The political world erupted after Rep. Todd Akin’s statements about rape and abortion on Sunday.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch provided a broad analysis of how his comments would affect the race for Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat in on Capitol Hill, conservative columnists and politicians, including Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, distanced themselves from Akin, and conservative journalists and asked him to step down.
McCaskill, on the other hand, probably had to have staffers restrain her from doing a premature victory dance while she argued that Akin should stay on the ballot on MSNBC’s Morning Joe . Host Joe Scarborough even announced her as “the woman re-elected last night.”
Unofficial footage from McCaskill’s campaign headquarters after Akin’s comments
"This statement is kind of a window into Todd Akin’s mind," McCaskill said on the show. She also cited her years as an attorney who worked on hundreds of rape cases.
Basically, the nation, including the GOP, all agreed yesterday: Todd Akin said something wrong, on a moral level and a political level.
But let’s backtrack here for a moment and ask why this comment is such an affront to the public conscience.
First, here’s the full quote from the interview on KTVI, the St. Louis FOX affiliate:
Charles Jaco: What about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?
Akin: “People always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. It seems to me, first of all, 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. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but I the punishment should be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
Akin starts off by saying that this is a “tough, ethical question.” Off to a good start. But shortly after that, he says it’s rare that women get pregnant from rape, citing doctors (the CDC and other various sources including say that roughly 5 percent of women get pregnant from a one time unprotected sexual encounter). Then, he says the truly damning sentence that caused him a lot of trouble.
"If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
This statement implies a division in rape, that some are “legitimate” and others are “illegitimate.” According to Akin, a legitimate rape will not result in a pregnancy, while an illegitimate rape could.
To an extent, it’s hard to argue that there are some legitimate and some illegitimate rape cases, but usually, the rape accusations are either legitimate or illegitimate. In a high-profile case earlier this year, Brian Banks’ alleged victim came forward and renounced her accusation.
However, Akin seemed to suggest that even when a rape occurs, it can be legitimate or not. So, who does the blame of legitimacy fall on? It can’t fall on the perpetrator, because in an actual rape, he’s clearly violating a woman (or another man). How can a person illegitimately rape someone?
So, whether or not a rape is legitimate falls on the victim, the woman. How a woman could ever take responsibility for any part of a rape is beyond comprehension. If a woman gets raped and pregnant, Akin says her body must have somehow wanted to be sexually violated, otherwise, her body would have “shut that whole thing down.”
Akin made a disastrous misstep on Sunday, one that will have definite implications on the Senate race. That is, if he even gets to that point.