Trying to be convincing is much easier when the option of denying basic facts is available, as Rep. and Senate candidate Todd Akin, R-Mo., recently proved with a truly ignorant statement about rape.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said, according to the Huffington Post’s Chris Gentilviso. The fact that Akin not only holds a seat in Congress, but also worked with Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s running-mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is nothing less than frightening.
Ryan and Akin previously attempted to redefine rape as it relates to abortion in order to place limitations on federal funding for rape victims seeking the procedure, wrote Gentilviso. While personal convictions are part of the human experience, even for presidential candidates, Akin’s comment and the legislation that he and Ryan attempted to pass shows complete disregard for women’s health.
Forcing a woman to give birth and claim responsibility for a child that came into existence because she was raped is literally punishing the victim. Besides belittling the horrible experience of rape, Akin shows no understanding whatsoever of how sex and impregnation operate, much less the female body.
His statement faults a woman for having the capacity to carry a child and suggests that women who become pregnant from rape were not really raped.
To make matters worse, Ryan believes abortion should be outlawed in all cases except for births that threaten the life of the mother and referred to rape as a “method of conception,” according to Paul Slansky of the New Yorker. Using the term “method” in this way shows apparent acceptance and takes blame away from rapists.
It seems ironic that these conservative men, who will never have to worry about possibly being forcibly impregnated, are so concerned for the health of unborn children at any stage of development – yet disregard the physical and emotional health of women that have been living, breathing and thinking for years.
Whether or not certain circumstances surrounding birth make abortion understandable has been a highly debated topic since the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade made it legal for women to undergo the procedure. Despite the emotional and physical trauma of the abortion process and the sheer cost, hundreds of thousands of women choose this option each year when faced with pregnancy. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there were over 800,000 abortions in 2007 alone.
Although the line between fetus and unborn child is drawn at different points according to opinion, there is nothing to debate about how pregnancy occurs. Denying basic facts about conception and pregnancy to make a point that belittles the experience of rape victims, while shaming a woman for her biological functions shows the disrespect for women that defines Akin and the current Republican Party.
Ryan and Akin aptly show that women are still being blamed for rape, much like the comments of a Canadian police officer sparked the SlutWalk movement when he blamed rape on how women dress.
When will men who do not even know how impregnation occurs stop having the ability to possibly influence the life of every woman in America, the “land of the free?”
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