When asked whether abortion should be legal in the case of rape, Akin had this gem of a response:
“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. John C. Willke—who The New York Times identified as a “general practitioner with obstetric training and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee,” and who is also a supporter of Akin—essentially said that women who have been legitimately raped will be frightened, thus making it harder for sperm to fertilize.
I’m pretty sure, no, I’m positive, that’s not how reproductive biology works. A woman becomes pregnant when sperm fertilizes an egg, and anytime unprotected sex occurs, it could potentially result in pregnancy.
In an interview on Aug. 21, after the initial uproar, Akin told Dana Loesch, a conservative talk radio host, that he simply misplaced the word “legitimate.” People thought he was talking about the rapists being legitimate.
Following this wonderful science lesson and subsequent clarification, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan immediately tried to distance themselves from Akin and Dr. Willke, even though, according to a New York Daily News article, Romney’s campaign had embraced Dr. Willke in 2007.
Furthermore, in an interview with KDKA, a CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, Ryan said that “Rape is rape period, end of story.” However, in July 2010 and January 2011, Ryan and Akin co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that at the time tried to redefine rape to “forcible rape” when regarding the federal funding of abortions. Using this language, the bill would not have covered abortions for rapes that occured due to a limited mental capacity, and would have excluded pregnancies that resulted from statutory rape.
It is not OK for men in Congress to be making all of these decisions about women’s health without any input from women. Take the birth control hearing. During the first round of hearings held by House Republicans in February, five men were allowed to testify, but no women were. Why were men the only ones debating on the issue of contraception?
It is not OK to vote for men who believe that “forcible rape” is the only kind of rape and that a woman’s body can just spontaneously shut down pregnancies. I’ve heard it time and time again that we live in a society where we teach women not to be raped instead of teaching rapists not to rape. By redefining rape to only include certain things, it’s saying that some women ask to be raped, or that some rape is OK. I don’t know any woman who would ask to be raped.
What it comes down to is that women should be in control of their own healthcare needs. Yes, there needs to be more estrogen in the talks about women’s healthcare on both sides of the political spectrum, but at least President Obama has taken strides far larger than those of his conservative counterparts, including affordable access to birth control and preventative care under the the Affordable Care Act.
In this 2012 election, what it really boils down to is this: if you believe that, as a woman, you should be making your own healthcare decisions, vote Democrat. If you believe that a middle-aged male who doesn’t know your story, your struggle, your circumstances, or even your very existence, but wants to pretend he does should be making these decisions for you, or if you just want to save yourself a trip to the pharmacy every month by believing that you live in skeptical Todd Akin’s perfect world where women can secrete their own birth control, vote Republican.