SAN JOSE -- Rep. Todd Akin's controversial comments about rape and abortion aren't just for Missourians to mull in their Senate race -- they're typical of a mindset that pervades and perverts the entire GOP, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said Tuesday.
"It's deeper than one Republican congressman -- it goes all the way to the top of the Republican ticket," she said. "The truth is there's a war against women, and it's not going to end until we all say at the polls, 'That's not the country we want.'"
Boxer, D-Calif., used her previously scheduled speech to Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte at San Jose City Hall to try to ensure that the furor over Akin's comments tarnish presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan. "The mainstream of the Republican Party is now extreme on women's health," she said.
"There is a war against women, and Romney and Ryan -- if they are elected -- would become its top generals," Boxer said, urging the audience to remember the days when desperate women and girls died in botched, back-alley abortions. "We cannot go back."
Akin, interviewed by a St. Louis television station Sunday, gave a startling answer when asked if he would support abortions for women who have been raped: "It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Asked for a reply to Boxer's comments, Romney's campaign provided a statement he'd released earlier Tuesday: "As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country. Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race."
Boxer said Akin's comments, though vile, are "a direct outgrowth of the GOP's march to the right on women's health."
Romney and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are "acting stunned" and "outraged," she said, yet don't fault Ryan's original co-sponsorship of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," which would roll back a longtime exemption for rape survivors to the federal ban on abortion funding unless the woman survived a "forcible rape."
"Let's be clear: All rape is forced," Boxer said. "All rape is violent."
The Republican Party platform calls for banning all abortion, with no exception for rape or incest, she said. And Ryan, she said, has opposed women's access to birth control.
"Where's the outrage by Mitt Romney?" Boxer asked. "There is a sickness out there in the Republican Party, and I'm not kidding. Maybe they don't like their moms or their first wives, I don't know what it is."
Boxer also noted the Republican crusade to defund Planned Parenthood -- an organization for which President George H.W. Bush and the wife of 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater sat on the board of directors.
Of Akin, Boxer said, "He's thinking to himself, 'Why should I be the fall guy?'" when it's Ryan who "self-describes himself as the most anti-choice person in the whole Congress -- he calls it 'pro-life.'"
Ryan has partnered with Akin on issues such as the "forcible rape" clause as well as the "Sanctity of Life Act," a "personhood" measure that would define life as starting at conception.
And it's not just about abortion choice, she added, citing Republican efforts to roll back health-care reforms, including prescription-drug assistance for seniors and parental insurance coverage for young adults. She also noted Ryan's proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher-based system, and his vote against the Lily Ledbetter equal-pay-for-women law -- legisation Romney has said he's not sure he would have signed.
"Whatever you've done in the past,'' Boxer said, "you're going to have to redouble your efforts because women's rights are on the chopping block."