Todd Akin made some horrid and terribly ignorant comments about ‘legitimate rape’ on Monday. After a serious backlash by Republicans, Democrats, and anyone with a rudimentary sex-education, Akin corrected his mistake by explaining first, that he was only talking about ‘forcible rape’ (whatever that means), and then that he wasn’t accusing the rapists of being illegitimate, but accusing the victims of rape of lying. He obviously had some serious misunderstandings about what provoked all the outrage in the first place.
In a spectacular captain-goes-down-with-the-ship moment, after his initial apology, Akin doubled down on his ‘pro-life’ stance. He even created a website backlit by a gigantic fetus allowing others to ‘stand with Akin.’ The website promptly changed its background after a substantial 15 minutes of twitter bashing. After outlasting top-to-bottom calls, pleas, and threats for his withdrawal from the race, Akin stood strong past the five o’clock deadline that would allow Republicans to nominate another candidate.
Akin has signalled his intent to stay in the race. Republicans are terrified that his sinking ship will drag the Republican hopes of capturing the Senate, and possibly even the Presidency, down with him.
The problem is that Democrats now have a narrative that isn’t the economy, which is Republicans’ primary winning issue. The problem is that Akin, a science committee member, along with Romney running-mate, Paul Ryan, authored ‘personhood’ legislation that would make abortions illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s life being threatened. The problem is an uncanny decision in the middle of this uproar over these appalling comments and Republican attempts to dispel the idea of a, “War on Women.” Republicans in Tampa just approved the exact same ‘personhood’ legislation for their party’s national platform. The same RNC also is witholding financial aid to Akin’s Senate bid due to his comments on personhood. Confused?
In what will probably strike many people as a monumentally tone-deaf move, the GOP plans to include a plank in its 2012 platform calling for an amendment that would outlaw abortions under any circumstance.
This unfortunately suggests that Akin has received so much flak from within the party, not because his position is abhorrent, but because it is unelectable. This idea was part of the party platform in 2008 as well. It seems inevitable that if the media uproar around this issue dies down, Republicans and conservative outside groups will decide Akin’s Senate seat is too precious to leave underwater. I think Crossroads will come back to fund him, even if Romney and Ryan keep their distance.
On a humorous but awful note, here are several other politicians who embrace similarly stupid ideas about rape and the female body. Enjoy: [via Buzzfeed]
Idaho Senator Chuck Winder:
I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician, with a rape issue, that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.
Bush appointed Federal Judge, James Leon Holmes:
Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.
From the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch:
“I think that life begins when the chromosomes of the sperm and egg line up,” said Dr. Richard Dobbins, who works in the emergency department at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Kenton.
Dobbins also questioned the need for emergency contraception in rape cases, saying that most women either are not fertile during assault or do not become pregnant because the trauma prompts a hormonal response that prevents ovulation.
“So if they do get pregnant, they wanted it, is that it?” a reproductive-rights advocate in the audience asked.
U.S. Rep. Henry Aldridge:
The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.
Rep. Stephen Freind:
The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are “one in millions and millions and millions,” said state Rep. Stephen Freind, R-Delaware County, the Legislature’s leading abortion foe.
The reason, Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.
Two Philadelphia doctors specializing in human reproduction characterized Freind’s contention as scientifically baseless.
Some truth from Planned Parenthood:
I heard that a woman can’t get pregnant from being raped. Is that true?
No, it is not true. Women can and do get pregnant from rape. In fact, more than five percent of all rapes result in pregnancy. That is one reason why Planned Parenthood is fighting so hard to make it mandatory for emergency rooms across the country to offer emergency contraception to women who have been raped.
Emergency contraception can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. More than 22,000 unwanted pregnancies a year could be prevented if all U.S. women who were raped were provided with emergency contraception.