Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs
(CNN) -- They will say this is about one person.
It is not.
They will attempt to distance themselves from the controversy.
But they can't.
They will even try to claim the whole conversation is a distraction from the "real issues."
And yet they never shy away from using this same conversation to fire up their base, or hurl attack ads or raise funds.
The truth is the "legitimate rape" comment made by U.S. Rep. Todd Akin -- as in pregnancy from "legitimate rape" is rare -- is not a GOP anomaly but rather another disturbing glimpse into the viewpoint too many social conservatives have about women's health and reproductive rights. And if abortion is not among the "real issues," why is the GOP platform committee considering adding a ban, with no mention of exceptions, to this year's to-do list?
Last March, in a discussion in the Kansas House about whether women purchase separate abortion-only policies, Republican state Rep. Pete DeGraaf suggested women should plan ahead for rape the way he keeps a spare tire. A few weeks later, Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner, a Republican, said some women might fake being raped in order to get free abortions.
Former presidential hopeful Rick Santorum suggested doctors who perform an abortion on a woman who becomes pregnant from an attack should be thrown in jail and this year suggested rape victims who become pregnant from an attack should be forced to keep the baby and "make the best out of a bad situation."
And we're to believe Akin is just a one-off.
More than 200 Republican members of Congress joined him in co-sponsoring House Resolution 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, when it contained language restricting the exception for federally funded abortions to "an act of forcible rape or, if a minor, an act of incest."
That's not too far from "legitimate rape"
So vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan can try to backpedal away from Akin as fast as he can, but his name is still on the record in support of that bill, with that language. He can say he's in line with Mitt Romney and would not ban abortions in the case of rape, but it's his name attached to House Resolution 212: Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would have done just that.
No wonder Romney chose Ryan as his running mate; he admires the speed with which the congressman from Wisconsin flip-flops.
So yes, the current general election conversation may be largely about Medicare. The dialogue may eventually work its way back to the economy and jobs. But don't think for a second that social issues -- particularly abortion -- are not in the GOP's sights. Since the tea party helped pull the GOP back into power in 2010 -- under the guise of controlling government spending -- close to 1,000 anti-abortion bills have been introduced across the country. I can't think of anything approaching that number of bills with the goal of creating jobs in that same time span, can you?
At a Personhood USA "tele-town hall meeting" in December, Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry all said they would work to outlaw all abortions, regardless of the circumstances. You can fully expect a Republican Congress to move quickly to ban all abortions, regardless of circumstances.
And given that a would-be President Romney said, "I will protect a woman's right to choose," when he was running for Massachusetts governor in 2002, only to become an anti-abortion advocate while running for president, there's no telling which side of the issue he will fall on, on any given day.
Some social conservatives talk of protecting religious freedom, but what they are really seeking is a theocracy that places limits on freedom based on a version of Judeo-Christianity that fits their liking. That language is also being considered for the GOP's national platform. Some speak of fighting abortion because of their religious convictions and then belittle the trauma caused by rape.
They think they can make this controversy all about Akin, as if Ryan's legislative history is just going to disappear. As if DeGraaf never suggested women should plan ahead for rape the way he keeps a spare tire. As if none of us are paying attention.
But we are.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.