Yes­ter­day, Mis­souri Repub­li­can Todd Akin, who cur­rent­ly serves in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and is the par­ty’s U.S. Sen­ate nom­i­nee this year, was inter­viewed by St. Louis’ local Fox affil­i­ate about his can­di­da­cy. Dur­ing the inter­view, Akin was asked if he believed that abor­tion should be avail­able to women who are raped. Akin gave the fol­low­ing wide­ly-report­ed answer:

Well, you know, uh, peo­ple always want to try to make that as one of those things, ‘Well, how do you – 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.

Akin’s com­ments spread like wild­fire across the Inter­net. Hours lat­er, Akin apol­o­gized, claim­ing that he “mis­spoke”, which is code for I’m not sor­ry for what I believe, I’m only sor­ry that I was­n’t more clever with my choice of words.

Akin has once again giv­en us a glimpse inside the ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive minds of far right-wing Repub­li­cans who object to women mak­ing their own repro­duc­tive health deci­sions. He did not mis­s­peak. He was describ­ing his beliefs — beliefs that are shared by oth­er uncom­pro­mis­ing oppo­nents of wom­en’s rights.

Peo­ple unused to this kind of extreme rhetoric might won­der whether Tea Par­ty favorite Todd Akin was absent from health class on the day that human repro­duc­tion was cov­ered. Or per­haps he nev­er took a health class… it’s option­al in Mis­souri. Local school boards can decide whether to offer it or not.

And when teach­ing about sex, schools must stress absti­nence as the only com­plete­ly effec­tive way to avoid preg­nan­cy. (Of course, prac­tic­ing absti­nence does not guar­an­tee that a woman won’t become preg­nant if she is raped).

To describe Akin’s com­ments as offen­sive would be putting it light­ly. Con­sid­er the words Akin used. The phrase “legit­i­mate rape” stands out. What’s that sup­posed to mean? That some women who are raped are vic­tims, but oth­ers aren’t?

As Pres­i­dent Oba­ma said this morn­ing, “Rape is rape.” But rad­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives don’t think that way. If you’re a woman… and you are raped… and you get preg­nant… well, tough. If you are raped, and get preg­nant, but don’t want to tor­ture your­self for anoth­er nine months car­ry­ing a preg­nan­cy you did­n’t plan for to term, you have to suck it up because that embryo is more impor­tant that you are.

This is the same Todd Akin who cospon­sored H.R. 3 with Paul Ryan, want­i­ng to add “forcible” to the def­i­n­i­tion of rape to fur­ther nar­row the excep­tions allowed for fed­er­al fund­ing for abor­tion. Todd Akin obvi­ous­ly likes his adjec­tives when it comes to rape, because there are so many ways to describe it.

To add insult to injury, this guy is on the U.S. House­’s Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Com­mit­tee. There is no sci­ence that backs up his view of how a wom­an’s body responds after being raped. In fact, the Amer­i­can Con­gress of Obste­tri­cians and Gyne­col­o­gists con­sid­ered Akin’s com­ments so egre­gious that they felt com­pelled to weigh in with a state­ment on the mat­ter:

Recent remarks by a mem­ber of the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives sug­gest­ing that “women who are vic­tims of ‘legit­i­mate rape’ rarely get preg­nant” are med­ical­ly inac­cu­rate, offen­sive, and dangerous.

Each year in the US, 10,000–15,000 abor­tions occur among women whose preg­nan­cies are a result of report­ed rape or incest. An unknown num­ber of preg­nan­cies result­ing from rape are car­ried to term. There is absolute­ly no verac­i­ty to the claim that “If it’s a legit­i­mate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”

A woman who is raped has no con­trol over ovu­la­tion, fer­til­iza­tion, or implan­ta­tion of a fer­til­ized egg (i.e., preg­nan­cy). To sug­gest oth­er­wise con­tra­dicts basic bio­log­i­cal truths.

Any per­son forced to sub­mit to sex­u­al inter­course against his or her will is the vic­tim of rape, a heinous crime. There are no vary­ing degrees of rape. To sug­gest oth­er­wise is inac­cu­rate and insult­ing and min­i­mizes the seri­ous phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal reper­cus­sions for all vic­tims of rape.

Akin also seems to like the tech­nol­o­gy that gives us vagi­nal ultra­sounds, even though he does­n’t under­stand how requir­ing women to have one before a legal abor­tion is a deplorable inva­sion of privacy.

Of course, oth­er Repub­li­cans are doing their best to dis­tance them­selves from Akin. “Gov­er­nor Rom­ney and Con­gress­man Ryan dis­agree with Mr. Akin’s state­ment,” the Rom­ney cam­paign was quick to declare. “A Rom­ney-Ryan admin­is­tra­tion would not oppose abor­tion in instances of rape.”

Did the cam­paign check with Mr. Ryan or ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions like Focus on the Fam­i­ly before issu­ing that statement?

Vot­ers of the State of Mis­souri will cer­tain­ly have a clear choice for U.S. Sen­ate this fall, as Todd Akin has shown no sign that he is going to fold under pres­sure from the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment. Will Claire McCaskill ben­e­fit? It’s hard to say at this point. More women vote than men, and Mis­souri women will sure­ly be remind­ed of Todd Akin’s mis­s­peak­ing before they fill out their bal­lots in Octo­ber and November.

We should all keep in mind that Paul Ryan and many oth­er Repub­li­cans think like this guy. They just has­n’t been so bru­tal­ly honest.

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2 replies on “Republican Todd Akin’s offensive comments about rape draw widespread condemnation”

  1. Speak­ing as a vic­tim of rape, I must say that to have some­one with that kind of view in a polit­i­cal office is an embar­rass­ment to this nation. Wow! Legit­i­mate? Rape is rape, and I am still deal­ing with the effects of it, even though it hap­pened years ago. Shame on you, Mr. Akin!

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