Todd Akin, Legitimate Rape and the Presidential Race

by Marianna Karakoulaki


The republican stance on abortions is well known but when a Congressman makes really controversial comments on that issue just a couple of months before the presidential elections, the only sure thing is that it will create a media buzz not only in the USA but around the world. That was the case with Todd Akin, a republican U.S. Representative for Missouri’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2001 and a congress candidate for this year’s elections. When asked about his view on abortions on a state television show Todd Akin did not say anything different from what everyone expected; his stance is clearly against contraceptive methods, what has caused so much controversy though was what he said about abortions in case of rape: “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a
legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

However, it was not the first time that such comments were made.  Stephen Friend, a former Representative in the Pennsylvania Legislature representing Delaware County from 1976 until 1993, famously said that when a woman is raped the odds of getting pregnant are “one in millions and millions and millions” since “the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.” More recently, Rick Santorum when asked whether he would let his daughter to have an abortion if she were to get pregnant after rape and it was her will to have an abortion; he said that he wouldn’t let her because the baby would be God’s gift. It is obvious that even some very high profile politicians have a very strict stance on abortions, why so much attention on Akin’s comments then? The answer to that is very simple; it is because of the elections.

For those who have been following this year’s primary elections, it has been obvious that a lot of attention has been given on women’s issues and the debate on women’s health care has been very high on the agenda of all candidates, all of whom, without exception, have declared their opposition. On the other hand, the Democratic Party and Obama’s campaign gave a lot of emphasis on the republican opposition making the ‘republican war on women’ one of their main arguments against Mitt Romney. So it is not surprising that Todd Akin’s comments gave a chance to Obama’s campaign to emphasise even more women on the one hand, and found Romney’s campaign unprepared for such a controversy on the other.

Someone may ask: in what ways can these comments affect the presidential race? Well it is pretty much clear that the republicans will lose even more on women voters. Mitt Romney knows that the focus on the contraception debate does not favour his campaign. This issue is probably the only one that Romney cannot compete against Obama. Their stance on women’s has been very negative from the very beginning. Their constant opposition on the new health care plan that gives women more options as far as contraceptive methods are concerned will probably cost them important support from unprivileged women voters. Not only did Akin’s comments revive the ‘war on women’ theme of the primary elections but they have also negated every effort that Romney’s campaign has made to take the attention off the abortion debate. As soon as Todd Akins comments gained such a big media attention, Mitt Romney, knowing that the whole issue would affect his presidential race, urged him to resign, something that Akin rejected.

Todd Akin’s comments prove that people with no knowledge of basic facts and absolutely no compassion of sensitive social issues are the ones that have high governmental positions and influence the US policies and that ultimately affect people’s lives. In addition, it is more than certain that if Akin’s comments were made during another period would not have drawn so much media attention, since as aforementioned similar comments were made before. The Democratic Party and the Obama campaign are the ones that will ultimately gain from these comments since they will not let them to be forgotten, at least until the elections. Finally, as someone commented on a public forum, “I am so perturbed by this as it is a reminder of how definitional issues around sexual violence are still so problematic and that there is an ongoing problem in according legitimacy to women’s accounts of violence committed against them”. 

*Image source : No copyright violation intended

10 thoughts on “Todd Akin, Legitimate Rape and the Presidential Race

  1. And regarding rape… I am not an expert on the subject. Obviously the rapist must be punished severely and women should be supported. Even though I am not an expert, I have lived in many countries, I have noticed that societies with sexual taboos, (in this case a Muslim country I have lived in- and I don’t want to mention the name of the country for respect-), have developed an incredible sexual frustration! For such a religious Islamic society, I was amazed by the extent men are sexually frustrated. I have witnessed the sexual harassment of female foreigners, the underground prostitution and the vivid gay scene.
    If you argue that in western countries people are liberal and women are attacked for not being modest, in the country in question, I had to defend in several occasions friends of mine from constant sexual harassment. I can give you many disturbing examples of rape attempts, men exposing themselves, and in all those cases with female friends of mine.

  2. @Conservative vs Liberal and moral value.-

    It is shocking to find out by your comments that you have already reduced women as the “reproduction instrument of the men.” It is absolutely disturbing to find out that from your point of view, women that cannot bare children due to biological reasons do not have a purpose in society and therefore should live in “forests” among women that do not want to have children.
    It is a disturbing fact that sadly, in mainly third-world countries and among people who are deluded into thinking that their medieval belief system is a golden standard and they have the monopoly of values, is still a reality. This is of course something cultural and your point of view, religion, values, ideology are just some among thousands that I can say are more reliable in terms of logic, humanity and justice.

    Regarding abortion: You and other men should understand that whatever women decide to put into their vaginas or take out of them, is only a matter of concern to women. A woman’s body, is not for a man to have an opinion on, not even in the slightest; it is not yours. Do you understand? IT IS NOT YOURS. End of discussion. IT is NOT your problem; it is NOT your business; it is not your vagina; it is not your womb; they are not your 9 months of pregnancy, or your life. UNDERSTOOD? If one day you leave a poor woman pregnant and she decides to abort because she doesn’t want to have a life with you, it IS HER CHOICE, not yours. You can always ask her to allow you to keep the child if you want as a favour. Only then is it your problem (if she accedes). She is not your property and NO woman has the minimum obligation with you.

    Now, governments are not able to take care of unwanted children. What kind of a life will they have? Cells are not human beings; they are not sentient and they do not have a brain, that is why science supports abortion. You are not “murdering babies” because there are no babies to murder. You should inform yourself before putting the word science in your mouth. Your problem is that you want to fight facts with beliefs and beliefs are not facts, facts are real, beliefs are just part of your imagination.

    Next: “obligations with society” such as bare children are found in Abrahamic religions, and the Umma concept of Islam. Medieval beliefs, in general, based on texts written in the Bronze Age, when tribes needed a lot of babies in order to survive and work the fields. As you can see, there is not such an obligation today, neither legal, nor moral. Have you ever seen it anywhere in a constitution or a penal codethat : “Women must have children”? There is no such obligation.

    Finally, I noticed that you are extremely concerned with the survival of the human being as species. Let me inform you that:

    A)Women that can’t bare children and women that don’t want to have children are a minority; therefore it is plain stupidity to affirm that every single women will decide to never have children and abort.
    B)The world has a serious overpopulation problem.
    C)China had a strong “one child policy” over a generation in order to reduce population, and many Chinese families emigrated because they had more.
    D)Planet earth is already suffering and the resources available are not enough to sustain us as species.
    E)It is estimated that the world population reached one billion for the first time in 1804. It would be another 123 years before it reached two billion in 1927, but it took only 33 years to reach three billion in 1960. Thereafter, the global population reached four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999 and, according to the United States Census Bureau, seven billion in March 2012. IT IS EXPONENTIAL.

    In conclusion, and just in order to answer the ridiculous excuse of “abortion will cause our extinction” it will take much more than abortion to make us extinct and in fact abortion is doing us a favour in every single aspect.

  3. Of course we are not talking about religion but the point of of my comment was that you have the same religious arguments as others have- and nowhere in my comment have I mentioned catholic law (there is no such thing anyway). You keep mentioning science but it is pretty obvious that you have absolutely no idea about that.. and someone does not have to be a scientist to understand that.

    Once again your comments are ignorant, misogynistic and disrespectful. You seem like you live in a bubble and have absolutely no idea of what is going on around you. Have you really met a woman before or talked to one? It is also absolutely obvious that you have no idea about politics or how the world works.

    You also say that I have evil thoughts, no morals or logic… Have you met me? The one with no morals is obviously you, who insult someone you never met and will never meet before in such a way… not only now but in my previous article too.. The fact that you don’t support abortions or because you are devoted to one religion does not make you a good person or a moral person… it is the way you act in the society and the way you treat others that define you as a person.

    Because I believe that women should choose for themselves and they should be equals to men or because I am a feminist does not mean that I want to be a man.. Seriously how did you even come up with this?

    Friendly advice: Open a book and educate yourself.

  4. You wrote that Your comments show that you are ignorant about women and women issues.”You tend to forget that women are people too, ” . When we talk against abortion , then people will say that we are against women rights . It is only a tricks . I am not ignorant about women issues . But from your comment it is clear that you are unhappy with your natural character . You are not happy as you are women . You want to be man , play Similar role . Being mother is not only role for women but it is most important role and society depends on this role . Peace depends on this role . If all women do not want to be mother then world will be destroyed within 50 years .

  5. For your intention One life is not able to come into being , why is it not murder ? Science can not prove that it is not murder ? How do you become so confident ? It is your ignorance about science . You will not follow logic or morality rather you will follow the evil desire of your mind . Even, if scientists proclaim today that without killing a life , abortion can not be done, your pen will not stop writting for abortion . If abortion is banned ,it will not resist women to kill their child . Because they do not want to be mother or control their sexual life . Science , logic , law nothing can resist women to kill their child . The discussion of science logic and law are rubbish because these are not the point .

  6. it is possible to eliminate rape . Of course possible . If you do not want to love the unwanted Child ,make a law . Government will look after that child . But to kill that child is a murder . If this murder is allowed , the relationship between mother and child will be more unstable .

  7. Ha we are not talking about Religion or catholic law . Religion is not a point here . If a women does not want to be a mother , society should not force her ? It is her own choice ? From your comment I can assume that my concept is correct . Women, who do not want to be mother and do not want to control their sexual life , want to legalize abortion ! If a women do not want to be mother she should live in forest , not society . Everyone has to fulfill the obligation of society . You only get from society but will not give back . Good concept . From your comment , it seems to me that you are upset as you are women . You want to be a man .

  8. Hello again in another post this time.

    As sad as it may sound rape will not be eliminated. I don’t know if you are a man or a woman since you continue to write anonymously, however, if you are a woman just imagine how would you feel if you got pregnant after being raped. If you are a man then you can never be in that position. You just cannot make a woman love an unwanted child!

    I have noticed that you always say in your comments that women that it is the law of nature women to become mothers. Yes women are the only ones that they can bare a child but it is not their only role! You tend to forget that women are people too, they can make their own choices and they should not be forced to do something that they don’t want. If a woman does not to become a mother for whatever reason, it is very acceptable, no one should force her !!!

    Your comments show that you are ignorant about women and women issues.

    PS. Science will never prove that abortion is murder because it is not… ohhh and religion is not science… because these kind of comments come from a rather misogynistic religious stance… I’ve heard them before and I am sure I will hear them again

  9. Pingback: Todd Akin, Legitimate Rape and the Presidential Race « Irrationally Bound

  10. Abortion is not the solution of rape . Rape must be eliminated and if anyone is responsible for rape it is he who did it . The child is not responsible . Punishment should be given to rapist . If science proves that abortion is murder , the supporter of abortion will not leave their stance . Women should have accepted the law of nature . Women have to be a mother . If women can accept it , then there will be no debate on abortion .

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