Taking our country back…to the Stone Age
It’s astonishing in this day and age to find people that think so backward, so last century, that they feel perfectly comfortable making a statement like this in public:
First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
That’s Congressman Tom Akin, shown in the picture heading to work and who is running for Senate in Missouri, on Fox KTVI-TV over the weekend.
What he’s trying to say is that, in the case of legitimate rape — REAL rape, not the phony kind — women’s bodies don’t let them get pregnant.
According to the Department of Justice, in 2010 there were 188,380 rapes and sexual assaults (pdf). The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) says that, according to medical reports, 5% of one-time unprotected sexual encounters will result in pregnancy. This suggests that, not even taking into account non-vaginal rape of women, those women who were on the pill or unreported rapes, over 9,000 women likely became pregnant in 2010 after being raped. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine says it’s more like 25,000.
According to Akin, these must not have been “legitimate” rapes. The implication in his comment, of course, is that, with these other illegitimate rapes, the woman actually wanted it and probably enjoyed it so her body let the pregnancy process go forward rather than “shutting the whole thing down”.
It’s worth noting the Akin was a co-sponsor along with Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan that of a bill that would have redefined rape:
This isn’t the first time Akin has expressed fringe views about rape in the context of the abortion debate. Last year, Akin, vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and most of the House GOP co-sponsored a bill that would have narrowed the already-narrow exceptions to the laws banning federal funding for abortion—from all cases of rape to cases of “forcible rape.”
After I reported on the “forcible rape” language in January 2011, a wave of outcry from abortion-rights, progressive, and women’s groups led the Republicans to remove it. But a few months later, in a congressional committee report, Republicans wrote that they believed the bill would continue to have the same effect despite the absence of the “forcible” language.
So why was the “forcible” language so important? Pro-life advocates believed they needed to include the word “forcible” in the law to pre-empt what National Right to Life Committee lobbyist Doug Johnson called a “brazen” effort by Planned Parenthood and other groups to obtain federal funding for abortions for any teenager by (falsely) claiming statutory rape. Abortion rights groups, Johnson warned, wanted to “federally fund the abortion of tens of thousands of healthy babies of healthy moms, based solely on the age of their mothers.”
In the minds of these sick and twisted anti-Choice cavemen, women are looking for any excuse to abort fetuses. They felt the need to head that off by passing legislation that would limit a girl’s choices and Congressmen Akin and Ryan were right there with them.
And one of them is running for Vice President.
In the same interview, by the way, Akin went on to say:
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.
That’s his way of justifying the forced-birth position that says rape victims must be forced to have the babies of their rapists. This, too, is a position held by Paul Ryan, who voted “yes” on the so-called “Sanctity of Human Life Act” that gives fertilized eggs personhood.
We have a choice to make this fall and women need to pay close attention. One team is on their side, protecting their rights. The other wants to take us back to the Stone Age.
UPDATE: Here’s the Democratic Party’s response, via DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
In a year that has brought us no shortage of stunningly backward statements from Republicans on issues affecting women’s health, the GOP Senate nominee from Missouri may have just taken the cake.
This morning, Rep. Todd Akin, explaining his opposition to abortion even in cases of rape, said that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
What exactly, Rep. Akin, is an “illegitimate” rape? And what are these unnamed “ways” women have of avoiding pregnancy after being (legitimately) raped?
Now, Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue here. The real issue is a Republican party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.
Really, it’s deeply concerning that Republicans continue to support legislation that is, quite literally, dangerous for women.
Mitt Romney famously says he would “get rid of” federal funding for Planned Parenthood if he had the chance. His running mate, Paul Ryan, was one of more than 200 Republican cosponsors of a piece of legislation that would have narrowed the definition of rape.
Can you imagine — the same Republican House that refuses to pass a jobs bill jumped at the opportunity to make life harder for victims of rape?
And what do Romney and Ryan think of Akin’s latest statement? They’ve been trying to distance themselves from it — but Congressman Ryan has already partnered with Akin on a whole host of issues that restrict women’s ability to make their own health care decisions.
This kind of “leadership” is dangerously wrong for women — and I can’t sit by and watch as these out of touch Republicans like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Todd Akin continue to roll back women’s rights.
It’s time for us to move forward — not back — on women’s rights. Take a stand for women now:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Chair, Democratic National Committee
[CC image credit: Kevin Dooley | Flickr]