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.