Science, rape, and pregnancy

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35 Responses to “Science, rape, and pregnancy”

  1. i was puzzled how everyone was talking about the ‘legitimate rape’ comment.  yes that is outrageously offensive, but the context of that comment was pure insanity… and no one seemed to bring that up.

    • awjt says:

      I’ve been trying to parse it, and I still don’t get it.  

      “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “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 of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

      • awjt says:

        It implies a bunch of things: that all fetuses MUST come to full term.  That rape must somehow be judged post-hoc as legitimate or not, so that the rapist can be punished according to a sliding scale of justice.  Because, presumably, an “illegitimate rape” means the rapist either goes free or has a reduced punishment or the victim has to face punishment for the rape’s illegitimacy.  Also, that the woman has some kind of internal discernment of legitimate vs. illegitimate rape and can initiate a self-destruct sequence on the pregnancy.

        DUDE THIS IS BIZARROLAND.

      • What confuses me about this quote, is that if the woman’s *body* has ways of shutting down the pregnancy, what’s wrong with the woman’s *mind* shutting down a pregnancy (i.e. abortion)?  
        He seems to be saying that he’s perfectly fine with abortion (in the form of miscarriage) in cases of rape.  But that if a woman actually needed to go in to have an abortion it wasn’t really rape.  

        I just wish someone would ask him to clarify…

        • digi_owl says:

          i guess in his view, miscarriage is not an abortion.

          Meh, approach it from the angle of souls and Gods great plan. From that view, any human action against bringing a fetus to full term is to interfere with Gods great plan (whatever that may be). And it also stops a soul from setting food on the path to heavenly salvation…

          There is a logic to it. But it begins and ends with souls, not flesh.

    • bzishi says:

      He misspoke and said what Republicans are thinking when they say “forcible rape”. This specific wording is being added to State laws and seems to be a talking point when Republicans talk about rape, especially when it comes to abortion rights due to rape. It is really insidious. What this wording tries to do is make you question whether the victim is being honest and it does so by forcing you to think of the opposite idea of a forced rape–a non-forced, illegitimate, or “consensual rape”. So now in order to have the abortion, the victim must prove that they aren’t faking it.

      Note: I’m not talking about statutory rape where the victim can claim consent without a legal ability to do so. Republicans aren’t trying to divide between “forcible rape” and statutory rape. They are trying to divide between legitimate and illegitimate rapes (though I’m sure they’d claim they were talking about statutory rape if they were pressed, because otherwise they would look like assholes).

      • ChickieD says:

        Yes, in fact, the reason that they are using this weird language is they are trying to differentiate between “forced” rape and statutory rape. They want to say that abortion laws that have a rape exemption apply only to forced rape and not to statutory rape.

        http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/08/20/159348221/todd-akin-fallout-spreads-from-missouri-to-white-house-race

        “BLOCK: As we heard, Nick, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act last year – this is the bill that Paul Ryan and many other Republicans co-sponsored – originally called for an exemption only for something called forcible rape. Why was that language included in the original bill?
        BAUMANN: So, forcible rape is sort of a fudged term. It doesn’t really have a clear definition in federal law and it would have been chaos, state by state, for states to decide what that actually meant and what was included. But one thing that pretty much everyone agreed was not included in forcible rape was statutory rape.”

        • Ipo says:

          It is only a rape-rape if it is witnessed by at least 4 adult males.
          Otherwise it is fornication for which the victim gets whipped, unless she is married, then its a stoning.

          Oh.  Different religion.  Same crazies.

      • jandrese says:

        “Consensual rape” is an oxymoron.

  2. awjt says:

    Plus the implication that the stress of a rape somehow carries forward in time to affect a pregnancy’s viability later on?  and that if it wasn’t a “legitimate” rape, then therefore there wasn’t enough of a stress to cause the miscarriage or non-conception?  As if the woman has conscious control over conception and miscarriage?  I honestly cannot comprehend what they are thinking here.  I can’t follow their logical flow.

    You know what else is weird?  I grew up going to church, and the party line on babies was that it’s God’s will.  God gave people babies.  God had the control of whether it happened or not.  So, suddenly, the woman now has control?  I’m saying that it’s not consistent even within the fundamentalist sphere of thought, regardless of science or objective reality.

    • nixiebunny says:

      Of course it’s confusing and contradictory. Logic and fundamentalism don’t mix.

    • tinydancer says:

      When I was a Christian, there was another Christian who said something to me about rape and pregnancy to the effect of “Well, God wanted that baby to be born, and I guess rape was the way to make that happen.”  What the hell?!  If that’s what your God is about, I’m out.

  3. show me says:

    As the unofficial representative for the State of Missouri, I’d like to make a couple of points. Todd Akin in no way represents the way I or any of my Missouri friends think. Before this whole issue came up, a TV ad against him actually pointed out just how scary his beliefs are, without any sensational claims, just QUOTES FROM THE MAN HIMSELF. Many of us were happy to see him get the Republican nomination, because we knew there is no way this batshit crazy dude will ever be elected. Mark my words, he will fuck up again before the election, and I don’t think he’ll drop out. The scary thing is a lot of rural people in my state do think the way he does, but it is changing slowly but surely. I think the categorization of States as “Red” or “Blue” is way too general; if you look at county maps, it is more of a rural/urban thing than a state thing.

    • Brainspore says:

      Many of us were happy to see him get the Republican nomination, because we knew there is no way this batshit crazy dude will ever be elected.

      That’s what his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill was counting on when her campaign spent money ensuring he’d win the primary. While I understand the logic behind such political machinations I still find them deeply unsettling for two reasons:

      1. Purposely setting up this guy as the public face of the Republican party in Missouri lowers the discourse even further than it has sunk already.

      2. If the unthinkable happens and McCaskill’s bid fails then the Democrats will be directly responsible for putting this monster in office.

      • digi_owl says:

        A similar setup may well be going on with the presidential. Romney may well be a sacrifice so that they can keep a Democrat in office for another period while they stonewall anything and everything to destroy him and the party politically. Then they roll out someone more palatable, say that new CIA chief, up against whoever the Democrats decide to put forward.

        • awjt says:

          No, because they crave power outright.  They don’t crave plans and waiting and self-immolation.  They crave the power seat IMMEDIATELY, so that they can enact their tax cuts on the rich and destruction on the poor and helpless. There is no such thing as delayed self-greedification.

    • jandrese says:

      Really though, the only reason he’s going to fail is because the big money has pulled out of his race (PACs and SuperPACs mostly) so he won’t be able to steamroll the airwaves and win anyway like so many other extreme Republicans.  Before those comments, that was one seat the Republicans were pretty sure they were going to pick up. 

  4. Mark Stephan says:

    Thanks for the good summary!

  5. doggo says:

    I’m surprised, and dismayed, that Kate Clancy, the media, or anyone else even needs to bother to rebut Akins’ statement. What he said is so patently untrue that it’s remarkable that his head didn’t implode immediately. He, and any Republicans, or even members of the so-called “Conservative Movement” who even suggest that conception rates differ whether or not the woman has been raped, “legitimately” or otherwise, should be mocked, ridiculed,  shamed, and in every way forced out of any discussion of women’s health issues.

    These people having any political power is like handing a loaded gun to a two-year old who just watched a John Woo movie.

    • nixiebunny says:

      The Onion made an appropriate reply. Well, three of them.

    • jandrese says:

      You seem to think he was alone in his beliefs.  The hope is that by airing this out in the sun and show that outside of their insular little circle that such beliefs are laughable, and that the people who hold them should re-evaluate their position. 

      Either that or they’ll just grumble something about ivy tower elites and hope the whole thing blows over quickly so they can get back to what they were doing.

  6. MonkeyBoy says:

    there is absolutely no difference in the rate of conception between women who have been raped and those who had consensual sex.

    I heard that some of the “safety of rape” arguments came from a study which found the rapists tended to have performance or fertility problems. The conclusion that rape is less likely to cause pregnancy was then extracted without acknowledging that it correlated with the quality of the rapist.

    • Could you link the source? I keep hearing about this theory that rapists have fertility problems, and have yet to see anything that supports that. In a different venue, a young man actually told me that rapists must have some physiological damage that makes them rape, and causes infertility. I’d really love the source on this fishy claim. 

      • MonkeyBoy says:

        I don’t know what studies the rape defenders have been using or where they use them, but a quick google turns up this study:
        Emotional aspects of infertility

        The concept that emotional stress might lead to oligospermia was further supported in a report describing testicular biopsies obtained from men awaiting sentencing after raping and impregnating women.

        It is conceivable that this could be used to claim that rapists have low sperm counts as opposed to a notion that the stress of awaiting a sentence can cause a low sperm count.

        The quick google also turns up this:
        Emergency Management of the Adult Female Rape Victim

        A high incidence of sexual dysfunction during rape has been reported, with roughly 50 percent of assailants experiencing impotence or ejaculatory dysfunction. Penile penetration and ejaculation in a body orifice occurred in only one-third of sexual assaults evaluated in one large study.

        which asserts that 2/3 of rapes can’t cause pregnancy.

        • awjt says:

          OK, those articles are from 1982 and 1991.  I’d suggest looking in criminology journals for more reliable info on how rapes actually go down.  One with details abstracted from police reports.  These old health articles are not getting at the crux of the matter: whether the intercourse during rape is essentially different than consensual intercourse.

  7. Chris says:

    You don’t have to worry about science and facts when you have faith that your opinions are right.

  8. CH says:

    “at any given day in a woman’s cycle (even days when she is supposedly “infertile”) there’s about a 3% chance of unprotected sex leading to a pregnancy”
    This statement is a bit misleading. Yes, the time of ovulation may vary a lot, so averaged over the cycle it might be 3%… but… a woman can only become pregnant around 6 days in a cycle, ending with the ovulation. (Reference: http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/19/7/1539.full, from the same dude that researched that 3.1%) So, if she is raped outside of that time frame she cannot become pregnant, but, if she is raped during the fertile period I would assume the rate of pregnancy would be much higher than the 3.1!

  9. atimoshenko says:

    If stress really lowered the chances of a successful birth, wouldn’t there be an evolutionary pressure on males against rape and for maximally reducing stress for their partners? The genes of those mating non-consensually would seldom be passed on?

    I mean, I know the comment is idiotic for many reasons. This just seems to be another one.

  10. benher says:

    Goin’ on down to the tent revival for some hootenanny (aka legitimate rape) Too bizzy for big city-folk-science-talk!

  11. alphagirl says:

    This study from 2003 suggests that rape has a higher percentage of conception

    “Our analysis suggests that per-incident rape-pregnancy rates exceed per-incident
    consensual pregnancy rates by a sizable margin, even before adjusting for the use of relevant forms of birth control.”

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/wp5cnp43k6byxj4d/?MUD=MP

  12. BrendanBabbage says:

    He’s confusing human anatomy with that of a DUCK that does have a constant stream of “Ambush mating” and the female’s anatomy able to counter it mostly…

    With humans it’s been “Woman!  Why you scream!?  OG will give you MANY BABIES!!!” or later, well Romeo and Juliet Scene 3 act 5…the father threatening to disown Juliet if she doesn’t marry the one he’s arranged for her.

    • Jerril says:

       There’s a number of animals that can either prevent conception or voluntarily abort. Female spotted hyenas have such exotic genitals that a male can’t even attempt basic penetration without quite a lot of co-operation (doesn’t rule out anal rape but it sure prevents pregnancy).

      Humans can voluntarily terminate a pregnancy; we do it like we do all the other fancy things that animals do with specialized anatomical tricks – we do it with technology.

      Blarg. This whole thing is serious wtf.

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