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Buffoon of the Week: I Nominate Todd Akin

When the Republican Congressman said victims of ‘legitimate rape’ don’t get pregnant, he did more than make a political gaffe—he earned the title of Ignorant Misogynist.

 

Just when you think congressional reputation couldn’t get any lower, along comes Republican Congressman Todd Akin. This legislative ‘genius’—who has been sent to Washington six times by a segment of the electorate from Missouri, and is now running for Senator in that state—made the following statement during an interview with a local FOX television news station:

“It seems to me, 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.”

Where do we even begin?!

At the bare minimum, I’m sure I don’t have to explain that, No, the female reproductive anatomy can’t distinguish between forced or consensual intercourse when it comes to conception. Just think how much easier it would be if women who didn’t want to get pregnant could just ‘will’ their bodies to make it go away. Perhaps we should be a wee bit concerned that Rep. Akin sits on the House Science Committee.

In real life, rape actually does result in unwanted pregnancy with “significant frequency.” It’s estimated that more than 32,000 rape-related pregnancies occur each year (which is likely a low estimate, given that rape is often underreported). That was the conclusion from actual scientists and doctors, according to study findings they published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: 

“Rape-related pregnancy is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.”

Which leads us to the most reprehensible part of Akin’s statement: using the word legitimate to describe rape. Is he suggesting that some rapes are not legitimate, that the woman somehow really wanted or invited the sexual assault to happen? Perhaps Akin believes there are situations where a woman doesn’t really have the right to say “No.” Is rape only ‘legitimate’ when the victim doesn’t know her attacker? Maybe, for Akin, ‘No Means No,’ except when it doesn’t.

Sure, this is a guy who’s got the best intentions for women’s health. Riiiiight.

Of course, Akin just continued on with the theme of marginalizing the woman whose body has already been abused and assaulted without her consent. In the same interview, he said that even if those ‘natural’ anatomical defenses against unwanted pregnancy somehow fail, abortion should not be a legal option for the rape victim.

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

The woman—the actual victim—doesn’t even figure into the equation, according to this champion of how women’s bodies should be regarded. Perhaps Akin believes she should get punished too.

Even though Akin later tried to backtrack somewhat by saying he ‘misspoke,’ it was too late to get that pig back in the barn.

But with the hot glare of media spotlight suddenly shining on the Congressman, it became even clearer that the pig has been out of the barn and rolling in the mud of misogyny for a while.

Early in his political career, Akin questioned an anti-marital-law in Missouri, concerned it might be used by women to "beat up on husbands" in messy divorces. Akin was also a co-sponsor on a 2011 bill in Congress that restricted federal funds for abortions to victims of ‘forcible’ rape, a bill often referred to as the “let Women Die” bill. Seems we’re back to the era of blame the victim:  She was asking for it! It’s her fault, look at how she was dressed! Husbands don’t rape their wives—they’re supposed to have sex. Limited mental ability? 19-year-old victim of incest? Sorry, you’re out of luck.

I like the suggestion made by one writer, that public officials who draft legislation on women’s health be required to first take—and pass—a course in female biology. Perhaps they should also be required to have a vagina.

Of course I know that that last suggestion isn’t the way our government works. Legislators quite frequently have to consider laws about segments of the population from which they differ. However, as a woman, it’s infuriating to think that members of our government want to legislate my control over what happens to my body. Forced vaginal ultrasounds, pregnancy prevention, women’s health coverage—these are all reasonable topics up for discussion and limitation, according to some up on Capitol Hill.

Akin may have stepped waaaaay over the line with this latest ‘mis-speaking’—thankfully, he’s been slammed by people on all sides of the political spectrum, including even the Romney-Ryan team. Campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul released a statement on Sunday:  “Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.” (What’s interesting is that this differs from past positions that Ryan has previously taken with regard to abortion, birth control and women’s health, even in cases of rape or incest. He even co-sponsored that “forcible rape” law with Akin last year.)

Akin is not alone with his beliefs, and errors like this have the GOP worried their hopes of reclaiming the Senate are getting slimmer. One can only hope that at least the seat Akin is vying for will stay handily in possession of the current occupant, a Democratic Senator—who just happens to be a woman.

So Missouri, you’re the “Show Me State.” On behalf of all women, I’d like to ask you to show Rep. Akin, Patch In’s “Buffoon of the Week” one more thing—the door. 

Michael Brown September 12, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I'm not going to have you arrested or attack you. And I don't remember calling you a knuckle-dragger. You seem more like a paranoid misogynist with an over sized medulla oblongata. (This makes you very useful in fight-or-flight situations.) Here is my answer to all 5 of your questions: I TRUST WOMEN to make there own decisions about their bodies. By the way. Speaker John Boehner has defined a knuckle dragging Neanderthal. http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2012/08/16/speaker-boehner-helpfully-defines-knuckle-dragger/
Sean M September 12, 2012 at 11:55 PM
The decision women have is to abstain. Once she is pregnant, there are two lives at stake. Getting rid of a pregnancy because she does not want the consequences of her actions is irresponsible. That is called morality. The help to women is not getting into situations where she gets pregnant when she does not want a child. This includes being unmarried, unable to financially care for a child... Once she gets pregnant it is a lose lose lose situation. This is flagrantly ignored by "Pro-Choice" people. Option 1-get an abortion and deal with a lifetime of emotional and even physical side effects Option 2-adoption-emotional side effects all over this one Option 3-raise the child. What are major predictors of poverty? One of them is having kids out of wedlock. You want women to make their own decisions, fine. Give them all the information up front. Disclose side effects of abortion. Disclose risks of having sex at a young age. Give women a waiting period before having an abortion. Do not leave it up to Planned Parenthood to tell the whole story. Hurts their profits. Can you make a single argument without calling me some derogatory name? Still waiting. Guess the debate is too much to go on, so you are in Plan B: name calling.
Michael Brown September 13, 2012 at 11:09 AM
TRUST WOMEN. Stop telling them what to do with their bodies.
Sean M September 13, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Now this is the first reasonable post. I trust people to make their own decisions. What I do not do is find it acceptable to terminate human life after the fact. I object to government promoting abortion, taking my money in taxes and paying for them, and passing laws that allow minor girls to have an abortion without her parents consent. I object to the flagrant lack of information that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. They make millions off of abortion. They were set up to cleanse the lessers, as Margaret Sanger put it. I object to liberals passing laws mandating that people perform abortions, even when it violates their religious beliefs. Abortion is not a right, free exercise of religion is.
Michael Brown September 13, 2012 at 02:24 PM
You want to infantilize women - treat them as second class citizens. "Object" all you want. Reproductive healthcare is a right.

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