08/21/2012 05:27 pm ET Updated Oct 21, 2012

Rape Is Rape

Ever since Todd Akin said what many Republicans believe -- that only some rapes are legitimate rapes -- conservatives defending Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have shunned him for speaking their truth.

The Republicans' latest defense is to say you can't tie Paul Ryan and Todd Akin together on H.R. 3 and H.R. 356 -- both bills that tried to redefine rape as "forcible rape" in connection with eligibility for plan B or abortion services -- because the FBI uses the term, so why not Congress?

Here's why:

Because forcible and non-forcible rapes are all rapes and none of the victims should lose their reproductive freedoms. President Obama said it best: rape is rape.

Because there are "non-forcible" rapes involving victims not capable of giving consent because of their young age, physical helplessness, unconsciousness or mental incompetence. In some states marital rape is considered non-forcible as well.

Because to take some of the most vulnerable of vulnerable victims and say, somehow, that their rapes don't matter and therefore their options for morning-after pills or abortions should be limited -- is not just irresponsible, but downright cruel.

I know because I prosecuted these cases:

I helped prosecute a roofie (Rohyphol) rapist who drugged his female victims into unconsciousness, then sexually attacked them. They awakened to find him violating them. No one believed them -- except a few good cops and an outstanding ADA, Linda Klee, who led the grand Jury proceedings and petit jury trial that sent him to prison. I met children raped by their fathers and
elderly women confined to wheelchairs raped by robbers. And I met a retarded girl assaulted by a nurse at a mental institution. One colleague told me he hated seeing me with teenagers and infants because he was afraid to ask who the fathers were -- he knew some of the kids were products of rape. Other victims used plan B or had abortions or didn't get pregnant. But ALL were victims and ALL deserved justice. Like millions of rape survivors across the country and around the world, they were raped. Each of these cherished, wounded survivors deserved justice.

I encountered predators, too. One sex offender tried to sue me for prosecuting his failure to provide DNA to authorities as provided under Megan's Law due to his child rape conviction. A rapist of children and women threatened to rape me and his arresting officer. A child rapist claimed he could not be civilly committed under the "serially violent predator" statute because, although he had many victims, he did not commit "forcible rape" and as such was not a "violent offender" under the statute. [Sadly, he was correct]. Yet another child abuser stated with harrowing honesty during a post-parole interview with police officers that he would likely offend again -- probably at Halloween when the kids dress up and he could legally offer them candy. Still another stalked his victim, then posted vulgarities at me on the very first day I published a blog in April 2006 (7 years after I prosecuted him).

These guys know exactly what forcible and non-forcible rape is -- and they know that they are rapists. These "non-forcible rape" offenders do not need the aid and comfort of politicians so averse to abortion that they would minimize crimes in order to stop it. Their victims are the ones who need our aid and comfort. No rape victims should be made to feel that they were any less brutalized by the benign-sounding "non-forcible" adjective attached to the crime.

None of these distinctions appear to matter anymore to Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or Todd Akin, because they are are all running on a Republican platform to ban abortion in all instances with no reference to rape whatsoever. Yes, I know a Romney advisor said yesterday that a Romney administration would not ban abortion on the basis of rape, but they flip flopped today when their platform committee adopted a ban with no exceptions whatsoever, and a RNC aide crassly referred to rape and incest as "granular details" left to the states.

Hold the hand of a child victim or a grown woman preparing for court where she will be cross-examined in front of her violator and you'll know that "non-forcible" rape is rape, and that rape is not a "granular detail." Rape is a serious crime whose victims often feel revictimized by the justice system if they even dare to report. The brave women who have come forward during this debate are remarkable. If others are feeling triggered by this discussion, remember that confidential help is a click or phone call (1-800-656-HOPE) away.

Going forward, we must lay out the stakes clearly, ever mindful of the lives at stake. Oppose abortion plan B contraception (or their opponents) all you want -- but don't minimize or revictimize people who have already suffered enough. Don't minimize, don't joke and don't forget that there but for the grace of God go you or a loved one.