Sanity?

“I’m not a quitter. By the grace of God, we’ll win this race.”

—Todd Akin to Mike Huckabee

et’s review what it was that Todd Akin said about rape:

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

It is hard for folks not acquainted with evangelicalism—I used to be one, remember—to understand how a man living in the 21st century could not only say such a thing in public but actually think it in private.

Akin last year declared that,

at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God.

Akin’s ability to say such ridiculous and offensive things is really the product of his evangelical mind, a mind taught to analyze everything in the context of the evangelical conception of an all-knowing, all-powerful God.

Thus, it’s not really that hard to understand that deep within his evangelical psyche lurks an idea that somehow there is a mysterious, God-created mechanism in a woman’s body that would “shut that whole thing down“—if the woman were really raped, as opposed to her somehow secretly desiring or “asking for” or, dare I say it, “enjoying” the experience.

Before you object to that and call it a stretch, think about it. That has to be the subtext behind Akin’s comment or it doesn’t make any sense at all to utter it: “If it’s a legitimate rape…” Just what does it imply if a woman claims she was raped but her “female body” doesn’t “shut that whole thing down” and she gets pregnant? Huh?

A version of this idea existed in medieval times, as pointed out by The Guardian:

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.”

This was a long-lived legal argument. Samuel Farr’s Elements of Medical Jurisprudence contained the same idea as late as 1814:

“For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, it is not likely she would become pregnant.”

This thinking horrifies most of us today, even if it may not sufficiently horrify those with Akin-like minds, those who see God as exercising a detailed control over nature and thus in control of who gets pregnant and when.

So it can be that an evangelical candidate for the U.S. Senate actually suggests that nature-God makes a woman’s body such that it would reject the sperm of a rapist if it were “legitimate rape”—presumably defined by whether the woman had “an excitation of lust or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act.

Now, Todd Akin didn’t quite say all that, but think about what he did say and what he could possibly have meant by it and you can see he must have been thinking something very close to it.

Evangelicals of the sort Akin is believe in all kinds of strange ideas about human nature, including that homosexuality is an abomination, a sin, a curse, or that women are glorified servants of men. And these ideas come from a misplaced, often fanatical insistence that the Bible, read and understood and affirmed as the Word of God, is an authoritative guide to understanding the nature of man and the nature and meaning of existence.

But the Bible is an ancient book full of ancient ideas, many of which have been fully discredited by the only practical tool of genuine understanding we have: science.

And science has something to say on the matter of rape. A 1996 study found:

RESULTS:

The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence. As we address the epidemic of unintended pregnancies in the United States, greater attention and effort should be aimed at preventing and identifying unwanted pregnancies that result from sexual victimization.

Up against that, we have the evangelical Todd Akin:

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

National figures in the Republican Party are beginning to sound the death knell for Mr. Akin. He naturally is clinging to God and to the possibility of victory. He says Missourians need him to put “some sanity back” in Congress. I for one wish he would stay in the race because I think he does represent a large swath of the Republican Party today.

And we need to find out just how many of our fellow Missourians are willing to embrace such ignorance and superstition and call it “sanity.”

18 Comments

  1. janice reed

     /  August 20, 2012

    From a fellow recovering evangelical: Amen to everything you said, brother!!

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  2. Todd Akin clearly suffers from legitimate stupidity.

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  3. We mustn’t be too hard on him — he might drop out of the race. Surely that was a gift to McCaskill.

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    • A gift she helped pay for, by the way. She essentially run some ads that offered Akin as the ultra conservative in the race knowing it would be hard for hard-core right-wingers to resist the temptation.

      My guess is that he will drop out or be forced to, but not because he wants to. I believe he genuinely believes God can save his candidacy and that makes it hard to give in.

      But money almost always triumphs, and his will eventually dry up.

      Duane

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  4. Jane Reaction

     /  August 20, 2012

    Akin is the guy who says he would do away with free lunches for over half a million low income children in Missouri. Since 72% of my towns students are on free lunches, the voting idiots may again buy the lies and shoot their children in the feet.

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    • The problem is that many of the folks who get free lunches don’t vote at all. And around here, where the free-lunch percentage is also very high, those that do vote tend to definitely vote to take food out of their kid’s stomachs. Makes me sick.

      Duane

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  August 21, 2012

    As I have already written herein, as a non-Tea Party and independent conservative, AKIN SHOULD DROP OUT. But I doubt that he will.

    As well many polemical progressives will try to tar and feather the whole GOP with Akin-like thinking. Some jerk may now try to compare “Akin thinking” to “Ryan thinking”. Ridiculous but just wait.

    I don’t know many “evangelicals” and have never been one myself, I defer to Duane on that experience. However I can UNDERSTAND Akin’s position on abortion, but certainly not agree with it.

    Forget the “legitimate rape” comment. I don’t believe Akin thinks rape is ever “legitimate”. He feels that it is a crime, a terrible crime and such men should be punished to the full extent of the law. If there is any “seed” of Christianity in any “evangelical” I believe they would all agree with that position as would any sane American regardless of political views.

    However Akin and evangelicals by and large take that one step farther and attempt to defend the position that abortion should NEVER be used to prevent the course of natural childbirth, NEVER, EVER.

    As well those type folks believe, it seems to me, that government force should be used to enforce their concept of NEVER in terms of abortion.

    Forget Akin’s stupid biology. The real issue is IF a human egg is fertilized, no matter the circumstances, when if ever should abortion be used to impeded or eliminate natural childbirth.

    Clair’s answer is “rarely” and I agree.

    But then the debate turns to should GOVERNMENT define “rarely” and use force to enforce a government definition of such. OR on the other hand and in this case should “rare” be an individual choice made by the mother and, hopefully, father. I take that later position as well.

    Givernment can “lecture”, advise, cajole, etc. on that subject (as it does on smoking) but ultimately I go on the side of freedom for mothers and fathers, not a fetus that has yet to be born.

    Anson

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  6. I can’t believe such hypocrisy!!!! All this shit @ what Akin said. He didn’t mis speak….that’s a Democrats excuse. He said something he shouldn’t have said,apologized AND asked for forgiveness for iit, That’s a novelty for Democrats….especially Owebombas squeaky wheels who level ludicrous charges that Romney caused a womans death from cancer,go after Sarah Palins handicapped child,black Congresswomen who say Republicans should burn and go to hell….and much worse. The divider in chief can’t even begin to denounce all his ugly hate speech…yet Dems,Sleezy MSNBC,and Dem candidates drool all over themselves trying to act as if ALL Rep candidate are against womens rights……but like to spit inthe face of Romney supporter

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    • I would LOVE to see more OUTRAGE over women who use Late Term Abortions to brutally murder their “mistake”? Where the outcry by you idiots over that!? I don’t see Blow Mouth Biden being condemned for his Chain comment ,,,THAT man has dementia…and is one heartbeat away from Owebombas job. Get real people…this comment by Akin was way wrong…but try to focus on the REAL issues…why Owebomba should GO….don’t be led by the wolves trying to make this comment a Hell Fire and Brimstone issue to take this country all the way down. Women who feel this comment wasn’t called for will figure it out and move on to encompass ALL the issues in this election. You’re being USED women…by the Dem party…who also dug up the continual Mediscare tactics EVERY election cycle ….there are a LOT of sick people out there…but also a LOT. Of sick people on here. Doubt if I will be back…even to defend the ugly typical comments coming my way. So have at it! Romney/Ryan 2012….and awfully Damn proud of it. This Senior Citizen isn’t buying the wheelchair ride scare over the cliff…YA’LL

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    • Karen,

      I just love it when you talk that way. ESPECIALLY LIKE THIS.

      And don’t worry, Ryan and Romney are not going to push you over the cliff in your wheelchair. They’ll first push you out of your wheelchair and then over you go! Happy landing!

      LOVE YA,
      Duane

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  7. Anonymous

     /  August 21, 2012

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?……We all say things in error sometimes. The key is recognizing that error, correcting it and moving on.

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    • He didn’t make an error. He said exactly what he believes. He thinks that there is something going on during rape that prevents the woman from getting pregnant, if she is genuinely, or “legitimately” being raped. The implication is clearly that if she gets pregnant, she must either have asked for it or wasn’t particularly traumatized by it. It is past stupid to think such things, let alone say them out loud.

      But it was no “error.”

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  August 21, 2012

    I disagree, Anonymous. As written above, the “legitimate rape” comment was just plain STUPID. Given that alone, I could agree that Akin could and should correct it and move on.

    BUT, as written above I believe Akin sincerely believes that abortion should NEVER be an option to prevent childbirth under ANY circumtances and as well that government force should be employed to force that issue upon all Americans.

    I don’t even call him, flat out, an IDIOT for such a view. Each to his own as far as I am concerned in such moral choices, individual moral choices.

    Akin has now destroyed the GOP’s hopes for claiming the Senate seat in MO, in my view. IF he dropped out well, MAYBE Brunner could reclaim some semblance of reason, but I doubt it.

    I dislike single issue campaigns and voters as well but in this case, well the GOP deserves being called a “party of….” on this issue for sure.

    Akin is now or should now be politial history.

    Anson

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  9. Treeske

     /  August 21, 2012

    Karen,- Late term abortions are extremely rare, almost as rare as the conceptions happening during rape, according to Akin! Your language proves an almost lopsided passion for something that really is none of your business . Something adopted hypocritically by the Republican party in order to get your vote, not really because that’s their conviction but they know your passion blinds you on the far more important issues and will vote strait ticket, thus empowering the world’s 1% financiers.

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