Akin’s mis-conception: Bogus ideas discarded 200 years ago do not belong in modern politics

The Todd Akin remarks probably win for the the most appropriately doubtful story so far this year. But, everyone knows it was a truly dumb thing to say but does he believe it and where would he have gotten such a belief.

The Guardian has a story about how old these mistaken ideas about rape and conception are.

‘Legitimate rape’ – a medieval medical concept
The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant is a very old medical theory

Todd Akin, the Republican candidate for senate in Missouri, said in an interview released this weekend that he did not support abortion for rape victims because:

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

The idea that rape victims cannot get pregnant has long roots. The legal position that pregnancy disproved a claim of rape appears to have been instituted in the UK sometime in the 13th century. One of the earliest British legal texts, Fleta, has a clause in the first book of the second volume stating that:

“If, however, the woman should have conceived at the time alleged in the appeal, it abates, for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.”

Tip: @DJGrothe on Twitter

Abortion is one of those hot button issues in politics upon which science rarely helps to shed light. For those who have strong opinions, no amount of scientific information is going to change minds. If any science is used at all, it is used selectively to support the favored position. In this case, people are clinging to antiquated ideas and wishful thinking to support their old-fashioned notions about how society should work.

But in this case, his words are not only WRONG, they are harmful in so many ways. He has not noted in public that this idea is wrong, completely wrong. Check out the other misconceptions in this article that show how long it took for us to understand human conception. It’s a damn shame Todd Akin sounds more like he belongs to a time 200 years ago.

Some of us would like to know the doctors who told him this nonsense.

His comment has been mocked nine ways to Sunday by men and women alike. No one has defended him. The Romney/Ryan campaign even distanced itself.

And shortly afterward he issued a statement apologizing for misspeaking.

If only the female body did what Mr. Akin thought it did. That would be awfully handy. Zero people, instead of an estimated 32,000 each year, would be left pregnant after rape.

I suppose I should not be shocked at the appalling scientific illiteracy of our leaders. Just consider some who have vocal, wrongheaded concepts about evolution and global warming. Worst of all, Akin is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. If he can’t even understand how babies are conceived, he should not be making decisions about laws. Incredible ignorance once again exhibited by our elected legislators.

Akin isn’t the first abortion opponent with retro rape views; earlier this year, Idaho state senator Chuck Winder said he hoped doctors were interrogating women seeking abortions following a rape to make sure they really had been violated.

Why anyone could support such commentary is beyond my capability to understand. But, it looks like no one is supporting Akin.

Request that Akin be removed from the science committee. Go here.

Todd Akin and the myth about rape and pregnancy  (Time)

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  8 comments for “Akin’s mis-conception: Bogus ideas discarded 200 years ago do not belong in modern politics

  1. Vin
    August 20, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    and these people are running the US? nuff said……I’ll stay in Oz thanks

  2. Vin
    August 20, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    its also coz the US is an Oligarchy, not a Democracy…..it SHOULD be a Meritocracy…

    • David
      August 21, 2012 at 1:43 AM

      On its way to an olig-theocracy.

  3. Massachusetts
    August 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    It’s strange though, because as a Democracy, we do have the power to make it a Meritocracy. We choose, as voters, to keep it Oligarchic.

  4. alexiskeptic
    August 20, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    It’s flattering that he believes so sincerely in women’s ability to be consciously in control of our reproductive capacities. It’s frustrating that his instinct, in response to this inflated concept of female power, is to stifle it. My goodness, man! Don’t ANGER the mystical beast who can perform psychic surgery on herself! She might just surgically extract you from your political career.

  5. Ryu
    August 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    My problem is his “apology” was that he used the wrong word that “legitimate rape” should have been “forced rape”. The media did not seem to pick up that this was not an apology at all as it still WRONG to say “If it’s a FORCED rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The new reports did not seem to catch that he in a sense did not change the essence of what he said one bit.

  6. Bill Clagett
    August 22, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    His attitude seems similar to the Muslim thinking that a rape victims should be killed dishonoring her family.

  7. Bill Clagett
    August 22, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    His attitude seems similar to the Muslim thinking that a rape victim should be killed for dishonoring her family.

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