There are some ideas, some public statements that are so preposterous as to almost defy belief.
Like the idea that rape victims can’t get pregnant.
Along with many of his fellow Republicans, Senatorial candidate Todd Akin doesn’t support abortion. He is vehemently opposed to it under all circumstances. Even in cases of incest. Even in cases of rape.
Akin has explained that women who are the victims of ‘legitimate’ rape are not likely to get pregnant. There are so many appalling things wrong with that sentence that it’s hard to know where to begin.
During a television interview this week, Akin (self described as ‘Missouri’s most conservative congressman) was asked if there were any limits to his firm stance against abortion. Like, for example, if a woman had been raped? Would that entitle her to the option of a safe and legal abortion? Here is exactly what he said:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. 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. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
So, no. Akin does not believe a rape victim should have access to abortion.
Here he is in vivid technicolour making his bizarre pronouncement:
It’s kind of hard to know where to begin with these comments. But let’s give it a go.
Firstly, when the hell is rape ever ‘legitimate’. Rape is rape. It means you’ve been forced into having sex against your will. How can that ever be legitimate?
Secondly, where are all the doctors’ who are out there saying that women can physically control pregnancy? Oh that’s right, there are none.
And thirdly? Gah.
Within hours of being interviewed, Congressman Akin was forced to back away from his comments. Not (we suspect) because he no longer believes them but purely as a means of self-preservation. The public outcry over his offensive, insensitive and just plain weird remarks was along these lines:
Akin responded to the uproar yesterday in an email to the media, trying to explain that he actually just ‘misspoke’ in his interview. Yet he still offered no explanation as to what he DID actually mean:
“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Akin wrote. “Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”
“I recognize [sic] that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue,” Akin continued. “But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
In this day and age it’s hard to believe there are really people out there who think like this. But there are. And they’re running for the US Senate.