Sunday, August 19, 2012
"Legitimate rape" and the Sodomized Virgin Exception
The Republicans have a number of cretinous throwbacks running for office, but this guy has to take the cake:
Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill, justified his opposition to abortion rights even in case of rape with a claim that victims of “legitimate rape” have unnamed biological defenses that prevent pregnancy.
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.
“Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
His claim about “legitimate” types of rape is not completely foreign to the current Republican Congress, however. In 2011, the House GOP was forced to drop language from a bill that would have limited federal help to pay for an abortion to only victims of “forcible rape.” Akin was a co-sponsor on the bill.
Nor is this Akin’s first time suggesting some types of rape are more worthy of protections than others. As a state legislator, Akin voted in 1991 for an anti-marital-rape law, but only after questioning whether it might be misused “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,” according to a May 1 article that year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
According to TPM, Akin leads McCaskill by a margin of 49.7 percent to 41.3 percent.
This sounds very stupid because Akin added that ridiculous part about rape victims not getting pregnant. But the "no exceptions" policy is mainstream in the GOP.
One of the most linked posts I ever wrote was called "The Sodomized Virgin Exception", about the comments by a South Dakota lawmaker as to what might constitute a legitimate reason for an abortion. Here's the gist:
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.
I commented at the time:
BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.
Do you suppose all these elements have to be present for it to be sufficiently psychologically damaging for her to be forced to bear her rapists child, or just some of them? I wonder if it would be ok if the woman wasn't religious but she was a virgin who had been brutally, savagely raped and "sodomized as bad as you can make it?" Or if she were a virgin and religious but the brutal savage sodomy wasn't "as bad" as it could have been?This was in 2006, and there was a fair amount of blowback that I was (as usual) being hyperbolic and rude, that this was a fringe sweller and I was unfairly tarring the good hearted pro-lifers as extremists.Fast forward five years later. Nick Bauman in Mother Jones writes:
Certainly, we know that if she wasn't a virgin, she was asking for it, so she should be punished with forced childbirth. No lazy "convenient" abortion for her, the little whore. It goes without saying that the victim who was saving it for her marriage is a good girl who didn't ask to be brutally raped and sodomized like the sluts who didn't hold out. But even that wouldn't be quite enough by itself. The woman must be sufficiently destroyed psychologically by the savage brutality that the forced childbirth would drive her to suicide (the presumed scenario in which this pregnancy could conceivably "threaten her life.")
No word on what constitutes "force" but I'm quite sure that Bill Napoli's comments serve as a working definition for most of these people.
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
There used to be a quasi-truce between the pro- and anti-choice forces on the issue of federal funding for abortion. Since 1976, federal law has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. But since last year, the anti-abortion side has become far more aggressive in challenging this compromise. They have been pushing to outlaw tax deductions for insurance plans that cover abortion, even if the abortion coverage is never used. The Smith bill represents a frontal attack on these long-standing exceptions."This bill takes us backwards to a time when just saying no wasn't enough to qualify as rape."
And keep in mind that this is hardly the first time some big wingnut threw out crazy pseudo-science to justify their antediluvian views about women. Recall this looney tunes Bush appointment
. I foolishly assumed that it would take a bit longer for them to be chosen as GOP Senate candidates.
Update: The medieval Akin responds and says he cares about rape victims. He doesn't explain if he means all rape victims or only the "legitimate" ones.
digby 8/19/2012 03:00:00 PM