Missouri Rep. Akin’s Foolish Remarks on “Legitimate Rape”

Todd Akin, currently a member of the House of Representatives from Missouri, is also the frontrunner for the Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill.

Akin is an opponent of abortion in nearly all instances. That position got him into trouble recently when he made insensitive and factually incorrect comments about women who are raped.

“It seems to me, 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. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

Who goes around talking about “legitimate rape?” Is there an epidemic of fake rapes where women are luring men into sex but secretly enjoying it?

What Akin suggests is that almost every woman who gets pregnant during a rape was not really raped. This is simply a fallacy by an extremist part of the pro-life movement who dismiss science, compassion and justice when it butts up against their own worldview.

There is simply no evidence that the female body can shut down a pregnancy during the trauma of rape. If there was, then there would be a powerful agent of birth control lurking in the human body that remains to be discovered.

The Washington Post responded with some hard facts that Akin should familiarize himself:

Research published in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests over 30,000 pregnancies result from rape annually. “Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the trio of researchers from the University of South Carolina concluded. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies.”

A separate 2001 study – which used a sample of 405 rape victims between ages 12 and 45 – found that 6.4 percent became pregnant.

That means that one in sixteen rapes lead to pregnancy. It is one of the most psychologically damaging crimes around, but Akin failed to show any empathy towards the victims until he was forced to apologize.

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Akin said.

It was an off-the-cuff remark so Akin shouldn’t be held to it, right? If those comments should be ignored, then so should the entire interview. Akin was being interviewed by a television station in its studio. It is not as if someone stuck a microphone in his face while he was in his pajamas taking the garbage out in the morning.

This is not the first time that Akin has placed an adjective to rape in order to define it. In 2011, he co-sponsored a bill that would have limited the federal government’s assistance in abortions to only those women who were “forcibly raped.”

Akin appears to believe that there are two types of rape. There are the “legitimate” and “forcible” types and then there are those where the woman somehow consents. This way of thinking is simply disgraceful.

At least Akin had the decency to apologize, but he should be held to his comments because they came from a planned and public attempt to promote his candidacy.

As insensitive as his comments are to women, the larger problem is that Akin, like many in Congress, prefers to make up facts to fit his world view instead of having his world view conform to facts.

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