Kennedy, who the Anti-Defamation League has termed a âChristian supremacist,â repeatedly railed against legalized abortion, calling it the âAmerican Holocaustâ and suggesting that it would lead inevitably to genocide in the United States. But Kennedyâs discussions of rape and abortion in particular betray extraordinarily disturbing views about rape victims:
1. Kennedy believed that rape victims who chose abortion are âhysterical.âIn âAbortion: Myths and Realities,â Kennedy labels victims of rape who chose unsafe abortions when safer procedures are illegal âhysterical,â saying âWe are told by some of the radical feminists that the women will become hysterical, that they will abort themselves with coat hanger.â Abortion ratesare, in fact, higher in nations where the procedure is criminalized, and men describing women whose choices they disapprove of as âhystericalâ has a storied sexist history.
2. Kennedy suggests rape victims can be responsible for being raped. In âLife: An Inalienable Right,â Kennedy expresses concern that rape victims who chose to get an abortion are occasionally responsible for their own rape, saying that âEven if they want to say the woman had some part in itâwhich in most cases they probably donâtâsurely the baby did nothing wrong, so the only innocent party is killed and the rapist often goes free.â He doesnât elaborate on how this might be true, but another Kennedy sermon says âthe immodest woman is contributing to the lust of other peopleâ by wearing revealing clothing.
3. Kennedy held that the Bible should set our laws about rape and abortion.Kennedy is very explicit on this point, saying âIn the Bible, the child of rape was allowed to live and the rapist was put to death. Today, we find that the penalties against rape have become more and more lenient, whereas the child is now the subject of capital punishment. Justice has been totally destroyed and perverted in that the guilty are practically allowed to go free and the innocent are killed.â This fits with Kennedyâs general view that weshould ârebuild America based on the Bible.â
4. Kennedy thought husbands should determine if their wives can have abortions. Though not specifically addressing rape, Kennedy approvingly cited a Roman prohibition on abortion motivated by the husbands should have control over womenâs reproductive choice, saying âThat newly created life is as much the husbandâs as it is the wifeâs. Historically, it is interesting to note that when the Roman Empire did away with laws that allowed abortion, it was done not because of the woman or the harm that abortions were doing to women (and indeed they do vastly more harm than most people are aware of), but because the husband was being defrauded of his progeny.â Interestingly, Akin has worried that criminalizing marital rape provides women âa legal weapon to beat up on the husband.â
Given that Akinâs rhetoric and policy views bear clear marks of Kennedyâs influence, itâs perhaps no surprise that Akin co-sponsored (with Paul Ryan) a bill that could, by limiting federal funding of abortion to cases of âforcible rape,â make rape survivors give birth to their rapistâs child.