Going medieval on the female reproductive system

Speaking of Todd Akin, Cory posted yesterday about the history of the bogus idea that women who were raped (excuse me, "legitimately" raped) can't get pregnant from it, citing a medical/legal text from 1785. In a story at The Week, we learn that this particular bit of misinformation is, in fact, even older than that, dating back to 1290. So Akin is propagating a belief that has been spread—despite a complete lack of evidence to support it—since the 13th century. Good times.



  1. Years and years ago some reasonably famous academic (but I don’t remember who, and it seems unupfrontily googleable) contended that – mentally – most people on the planet were still living in the thirteenth century. So I guess it’s not too surprising to find a congress person doing it.

    1. Considering that a large chunk of the world still lives in poverty and is not able to enjoy all the same things we take for granted; that statement is probably startlingly true.

  2. I’m not sure I follow the argument being posed here.

    Belief in something today that was accepted as true from centuries ago, doesn’t make that belief wrong. It also doesn’t make it right. It just makes it old.

    1. While I get your point, sort of, I think you’re nit picking.
      As far as I’m aware there is no scientific evidence that the claim is true, and so that does make it a medieval myth. This whole ‘5% chance of conception during rape’ argument is based on a flawed study that included cases of rape where condoms were used, so there would be no expectation of conception anyway.

    2. You’re kidding, right? Does this need to be explained? Holy rationalizer, Batman.

      If your doctor told you that he was giving up on prescription medicines and instead was going to leech you for your pnuemonia, you wouldn’t be defending a belief in antiquated science as neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’ but simply old’. You’d call it was the factless, dangerous horseshit that it is. If someone tried to inject talk about leeches into the healthcare debate and began to seriously discuss the role of leeches as a replacement for Medicare or emergency rooms, you’d probably be as galled as I am. So what gives?

      Oh right. Rape culture rationalization knows no bounds, apparently.

      1. Actually, leeches would be better.   There are a very few cases in which leeches have actual medical uses.  Unlike this nonsense.

      2. Funny thing is that leeches have some medical uses, tho not in any of the senses they were used back then.

    3. Available information says the belief is wrong.  Maybe people didn’t know better 700 years ago, but they do (or at least they SHOULD) now.

      The U.S. has a disturbing number of people who cling to (and perpetuate) outdated beliefs and systems regardless of the facts, and Akin is the current posterboy.

    4. I think the problem is that until the means exist for proving or disproving a statement it remains a hypothesis. The reasons for the initial hypothesis may have been misogynistic but that in itself does not disprove the hypothesis. We have evidence which the mediaeval world did not.

    5. Actually, Maggie even invalidates your argument, in her text, before you make it –  “Akin is propagating a belief that has been spread—despite a complete lack of evidence to support it—since the 13th century.”

      See that part where it says “despite a complete lack of evidence”? Yeah, that’s the part that tells you that it’s not about the age of belief, it’s about the complete lack of evidence.

      Why didn’t she just come out and say that, you ask? She did. It’s right there. Where it says “despite a complete lack of evidence.”

  3. The bigger issue is that he believes that a lot of rape charges are by women “faking” rape — saying they were raped just to “punish” boyfriends or husbands. He could be misinformed about the former (pregnancy), but the latter belief I find far more troubling in a politician.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more that he thinks that women would falsely claim rape to get a legal abortion, without identifying the rapist. (When there was no rapist, there was just consensual sex, and the woman DOESN’T want to “punish” her partner. But I’m pretty sure there is some belief with the right that “punishment” fraudulent rape claims are rampant, too, there.)

      And, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in an environment where abortion is banned except in cases of rape, women start claiming rape but “can’t identify the attacker”, to get a safe and legal abortion.

      I can only see that ending badly, though, because the conclusion that the religious right would go to is, make some sort of intrusive process to “verify” rape so that women who falsely report rape to get an abortion can’t get one. Which means that, most likely, even MORE rape will go unreported, plus all of the effects on society from reduced and unsafe abortions.

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