not legislate my health. Don’t shift health care to the left. Don’t shift it to the right. Just don’t try to turn health issues into political issues. Because my health is between myself and my doctor. No congressman can truly be called a conservative if he thinks he has the authority to invite government into that conversation.
If we are going to be a country were “all men are created equal” and success is based on merit – then we are going to have to celebrate excellence. Mr. Akin has demonstrated that his knowledge does not merit a position in Congress.
Angela Morabito | Georgetown University | @_AngelaMorabito