My Thoughts on Rapegate

Your diarist was not shocked to hear Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s thoughts on rape and conception that sprang from a question on abortion.

Akin, who is against legal abortion, was asked, OK, what about pregnancies that result from rape? He said that such pregnancies are “really rare.” He explained that in cases of “legitimate rape, the female body has ways of shutting that down.”

Cue: feminist outrage, partisan point making, and Republican damage control.

I was not shocked because, though Akin put it more baldly and offensively than most, I heard variations on that theme growing up in pro-life Baptist circles. Folks would ask the rape question. Since there is no good answer, people, like Akin (“From what I understand from doctors…”), would reach for “science” to muddy the waters.

That answer is not absurd on its face. All kinds of things can affect conception. That all the stressors produced by a rape might make conception or implantation less likely is at least a plausible point. I doubted the point, then and now, because nature doesn’t seem to give a fig about our notions of consent.

The uproar over Akin’s dumb comments is infuriating to pro-lifers because this is the debate that Planned Parenthood and Nancy Pelosi want to have.

Oppose abortion generally — as most Americans now do? Then you’re not against sex-selective abortions, abortions as contraception, abortion as an absolute legal right right up to the moment of full delivery (and, according to some trailblazing theorists, for some time after). No, you’re really an apologist for rapists. You probably want to take away condoms and the pill, too.

  • Deacon Jim Stagg

    In all the crazed response to his comments, I found not one “factual study” about conceptions after rape, except for a Washington Examiner story, which interviewed women born of a rape scenario. What are the facts? Certainly NOT that conception CANNOT occur as a result of rape…..but is it a LIKELY result, as the rabid crowd would have us believe? Is conception ALWAYS a possibility with “forcible” rape? Is there an “unknown, unexplained” ovulation response in the violently raped woman’s body? Who knows? Who cares? The sharks smell blood……………..and so it goes.

    I’m very disappointed Akin backed away from his statement, however insensitive it was. Apologize for the insensitive description, but not for the basic idea. Further, I’m disappointed in the immediate “embarrassed” reaction of Republicans in general, who could not wait to wield the knife in the back…..all except, curiously, Romney, who refused to be pushed to discuss this incident.

    The facts, real, proven facts, are far from settled on this matter. But you would not know that from the endless “chatter” of empty minds.

    • Joe Dokes

      Facts “are far from settled”? What facts do you have to support your view?

  • M. Brodhead

    Even the accuracy of pregnancy rates after a rape are controversial, but a general consensus seems to be that 5% of rapes will result in a pregnancy.
    A woman has a 28 day cycle. Let’s say that conception can only occur on 1 of those 28 days–that means you could hypothetically expect a pregnancy rate approaching 4%. Of course, that does not account rapes of young girls or post-menopausal women, or even for the fact that many women who are raped are undoubtedly on birth-control–none of these are likely to get pregnant anyway. It probably doesn’t take into account women who receive post-rape medical care–pregnancies that might have happened but were averted by immediate medical attention?
    It does not appear to be the case that the pregnancy rate is lower for rape victims than for other women. My reasoning on the issue is as follows: A woman who becomes pregnant as a result of rape is not victimized by the system which does not allow her access to an abortion–she is a victim of the rapist. He alone is responsible for her distress. The aborted baby is likewise an innocent victim of the rapist. Why do we punish the innocent instead of the perpetrator?

  • cken

    The science or lack thereof isn’t relevant to the problem Akin caused. The problem is he feed into the Dems battle cry that the GOP is waging a war on women. Not only does this damage the party as a whole, it diminishes his chances of winning, which lessens the chance of the GOP taking control of the Senate.
    A final thought: Whether or not a rape results in a pregnancy, the victim suffers for life psychologically.

  • cken

    What ever happened to the religious idea that a child is supposed to be conceived in love.
    To make a women carry the rapist’s baby is a constant reminder of the violence which occured in addition to the pain of an unwanted pregnancy. You are also asking the women to love a baby which is a constant reminder of the rape and the man who did it. In other words you are asking her to care for and love the demon seed. Who among us can love someone who tried to beat us to death.
    I tend to be prolife, but to not allow abortions in the case of rape or incest can only be an idea promulgated by someone totally lacking in compassion or who is mentally ill. With or without an abortion, both innocent victims will suffer irreparable harm.

    • Common Sense

      There are a few problems with your statement here:
      1. I’ve never heard of any “religious idea that every child should be conceived in love”. At least, not in any religion that I am familiar with. Certainly not Christianity. Most major world religions teach that every child should be conceived in the bonds of marriage and thereby provisioned with a loving family unit charged by God with their welfare. If “conceived in love” were the only criterion, then all kinds of extramarital shenanigans would be implicitly sanctioned, wouldn’t they? No “love child”, whether conceived in adultery or in the back of a VW bus at Burning Man, would ever be considered illegitimate. I’ve heard from couples that struggle with infertility that the forced routines and awkward techniques required to increase the chance of conception render the act rather loveless, even if the partners deeply love one another. Where does that fall in the spectrum?
      2. Do you mean to say that the destruction of life should be authorized in any case where the child did not come into the world by the proper method? Assuming that you meant “conceived in marriage”, then any illegitimate child would also be eligible for abortion. Assuming you really did mean “conceived in love”, then any child that was conceived by less than loving coitus (including some marital sex) would be eligible for abortion.
      3. No one has asked this woman to love this baby any more than any other of God’s children or to raise it. She is being asked only to not terminate its life to ease her own burden (and I am not diminishing that awful burden) in the short term. Nobody is demanding that she keep and raise this child. On the contrary, most Christians would say that the best thing for both the baby and the mother would be adoption. That child deserves to be raised by two loving parents even if it was not conceived that way. If you started writing a list of loving, stable, and infertile couples who would gladly donate an organ for the chance to raise that child in their home, you would never reach the end of it.

      Let’s engage in a thought experiment. This scenario is not far fetched as it nearly happened to a close acquaintance of mine. A woman meets a man who presents himself as the man of her dreams. They fall in love. They get married. They conceive a honeymoon baby. Things quickly turn sour as she discovers that he is actually a controlling monster who abuses her, forces himself upon her, cheats on her, etc. She prayerfully comes to the conclusion that to stay married to him will present great danger to her mental, physical, and spiritual health and immediately begins divorce proceedings. The pregnancy becomes a great burden to her, every bit as much as if it had resulted from a rape. It may not have resulted from a rape, but she is literally carrying the child of her rapist. What is the right course of action for her? Is it right to abort this child just because her husband either went off the deep end post marriage or because she no longer loves the father? What argument do we choose to justify the termination of this child’s life? Lack of loving parents? Burden on the mother? Eugenics?

      Thankfully for my acquaintance, she did not get pregnant before he turned into Mr. Hyde, despite the fact that they were not attempting to prevent pregnancy during the honeymoon. Lucky her. She was very grateful that she did not have to deal with that, but never would have considered abortion a viable option.

      The simple fact of the matter is that rape is quite possibly the most evil thing that is done in this world and no punishment is too harsh for it, in my mind. Unwanted pregnancy out of wedlock is one of the awful possible consequences of that choice. That doesn’t mean that a child deserves to die in order to lessen the pain to the grieving victim. She is not being “punished” with pregnancy and childbirth anymore than she would be “punished” with AIDS if the assailant gave her that too. It’s simply one of the consequences of this evil, horrible act perpetrated by one human being on another. As bad and as exacerbating as it is, it is NOT the worst consequence of the rape to the victim. Just because it is now within the power of medical science to ease her burden in one way at the expense of a human life does not mean it should be done.

      Do you still think that I am totally lacking in compassion or mentally ill? The one thing you got right is that with or without an abortion, the victim will suffer great harm. Irreparable? Nothing in this life is, but a lifelong doubt about whether that unborn child really deserved to die certainly won’t help the rape victim recover her inner peace. That child, on the other hand, never need know anything other than the fact that someone loved them enough to bring them into the world and give them a better life with someone else who could provide it. The victim will know that too, and that WILL help her heal.

      What is really so bad about Akin’s statement is that he is sticking his head in the sand and not facing the logical consequences of his position. He’s attempting to dodge the issue and is therefore implicitly apologizing for his beliefs, just as you are. “I tend to be prolife, but…” is another way of saying that you aren’t really completely against abortion, but you feel conflicted and/or guilty about it. Both you and Akin, for different reasons, need to ask yourselves what you really believe and if you can accept the underlying principles with your whole heart.