As we listen to the outrage (some real and some politically motivated) caused by Todd Akin’s ignorant and misogynist comments about rape, it is important to know where they came from and whose ideas they represent. As Rachel Maddow demonstrated in an excellent piece, those who are against abortion have made this kind of comment for years. I believe it is supposed to appease anti abortion people who are uncomfortable about prohibiting abortion when the woman is ‘innocent’. If the existence of pregnancy proves that the woman was not innocent, then you can prohibit abortion because you don’t have to worry about being unfair. Kind of reminds me of the witch trials. An accused woman was thrown into the water. If she survived she was, indeed, a witch. If she drowned, she was innocent.
Anyway, the source of the calumny in this case was Dr. Jack Willke, founder of the International Right to Life Federation. You may have never heard his name, but he was a major player throughout the 1980’s. Here’s a quote from the LA Times, 8/21/2012:
It’s “just downright unusual” for a woman to get pregnant from a rape, Willke said in an interview Monday.
“This goes back 30 and 40 years. When a woman is assaulted and raped, there’s a tremendous amount of emotional upset within her body,” Willke said, adding that this trauma “can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.”
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It might also make a woman’s fallopian tubes “tight,” he said.
Willke estimated that there are just one or two pregnancies for every 1,000 rapes.
That contradicts research published in the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology in the 1990s that found the occurrence of rape-related pregnancies is 5%. More than 32,000 women experience rape-related pregnancy every year, the research found.
Abortion providers know this is false. If emotional upset prevented pregnancy, we would do very few abortions!
So let’s be very clear that the Republican Party Platform endorses no abortion for any woman for any reason. And that this was not just the ignorant opinion of an isolated individual. This is part of the campaign of misinformation that the far Right Wing has been waging since at least the time of Reagan. (Anyone remember James Watts’ “Killer Trees”?) When a set of facts does not fit with the ‘beliefs’ of right wingers, they simply choose a new set of facts–and then spread it far and wide through the media outlets they own; the home schooling that protects their children from even hearing other ideas; and the universities and professional schools that turn out people educated with only one point of view. This is especially troubling with issues of science and American history in recent times–witness Michelle Bachman’s comment that the Founding Fathers ‘worked tirelessly against slavery’ and Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s observation that there is ‘no separation of church and state’ called for by our Constitution.
Of course Liberals fight to maintain our prejudices as well, but with nowhere near the same closed mindedness and dogmatic viciousness. There is a vast chasm between the two. When human beings can’t tell the difference between fact and belief we are in deep trouble.