Robert Marshall | Staff Writer

On one side you have rape. Rape is one of the most devastating and life-changing things that can happen in a woman’s life. It can leave a woman scarred physically and mentally broken. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, or RAINN, rape victims are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and four times more likely to contemplate suicide. Therefore, to have it undermined its effects questioned is a dangerous road to travel.

On the other side lies the Republican Party’s perceived war on women. The term “legitimate rape” comes from many Republican policies that would restrict women’s access to taxpayer-funded women’s health initiatives. Even Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has added his own fuel to the fire with promises to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, an organization that offers services such as contraceptives, breast cancer screening, pregnancy testing, and abortion, among others.

These are the two parts of a combustible formula.  When Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, stated in an interview that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” when asked about women getting pregnant from rape, the match was struck and the Republican Party was again clamoring to put out the flame.

Romney quickly tried to distance himself from the political blunder by stating that the “remark was “terrible” and saying that he asked Akin to quit the race, according to Fox News.

According to RAINN pproximately 5 percent of pregnancies come from one-time unprotected sexual intercourse. The numbers for rape victims may be slightly skewed by the victims who may be on birth control or attackers who wear condoms to protect themselves from D.N.A. identification, but the numbers of pregnancy for raped and non-raped victims are still very close. One in six women has been raped or has been the victim of an attempt. This means that rape is a prevalent issue and one that should be taken seriously and that our elected officials and candidates should be very comfortable talking about.

How could something like this could even happen? How could someone who was elected to help lead our country in decisions that affect us all, be so ignorant to the facts? How easy could it be to fool the American public into believing that our candidates are people who are truly educated on the topics that shape the country we live in? How many more ignorant yet unspoken feelings and opinions mark the landscape of the political arena?

As we head toward election time and are deciding who will lead our country through the next four years, it warrants some true reflection and research to decide who truly embodies and supports the ideals that you hold close to your heart. At times we can get bogged down with political parties and opinions of those around us, but it is important to focus on the issues, not race, not party, not public opinion but the real issues that affect us. So take the time, do your research, and make an informed decision. Your vote will affect the crucial next four years of your life.