Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that her organization is changing its endorsement process in the wake of Todd Akin’s self-inflicted defeat in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri.
“We think that women are great spokeswomen, they’re natural spokeswomen — that’s why we have an emphasis on electing women as pro-life leaders,” Dannenfelser said to The Washington Examiner today while discussing Akin’s campaign. (SBA List endorsed Tea Party favorite Sarah Steelman against Akin in the Republican primary.) “In addition to that, how we talk about that and how we communicate it in a compassionate and true way — without fear — is vitally important.”
The GOP primary this year was regarded as a race for the privilege of defeating Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., whose vote for Obamacare made her deeply unpopular in the state.
Akin threw that opportunity away during a general election debate, when he was asked if he opposed abortion in when pregnancies result from rape. “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” he said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Dannenfelser said that response spurred them to change how they vet candidates. “With Akin, when asked about rape, there’s only one thing you should say: ‘what a horrible tragedy,’” she said. “He clearly could have used a little bit of debate prep before he made that statement.”
She said that it’s likely that SBA List endorsement committee will work to pick the candidates most capable of articulating the group’s position at the national level.
“We go through and I drill you on all the questions, all the tough things, and then you give it back to me,” Dannenfelser said in outlining the process they will likely adopt. “And then we see if that actually merits endorsement or not, because if you can’t handle a rape question after everything that we just went through and all the damage that that caused, then you’re not paying attention and you don’t care enough to figure it out.”