US Representative Todd Akin Tries To Redefine Rape AND Biology
Every now and then, a public figure somewhere in United States will come out with a statement so bizarre and bewildering that rational people everywhere let out a collective “huh?!” It’s usually not a matter of facts or opinions, or even lies and truth. It’s about sheer, unadulterated nonsense.
This week’s example of this foot-in-mouth phenomenon is Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), a six-term congressman and the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Missouri.
Akin has a long and storied anti-choice history – he, along with Republican nominee for vice president Paul Ryan, cosponsored a bill last year in the House of Representatives that would have not only defined a fertilized egg to be a person, thus outlawing abortion and certain kinds of birth control, it would also have outlawed abortion even in the case of rape.
When Akin was asked about his views on a woman who was raped seeking an abortion, he doubled down on his problematic and frankly dangerous view with a statement so obviously untrue and delusional that I present no spin whatsoever:
People always want to try and make that as one of those things, ‘well, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question’. It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. The punishment should be on the rapist.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a candidate for one of the highest offices in the land.
He then took back his remarks, claiming that he “misspoke” in a such a way that “[did] not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused…”
Akin thinks “legitimate” rape won’t result in pregnancy, because the woman’s body magically takes care of “that whole thing.”
Now, from what I understand from a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.
So by Akin’s logic, about 30,000 fewer pregnancies than we previously thought occur each year. Unless, of course, those pregnancies were not brought about by “legitimate” rape but rather, illegitimate rape. I know for a fact that I am not the only person in this country right now asking myself, “what the hell is an ‘illegitimate’ rape?”
Does he mean that women who falsely claim to have been raped have been illegitimately raped? And that only those who were really and truly raped are miraculously immune from pregnancy? Exactly how does a woman’s body have any idea that a fertilized egg resulted from consensual sex or from rape? How does it have any idea whether a rape was “legitimate”?
These are questions that need an answer, and the answer is that while the human body and all the interacting processes and rhythms thereof are intricate marvels in and of themselves, this imagined phenomenon wherein a built-in biological process fails about 30,000 times per year in the U.S. alone is – simply put – stupid.
Not three weeks ago, Akin also made a statement about the morning-after pill in an interview with Greg Knapp in Kansas City. He said, “As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country.” Not to beat a dead horse, but again Akin was clearly not a quick study in the field of biology. The morning-after pill is not an abortifacient (does not induce an abortion), but instead prevents the fertilization of the female egg by the male sperm, and may also prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.
Prevention of implantation and abortion are two different things, and to outlaw one or the other (or both) presents countless ethical problems, not the least of which is the problem facing women every day that Akin was asked to address in the original interview.
Well, according to Akin, who clearly does not resemble anyone who could possibly be confused for a scientific expert, “legitimate” rape doesn’t result in pregnancy. Therefore, there are no reasons for a woman to seek an abortion, because her body will take care of that, and abortions should be outlawed.
What Akin appears to be forgetting (beside a basic grasp of human biology and reproductive systems) is that just because you say something doesn’t make it true. I can say that no one is ever raped. I can say that I live on the planet Venus with my fellow hairy, bra-burning feministas. I can say that Akin is a medical expert and a prodigy – but sadly, saying it doesn’t make any of those statements true.
Over 30,000 rapes result in pregnancies each year. That’s a rate of 5 percent.
To some, that may seem like a very trivial number. But I guarantee that it’s not a trivial matter for each of those 30,000 pregnant and raped women and girls, and even for each of the women and girls who were raped and did not become pregnant.
I am firmly pro-choice. I have been for a long time. I’m prepared to accept many points of views on this subject as legitimate. But making up this kind of blitheringly idiotic reasoning for outlawing abortion is irresponsible no matter where you stand on the matter.
This wasn’t the first time Akin tried to redefine rape in order to codify his beliefs into law, and I can only assume it won’t be the last.
And anyone who “legitimately” thinks that they can interfere in such personal and private decision for political purposes is nothing more than a cheap, cruel and illegitimate hack.
Opinions stated in our editorials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Feminspire and its staff as a whole, but instead reflect the opinions of the writer.