Rep. Todd Akin’s views typical in anti-abortion religious right

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s future as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate may be decided today.

It seems to come down to a clash between the party establishment — campaign strategists and party officials — and the religious right. The politicos view Akin as damaged goods and want him to withdraw from the race in order to improve the GOP’s chances at picking up the Senate seat. The religious right views Akin as a faithful warrior whose only misstep was verbal.

As Pema Levy explains for Talking Points Memo: “If Akin stays in the race, it will be with the support of the Christian right, who stood by during the fallout Monday, but likely without his party’s infrastructure behind him.”

And make no mistake about it: the religious right is standing by Akin.

Missouri Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List quickly came forward with statements of support for Akins.

The Liar Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, has been growling at GOP officials who have criticized Akin, warning them to “be careful” lest they incur the wrath of anti-abortion voters.

And FRC’s “Action PAC” released a statement defending Akin from what it called “gotcha politics”:

“This is another case of ‘gotcha politics’ against a conservative leader,” FRC Action President Connie Mackey said in a statement. “Todd Akin has a long and distinguished record of defending women, children and families. He has fought against forcing taxpayers to subsidize abortion giant Planned Parenthood, which is the bedrock of Claire McCaskill’s base of support.”

He concluded by saying: “We know Todd Akin, and FRC Action PAC enthusiastically endorses his candidacy.”

For the religious right — the anti-abortion, Christianist “pro-life” wing of the Republican party — Akin is guilty of candor, not heresy. He made explicit the views that they prefer to keep implicit, but they have applauded or yawned in response to similar statements for many years now.

What Akin said was ludicrous, but the views he expressed are not at all unusual in his evangelical subculture, his political party or the anti-abortion movement as a whole.

It was ludicrous in at least two ways. First there is the bogus science — the utterly wrong claim that pregnancy from rape “is really rare” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” And second there is the cruel victim-blaming — the distinction between rape and “legitimate” rape, with the implication that some rape victims are somehow not legitimately victims.

But do not think that this makes Todd Akin a fringe character or puts him out of step with the mainstream of the “pro-life” movement. He repeated an absurd and patently offensive urban legend, but he did not invent this urban legend.

That’s the thing about urban legends, no one knows who started them. They just seem to arise, organically, and then to circulate endlessly wherever they find a receptive audience. And this legend has had a receptive audience in the anti-abortion movement for decades.

Like many people who receive and then excitedly pass on such myths, Akin added his own little flourishes. He prefaced his restatement of this urban legend by saying, “from what I understand from doctors” — the kind of vaguely authoritative attribution often used to suggest that an incredible assertion should be treated credibly.

But the rest of what Akin said was standard boilerplate for this particular urban legend. It’s something he repeated because he had heard it repeated, over and over, in his evangelical, GOP and anti-abortion circles.

Anyone who’s spent any time in those circles recognizes this. Some people are tactically claiming now that they’d never heard such a thing before — that this was some novel, innovative new claim being made by Todd Akin.

Hogwash.

Akin didn’t say anything new. Both parts of his awful statement are things that other anti-abortion political and religious leaders have said before — things they have been saying for years. And such statements have never been controversial within the religious right.

If you’ve ever been a part of the “pro-life” movement, or spent any time immersed in that movement, then you’ve heard this all before. As SR notes at Talking Points Memo:

I grew up awash in the Pro-Life reasoning, and this idea of “real rape” (typically defined as the stranger assaulting the victim in a violent manner) preventing pregnancy was the standard response to the Pro-Choice argument about making exceptions for rape and incest.

The reasoning (as I recall it being explained) is that during acute stress, the body will prevent implantation, or else miscarry, due to the hormones released in response to stress. Now, any OB/GYN can explain to a Pro-Life person why this isn’t the case, but like the way any lawyer could easily dismantle the Birther argument, the truth doesn’t matter. The problem is how does a Pro-Life justify forcing rape victims to carry their babies to term, and the solution is to say that “real” rape victims don’t get pregnant and those who claim they were raped are disproven by the fact that she hadn’t miscarried. Shamefully, the second half of that justification includes dismissing the claims of rape victims who weren’t assaulted in the stereotypical manner, and even then, there are doubts about the veracity of the claims.

I don’t think this is what all Pro-Life people think, but this is what I heard growing up, and I never questioned it myself.

As SR says, not all anti-abortion people believe this particular mythology, but they are all aware of its presence and pervasiveness in the movement. And like so many other easily disprovable urban legends within that movement, this lie has been allowed to thrive, unchecked, unchallenged and uncorrected. For many, many years.

Sarah Kliff puts it well: “Rep. Todd Akin is wrong about rape and pregnancy, but he’s not alone.” Kliff recalls Stephen Freind, the Pennsylvania legislator who was a rock-star in the anti-abortion movement. Freind made a career out of arguing exactly what Akin just said. He spent years in Harrisburg trying to get this urban legend written into law.

As Republican pundit David Frum says, Akin’s outrageous statement “is not one man’s mental spasm” — but an expression of the same ideology shared and promoted by leading anti-abortion crusaders in Congress, such as Rep. Chris Smith.

Garance Franke-Ruta has more on the lineage and pedigree of Akin’s particular variations of this ideology.

Brian Tashman reports on the current status of this mythology within the anti-abortion movement:

Human Life International says “it is very useful to be able to show just how rare rape- and incest-caused pregnancies really are” in order to expose women who falsely state they were raped in order to have abortions: “Women who are willing to kill their own preborn children for mere convenience obviously see lying as a relatively small crime.”

40 Days for Life, the group which holds hundreds of protests outside of abortion clinics throughout the country, in “ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments” also says that pregnancies resulting from rape are “extremely rare” and “can be prevented.”

And, Tashman notes, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has been loudly defending the substance of Akin’s comments. “Todd Akin is right,” Fischer tweeted, “physical trauma of forcible rape can interfere w/hormonal production, conception.”

Fischer links to an article by John Willke, who was president of the National Right to Life Committee for 10 years. Willke cannot be dismissed as some kind of fringe figure in the anti-abortion movement. And Willke has been saying just what Akin said since at least the 1990s.

Willke’s advocacy of those same views never sparked any controversy within the anti-abortion movement. He was not criticized or called on to qualify his views, even though his remarks were no different than Akins’. The science was just as fraudulent, the victim-blaming was just as vile.

Todd Akin is not unusual. Todd Akin is not alone. The pernicious, ridiculous lies he got in trouble for are widespread and blandly typical throughout the anti-abortion movement within the GOP and within the Republican voting bloc that has replaced what used to be evangelical Christianity.

  • JustoneK

    Petty in before aunursa!

  • Albanaeon

    I simply love that “Gotcha politics” is basically saying things you actually believe in front of cameras.  

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Ayup.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    I read a long profile of Jesse Helms in the WaPo magazine back when the evil old buzzard was still in the Senate.  One of the nasty details about him was that he’d expressed an even uglier version of this particular misogynistic fantasy: that “a woman who is truly raped can’t get pregnant” because female orgasm is necessary for impregnation, and of course women who are “truly raped” never have orgasms (pleasure = consent, after all).  No need to play “stupid, or evil?” with these folks; the answer is a clear and unambiguous “both!”

  • Eamon Knight

    In comments elsewhere, someone has been citing a statute from a medieval book of English law stating that if a pregnancy results the rape charge shall be withdrawn, as that proves it was consensual intercourse. So the UL (along with associated victim-blaming) goes back a very, very long way. OTOH, we can legitimately call Akin & Friends “medieval” in the pejorative sense, and be literally correct.

  • Becca Stareyes

    Sure, the chance of pregnancy from rape can be lessened (not totally prevented)… by emergency contraception taken promptly after the rape.  But I will bet that all of the people quoted above have advocated against that particular prevention. 

  • D9000

    I have just been completely slimed out  by rape apologists defending Akin on a forum I read. How can anyone sane remain in the Republican party? It’s as if the Tories had merged with the National Front, and the NF wing were making all the noise.

  • aunursa

    Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Dennis Prager, Charles Krauthammer, Hugh Hewitt, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, the National Review editorial board, and the Wall Street Journal editorial board are all calling on Akin to leave the race.

    The last five Republican Senators from Missouri have issued a statement calling on Akin to leave the race.

    Alas, Akin is citing the flawed PPP poll results and believes he is on a mission from God, so it’s unlikely that they will be able to convince him otherwise.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    How can anyone sane remain in the Republican party?

    Misogyny, racism, victim-blaming. “Sanity” is unfortunately not an immunization against any of them.

    ETA: I’m guessing you’re not a U.S. citizen? My short answer is the above, but here’s another one: racial slavery as it was practiced in the antebellum U.S. South. We’re still paying for it — unfortunately, the same people who paid the biggest price for it are still paying the biggest price for it, and they’re not, and never have been, the rich white men.

  • Jurgan

    I am shocked, shocked, to find a Republican doesn’t believe in abortion for rape victims!

  • mud man

    Important to note that this isn’t actually a difference of  opinion; the Republican establishment  and Akins are going to the same place, they just have different ideas about how to get there.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    Considering the GOP is doubling down on its anti-abortion/personhood stance in its official platform right before the national convention, it seems they’ve gone “all in” on the crazy … hoping, no doubt, that there’s enough people who agree with them to put them into power.

  • Tonio

    If you’ve ever been a part of the “pro-life” movement, or spent any time immersed in that movement, then you’ve heard this all before.

    I haven’t, but then I’ve been “pro-choice” since at least high school. I couldn’t have articulated it back then, but I sensed that that “pro-life” side had some animosity toward women. Something was definitely amiss when one side of an issue that had major implications for females was dominated by males.

  • Ursula L

    As SR says, not all anti-abortion people believe this particular mythology, but they are all aware of its presence and pervasiveness in the movement. And like so many other easily disprovable urban legends within that movement, this lie has been allowed to thrive, unchecked, unchallenged and uncorrected. For many, many years. 

    I suppose, for those in the extreme anti-choice movement who’d ban abortion and contraception in all cases, Atkin’s misunderstanding of the mechanism of pregnancy and rape isn’t seen as a problem, even if they recognize it as incorrect.  

    After all, to their mind, whether or not a woman can get pregnant when raped is an abstract and academic question, irrelevant to public policy.   They don’t want abortion or contraception legal or available in any circumstance, and even if they concede that a woman might become pregnant from rape, or that a pregnancy might kill her, it isn’t, to them, in any way relevant to what public policy on abortion and contraception should be. 

    Atkin’s misunderstanding might be seen as quaint.  Perhaps amusing.  It certainly isn’t, from that point of view, worth making a fuss over.  Correcting him would, under normal circumstances, only serve to perhaps embarrass him, or the person offering the correction.  

    Any correction offered would be along the lines of “a lot of pro-abortion people think that a woman can get pregnant when raped, so if you’re talking to those sorts of people, it’s best not to bring the matter up, because by getting into a debate on whether or not a woman can get pregnant from rape, you’re distracting from the ‘real’ issue that Abortion Is Always Wrong, and they’ll think that if they can convince you that a woman can get pregnant when raped, you’ll somehow have to concede that sometimes abortion is okay.”

    No one in the extreme anti-choice movement has any real interest in weeding out this misconception, because, to them, the issue is trivial, and trying to sort it out is a distraction.  

  • Lunch Meat

    One of the nasty details about him was that he’d expressed an even
    uglier version of this particular misogynistic fantasy: that “a woman
    who is truly raped can’t get pregnant” because female orgasm is
    necessary for impregnation, and of course women who are “truly raped”
    never have orgasms (pleasure = consent, after all).

    If that were the case, there would hardly be a birth control debate (except for those who need it for medical reasons) because preventing pregnancy would be trivial. In fact, if the requirement was that both happen at the same time, pregnancy would be difficult and rare.

  • The Lodger

    Wait.. Jesse Helms knew there was such a thing as female orgasm?

  • stly92

    As a missourian, I’ve had to deal with very ugly Todd Akin anti-Mccaskill adds. Even on flippin’ Youtube. He’s no stranger to “gotcha politics,” when he thinks they  are working in his favor. like this ludacris little gem:

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPtwl08gCME

    The commercial that this add is belly aching about? this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvHNhiC-49k&playnext=1&list=PLB2EE7F349FFB284F&feature=results_main

    apparently it’s rude to point out that Akin, like most GOP candidates, wants to gut medicare, social security,  And Federal student loans in the name of fighting a socialist boogeyman. Akin is a piece of work. And both ads are from before this flare up.

  • DCFem

    There is one factual statement among the anti-choice quotes you pulled and that is pregnancy from rape “can be prevented”. It really can. Not with 13th century English witchcraft thinking but with intelligent action.

    First, instead of slashing funds for emergency services we could send more money to police crime labs who have rape kits gathering dust on their shelves. This would aid in the prosecution of rapists and get a bunch of them off the streets. Rape has a high recidivism rate so imprisoning rapists will definitely prevent more rape related pregnancies from occurring.

    Second, (unlike Akin who voted against it) we should not only reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act but increase the amount of funding jurisdictions would receive for domestic violence prevention programs. A huge number of rape victims are also victims of domestic violence so working harder to stop domestic violence could also reduce the number of rape related pregnancies.

    Third, (and we all know that Akin and his ilk are violently opposed to this) we can push the Obama administration to make the “morning after pill” an over the counter drug. It is not an abortifacient as anti-choicers like to lie and say that it is. It stops a women from ovulating, therefore preventing a rape related pregnancy from ever occurring. Rape is the most under reported crime in the country. A victim who is too scared to go to the police should not have to face a potentially judgmental doctor or pharmacist.

    Fourth, (Akin voted against this too) the Affordable Care Act will assist millions of women by providing free annual exams and birth control. Women who could not afford birth control will be much more likely to access it now that cost won’t be a barrier. And correct use of contraception would also stop them from becoming impregnated if raped.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    the Susan B. Anthony List quickly came forward with statements of support for Akins

    Every time I’m reminded these assholes exist I find myself wishing there was an afterlife so the ghost of Susan B Anthony would have the option of coming back and haunting them.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I liked your comment, but I have to address this.

    correct use of contraception would also stop them from becoming impregnated if raped.

    Not always. This is a prominent myth in liberal communities, and causes a lot of shame for women who get pregnant while on the pill. The pill does not have a 100% success rate for preventing pregnancy, not even when used correctly 100% of the time. And it is impossible to do anything 100% properly 100% of the time in any case. 

    Further, victims of domestic violence are also often victims of birth control sabotage as part of that violence.

    And finally, I’m not on the pill any longer because, as I got older, it started to torpedo my sex drive. If I were raped, I could get pregnant. There’s a danger to the thinking of “if you don’t want to get pregnant, you should be on the pill” leading to “if you don’t want to get pregnant but you get pregnant because you were raped, it’s because you weren’t on the pill, so it’s still your fault.” 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    She and Frederick Douglass should get together to go haunt the same people.

  • MikeJ

    Third, (and we all know that Akin and his ilk are violently opposed to
    this) we can push the Obama administration to make the “morning after
    pill” an over the counter drug.

    Already done.  It’s not available OTC to children under 17, but it is OTC for everyone else.

  • Madhabmatics

    For the people who are going “but how do you ~know~ views like this are common!” In Alabama, Christian Life Resources is one of the main sources of information for people in the pro-life movement and it’s literature is extremely common. Here is their article on why women don’t get pregnant when raped:

    http://www.christianliferesources.com/article/rape-pregnancies-are-rare-461

    A woman is capable of being fertilized only 3 days (perhaps 5) out of a
    30-day month. Multiply our figure of 133,000 by three tenths. Three days
    out of 30 is one out of ten, divide 133 by ten and we have 13,300 women
    remaining. If we use five days out of 30 it is one out of six. Divide
    one hundred and thirty three thousand by six and we have 22,166
    remaining.

    (tl;dr rape babies only happen once or twice because women cannot get pregnant for 26 days out of every month! it’s science)

  • Madhabmatics

    bonus quote:

    And so while each assault rape pregnancy is a tragedy for the mother (not for the baby, though),

  • LL

    What’s amusing (really, the only even halfway amusing thing) about all this is their explanations of the female reproductive system, which clearly none of them have any clue whatsoever about. I guess that’s why they don’t like actual science education and are always trying to shoehorn their faux science into school curriculums. Real science does not usually conform to their doctrine. That elitist real science makes them look stupid. And they don’t need any help in that department.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    As horrible, demeaning, misogynistic and medically misleading as Akin’s comments were it seems to me that by arguing details with him (and his allies) we are conceding important ground to him. 

    Why should any women have to justify to him why she chooses to have an abortion? 

    To quote The Canadian Federation for Sexual Health:

    You do not need to provide a reason for your decision, but you may be asked. You have the right to say that you do not wish to give a reason.

    People may ask you questions in order to be sure that you are not feeling pressured by anyone — but no one has the right to tell a woman whether or not she may have an abortion.  There is no legal waiting period and if you have a health card the procedure costs nothing.

  • Tonio

    I get the impression that one is most likely to encounter such literature in Catholic and evangelical churches and less likely in the other types. Would that be accurate? I get the impression that such organizations are semi-underground in the relative sense. 

    We have a relative who grew up Catholic and has been getting more staunch over the years, and recently this person stopped buying Girl Scout cookies from us over the Planned Parenthood issue. While at least that issue was in the news, I got the impression that the bishops cracked the metaphorical whip to get the local parishes and their parishioners to adhere to the party line. I admit I have no idea what “serve God” is supposed to mean in the GS oath, but the organization stresses female empowerment, and such a boycott seems to be all about personal purity as Fred has suggested.

  • Tonio

    I mean that numerous groups in the pro-life movement seem semi-underground in relation to other types of groups.

  • aunursa

    According to commenters on a conservative site, Akin just told Hannity that he’s staying in the race.

    Senator McCaskill, congratulations on your reelection.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    I’d say that “alas” only applies if he wins the election, but of course you might disagree on that.

  • aunursa

    He has no chance to win the election. Nor should he.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    Apparently so — and I agree, that is the most surprising thing about that comment.  Of course, he presumably thought that virtually all women routinely have orgasms from PIV intercourse, since he claimed that every single pregnancy ever was preceded by such an instance.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    That would depend on whether haunting was a limited resource; in Fred’s Frederick Douglass ghost story, he only gets to visit one racist every Friday the thirteenth.  Splitting their efforts would allow the ghosts of Douglass and Anthony to haunt twice as many bigots… and there are so very many of them to choose from.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    I wish I could be that confident that the Missouri electorate won’t give this slimeball a Senate seat.

  • Tonio

    Excellent point. The ground that’s being conceded is that it’s okay to force a woman to have an abortion in certain circumstances, namely if she had consented to sex. That’s simply slut-shaming. I doubt there is any reason for asking a woman to justify her reasons for an abortion that doesn’t involve condemning her for wanting sex without motherhood. We must emphasize that even if a woman chooses to carry a pregnancy to term, there’s nothing wrong with her not wanting to be a mother.

  • Jenny Islander

    I wonder how well the area of the U.S. in which this horrible lie is taken for granted maps onto the area in which you used to be able to buy postcards of murder scenes (black victims, white perpetrators) at convenience stores.  After all, both horrors rest on the conviction that certain Americans are really people and certain other Americans are really not.

  • aunursa

    Missouri is about the purplest state in the union.  The polls have moved from Akin +5 to McCaskill +7 *, the Cook Political Report has shifted the race from “tossup” to “likely Democrat”, the RNSC and conservative SuperPACs are removing all funding from this race, and Claire will be able to use the words of everyone from Romney to Limbaugh to all of Missouri’s current and former Republican senators against him.  Akin has gift-wrapped the race to the Democrats.  He is toast.

    * And thats before the onslaught of liberal ads over the coming weeks.

  • DCFem

     That was not my point. My point is that access to birth control will decrease the number of pregnancy related rapes. Women who otherwise can’t afford birth control will be able to and hopefully prevent any unwanted pregnancies. The effectiveness of contraception is not a liberal myth, because there margin of error is tremendously lower than just hoping and praying  that you don’t get pregnant.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    Tonio:
    The ground that’s being conceded is that it’s okay to force a woman to have an abortion in certain circumstances, namely if she had consented to sex.

    The ground that I see being conceded is that anyone has the right to force/pressure a woman to continue or not continue a pregnancy. 

    Ontario law makes it quite clear that it is always wrong to pressure or coerce a woman in respect to any choices she makes about pregnancy (or birth control.)

    American law seems often to treat women’s bodies as vehicles that have been leased out to the present occupiers but which can be operated only within certain parameters. Women, it seems, never get to own their own bodies — they just use them at the sufferance of others.

  • connorboone

    Even properly used, contraception is not one hundred percent effective, he said as his daughter born through full-strength ortho-tricyclin asked for a cookie.

  • Toniocorelone

    Yes, that alleged right is what’s being conceded in the general sense – I was simply being specific. One can believe that abortion is wrong and also believe that it’s wrong to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. Molly Ivins once pointed out that the government power can be just as easily misused the other way, forcing women to have abortions. Good analogy about leased vehicles – it’s as if the Akins see wombs as societal property, or that every fertile woman has a responsibility to spend her life between puberty and menopause pumping out babies like human Pez dispensers.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    After all, to their mind, whether or not a woman can get pregnant when
    raped is an abstract and academic question, irrelevant to public policy.
      They don’t want abortion or contraception legal or available in any
    circumstance, and even if they concede that a woman might become pregnant from rape, or that a pregnancy might kill her, it isn’t, to them, in any way relevant to what public policy on abortion and contraception should be.

    One thing i’ve noticed about conservatives is that they are very fond of *theories*.  If it’s abortion, then they’ve got logical arguments for why it’s a non-issue. If it’s gun control, they’ve got logical arguments for why gun control won’t prevent any gun violence. If it’s  the economy, they’ve got a mathematical proof for why their policy must work.

    Andthey assume that if you can’t disprove their argument, that makes them right. I can’t coutner the argument that criminals mostly use illegally obtained guns, and therefore gun control won’t prevent gun violence using logic. That might mean I’m not smart enough, but who can say

    But these theories do nothign for the factthat *reality itself disproves them*.  Reality doesn’t care that I can’t find the flaw in their math that says only one in ten billion women could get pregnant from rape, or that I can’t find the flaw in their logic that says that gun control can’t work, or I can’t find the flawin their model that says that trickle down will make everyone fabulously rich. Reality says “Yeah, nice theory and all, but thousands of women are impregnated by rape every year, countries with gun control have way less gun violence per capita, and the economy crashes every time a republican gets elected and rallies every time a democrat does.”

    Which is why conservatives have an uncomfortable relationship with reality.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    Molly Ivins once pointed out that the government power can be just as easily misused the other way, forcing women to have abortions.  

    Indeed — which is why I am so in favour of the government simply butting out of the whole business. 

    What you can do without exerting pressure on women is to change the background against which each woman is making her decision. You can:

    a) provide free health care to the woman and to her children
    b) you can enforce equal pay for work of equal value legislation
    c) you can provide guaranteed and generous maternity benefits
    d) you can provide guaranteed and generous support to parents of young children[1]

    and if you want to lower the birth rate it really helps to have free universal birth control for men and women. 

    [1] Ironically, many of these these actual work in the long term to lower the birth rate since some parents feeling more secure that the two or three children they already have with survive to become adults are less likely to have additional “insurance” children.[2]

    [2] If you provide guaranteed care for people as they grow older (for example, defined benefits, inflation adjusted pensions) they will also feel less pressure to have large families in the hope that someone remains to look after them as they age.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I think this is one of the reasons the Akin scandal is so important: if hardline opposition to abortion were really about protecting fetuses, then the argument would be “Look, it’s unfortunate that this happened to you, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a fetus in there that deserves protection. So we’re declaring emminent domain on your uterus for a few months. Obviously, the state will pay for your medical costs including councilling,  and there will be an additional cash payout for rent of your uterus. We’re very sorry this happened to you, and we will do everything we can to recompense you, but the state has a prevailing duty to that clump of cells inside you.”  But that’s not the argument; the argument is “That wasn’t *really* rape, so you don’t really *deserve* to get off the hook for having sex, you slut.”

    By making this “legitimate rape” distinction, Akin has *already conceded* that abortion restrictions aren’t about fetal personhood: they’re about whether or not the woman seeking an abortion *deserves* to be granted one.

  • http://twitter.com/jclor jclor

    Molly Ivins once pointed out that the government power can be just as easily misused the other way, forcing women to have abortions.

    That’s why it’s not freedom of abortion, but freedom of choice.  In the end, it’s an issue of autonomy.

    pumping out babies like human Pez dispensers

    That’s a disturbing mental image … but, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t put it past the like of Akins to hold this kind of anatomically incorrect view of human reproduction.

    Honestly, I’m surprised the right wing of the GOP doesn’t complain that abortion takes away jobs from hard-working storks.

  • Patrick

    “The reasoning (as I recall it being explained) is that during acute
    stress, the body will prevent implantation, or else miscarry, due to the
    hormones released in response to stress.”

    Aren’t these people who think that birth control is an abortificient if it causes an egg to fail to implant?

  • Sigaloenta

    What really disturbs me about Akin’s comment (in the context of the Right’s current anti-birth control obsession) is the subtext that rape is an unobjectionable form of birth control.

  • fraser

     Unsurprisingly, the Repubs are doubling down and I’ve already seen a couple of “But sometimes wonderful human beings are born of rape/It’s God’s gift” defenses. Not that this is a new argument either.

  • Madhabmatics

    Akin may not have the public support of Republicans outside his state, but boy Missouri republicans still want this guy as their representative:

    “His decision won support
    from the Missouri Republican Assembly, which issued a statement urging
    the party to back Akin in the battle against McCaskill.

    “The Republican
    leadership needs to grow a spine and disallow the Democrats, who always
    support their candidates even when they are wrong, to dictate our
    stance,” the group’s statement said. “… While Todd may have been
    indiscreet in his word choice, he was not wrong in his facts. Todd can
    win despite this misstep. All Republicans will lose if they continue
    throwing their candidates under the bus because of a poor word choice.””

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/21/politics/akin-controversy/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

  • ATChaffee

    The likelihood of pregnancy from a single incident is low to start with, considering there are only a few fertile days per month.  According to this BBC report, the estimate for young healthy couples is about 5%.
    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120313-sex-in-the-city-or-elsewhere  (there is a reference to the journal in it).

    This reference looks at healthy couples trying to conceive and shows 38/340 conceiving in a single cycle (month), or 11%, for couples using natural family planning to identify fertile days.
    http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/9/1959.long

    However, the fertile period is only 6 days out of 28,
    http://www.asrm.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/News_and_Publications/Practice_Guidelines/Committee_Opinions/optimizing_natural_fertility%282%29.pdf
    so presumably if there is no planning involved then you have to multiply 11% by 6/28 for a 2.4 % chance of pregnancy for a random day of the month.

    This random website also cites a 2.5% chance
    http://ask.metafilter.com/14956/What-percentage-of-unprotected-intercourse-results-in-pregnancy

    This article follows up 376 sexual assault victims age 10-19 at Police General Hospital in Thailand .  43% had genital injuries so we presume these were “legitimate rapes.” The pregnancy rate on follow-up was 1.7%, but note that some of the victims were too young to be pregnant, making the incidence of pregnancy quite comparable to the above numbers. The abstract calls the risk of pregnancy “low” but it does not support a protective effect of rape.
    J Med Assoc Thai. 2009 Jul;92(7):885-90.

    However, note that with multiple or prolonged abuse the chances of pregnancy are much higher. In this article on child victims of sexual violence in the Congo, pregnancy rates of victims was 19.3%.
    Med Confl Surviv. 2011 Oct-Dec;27(4):211-25.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22416569


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