Akin Stepped in It

Missouri Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin–addressing the abortion issue–demonstrated complete lunacy.

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. 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 the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

The fist part of his statement is true: pregnancy resulting from rape is rare. Why? I’m not completely sure, but here’s my take on it.

Pregnancy from sex in general is rare; pregnancy from rape is no more rare than pregnancy from consensual intercourse. It’s just that rape–being less frequent than consensual sex–seems to lead to pregnancy less often than consensual sex.

In order for pregnancy to happen, timing is everything. For it to happen from rape, then the rape has to occur within the same menstrual parameters as any other sex act that could lead to pregnancy.

As for his “legitimate rape” comment, I have no idea what he was smoking. While it is true that women have been known to lie about rape–although said lying is not nearly as common as advertised–this would not be a good time to conflate that issue. This is because, rape or not, pregnancy occurs from sex.

How should Akin have answered that question? He should have said something to the following effect:

When you are dealing with the issue of rape, there is no pretty way to resolve this issue. The woman has had something taken from her that we–as a society–can never replace, even if we skin the rapist alive. I can certainly understand why a woman would not want to carry this child that was conceived in such a violent, senseless act.

At the same time, we need to ask ourselves what compassion requires here. As much as I would otherwise be inclined to support abortion in such cases, that would be a disservice to the child in utero, as he or she does not deserve to die any more than the mother deserved to be raped.

As a society, we must reach out as best as we can to help these women; we must also, as a society, welcome these children who are also faultless. We must work toward a resolution here that honors the humanity of everyone involved.

Had Akin said that, he would have caught some heat from the abortophiles while articulating a strong case for what real compassionate conservatism looks like. It would not have helped him with liberals, but–done with resolve–would have made a compelling case for his leadership in a body that is lacking in that department.

Instead, Akin has effectively handed re-election to Sen. Claire McCaskill (R-MO).

12 thoughts on “Akin Stepped in It

  1. Did some research (especially after hearing Akin’s apology on Hannity today) on the whole pregnancy-rape thing.

    It is faulty pseudo-science that was probably begun due to the number of pregnancies that occur to previously barren couples who end up pregnant after adoption.

    Stress has a seemingly sterilization affect on fertility. It is a mid-wives tale given some more recent studies on the subject, but Akin was apparently going off some studies that supported it (that are actually pretty wide-spread in some pro-life research).

    He admitted to that research being wrong, but I don’t think its going to do him much good =/

    http://infertility.about.com/od/causesofinfertility/ss/stressfertility.htm

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100817111658.htm

    http://www.hli.org/index.php/cloning/266?task=view

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1552-6909.1998.tb02587.x/abstract

    • Yep. In this era of YouTube and Twitter and other web-based instamedia, Akin could not have picked a worse time for this kind of blunder. This is almost as catastrophic as Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and mucaca-gate.

      Akin screwed up. He was attempting to debate the matter by going down a rabbit trail.

      It was catastrophic that he attempted to conflate another issue that was, at best, tangential (the fact that many women lie about having been raped) with the premise that aborting a child conceived in rape carries the end-result of punishing a child who did nothing to merit that end.

      He had a golden opportunity to provide leadership on the issue of compassion. And he fumbled the snap.

      • This is almost as catastrophic as Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and mucaca-gate.

        Yet Sen. Allen came within just over 900 votes of winning a second term in what was a disastrous year for the GOP.

        Speaking of Allen, he’s running even in the polls with former Gov. Tim Kaine, who handed off one hell of a budget mess to his successor. At least Allen seems to have learned from his mistake and is running a much more disciplined campaign this time around.

  2. As to his comments on “legitimate rape”, it might have something to do with the different things that sometimes get classified as rape.

    e.g. the US Department of Justice’s statistics division estimates ~100,000-200,000 rapes and sexual assaults per year – reported and unreported.

    Compare to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey which reports the same crimes occurring over 12 million times per year.

    With a two-orders-of-magnitude difference, it seems fairly clear that people are using the same term to refer to different things.

    Take a look at what the CDC labelled rape: their definition of rape for women includes the legal definition of rape + attempted rape + comments suggesting that a man might rape a woman (regardless of any action meeting even the legal definition of attempted rape) + all sex involving the presence of alcohol (drunken hookups) or any drugs or similar factors + probably a few other things.

    • The devil is always in the details when it comes to what constitutes rape; the CDC takes a very liberal definition that can include most otherwise consensual activity that occurs at any frat party in America.

      Having said that, that is not the issue that Akin should have chosen to argue. This is because the issue is not about what constitutes rape, or even how often pregnancy occurs from rape. It is about what compassion looks like in the hard case of rape.

      Again, Akin had a chance to present a competing vision of what compassion looks like, and frame it in the larger context of what kind of society we need if we expect to have an equitable recovery from this financial debacle that is shaping up to be Great Depression II.

      Akin fumbled, and the left has run it back for a touchdown.

      And we wonder why the GOP is called “the stupid party”.

    • And what really pisses me off about this is that Akin–because of the position he has on the issue–should have been prepared to offer a challenging answer framed in terms of compassion. This is not hard to do if one has thought this issue through.

      For someone with an MDiv degree from Covenant Theological Seminary–which is not for dummies–I would have expected better.

      Instead, what Akin gave is exactly what I would have expected from Randall Terry or Ralph Reed.

      • No doubt he didn’t spend much time thinking about it.

        Was thinking about this this morning – his response (and the studies he was going off of) show he had a cursory understanding of the issue and was using largely pro-life sites for his information without having any real understanding of what he was really looking at.

        It was quite foolish, and now the rest of the party is going to pay for his drive-by massacre of the pro-life stance.

        • Yep. If he were a 25-year-old whipper-snapper, I would expect that kind of foot-in-mouth disease.

          But the man is 65 years old. He’s held political office before. He has been around the block in life. I would expect someone of his stature, experience, and education to have enough sense to understand not to get sidetracked by rabbit-trails and stick to what the real issues are.

          Like I said, his position on abortion is out of the general GOP mainstream. That is, at first glance, a weakness. At the same time, articulated well, it is a potential strength: it all depends on how you frame the issue.

          On a matter such as abortion, you must be ready to frame the issue in terms of what a real compassionate society looks like, and what kind of society we want for ourselves and our children. And in a time like this–with so much uncertainty and many breakdowns in fundamental statesmanship–someone like Akin has (or in his case, had) a golden opportunity to hit the ball out of the park.

          Akin whiffed. Badly. This is going to sink the pro-life cause in this election cycle. It will take years to repair this kind of damage.

  3. The problem here is that he is a politician. Politicians cannot understand the Point of view that their opinion doesn’t matter on a whole bunch of issues. They just have to start from the basis that as an elected official, their opinion matters on everything.

    While I like response in the post, a better one would have been:

    I am running for Senator-, not Pope. Senators do not have authority in such matters. What does matter is how my opponent has voted to bankrupt this country and how I will vote to stop the damage. I will leave it up to the citizens of this strate to answer for themselves matters of conscience.

    Yes, it is a dodge, but it keeps him focused on the real issue.

    As long as Obamacare stands, American pro-life taxpayers will pay for on-demand abortions for anyone who wants one. The only way to overturn it is with a majority in both houses of Congress.

    • As long as Obamacare stands, American pro-life taxpayers will pay for on-demand abortions for anyone who wants one. The only way to overturn it is with a majority in both houses of Congress.

      Yep.

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