Congressman tries to legitimise rape

Todd Akin, the republican nominee in Missouri for the USA Senate, told news program KTVI-TV that “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 shut the whole thing down”. The comment was in relation to his anti-abortion stance, which extends to the morning-after pill, a pill which can effectively prevent unwanted pregnancy, especially in the case of rape victims. “As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country,” he said in an interview with KCMO radio.

His comments about “legitimate” rape have caused an uproar, and even Akin’s fellow republicans are moving quickly to distance themselves from him. The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, John Coryn, implied that he thought Akin should consider withdrawing from his campaign. “Congressman Akin’s statements were wrong, offensive and indefensible… over the next 24 hours Congressman Akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family the Republican Party and the values that he cares about”.

Akin has since issued a statement in which he tried to explain his comments. “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview.” He has also condemned rape as “an evil act that’s committed by violent predators”, but added that “abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. 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.”

Congressman Akin will continue his Senate campaign.

You can read more about this issue in the articles Legitimising rape and the war on women and ‘Offensive and indefensible’: candidate may step down after ‘legitimate rape’ claims

Comment – Abortion is not a dirty word

I’m not sure what kind of doctor Todd Akin was quoting as a source, but he should have checked his facts before making medical claims on television. Pregnancy occurs in approximately five per cent of rape victims of a reproductive age, which is classified as 12 years of age or older. An estimated 44 per cent of rape victims are under 18.

While I understand that abortion is a very personal issue, and that having an abortion is a decision not to be taken lightly, I think it’s important to consider the dangers of an unwanted pregnancy. Not just to the mother, but to the child. Abortion is often considered in cases where the girl or woman is not in a situation in which they can feasibly raise a child. Either because they are too young, or because they are not emotionally or physically able to cope with being a mother.

The death rate for children in the first year of birth is approximately twice as high for infants born to mothers under 17 years of age. Women who are unintentionally pregnant across all age groups are more likely to drink and smoke during the pregnancy, and their babies are more likely to have a low birthweight.

These frightening statistics are for women across the board. They don’t take into account the added trauma experienced by rape victims who fall pregnant as a result of the rape. And Todd Akin thinks that taking a pill or undergoing an operation which may prevent such heartache is the greater evil? I’m not saying that it’s the right choice for everyone, but I am saying that women should have a choice.

I think President Barrack Obama had it right when, in response to Akin’s remarks about “legitimate rape”, he said “Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about… doesn’t make sense to me.” He added that Akin’s comments showed “why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.”

Should women be given the choice to undergo an abortion, or do you think it is wrong, even for victims of rape? Is the morning-after pill as bad as an abortion? And do you think Todd Akin should step down after his comments about “legitimate rape”?