On Wednesday, Aug 25, following the regular council meeting, Houston City Councilor and former State Representative Ellen Cohen used her report time to comment on recent controversial remarks on rape. Without mentioning Missouri Congressman Todd Aiken (R-MO 2) directly, she made a heartfelt appeal to reject Mr. Aiken’s statements in favor of objective information.
Aiken basically stated that he believed that abortion should be illegal with no exception for cases of rape. He further stated that he believed that a woman could not become pregnant in a forcible rape, and referred to a need to distinguish “legitimate rape.” See Gail Collins’ article in Mercurynews.com
The remarks occurred during an interview in the context of 6-term Republican Congressman Aiken’s campaign against democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill. Although only the voters of Missouri, will choose between the candidates, the remarks sparked national attention. It so happened that during the same week, the Republican Convention Platform was being drafted to include a plank rejecting exceptions to abortion, and the campaigns of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan issued statements. The result has been a polarizing “perfect storm” about the issue, dividing republican conservatives who support Aiken’s policy from “moderates” who support the RNC position. But the explosive comments are becoming a rallying point for democrats and women’s rights groups. See article by Mark Mckinnon in The Daily Beast.
Locally, Councilor Cohen, formerly a liberal democratic state representative of District 134 including Montrose (home of Mayor Annise Parker) was narrowly defeated in 2010 by newcomer conservative republican Sarah Davis. She easily won her current City Council seat in 2011 following redistricting when became open due to term limits. Ms. Cohen is not currently seeking another office, but has been a strong advocate on City Council for equal rights for women and for gay and lesbian communities in her district.