Senate candidate and degree holder in management engineering Todd Akin reassured women all across America yesterday that the female body has defense mechanisms that prevent them from getting pregnant in the event of what he called “legitimate rape”. Here’s a listen:
Well, you know, 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. Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
Unfortunately, the punishment is also on the women who are now forced to carry their rapist’s child to term, living for nine months with a constant reminder of her violation growing inside of her, knowing that people like him don’t want her to have the choice to end it if she wants to. But he doesn’t see that. In fact, the only thing he can see is the opportunity to make up some completely fabricated-on-the-fly anecdata about pregnancy being rare if a woman is impregnated during a “legitimate” rape in order to substantiate his position that abortion should still be illegal regardless of the circumstances.
While we’re on the topic, here’s a paper from people with medical degrees, who actually arrive to conclusions based on evidence, not based on whatever immediately comes to mind as you’re talking to someone on a Sunday news show:
Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.
In a feeble attempt to ameliorate the situation when he realized that his statements cause such an uproar, he had this non-apology to offer:
“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,” Mr. Akin, who has a background in [management] engineering and is a member of the House science committee, said in a statement. “I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
First, anyone who demonstrates such a violent disregard for basic scientific inquiry – or at least the desire to back up his statements with fact and not “what he understands from doctors” – should not be a member of the House Science Committee. For example, he had this to say about the emergency contraception pill Plan B:
“As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion,” he told KCMO’s Greg Knapp, “and I think we shouldn’t have abortion in this country.”
Well as far as he’s concerned, women also don’t get pregnant from “legitimate” rape, so I’m not too inclined to believe anything he says. As far as the actual data regarding Plan B is concerned, there is no evidence whatsoever that implantation is affected if it is taken after ovulation (which is the only thing it was designed to control). So “as far as he’s concerned”, he’s taking as truth something that has not in any way been supported by medical science.
Second, I call bullshit on the “empathy” bit, especially when the kind of legislating he’s recommending treats women – especially rape victims – as secondary to the developing life that’s growing inside of them against their will. After they’re born, well … that’s another story:
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) voted against the creation of a national sex offender registry and against reauthorizing a program that assists runaway and homeless children.
Both bills passed by wide margins with strong bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled House.
Akin was one of 52 congressmen to vote in 2005 against the creation of a national sex offender registry database that required those convicted of a sex crime to register before completing a prison term and increased mandatory sentences for those convicted of molesting children.
In 2003, he was one of 14 to vote against the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program and the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, which provided $105 million in 2004 for housing, outreach and other programs aimed at assisting runaway and homeless children and also authorized $20 million annually through 2008 for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
I guess you can’t pay the bills on empathy, right? Hell, even the majority of Republicans found a way to make this happen.
One last thing. What, according to your mastery of medical science and your “deep empathy” for women, is your definition of “legitimate rape”? Do you consider rape as part of domestic violence, where she fears too much for her life to resist? How about when a woman is drugged and doesn’t have the ability to voice any objection to what’s being done to her? What if the rape victim is 10 years old and was impregnated by her father? Is that legitimate? (Even if it is, there are some places where doctors are being punished for making abortion available to people like her.)
You might want to demonstrate some of that “deep empathy” for women by at least not making it sound like you consider victims of rape as liars from the beginning. Yes, false accusations happen from time to time, but to act as if “legitimate” rape isn’t the norm – and is actually underreported – is simply not acknowledging reality.
But given all of your statements in the past, you appear to have made quite a living off of ignoring reality and replacing it with a fantasy world that conveniently matches your beliefs … so I don’t see any change in perspective anytime soon.
Good luck with your campaign, Todd. Seeing how even other Republicans are running away from you as if you were radioactive, I think you have quite the uphill battle.