Politicians' disregard for medical facts undermines authority

Two facts. First, rape is the unlawful act of compelling a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse. Second, if a woman is raped with vaginal penetration she can get pregnant.

An article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1996 stated that “among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.” This is a process that some elected representatives do not understand and their failure to understand this not only poses a serious threat to women across the country, but also brings into question the legitimacy of elected officials.

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin was not the first representative to make an asinine statement regarding women’s health. Others have been paving the road since the 1980s.

In 1998, Stephen Friend, state representative of Pennsylvania, claimed that the odds of women getting pregnant after rape is “one in millions and millions and millions” because women are able to “secrete a certain secretion” that will destroy rapists’ sperm. In 1990, Texas Republican Clayton Williams was recorded saying, “If [rape] is inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.” In 1995, North Carolina state Rep. Henry Aldridge told the House Appropriations Committee that “The facts show that people who are raped … the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

In March 2012, Sen. Chuck Winder, the Senate assistant majority leader, while speaking about a bill that would require a woman to get an ultrasound before an abortion, said, “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape.”

Beneath these claims is the idea that if a woman says she was raped and gets pregnant, she must have wanted it. It comes down to the belief that women want sex. If a woman is dressed up, drunk, looks at you or shares the same air as you, she wants to have sex with you. If she says no, she’s lying. If she says no and gets pregnant, she must have enjoyed it. Such statements frame women as sluts or vapid beings that do not have the mental capacity to know what they want.

Many Republicans have called for Akin to step aside and have worked to separate themselves from him, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. Saying that Akin was wrong does not sever the bond. From 2001 when Akin entered the House his votes on abortion have been in tandem with Ryan’s. One radical statement has led to a public outcry, but the policies and ideas that are the very foundation of these beliefs have barely been shaken.

The so-called scientific statements have been used time and time again to support these radically illogical ideas, and while Akin issued an apology, the studies live on to be used by the next man who is set out to save fetuses from their idiotic murderous mothers.

The endless spewing of slander needs to be stopped. It all needs to be uprooted, for the use of such ideas laughs in the face of logic and severely undermines the legal and moral authority of our representatives.

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