Rep. Todd Akin upset countless people across party lines with comments he made about rape pregnancy
on Aug. 19: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said.
First, let’s be clear: rape is any sexual act for which a party is not willing and/ or cannot consent. All forms are legitimate.
• According to the M e t r o p o l i t a n Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, a sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the U.S., and one in six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
• A 2000 study by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice (based on a 1996-97 survey) found that 3.1 percent of undergraduate women reported being raped during the academic year. This number is low likely due to under-reporting.
The UMKC Women’s Center provides students with a plethora of resources for reporting and preventing domestic and sexual violence. Even with such a prevalence of sexual violence and awareness resources available, many people remain oblivious to the effects of rape. The media jumped on Akin, calling for his withdrawal from the Senate race, which, even after his own party refused to support him, did not happen. While Akin’s comment is completely and utterly mistaken, he is not alone in such thinking.
Contrary to the facts, many Americans justify their pro-life stances like Akin. I believe his statement was meant to convey there should not be an exception to abortion even in cases of rape, because of the belief that rape does not cause many pregnancies. This belief is incorrect. While I am not advocating pro-life or pro-choice, I do think we need all the facts before we decide where we stand on such issues. Rape results in pregnancy more frequently than does unprotected consensual sex.
• A 1996 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found the national rape-related pregnancy rate to be 5 [ercent among victims ages 12 to 45.
• A 2003 article in Human Nature, a journal focusing on the factors underlying human behavior, found similar results. While the researchers found a 3.1 percent pregnancy rate for reproductive-aged women who engaged in consensual, unprotected penile vaginal intercourse, the pregnancy rate for women who were raped was 6.42 percent.
• In a 2010 article in Reproductive Biologyand Endocrinology, the authors conclude that stress may actually induce ovulation. The trauma and stress of rape may cause a higher pregnancy rate. Implying some forms of rape are somehow not “legitimate” is repulsive, wrong, blind and judgmental. It completely puts the blame in the wrong place. Nonconsensual sex of any kind is rape, and to say otherwise is appalling. After this comment, Akin proceeded to say that although he would not punish the child in a rape pregnancy, he thinks the rapist should be punished. I have a hard time believing this, since in 2005, he was one of 52 congressmen to vote against the National Sex Offender Registry database. Since the incident, Akin has released an apology commercial, saying he used the wrong words and misspoke. He asked for the public’s forgiveness.