Whew, I feel so much better knowing this. Todd Akin, one of Missouri’s Republican representatives in Congress knows all about how rape affects a woman, and he told an interviewer on Sunday:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
Actually, it is fairly common to become pregnant from a rape. In a three-year study by the Medical University of South Carolina, it was found that:
“The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.”
Read that whole paragraph again. The majority [of rape-related pregnancies] occurred among adolescents. Consider this, too: according to two separate studies, an astonishing 22%-29% of all female rape victims were younger than age 12. But never fear, because children who get pregnant from intercourse weren’t really raped. Hey, maybe Akin would like to sponsor a bill to abolish that whole statutory-rape thing.
Rep. Akin hasn’t got a clue. Rape is a horrible violation. To be pregnant from that violation is even worse: a months-long, medically risky ordeal resulting in the birth of a child that is worse than unwanted: it is wrenched from your body without your consent, forever and inextricably knitting you to your attacker. It is the theft of your child, of your choice of a partner with whom to procreate. It is the changeling that you are forced to raise after its parent throws your offspring from the nest, and then abandons its own in your offspring’s place.
Notice what happened with the pregnancies in the study cited above: Half aborted, a third elected to keep the infants, and just 6% put the infants up for adoption. Those statistics illustrate the tortured decision that these women and girls must make: whatever they decide regarding the attacker’s child, also happens to their own, and that’s the horror of it. To keep and raise my own infant, I am also raising my attacker’s unwanted child. To give the attacker’s child up, I must also give away my own baby. To abort and be done with it, to close a terrible chapter in my life, I must abort my own child, hating the attacker even more for forcing the creation of a life in me, and hating myself for making the decision to terminate it. I am stunned that a full third had the strength to keep the infants, although one wonders what a conflicted upbringing they may face.
The point is, this is a decision that most deeply affects the victims of rape; those victims have to live with the outcomes of that decision as well as the effects of the crime itself; and those women should be allowed to make the decision that is best for them.
Akin and his ilk – and there are quite a few, according to The Washington Post – have no business serving as legislators of women’s issues in a modern America. And women who value themselves and their freedom have no business voting for misogynists like Akin, who aren’t even educated on the biological facts of rape and pregnancy, much less the toll it takes on its victims.
ADDENDUM, 26 Aug 2012: See this excellent piece by Renee Devesty describing her experience of rape, the resulting pregnancy, and its decades-long, devastating effects on her.
ADDENDUM, 28 Aug 2012: Here is a very descriptive report on children of war rapes, their estimated numbers and what happens to them and their mothers. Required reading for Akin and his ilk.