Simon Williamson

Legitimate rapes and pregnancy

2012-08-20 14:01

US Senate hopeful Todd Akin on 'Legitimate Rape'

2012-08-20 15:12

US Senate hopeful Todd Akin has these shocking things to say about rape and abortion on a US talk show The Jaco Report.WATCH

As someone who has followed politics for some time, it isn't often I am surprised by what an elected official has to say. Somehow, through multiple types of democratic systems (and, of course non-democratic ones), some really ridiculous people gain positions of power, and earn a platform to continue spreading moronisms. This is a fact of daily life.
Point to a politician and chances are they have pivoted toward absurdity at least at one point to suck up to a particular constituency or demographic, or to try and get out of trouble. But every so often someone drops a comment that is so flabbergastingly incongruous with reasoned belief; I have to file them in the same cabinet as parents who bought the Madonna children's book. For their children.
Now, in the USA it isn't uncommon to see folks who are fully anti-abortion. In fact I would venture to say that being anti-abortion is mainstream Republican philosophy, supported by enough folks who vote Democrat. What is less common though, are folks who are against abortion even when a woman has been raped, or impregnated incestuously. Even some of the most ardent anti-abortion congressmen and congresswomen, including the current Republican presidential candidate, believe that women have a right to an abortion when they have been impregnated at the dirty hands of a rapist uncle. But then there's Todd Akin.
Akin is running as the Republican candidate for the Missouri Senate seat currently held by Democrat Claire McCaskill. Now, Akin only recently won the nomination to take on McCaskill, but his nomination gave Democrats a smile, and it is because Akin says dick-headed things like this (as reported by the website Talking Points Memo on Sunday):
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Indeed, silly women. You don't get an abortion if you get raped because your body isn't supposed to get pregnant anyway. Naturally, your ova are expected to work out whether sperm was willing or forcibly inserted into you, and make a judgment call.
Also if you get pregnant, it means your rape wasn't legitimate! There's a novel way to bring down the crime rate. Don't charge the rapist if his victim gets pregnant as it's only the women who were violated and remained without child who get to complain. And she obviously didn't activate her aforementioned secret anti-pregnancy defence system, so she deserves the baby anyway.
In an emailed statement later on Sunday, Akin said he misspoke, but didn't declare which points precisely he didn't mean. He said "It's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year." To be clear, it would have been easy to point out precisely that he doesn't get to decide which rapes are legitimate, pregnancies or otherwise, and perhaps add an apology.
I am fully aware that all political systems have faults. But allowing someone who not only believes, but is comfortable enough to share with a television network, something so divorced from scientific fact into what Americans like to call "the world's most deliberative body", the US Senate, should be unforgivable. Should Todd Akin make it into the Senate, they need to stop calling it that.
Is there a way to cap this column off properly? Ah yes: the most effective way to rid the body of a rapist-infused foetus is the morning after pill. Which Akin wants banned.
(Incidentally, Akin is about eight percentage points ahead of Democrat Claire McCaskill in the polls).

You can view the clip on Talking Points Memo:

Simon Williamson is a freelance writer.

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Read more on:    simon williamson  |  us  |  us elections 2012

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