Rape is rape. That should be the end of discussion but in the minds of some, there are distinctions to be made specifically when the rape victim has to answer the question of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. When it comes to this issue, I beg to differ with Republicans, specifically Todd Akin.
Rep. Todd Akin, who, as I’m writing this post, is running to be the U.S. senator from the state of Missouri. The pro life Republican declared that he was against abortions even in the case of “legitimate rape.” The New York Times reported his comments from this past weekend:
Asked in an interview on a St. Louis television station about his views on abortion, Mr. Akin, a six-term member of Congress who is backed by Tea Party conservatives, made it clear that his opposition to the practice was nearly absolute, even in instances of rape.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “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: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
There were so many whiplashes incurred over that statement because it really leaves one’s head spinning. Akin placed such a great importance on the hypothetical life of the unborn child that he just insinuated that if a woman got pregnant, then she really wasn’t raped. He truly defied common sense and the most basic working knowledge of Sex Ed with his comments.
Akin must be from the school of thought that science should be taken out of education because his junk logic has already been debunked by doctors and the human body. If an egg and sperm collide, a woman becomes pregnant and that doesn’t become a casualty of a GOP talking point when they make their arguments against rape. Statistics have also shown that and as Politico reported “Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency.” Authors of a 1990s study concluded that one out of every 20 rapes results in pregnancy, for a total of more than 32,000 rape-pregnancies each year in the United States. A separate 2003 article in the journal Human Nature estimated that rapes are twice as likely to result in pregnancies as consensual sex.”
In his efforts to clean up his remarks, Akin stood still on the quicksand of his rationale by explaining that he only meant to refer to “forcible rape” and even invoked 9/11. His insistence on continuing to be a foot soldier in the GOP’s war against women and their desire to redefine rape, even in the face of his own fellow Republicans turning against him, is further proof that he is catering to the whims of ideology rather than just admitting you are an outlier to actual facts and simple compassion for those who have suffered violations against their bodies.
It’s not just that Akin and his ilk are missing sensitivity chips. The root issue is not only their defiance of biology but denying women the courtesy of being capable of making informed decisions about their own bodies. The sheer willful arrogance and ignorance that Akin and other individuals like him hold are being codified into law. These lawmakers are diminishing the impact of sexual assaults on the altar of proving who can care most about “life.” But as soon as the umbilical cord is cut, programs deemed to help unwed mothers are demonized as systematic socialism, proving that all this talk about being “pro-life” is just that. But I digress.
This country isn’t that far removed from a time when marital rape was not considered a crime because women were viewed as belonging to their husbands and sex on command was enshrined in the vows before God. There are people who still believe that rape only occurs when force is involved. It’s even more common for some to operate under the mindset that men can’t be victims of rape which is not true. It’s a false misnomer which has been rectified and recognized for the crime that it is, but we cannot afford to take leaps backwards in progress.
Akin and those who advocate on the behalf of “legitimate rape” and “forcible rape” aren’t making gaffes or misspeaking. These are convictions they hold dear to their core and only play innocent when the world reminds them that it’s 2012. It’s the 21st century and women don’t just exist to breed like farm animals, take abuse silently or simply remain seen as our traumatic experiences are reduced to incendiary sound bites. They’re not sorry for trying to dilute the meaning of rape and should be held accountable.
Thankfully, there are still people of conscience, decency and a grasp of high school science that rightfully condemn making excuses, apologies or creating subcategories for rape. It’s rape. There are no two sides. It shouldn’t be up for debate. One does not need to phone a friend for the right answer. It’s wrong.
President Obama made it plain to the simple minded when he declared that rape is rape and there shouldn’t be any in between. Women shouldn’t be victimized twice by being placed into categories of “legitimate.” To be violated in a manner not of your choosing shouldn’t leave anyone searching the dictionary for qualifiers to put in front of the word rape. It is strong enough all on its own.
Stephanie Guerilus is a multimedia journalist and author. Follow her @qsteph
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