An outrage occurred this week on the campaign trail in the US, with a conservative Republican Senate candidate claiming that in cases of “legitimate rape” a woman’s body prevented pregnancy from occurring. The comments sought to justify an abortion stance. They are despicable.
65-year-old Todd Akin — an arch-conservative Congressman, backed by the so-called Tea Party group within the Republican Party, and standing against an incumbent Democrat for a Senate seat in Missouri — created uproar across America and around the world on Sunday, with his concept of “legitimate rape” and the role he ascribed to it in justifying his position on abortion.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin also explained his stance in cases where the “legitimate rape” did, indeed, result in a pregnancy: “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Naturally, once his odious remarks had made headlines across the world, Akin claimed the specious defence that he “misspoke,” but went on to say that “(he believes) deeply in the protection of all life, and (he does) not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
It’s difficult, on the first incredulous glance at these remarks, to tell what’s worse: the fact Akin casually says that a rapist deserves “some punishment” as opposed to having the book thrown at him, or the fact Akin thinks the mother should be put through the consequent pregnancy in the interests of “the protection of all life.”
To put it candidly, these are the noxious utterings of someone unfit for fatherhood — especially of daughters — let alone for public office.
As it happens, two of his six children are daughters, and Akin is also a long-term holder of elected office; I just wonder if he’d be quite so cavalier in his views if — God forbid — one of his own daughters was unfortunate enough to suffer the unspeakability of a rape that led to a pregnancy.
What doesn’t this guy get?
Rape is an abhorrent crime; just the violence and cruelty of it are enough to revolt decent folk.
Surely it is difficult enough for the victim to endure the memory of the act, let alone the forced reminder of a child to go along with it.
And Akin’s comments suggest he has either never had to deal first-hand with rape victims, or — if he has, and has adhered to his “principles” — that he has dealt with them callously and insensitively indeed.
What judgement would he pass on his own daughter in such a circumstance?
I’d be fairly confident that this God-bothering, pious specimen of trumped-up rectitude would be screaming for the assailant to be strung up from the rafters.
If any female I knew — be she a relative, a friend, or simply someone I were in a position to be able to provide support to (and remember, unlike the Neanderthal Akin, I’m not an elected representative, so my ability is much more limited than his) — suffered the indignity and the humiliation of a rape that resulted in a pregnancy, I’d want all options to be available to her, including an abortion.
And if anyone did that to my daughter, hell would have neither fire nor fury to rival the retribution that would be visited upon he who did it. To hell with the notion of “some punishment.”
As the debate over Akin’s remarks has raged in the US, it has been noted that a study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1996 found an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape in the United States each year. This equated to an average national rape-related pregnancy rate of 5% among victims aged from 12 to 45.
Unsurprisingly, a conception rate of 5% is very similar to the statistical conception rate resulting from one-off unprotected sexual encounters between consenting partners.
So much for a woman’s body short-circuiting pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”
Make no mistake, denying abortions to rape victims is a pretty low act.
I understand that in such circumstances, some women choose to proceed with the pregnancy, and some choose termination, but that’s just it: the woman, in this situation, should be given the choice.
I’m fairly conservative when it comes to social issues, and I certainly don’t condone abortion as a routine birth control method in normal circumstances when there are so many other options available. But I would never deny a woman an abortion if she had been raped — and I don’t think any reasonable individual would either, be they conservatively minded or otherwise.
Todd Akin and his repulsive moral stand on this issue gives men in general, and conservative men in particular, a bad name by virtue of the fact he trumpets his principles as a great recommendation as to why people should vote for him.
You can see for yourself — here is his bio aimed at electors in the state of Missouri.
To be perfectly honest — as a political conservative, and one who hopes Mitt Romney beats Barack Obama in November — I hope Akin’s Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill, is re-elected in that particular Senate seat in a landslide.
Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, quickly distanced themselves from Akin, releasing a statement to say that a Romney-Ryan administration would never deny an abortion to a rape victim. Whilst I would be inclined to believe their assurance, I would also add that just as they would never deny that right to a rape victim, nor should they deny it.
To the good burghers of Missouri, I’d suggest a presidential vote for Romney and a Senate vote for McCaskill; and if enough of them do so, it’ll send a powerful message that dinosaurs like Akin will no longer be tolerated in America’s seat of governance.
And to those Missourians who meet Akin on the campaign trail, I would strongly recommend they check the back of his hand for scars before they shake it.
I really just have to shake my head in disbelief.