Rep. Todd Akin, who’s running for Senate in Missouri, has some interesting theories about rape and pregnancy. He recently claimed that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy.
While discussing why he opposes abortion in any circumstance, including rape, Akin said that, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Wow. Just … wow. That statement literally makes no sense. First of all, a 1996 study estimated that 32,101 pregnancies occur from rape each year. Secondly, ‘legitimate rape’? What is that? No, seriously, what makes one rape legitimate and another one, um, illegitimate? And who decides what qualifies? Not to mention, in what ways does Akin think a woman’s body has to shut down becoming pregnant through rape? Does he think that women’s reproductive systems are capable of some sort of magical sorcery by which the vagina, or maybe the uterus or fallopian tubes, excrete some amazing sperm-killing fluid? Or maybe little spikes shoot out of the cervix, impaling thousands of sperm in one fell swoop? Or maybe he thinks the entire system just plays dead, like a well-trained dog performing a party trick.
Akin has since released a statement, saying that he misspoke and that he has “deep empathy” for women that are raped and abused. No word yet on where – or if – he learned the basics of biology and anatomy.
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out saraherdreich.com.