Akin’s remarks on sexual assault an embarrassment
By Amanda Horner
Todd Akin (R-MO) enlightened the nation during an interview on Aug. 19 with information that had apparently, somehow, slipped between the cracks in the field of biology. According to Akin, women should not be allowed to seek an abortion, even in instances of rape, because being impregnated as a result of rape is “. . . really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” After a well-provoked uproar from democrats, women, women’s rights activists and even his own party, he has apologized for his comments, claiming that he “misspoke” as a result of his self-prescribed “foot in mouth” disease. To have “misspoken” such an offensive, repulsive comment is quite the understatement. Akin even claimed that this information is based on “what he’s heard from doctors.”
The fact Akin is trying to use doctors as a source of this misinformation is very strange. The female body can become impregnated when a sperm cell travels into the uterus and fertilizes an egg, if one is there. Plus or minus a few details, it really is that easy to understand. Unfortunately, the female body does not have some kind of innate rape deflector. For Akin to attempt to distinguish “rape” from “legitimate rape” is repugnant. Every year, 32,000 women become pregnant after being victims of rape and sexual assault. That is a traumatizing experience, and to try to justify rape-related pregnancies in such a way as Akin did is deeply troubling.
It is by no means out of the ordinary for government officials to insist on determining the affairs of a woman’s reproductive system, but these remarks far exceeded the typical misogynistic, insulting ideology Republicans tend to hold on women’s health. Even worse, the host of talk radio show “Focal Point” and member of the American Family Association, Bryan Fisher, defended Akin’s comments. Fisher stated “There’s a very delicate and complex mix of hormones that take place — that are released — in a woman’s body, and if that gets interfered with, it may make it impossible for her or difficult in that particular circumstance to conceive a child.” Akin’s and Fisher’s delusions about the mechanics of the female reproductive system are infuriating. To speak out against women’s reproductive rights and demonstrate no knowledge of the most fundamental aspects is an insult to women and victims of rape and sexual assault.
The Republican Party has started in on Democrats for holding Akin’s remarks over the head of the party as a whole. Granted, many Republicans have denounced support for Akin, apologized on his behalf and even called for him to drop out of the election — at least a minor step in the right direction. But perhaps they are presuming that these types of comments about such sensitive topics are somehow an isolated incident in their party. Let us not forget the Republicans of the House, and their “poorly worded” bill that distinguished “rape,” from “forcible rape”. Let us not forget the lovely Sharron Angle, who ran for senate in Nevada, and declared rape victims should not have access to abortion because they should “make a lemon situation into lemonade.” The flaw in the analogy hardly needs to be pointed out; comparing rape to a citrus fruit and an unplanned pregnancy to a sweet summertime drink is more than horrifying.
If the Republican Party and its members insist on valuing the life of an undeveloped embryo — assuming that they can define embryo — above a woman who wants to make the decisions that impact the rest of her life, that’s their prerogative. However, in the future, keeping the aggressive and inaccurate commentary on basic anatomy to a minimum is probably a strategic campaign move. With any luck, members of Congress will be given the opportunity to take a refresher course of 9th grade sex education — but hopefully not the “abstinence only” version, which will only lead right back to square one.