Like you, I was stunned today by the statements of Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP Senate candidate from St. Louis.
As reported by Aaron Black at The Washington Post:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in a clip posted to YouTube by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin added: “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 on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
The Post reports that such a claim regarding rape-initiated pregnancy has percolated up on rare occasions from social conservatives. (One of these was in 1995 from North Carolina’s state representative Henry Aldridge.)
Similar to other politicians holding forth on female reproductive physiology, Akin holds no health-related degrees. His House website indicates that he earned a BS in management engineering from Worcester Polytechnical Institute. Interestingly, this official biography fails to note that he also earned a Master of Divinity at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. However, his new campaign website for his Senate run proudly notes this degree.
Regardless of his comments on pregnancy and lack of health sciences education, Akin currently serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
With his horribly misguided and insensitive comments, I’m disgusted that Akin has any input into this nation’s science and technology strategies.
Update: Since I put up this post, several folks have tweeted that we should really have more representation by scientists on these congressional committees that govern science, health, and technology. Unfortunately, very few scientists or physicians run for public office, and even fewer for Congress. Cornelia Dean had an excellent article in The New York Times last August on efforts to cultivate scientists into running for public office.
Update 20 Aug, 3:46 pm: Dear god, he still doesn’t understand.
Rape is rape, Congressman.