Updated with Garance Frank-Ruta’s article on The Atlantic’s website, which demonstrates that Akin’s views are hardly those of a solitary loon. It contains this citation: “According to a 1996 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, ‘among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.’ ”
Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican senatorial candidate from Missouri ignited one of the fastest moving internet prairie fires in recent memory with his comments about pregnancy and “legitimate rape” yesterday. Akin is a member of the theologically conservative Presbyterian Church in America, which is not to be confused with the Presbyterian Church, USA.
“This is not a situation where Akin sat in the pews of the church of a controversial pastor, or once attended a conference or seminar where controversial views were discussed. Akin has a Masters in Divinity from the PCA’s seminary, and proudly claims he took a political rather than a pastoral path after seminary. His denomination has not only opposed abortion in all cases, including rape, but has suggested that the number of pregnancies by rape is overstated, and even questioned the veracity of rape claims. And Akin, who in a few months could be a United States Senator, wants his religion to dictate our laws.”
Here is the now infamous interview.
Michelle Goldberg points those who would understand Akin’s thinking to this article by pro-life stalwart Dr. John C. Wilkie, which includes these passages:
First, let’s define the term “rape.” When pro-lifers speak of rape pregnancies, we should commonly use the phrase “forcible rape” or “assault rape,” for that specifies what we’re talking about. Rape can also be statutory. Depending upon your state law, statutory rape can be consensual, but we’re not addressing that here.
Assault rape pregnancies are extremely rare. Most pro-lifers have heard this comment, but too often cannot back it up with facts. A candidate for office in the State of Arkansas made this comment before the last elections. He was roundly criticized and ridiculed by the opposing candidate and the media. Unfortunately, there was no evidence that he offered substantive proof to back up his claim that rape pregnancies were rare.
How many rape pregnancies are there? The answer is that, according to statistical reporting, there are no more than one or two pregnancies resultant from every 1,000 forcible rapes.
Finally, factor in what is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that’s physical trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. To get and stay pregnant a woman’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy. So what further percentage reduction in pregnancy will this cause? No one knows, but this factor certainly cuts this last figure by at least 50 percent and probably more.