Mark Twain Said There Would Be Days Like This
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a six-term member of Congress and current candidate for Senate, reignited the ‘Conservative Republicans are not against women in this country’ and the ‘Conservative Republicans don’t believe in science’ debate, when he appeared on KTVI-TV for an interview on The Jaco Report. In response to the question, “What about in the case of rape. Should that [abortion] be legal or not?”
Congressman Akin responded:
People always want to try and make that as one of those things that how do you…how do you…slice this particularly tough, sort of ethical question. It seems to me, first of all from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it is 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 but the punishment ought to be in [the rapist] and not attacking the child.
I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain,
“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”
How many ways to Sunday does Rep. Akin’s statement slide into the obsurd?
Quote: People always want to try and make that as one of those things…
My goodness. Look, the reason “people want to try and make that as one of those things” is because rape is one of those things.
According to RAIN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network):
- Someone is sexually assaulted in the US every 2-minutes;
- There are an estimated 207,754 sexual assaults in the country per year;
- And, more alarmingly, 54% of sexual assaults are never reported.
Take a sip of coffee, open your inbox, pick up a magazine…someone was just sexually assaulted.
If one wants to have the conversation about abortion and a woman’s right to abortion, one must have the conversation of what to do when a woman is raped because there is a possibility that she may get pregnant. (We should also be having a conversation about a woman’s life placed in danger due to a pregnancy).
Quote: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare.”
In my research on this subject, I have found a handful of doctors who have publicly written to their belief that a woman’s body produces natural occurring spermicide during a rape. All of these doctors or organizations are affiliated with the anti-abortion movement. There is Christian Life Resources; Human Life International…the list goes on. Any physician, who is utilizing medicine and science as their base from which to speak on the topic, would disagree with Rep. Akin’s statement.
Of course women (and young girls and women) get pregnant as a result of rape. I can only assume that some women who do get pregnant as a result of rape will have an abortion. And I would venture not many women would speak publicly about the rape, the pregnancy or the abortion. So, I doubt that anyone can offer true and relevant statistics – as it should be; it is a private matter. And the fact that we have politicians suggesting that women, en masse, are out making false accusations about having been raped in an attempt to receive an abortion. This is what our country thinks of women? Really? How many of us think that women would subject themselves to the public humiliation of admitting having been raped and then subject ourselves to the public humiliation of admitting we had aborted that fetus, because…well, we wanted access to an abortion?
Quote: If it is a legitimate rape…
This was the line that sent me over the edge. These uninformed and seemingly uneducated politicians, have spent their recent time (and taxpayer money) attempting to re-write an already inconsistent definition of rape in our country. Why there is even a question of what constitutes a rape is beyond me: the obvious answer is a rape occurs when someone is forced (through any number of means) to have sex against their will.
But back to the legitimacy of rape.
Congressman Akin and Congressman Paul Ryan drafted and helped to pass legislation H.R. 3: Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (the act passed Congress, but did not pass the Senate) last year.
In their original draft of the bill, these ‘gentlemen’ attempted to qualify rape as “forcible” rape. In other words, rape would only be considered rape if it had been classified as ‘forcible’. The definition of ‘forcible’ was never clarified, but there it was. Rape would be known as ‘forcible’ rape.
I’m a woman. To me, rape is rape and there are all kinds of crafty ways that rape occurs. There are date rape drugs (curious as to whether, as according to Akin, the female body would “shut that whole thing down” in the case of a date rape drug being utilized), there is coercion and fear (often seen when children and teenagers are raped), there are rapes which occur with a gun, there are rapes which occur between husband and wife.
And if you think, “well, how can rape occur if a woman doesn’t fight it?”, do me a favor and read this link on Reddit. I’ll also say that if you do think that rape cannot occur without physical injury and a woman being beaten into submission, I don’t know – the idea makes me sad.
We have the judicial branch to determine if a rape has occurred. Did Akin and Ryan and the others like them assume that they would override a court’s decision? Did they plan to be the overseers to guilty verdicts? What branch of government did they see reviewing guilty rape verdicts and then deciding themselves, “well, that’s not forcible rape, so…”
Quote: Regarding the Legitimacy of Rape
This is an idea that I hear more often than I’d like from men. Some men have this fear of being falsely accused of rape. The FBI estimates that “unfounded” rape accusations average about 8%, but unfounded is not the equivalent of false. If “unfounded” estimates are 8%, then logic would dictate that “false” accusations of rape are less than that.
Do false accusations and convictions occur? Yes. A recent example is Brian Parks, a high school football player with dreams of the NFL, who spent 10-years in prison after being falsely accused and then convicted of rape. But, Brian Parks also pled guilty on the advice of legal counsel. He was scared and saw his options as either pleading guilty and getting leniency (which he did not) or fighting the charge and being sent to prison for life. To me, the example of Brian Parks speaks more to inefficiencies in our legal system than it does to a wild group of women out to destroy men’s lives, but that’s another post.
And then to finally top all of this nonsense off – and to add weight to the Mark Twain quote I mentioned above – Todd Akin sits on the Science Committee.
I am a woman who believes in a woman’s right to privacy, her right to make decisions in her life, her right to make decisions about her life in terms of her body and her individual sense of morals and values. And when I meet women (and I do) who are against abortion, I understand.
I have a different set of beliefs, but I don’t look at women who are against abortion as the enemy. We are women. We have beliefs and ideas and experiences that lead us to different understandings of right and wrong for ourselves.
That said, I believe in science.
I believe that science tells us much about the world around us. And to have a member of Congress spout nonsense about how the female body functions is one thing; it is bad; it unconscionable; it boggles my female brain. But to have that Congress person sit on a Committee that reviews and drafts legislation about science and technology. Come on people…we can do better than this.
And for your own viewing pleasure, Rep. Akin on The Jaco Report:
And, as a postscript: Is it me, or does he seem a bit too empathetic with rapists when he says, “I think there should be some punishment…(for the rapist)”
Update: This article has been chosen as an Editor’s Pick on Open Salon. Please visit us there to continue the conversation.
Update: I keep coming back to the end of Akin’s comments. He said there should be some punishment for the rapist, but that we shouldn’t punish the child. No where in his comments did he acknowledge the woman. According to Akin logic, a woman is ‘forcibly’ raped and becomes pregnant (the Akin litmus test for proving rape), she becomes pregnant, she is forced (because denying her access to abortion is forcing her to have a child) to carry that fetus to term, give birth to the child, and then…Republicans, answer me this: then what? Your recent budget – the budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan – slashes most social programs. The weight of each step – the rape, the pregnancy, the financial obligation to the child, the emotional impact – is carried by the woman.