This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Monday, August 20, 2012

Can Anyone Really Believe That Rape Cannot Produce a Pregnancy?

It is genuinely beyond the pale that here in the 21st century there would be anyone in the world, and I mean the entire globe, who could seriously believe that the stress of being raped would cause a women not to conceive. Yet, this is exactly the scenario that came out of the mouth of US Congressman Todd Akin, who is running as a Republican to be the next US Senator from Missouri. The importance of this argument is that it serves as a rationale for why no exceptions should be made for abortion even in the case of rape or incest. His argument was that if a woman was "legitimately raped" then it would be impossible for her to conceive. Thus, any woman who becomes pregnant after claiming to be raped could not have actually been raped. This is utter nonsense, as Reuters, among many others, was qucick to point out.
The claim that rape is unlikely to lead to a pregnancy has "no biological plausibility," said Dr. Barbara Levy, vice president for health policy at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The claim is "not grounded in any physiology or scientifically valid data."
But the story does not really end with Rep. Akin because this position is, at least implicitly, held by a number of people in the Republican Party. Indeed, a quick read of the Republican Party Platform for 2012 reveals the following statement:
We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it.
And what exactly is the "human life amendment." According to NPR, it would grant legal status and rights to an embryo, thus making abortion for any reason (including rape and incest) a crime. So, despite the fact that Rep. Akin called his comments "ill-conceived" (and I hope he did not intend a pun here) and "wrong," and even though the Republican party leaders scrambled to distance themselves from his comments, his view of the world is not that far away ideologically from  what the Republican Party claims its stance to be. And that is genuinely beyond the pale.

1 comment:

  1. It should be an embarrassment to other members of Congress, and indeed other Americans, that someone who sits in a position to legislate on issues relating to fertility knows so little about it.

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