Less than 24 hours after Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock found himself in hot water over comments he made about rape, Tennessee Democrats on Wednesday accused Republican state Rep. John Ragan of believing he was the "arbiter of whether or not a woman’s rape is sufficiently barbaric."
“I am disgusted and outraged at the attempt by Republicans like John Ragan and Todd Akin to be the arbiters of what is and is not a ‘legitimate’ or ‘violent’ rape,” said Jennifer Buck Wallace, Executive Director of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “Ragan is sending a horrible message to men and children that some rape is worse than others, when all leaders should speak with one voice by saying ‘rape is rape,’ no matter what.”
In a survey commissioned by the American Family Association and other conservative groups, Ragan indicated that he "strongly agreed" with the statement, "Human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection at every stage until natural death." When asked under what circumstances abortion should be allowed, he wrote, "When necessary to save the life of the mother or in certain cases of violent rape or incest."
The Tennessee Democrats compared Ragan's phrase "certain cases of violent rape" to Missouri Rep. Todd Akin's infamous phrase "legitimate rape."
In another survey commissioned by Tennessee Right To Life, Ragan said he would support legislation that prohibits abortion except "to prevent the death of the mother, or when the pregnancy was the result of a forcible rape that was reported to law enforcement agencies within 7 days, or when the pregnancy of a minor was the result of incest provided the perpetrator had been reported to law enforcement officials."
Legislation proposed by Akin last year would have prevented federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions for victims of rape unless the sexual assault was "forcible."
The bill was widely criticized for drastically limiting the definition of rape. Steph Sterling, director of government relations for the National Women's Law Center, said the bill "takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough."
Ragan, who is finishing his first term as a state representative, is running against Democrat Jim Hackworth.