Senate hopeful Tom Smith sounds more concerned about rapists’ rights

In criticizing Todd Akin’s recent remarks, Tom Smith stuck his foot way down the throat of the GOP, and then proceeded to twist. In explaining why he agreed with Akin that there should be no exceptions to an abortion ban, even rape or incest, which clearly includes, like, 11-year-old girls raped by their fathers giving birth to their own siblings because that worked out so well in Ted Bundy’s case and we want more Republicans like Bundy, he took his grotesque and offensive view one step further.

First, let’s set the scene. A reporter asked how he would handle a daughter or granddaughter becoming pregnant by rape.

Smith said he had already “lived something similar to that” in his family.

“She chose life, and I commend her for that,” he said. “She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to … she chose the way I thought. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.”

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he does know the difference, but was just – in typical political sleazoid fashion – so desperately trying to steer the conversation toward his message that he said something election-sabotagingly stupid. But wait – it gets so much worse. And even at this point, we have the disturbing suggestion that he “didn’t have to…” – what, tie his female relative up in the basement until she gave birth? – because “she chose the way I thought.” Bitch wasn’t entitled to think for herself, after all. [Thanks for the catch, SunlessNick!]

When a reporter asked Smith to clarify what kind of situation was similar to becoming pregnant from rape, the candidate responded, “Having a baby out of wedlock.”

He added, “Put yourself in a father’s position. Yes, it is similar.”

Here’s where the benefit of the doubt groans, walks out of the room and slams the door behind itself. Because Tom Smith has just done two really sickening things. First, he’s erased women entirely from this issue. Pregnancy for him is all about the fathers, even if they are rapists. Women are just a sort of vending machine – stick your penis in, and out pops a baby. Even his female relative is just this vending machine that made the “right” decision, i.e., the decision Smith would have made for her.

And second, he’s just equated all you fathers, wannabe fathers and might-have-been fathers with – you got it – rapists. (And somehow it’s feminists who have a reputation for thinking all men are rapists.) As if whatever feelings a rapist may go through upon learning his victim aborted his potential offspring equates to what a boyfriend might feel upon learning his girlfriend aborted his potential offspring. While I don’t agree that male partners should be legally entitled to any say in the matter, of course they are entitled to have feelings about it.

And by the way, men already do have a say in preventing abortion. It’s called not having vaginal intercourse. You guys can exercise this right anytime you feel it would crush your spirit if your female partner got pregnant and decided to have an abortion. It actually guarantees you won’t go through that experience, which is a much better deal than women get.

Akin and his “forcible rape” bill partner, Ryan, and this Smith character all have demonstrated one of two things; either they hate women so much, they value male rapists more, or they have bought into the idea that most men are very good people (well, at least white men – maybe the press should’ve asked Smith what he’d do if a girl in his family was impregnated by an African-American rapist, oh noes!) and women are lying bitches who ruin men’s lives by denying they consented to sex when they really did. Either way, their opinion of women says more about them that it says about women.


  1. facebook_patrick.mcgraw.7 says

    There’s also the obvious implication that, as a father, he doesn’t see a difference between his daughter getting pregnant out of wedlock through consensual sex or from rape. I guess she’s become a less valuable property to him either way, and that’s what really matters to him.

  2. says


    You’re right, that really IS how this reads.

    The thing about this position is, they don’t want to say the truth because they know how it sounds. The sort of thing they are advocating, in the oversimplified name of saving “babies”, is:

    –A rape victim who conceives may not even be able to start working toward closure until the baby is born, and maybe not even then. She may kill herself and the baby. That’s ok with these people, because they figure hey, that’s her damn fault for being a weakling and OMG LOOK I HAVE AN INGROWN TONAIL can we focus on real problems???
    –The rapist may turn up a few years later and want unsupervised access to his offspring. I can promise that will be for the purpose of either raping the child, or turning it against the mother hahahaha, or getting money. Rapists can’t love, and they don’t change. It’s okay with these people that children be turned over to the mercies of rapists because, hey, um, well, they really haven’t thought it through that far… but they would just disbelieve any whore who claims her child’s father isn’t safe to have around the child. Yes! Problem solved!
    –The pregnant “woman” could be a very young girl. THIS HAPPENS NOT INFREQUENTLY, FOLKS. The rapist father will most likely end up raping this child, too. That’s okay with these people because, um, well, um, hey look, there’s the Goodyear Blimp!

    I mean, if you just want to argue that fetal life trumps the actual lives of women and children, I’d have a lot more respect for people who just come out and own that. Because that is really the only way to support a total ban on abortion. (And frankly, I think exceptions for rape and incest aren’t near good enough, because how can doctors determine who’s been raped when courts struggle so much with it?)

  3. What Is History says


    That’s how I read it, too. When he said “father,” he meant the father of a raped woman, not the rapist who fathers a child. Because a woman who gets pregnant though consensual sex outside of wedlock or through rape brings the same level of shame upon her father’s household, and that’s what really matters.

  4. Attackfish says

    I don’t think he meant the father of the child, I think he meant the father of the woman. Not that it’s any less blatantly misogynistic, because seriously, if I were raped, my father’s feelings on the matter would matter a whole lot less than my own. And that leaves aside the rapist fathers who get their daughters pregnant.

    Besides which, seriously? Seriously? My father’s first reaction to me becoming pregnant tomorrow would be “oh my God, how do we afford this?” and “but your career!” and also “yay grandkids!” (he would be of many minds) his reaction to me being raped and pregnant would be a hell of a lot different, along the lines of police, comfort, emergency rooms, and the normal emotions you go through when someone you love was hurt and is suffering. Because he sees me as human and loves me, like father should. Smith clearly missed that fundamental attribute. His idea that for a father, the situations are comparable is absurd and horrifying.

    Okay, his real first reaction to both would be “You have to abort now, the doctor said pregnancy would kill you!” but…

  5. says

    I see what you guys are saying, and clearly this guy does have some paternalistic ideas that would make the ancient Hebrews proud. But when we talk about pregnancy issues and mention “the father”, it’s always understood we mean the father of the potential baby. He would’ve said “her father” if that’s who he meant.

    He’s just so concerned about the great injustice of women being able to abort men’s children without the poor men having a say that he automatically spat out this line without realizing he’d just lumped rapists in with consensual male partners. And, of course, if you buy into the narrative that most women are lying bitches and rape is really really rare and stuff, then of course you think 99% of alleged rapists deserve paternal rights the same as any other guy.

    That’s why I said the reporter should have made the hypothetical rapist black. That hypothetical gets that “women usually lie” narrative out of the way, because it doesn’t extend to black men. When white women accuse black men, there is no “Oh, he’s a wonderful person, I’m sure she’s just a lying bitch” for him.

  6. says

    At work and can’t take the time to read comments thoroughly (will later, I promise), but quick comment re: guys who don’t want their child aborted.

    There is an even easier (not as simple, but more palatable for many men) choice than simply not engaging in sex. It’s called a vasectomy. A simple operation, and you (very likely) never need to worry about any of your precious sperm being violated. Use a condom if you want to be extra careful.

    There are other options as well, if your partner is amicable…oral and anal sex seldom result in pregnancy, I’m told.

    All of the above options are better than meddling in a woman’s right to do what she wishes with her body.

  7. says


    I did specify avoidance of vaginal sex to make the point that men don’t even need to be celibate to avoid this problem. And I didn’t mention vasectomies because they are not absolutely safe – sometimes things go wrong and it’s not detected until a pregnancy occurs. But like you said, backing up a vasectomy with a condom is probably virtually 100%. So, lots of options for the guys who are clutching their pearls about the possibility of having their offspring aborted.

    Frankly, I’m hoping to meet one of these guys someday. I keep hearing they exist, but I have yet to ever hear a guy express, “Nuh-uh, no way – no offense, but I don’t later want to find out you got pregnant and aborted my baby.” One would almost form the impression that politicians are making shit up. Gosh!

  8. says

    You did indeed, my apologies for reading fail (sorry, I was skimming fast on a break).

    Make shit up? Politicians? I for one am shocked (shocked!) at the thought.

    Re: this
    “how can doctors determine who’s been raped when courts struggle so much with it?”

    An excellent question. While we’re speculating on the thoughts of politicians, one might wonder if this is (to them) a feature, not a bug. Which would, perversely enough, produce even MORE incentive for anti-choice jerkwads to be rape apologists. Wow.

    This is a gigantic cluster of horrific fail. That a politican can say this, to a reporter, and not be stoned from the halls of government is disgusting.

  9. harlemjd says

    Jennifer – Given that he used the phrase “a father’s position” while answering a question about how HE PERSONALLY would feel if his daughter were pregnant from a rape, the “father” he’s talking about is clearly him. This isn’t a call for paternity rights for rapists (though I have no problem imagining him saying something like that), it’s advocating the old idea of rape as a property crime against the woman’s father (which is why it would be comprable to her violating his property rights by having sex outside of marriage).

  10. says


    No, it was NOT his daughter, and at no point does he even admit to HAVING feelings about the situation in his family – just “views” and “thought[s].” But the question he’s asked redirects the conversation AWAY from his family situation. It’s simply how is having a baby out of wedlock similar to pregnancy by rape. Knowing that in no way is it similar to the pregnant woman or girl, he retreats safely into the politically acceptable territory of father’s rights pearl clutching.

    You’re attributing to this man an idea that is not to be found in any political platform anywhere. Even if he secretly thinks there ought to be a market for hymen-equipped daughters, there just isn’t one, and the remark makes even less sense interpreted your way. Because most fathers – even the sociopaths who calmly rape their own daughters – have a very different reaction to someone ELSE raping their daughters than they have to their daughters sleeping around.

  11. SunlessNick says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    He said he lived through something similar – a child out of wedlock – but then the update on the article says that the “‘out of wedlock’ pregnancy in his family was not his daughter’s” – and also that “Tom was speaking to the difficult decision faced by his family, not the nature of his daughters conception.” So I’m less sure now than I was then what the hell he was referring to.

  12. says

    SunlessNick, based on other interviews, I think it’s safe to assume he’ll stick with phrases and ideas that have political value in the anti-abortion realm. There is actually a group of doctors telling Republicans women can’t get pregnant if they’re really raped, so Akin’s stupid remarks actually DID have political value, as depressing as that thought is. There are two ideas about fathers that have political value in the anti-choice movement:

    –That fathers of fetuses should have a say.
    –That parents of pregnant girls should have a say.

    Since there was absolutely no “parental consent” context to these questions, and parental consent isn’t even on the radar of people seeking a total ban on all abortions, I just don’t think that’s where he was coming from.

  13. says


    I don’t know what you mean. Parental consent restrictions and a total ban are contradictory positions. You can’t campaign for prohibition AND raising the legal drinking age. So the only parental role that works with his bid for a total ban is that of the father of the fetus.

    Because otherwise, if his main concern is the feelings of the father of the pregnant woman, that doesn’t even form a basis for total abortion banning because some women don’t have fathers to give a damn. But every pregnancy involves a biological father. So if that’s his concern, then that DOES form the basis of an argument for a total ban.

  14. Attackfish says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    So re waiting periods, transvaginal ultrasounds, mandatory lectures on fetal pain, and all kinds of other measures used by the anti-choce law makers (whose goal it is to eliminate all abortion) to restrict women’s access to abortion. Parental consent laws were popular among such people, because they could pretend they were only looking out for the rights of parents. The fact that their goal is to eliminate all access to abortion doesn’t mean that laws like that aren’t on their radar as another tool.

    Also, I ,em>have heard anti-choicers talk about “the parents” or “the father” (or more rarely “the mother”) in the context of abortion to mean the parents of the woman seeking the abortion. I think Smith is so narsissistic that it didn’t occur to him that there was another “father” involved other than the one related to him.

    On a side note, where did you see that it wasn’t his daughter, because every news site, including all the PA local news I’ve been able to find say it was. I’m curious. It would make his paternalism even more scary. He thinks he can rule the lives of the girls and women in his family who aren’t even “his” in the ridiculous biblical sense? Wow.

  15. SunlessNick says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I think it’s safe to assume he’ll stick with phrases and ideas that have political value in the anti-abortion realm.

    I get that. It’s just that he initially said there was a “child out of wedlock,” but his purported clarification makes it less clear to me who this child is supposed to be. I don’t really need to know – exactly who and when it was is none of my business – but this update makes the whole thing seem like even more of an obfuscation than it was before. Of course the comments he makes about testify about his attitude even without that context.


    On a side note, where did you see that it wasn’t his daughter

    The article Jennifer links to contains an update where he says it’s not his daughter; I hadn’t seen it either, since it wasn’t there the most recent time I’d read it before Jennifer’s post.

  16. Attackfish says

    Jennifer Kesler,

    I’m sorry. I read the article before you posted this, and before the correction, and when I originally saw what article it was, I clicked it closed. All this leads to the natural question,when he said: “She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to … she chose the way I thought,” if said girl/woman isn’t his daughter, who is she, why does he think his views should have settled so far into her mind that it would matter what he thought, and most of all, what did he think he would do to her if she tried to choose something else? Plenty of people think they have more control over their children than they do, but I thought there was some sort of Patriarchal man code that says “we’ll leave you to control your own women (unless you’re black/poor/disabled/otherwise subhuman yourself).” So what did he think he could do about his sister/neice/cousin/family member? Lock her up? Beat her into submission? He “didn’t have to” what? Really, Smith, I’m waiting with bated breath to find out.

    Part of me wonders if said girl was his girlfriend, which would make his “from the point of view of the {rapist} father” bit so much more disturbing, but would answer why he thought he could control said person.

  17. says

    I AM now seeing a lot of new stories that just say flat out it was his daughter, which is not responsible since he never at any point said it was. Unless they’re coming from a different source.

    Okay, so let’s agree on this, because the more time we spend debating what he meant, the less time we have to loudly and voraciously add our voices to the call for his head on a platter before election time:

    –If he meant the fetal father, then what I said in the article.
    –If he meant the father of a pregnant woman, EVEN WORSE because so many times there is no father, or the father is who got the daughter pregnant, or the father is violently abusive or emotionally abusive or just a sick, sick fuck who shouldn’t have any say over anyone. And what about when the father is a good person? Chances are he’s raised his kids so they feel they can come to him with stuff like this, and will respect his input – but ultimately, Nature/God put girls/women in charge of fetal gestation. We bear the burden, so we’re entitled to the corresponding freedom of choice. Theists who don’t like this should take it up with The Lord, because it was His idea.

  18. SunlessNick says

    Okay, so let’s agree on this…


    Whomever he was referring to, it was a woman over whose body and life he considered himself to have authority. And there’s still the “…” over what it was fortunate (for him of course) that he didn’t have to do. And he still thinks a child “out of wedlock” is pretty much the same thing as rape from the perspective of the interested male party.

    It’s contemptible bullshit in any version.

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