10/23/2012 03:11 pm ET Updated Dec 23, 2012

McCaskill Takes on Akin: Missouri Moderate vs. Republican Extremist?

The Missouri Senate contest between Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin is astonishing, even without the latter's "legitimate rape" opinions.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "During a debate Thursday night, McCaskill criticized Akin for supporting proposals that she said amounted to "privatizing Medicare" by giving future retirees a fixed amount of money with which to purchase private medical insurance.

Akin also wants to "privatize Social Security" and abolish the minimum wage.

Fortunately, Missourians have a clear choice in Democrat Claire McCaskill.

According to The Washington Post blogger Diana Reese:

"During a brief news conference, McCaskill addressed the issue of the minimum wage again with even more passion. 'Most Missourians understand that the minimum wage is a floor for the middle class,' she said. 'Abolish the minimum wage, and we're in a race with China or India to pay people $2 or $3 a week. Our middle class is what makes us the envy of the world.'"

Where she sees problems in social programs, she offers common sense solutions. For those worried about the Social Security program running short of funding, she suggests:

The Associated Press wrote:

"Right now, taxes for Social Security are charged on the first $110,100 of earned income. McCaskill supports levying the taxes on the entire income of those earning at least $250,000 and argues that the additional revenue would help shore up the program's financial footing.

'If we would raise that cap slightly, you get enough additional revenue into the system that it makes the program sound for another 75 years without tinkering with the age of retirement or the size of the benefit,' she said."

As a Congressman, Todd Akin voted against funding veterans' programs seven times -- while at the same time voting to keep his own Congressional pay raises automatic.

Rudi Keller of the Columbia Daily Tribune noted:

"McCaskill contrasted her record of support for increased funding for veterans health care with Akin, who she said had voted regularly to cut spending on veterans.

'Todd Akin voted against job training for returning veterans,' she said. 'I co-sponsored and passed the most meaningful reform of the GI Bill since World War II.'"

Farm help bills? Disaster relief? Todd Akin feels about them the way he felt about student loans -- "stage three cancer of socialism" -- which is how he sums up government intervention on behalf of people in need. His exact words: "America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in."

McCaskill does not fear to reach across the aisle: "I don't dislike my Republican colleagues, I work with them", she says.

Pete Kasperowicz of The Hill wrote:

"Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), along with 19 Senate Republicans, introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow companies to continue to seek reduced tariffs on key manufacturing inputs, but without having to go through Congress to get those breaks."

But all too often, partisan politics gets in the way.

As for me, I am the father of a paralyzed young man, Roman Reed. The issue that rocks my world is embryonic stem cell research. I have seen it work. On March 1, 2002, in the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, I held in my hands a rat which had been paralyzed, but which now walked again, thanks to stem cells.

In 2006, Missouri voted for Constitutional Amendment 2, allowing embryonic stem cell research in the Show Me state. Claire McCaskill not only stood up strongly for Missouri, but took a leadership position in the national battle to ease President Bush's restrictions.

Twice, she led the charge in successfully passing the bipartisan Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, and twice the Republican president vetoed it.

But on March 9, 2009, as my son watched from his wheelchair, Democratic President Barack Obama signed an executive order reversing the Bush stem cell restrictions.

And Senator McCaskill said:

"The fact that President Obama is willing to once again say to the rest of world that we will be the beacon for cures and hope is encouraging. My religion teaches me to heal the sick and God gave us this intelligence to find cures for the sick. I think it's a great moment and I'm proud of him for reversing President Bush's executive order."

Todd Akin's view? According to the Associated Press: "Akin said he opposes human embryonic stem cell research, because he believes life begins at conception."

Akin is co-sponsor of a "personhood" bill. His bill, co-sponsored by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, was House Resolution 212, the Sanctity of Human Life Act. It declares the following:

"... the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood ... "

Because "Akin's Law" would treat microscopic fertilized eggs as full-fledged humans, the bill could literally turn millions of law-abiding citizens into "murderers." Although intended as a means to challenge Roe v. Wade and take away a woman's right to choose, the Ryan/Akin law could also criminalize embryonic stem cell research, various forms of birth control, potentially including "the pill" -- and even the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process -- which since 1978 has been practiced by nearly five million couples around the world -- including the son and daughter-in-law of presidential candidate Mitt Romney!

Similar laws were placed before the voters of Mississippi and Colorado, who overwhelmingly rejected them.

On Oct. 14, 2012, the editors of Missouri's St. Louis Dispatch endorsed Claire McCaskill for Senator.

Referring to Todd Akin, they said: "Missourians know they deserve better. Missouri deserves Claire McCaskill."

And so does America.