My Thoughts on Rapegate

My Thoughts on Rapegate August 23, 2012

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.

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