For a number of years now the Religious Right has been casting about for ways to cloak their opposition to abortion behind a veneer of rationality and/or practicality. It’s very common, for example, for them to claim abortion must be outlawed because of its supposed adverse effect on women’s mental health. (As if the fact that an event can be stressful is a valid reason to outlaw it — lots of things are psychologically stressful, such as watching one’s child learn to drive for the first time, and I can’t see any reason to prohibit that.)
Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin from Missouri, attempted another such rationale, as reported by the New York Times, and the result was a colossal faceplant of the first order (WebCite cached article):
In an effort to explain his stance on abortion, Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked ire across the political spectrum on Sunday by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy. …
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing 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 of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
If you’re like me, you may have a hard time believing a Senate candidate actually spoke these words. But I assure you, he did. He said them during an interview on KTVI-TV, and you can read about it on their own Web site (cached).
First, there’s no such thing as a “‘legitimate’ rape.” It’s a contradiction in terms. All rapes are criminal acts. There is never anything “legitimate” about any kind of criminal act. There’s literally no way that any “rape” can ever have any “legitimacy.”
Second, I’ve never heard that, during the course of a rape, a woman’s reproductive system turns itself off. Of course, I’m no doctor, and I can’t really know that for sure. If Akin cares to disclose which doctors told him this, I’d love to review their work. But until he substantiates this claim, I have to assume it’s just Religious Rightist bullshit.
Now, I’m sure folks in the R.R. will nonetheless defend these indefensible comments. They’ll say he meant to talk about “‘true’ rape” and not “‘legitimate’ rape.” There are some folks who believe — and I assume Akin is one of them? — that some rapes are not “really” rapes (e.g. “date” or “acquaintance rape”). But even this intended meaning is problematic, because in the end, there is no difference: A rape is a rape is a rape — period. End of discussion!
As for the part about women’s reproductive systems resisting pregnancy while they’re being raped, I can’t think of any way that might be defended … but that doesn’t mean some vehement Rightist won’t come up with some asinine, irrational justification for it.
As far as I can see, any Rightists who are upset over Akin’s comments are not upset over their content, but over the fact that they will be used against him in the election and they’re risking not acquiring a Senate seat.
At any rate, this is another post I’m tagging “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” for obvious reasons.
Note: It turns out Akin’s outrageousness is, in fact, being actively defended by at least one influential Religious Rightist and his organization. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council apparently approves of the idea that some rapes are “legitimate” and that women’s reproductive systems prevent pregnancies when they’re raped (cached). I knew I could count on at least one of these mindless goons to defend the indefensible. Let’s see how many more do so over the next couple days.
Update: As the Friendly Atheist points out, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association is also defending Akin … in particular, the medical part of his asinine remarks.
Photo credit: Demotivators blog (defunct).Tags: 2012 election, abortion, christian right, congress, conservative, gop, misogynist, misogyny, missouri, pro-life, prolife, rape, religious right, rep todd akin, republican, right, senate, todd akin, us congress, us senate, you've gotta be fucking kidding me