If you’ve been on the internet this week, you know Rep. Todd Akin said some genuinely evil things about pregnancies and rape. Let’s refresh:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancies that result from rape are] really rare. 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.”
Without dignifying Akin’s statements with a more thorough explanation of why they’re so evil, let’s just take a moment to parse the main problems: 1) that he distinguishes between forcible rape and “other kinds,” which is to say “forcible rape” and “rape that women tacitly agree to or want” (?). 2) That the female body can somehow recognize a rapist’s sperm and refuse it. Alas, what falls out of that is 3) that if a pregnancy results form rape… the woman wanted it in some capacity. Oh, and 4) that he learned this from “doctors.” Though perhaps worst of all is 5), that in 2012, a politician can say this.
Akin claims he misspoke and promptly released a new TV spot called “Forgiveness,” in which he
admits to telling an astonishingly vicious lie says he loves all babies and obfuscates the actual issue–of women maybe not wanting to carry a rapist’s child to term.
We’re sure that throughout all of this you were thinking to yourself, “What of Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee? Perhaps he has something roughly–if not equally–crazy to say about this complex issue!” And Huckabee delivered, obviously, by riding in on his giant bass guitar made of stone and carved in God’s Word, pointing out that babies resulting from rape can grow up to be people. He even knows two of them:
“[Gospel singer] Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape. I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
Startlingly, Huckabee was a little more measured than Akin, by which we mean a little more careful to reiterate that rape is fundamentally bad (so long as it’s “forcible”). However, the issue is not that pregnancies resulting from rape can become human beings. The issue is putting potential humans before the sentient being traumatized by those “horrible, inexcusable and indefensible” circumstances. That the current person–as opposed to the future person–is a rape victim who may not want to carry the resulting child to term, even though such babies may someday become gospel singers or the leaders of Christian organizations.
Maybe instead of issuing retractions and firm but lugubrious apology videos, Akin should just take a biology class.
Meanwhile, Huckabee can take statistics, so he may learn about selection bias.
(LA Times, Photo of Funkabee on Tyra via Wenn)