“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo.
When someone screws up at the cop shop the general notion is that it was his or her turn in the barrel. Left unsaid is whether or not the barrel and its occupant will survive the trip over the falls. Today that is a “legitimate” question for one Todd Akin, a conservative congressman from Missouri.
Akin’s scandalous comments (excerpted from Eugene Robinson’s column) are now at the forefront in his bid to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. His response, more specifically his word choice in answering an interviewer’s question on a local St. Louis television station, has inflamed the left, the right, the center, the fringe and a player to be named later.
I’ll be honest, when my wife first pointed out the story (Trib 8/20), I read Akin’s comments differently. I took his term “legitimate rape” as reference to common state statutes for rape, such as under Washington’s RCW Title 9A.44. These include rape by force, by illegal coercion, or consensual sex either with a minor or mentally disabled individual
These are the “legitimate” parameters to which I assumed Akin was referring. It appears I assumed too much.
The context for his remarks must be considered by a House bill Rep. Todd Akin co-sponsored last year. The bill sought to limit Medicaid abortion funding to incidents of “forcible rape.” Unfortunately, Akin (and the other co-sponsor, Rep. Paul Ryan – yes, that Ryan) chose to define “forcible rape” in such a dehumanizing and limiting manner that any sexual assault outside of Rape 1st degree (and one clause of Rape 2) would apply.
That limitation, along with Akin’s off-handed remarks about “legitimate rape,” is indefensible. If anyone should have any doubts on that point, I only wish you had been a fly on the wall as I took the statements of: a young women drugged into unconsciousness and then raped by several men at a party; the aging mother of a woman with Down’s Syndrome who wept while describing her daughter’s sexual assault by a caregiver over a lengthy period of time; a father whose voice fractured while we spoke outside the hospital room where his juvenile daughter was undergoing a rape exam after he found her having sex with her 40 year old “boyfriend.”
To give Akin the benefit of the doubt, let us suppose that his purpose in drafting last year’s bill was to further a conscientious battle against all abortion. He is a man of principle, one could argue, and that explains his ham-handed attempt to stifle the discussion.
But that stance does not mitigate all. Not only did the congressman throw science out the window – unless there is an unpublished study, hidden from the masses, that demonstrates a woman’s ability to mentally terminate an unwanted pregnancy – he chose to place political agenda over human compassion. By diminishing the victimization of thousands of women, he has reminded female voters that decisions which only affect them are being made by a small group of men. And some of them just don’t get it.
Since it is no longer safe to assume anything, I would like to offer the following edification for the enlightenment of the congressman from the great state of Missouri: A legitimate rape is any rape as defined by law. No more and no less.
And about that trip in the barrel…I hope Akin knows how to swim.