Exciting news in the world of women's reproductive health was announced this weekend by a Republican member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and candidate for Senate, Missouri congressman Todd Akin…
From what I understand from doctors, that's [pregnancy from rape] really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
Unfortunately, by "news," I meant to write "13th century pseudo-medical theory that has surprising cachet with parts of the pro-life movement."
After an intense round of mockery and calls for him to withdraw from the Senate race against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill, Akin said in a statement that he "misspoke," his less-advanced male body having failed to shut down the crazy thoughts being formed in his brain.
Meanwhile in the real world, a study by the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found "rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency" and estimated that "32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year," though there's no word from Akin on how many of those assaults were "legitimate."
While female bodies don't have magical abilities to ward off conception, it is nice that the body politic has a way of stopping itself from being entirely taken over by zealots. Whenever someone like Akin gets close to high office, antibodies in the form of their own words are produced.
But it's not a a perfect system. Every time a candidate who wants to re-litigate civil rights laws, compares federal student loans to stage 3 cancer, opposes federal funding for school lunches, and suggests rape can't cause pregnancy (yep, all Akin!) wins a primary, the debate moves a little closer to Crazytown, even if he or she doesn't prevail in the general election. To wit, we are now talking about erroneous 13th century medical theory instead of the merely 21st century debates about reproductive rights.
At least female bodies in Missouri and elsewhere have a way of shutting down the elections of the Akins of the world, if they so choose.
Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ-Roll Call Group/Getty Images
Tags: Abortion, Claire McCaskill, Crime, Missouri, Senate, Todd Akin