The Return of ‘Legitimate Rape’ in Missouri

The Return of ‘Legitimate Rape’ in Missouri December 18, 2014

You would think that politicians would have learned a lesson from watching Todd Akin destroy his entire political career with his dumb statements about “legitimate rape,” but you would apparently be wrong. Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin is using identical language to defend a vile anti-choice bill.

A Missouri Republican is pushing a bill that would allow a man who gets a woman pregnant to stop her from having an abortion. The measure would force a woman who wants an abortion to obtain written permission from the father first—unless she was the victim of “legitimate rape.”

Rick Brattin, a state representative from outside Kansas City, filed the bill on December 3 for next year’s legislative session. The proposed measure reads, “No abortion shall be performed or induced unless and until the father of the unborn child provides written, notarized consent to the abortion.”

The bill contains exceptions for women who become pregnant as the result of rape or incest—but there are caveats.

“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” Brattin tells Mother Jones. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.”

Brattin adds that he is not using the term “legitimate rape” in the same way as former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who famously claimed that women couldn’t get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

“I’m just saying if there was a legitimate rape, you’re going to make a police report, just as if you were robbed,” Brattin says. “That’s just common sense.” Under his bill, he adds, “you have to take steps to show that you were raped…And I’d think you’d be able to prove that.”

First of all, this is not “common sense” (whatever the hell that is; I hate that meaningless phrase). What we know, what is undeniable, is that most rapes are not, in fact, reported to the police for a whole range of important reasons. And if a woman comes in and claims they were raped, do you think Brattin would believe her? Not likely. Not unless someone is tried and convicted of the rape, which takes months at the very least and therefore eliminates any possibility of her exercising her right to have an abortion. This is an exception that doesn’t actually help anyone who has been raped.

Of course, the whole thing is bad theory, whether the woman is raped or not.

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