Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) serves on House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

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.

The official webpage of the House committee that counts akin as a member.


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.


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64 Responses to Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) serves on House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

  1. Pingback: Another Old, White, Male, Republican Explains Female Anatomy To Me | Southern Beale

  2. Theresa says:

    Akin needs to be removed from House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology since he has just exhibited absolutely no knowledge in that area.

  3. Stephen says:

    I’d say he needs to be removed from space and time, full stop.

  4. Eric Alb ert says:

    I agree, no one with this demonstrably poor understanding of basic science and biology should be on this Committee or in any position which requires critical thinking for that matter.

    That he is also capable of saying such things out loud and to a reporter also indicates an incredible lack of intelligence.

  5. james says:

    Weed them out, one at a time. Restore rationalism. Deplore fundamentalism.

  6. bill says:

    Let him stay and bring in more like him. Drive all so called intellectuals out with a stick and lock them up inside the higher institutions. Theirs is the folly of man.

  7. Jones says:

    Exactly, what we need is to destroy all forms of technology, bring man back down to his origins. No more of this science nonsense and their medicines that they shove down our throats. What happened to home remedies and hunting for food? I am sick of all these damn liberals trying to advance a society that has already gone too far.

  8. tom says:

    If competence in every Committee’s field of interest was required, we’d lose 75% membership in every house committee.

    I’m not saying Akin isn’t a fool. Just that career politicians are politicians, not scientists, housing experts, defense experts, and so on. That’s just how it’s done over here.

  9. Eve says:

    I think he needs a psychiatric evaluation, be removed from the United States Science Committee and educated on the facts of RAPE!! in that order.

  10. zilla says:

    I agree.
    And also, fire scares me and is made of magic.

  11. Lana says:

    It would be interesting to see if he would consider it a legitimate rape if HE were the one that was raped.

  12. Bill Hooker says:

    After all, he wouldn’t get pregnant. His body has ways, etc.

  13. Kiki says:

    I won’t say I wish ill upon @Jones, but hypothetically speaking, as a scientist, I’d like to see how his attitude about stem cells would change if he were to be diagnosed with ALS.

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  15. James Charl says:

    Well, him [or whenever any of his daughters if he has any] having such an issue is a completely different matter, that serfs could not possibly understand. Very complicated, maintaining one’s image and all that.

    But don’t worry: once your kids are actually born, his kind would rather they die of starvation and exposure if at all possible: its the blastocyst that’s holy, not a sentient child.

  16. Eve says:

    We have no standards. How do we let Akin be a member on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology? How do we let Michelle Bachmann on House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence? Can’t we have some basic test of competence before these people enter our government? I mean, if you want to push paper in the Department of Foreign Service, you have to pass the Foreign Service Exam! Talk about government waste! How much do Republicans waste every year b/c of plain ignorance!

  17. sciencetist says:

    He’s serving as a diplomat of the labotomites!

  18. Josh says:

    I appreciate the irony of your comment…posted on the internet, using a computer, powered by electricity.

  19. dan says:

    Does Todd has any sisters, daughters or grand-daughters?

  20. Caleb says:

    Wait, so, if i understand correctly, he apologizes for the use of the word legitimate, but stands by his claim that women have built in contraceptives that they only use in the event of ‘forcible’ rape? Disregarding the forcible bit for the moment, he maintains that the female body has it’s own contraceptives, wow, if we could harness that, I’d have no need to ever buy another condom.

  21. Bill says:

    I would so like to be hopeful of a brighter future, but then wankers like Todd come along to dim the light. Some days I don’t know whether to cry or laugh.

  22. Nick says:

    I doubt Akin had sex-ed classes when he was growing up, so I will give him a bit of a break on his outrageously stupid comment…

    For most scientists, ‘spin’ is used in reference to centrifugal or centripetal forces or in particle physics. Also, you cannot appear too smart these days or you will be labeled an ‘elitist’ snob. That is why scientists make such lousy politicians.

    I never thought I would see a time when large numbers of people would openly oppose the teaching of critical thinking skills… but here we are.

  23. Nick says:

    Ahh… To be back in the good old days of living on the African savannah. Cave painting the wide open spaces… no big government or eco-nuts to telling you what you can hunt… living by your own wits and ingenuity… flint knapping… and most importantly, no Liberal sex education brain washing or abortions.

  24. Mike B says:

    When the conservative antiscience Christians finish there political takeover, we are all f**ked. 1. Take over the federal government 2. Continue to claim the federal government is to big, and at the same time claim we are being threatened by the other and grow the military industrial complex even larger. 3. Get rid of the EPA, the ITF, forest service, especially get rid of public education, and have all children go to “christian” private or home schools, where “liberal” science can be admonished. 4. Defund NPR, defund science research, except for those attempting to prove creationism. I dont blames the right wing or the left wing for whats going to happen, at least they stand up for what they truelly beleive in. No, I blame the selfish, self centered cry baby “whats in it for me” independent voters who can’t take a side. The same kind of wishy washy sheepal that opened the door for the likes of Adolf Hitler. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

  25. Kelly Guncheon says:

    Oh, the millions I could make if I could create a sarcasm font. I believe Jones would using it now, because I have to think that his comments aren’t serious.

  26. Pingback: Republicans Have Lost the War on Women « Malia Litman's Blog

  27. terry says:

    How is loosing that 75% a bad thing if the remaining 25% actually have background in the field? If 3/4 of the committee has this level of competency, they aren’t bringing anything to it anyway and are just sucking up resources. If the Republican party is all for smaller government, they should start there. Think of the tax savings if only credible people we on these committees.

  28. Jacqueline Chretien says:

    Wow, WPI must be embarrassed.

  29. Vince says:

    What would happen if right-wing women ruled the world? Imagine if Sarah Palin or religious fanatics took over. Imagine if they took a strict interpretation of the biblical law against the “spilling of seed,” and men were not allowed to touch themselves. Oh, then you’d hear a howl from men and a great upwelling of angst!

    Well then, maybe you will have an inkling of the feeling women have when a bunch of angry old white men (i.e., the GOP) try to dictate to women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies. To wit: Senate challenger Todd Akin and his remarks on “legitimate rape.”

  30. Carol Clark says:

    Akin and the conservative right and the wealthy have always had access to choice, to clean safe abortions and good medical care for their women and families if you control women’s reproductive rights and their bodies you can rule the world., and creeps like him would live just that.

  31. Mike says:

    With that logic, shouldn’t we remove pretty much every member of both houses?

  32. thinkorsink says:

    Akin, a member of the House science committee???? If you survey most republicans currently in office you will discover that the earth is still flat. Sounds like we need a “no representative left behind” testing policy! This is evidence ….any member of the house or senate that wants to serve on “any” committee… must pass a test on the subject. If none can pass the test specific to the topic ….then someone who IS ACTUALLY QUALIFIED will be RANDOMLY SELECTED FROM A GROUP OF POSSIBLE VOLUNTEERS WHO CAN pass the test!..

  33. thinkorsink says:

    Akin, a member of the House science committee???? If you survey most republicans currently in office you will discover that the earth is still flat and women secretly want to be raped too! Sounds like we need a “no representative left behind” testing policy! This is evidence ….any member of the house or senate that wants to serve on “any” committee… must pass a test on the subject. If none can pass the test specific to the topic ….then someone who IS ACTUALLY QUALIFIED will be RANDOMLY SELECTED FROM A GROUP OF POSSIBLE VOLUNTEERS WHO CAN pass the test!..

  34. thinkorsink says:

    This is so embar- ASSING!!! Most republicans currently in office actually think the earth is flat and women are “chattel” Any member of the house or senate that wants to serve on any committee… should be required to take a test first. If they cannot read or comprehend items necessary to actually know about a topic then we should have the right to chose someone else who is truly qualified. If a doctor made this kind of mistake he would be sued at the least and might lose his/her license to practice. so why do we let our elected folks off the hook when the country (the patient) will suffer for their incompetence!

  35. thinkorsink says:

    Bravo …tar and feather anyone???

  36. thinkorsink says:

    I think you may have misunderstood Jones as it appears as though he is being very sarcastic and is actually for science. :) ALS sucks!

  37. thinkorsink says:

    yes me thinks they are sarcastic

  38. thinkorsink says:

    LOL yes totally in fact he needs to be sent for training on how to do your homework before shooting yourself in the foot! LOL but let us all be positive…the ugly truth about these horrible folks is coming to light pretty quick so maybe there is a GOD and SHE DOES NOT LIKE THEM AND IS HELPING US TO SEE WHICH ONES ARE WHERE! lol

  39. thinkorsink says:

    YES I AGREE WITH YOU give these folks a civil service test or better yet make them pass that high school exit test all of our kids have to pass to get a high school diploma before allowing them to sit for an election!

  40. thinkorsink says:

    yea and if it is true and he actually believes it then why would anyone ever even need an abortion?

  41. thinkorsink says:

    You are too kind to the point of being scarey dude…while when our government representatives have no idea what they are doing or talking about they have not right to be in a position of power to make decisions that will have an effect on millions of other people. With your logic we should all forgive Hitler too?

  42. thinkorsink says:


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  45. Nora Miller says:

    David, great post! You might be interested in this followup story from the LATimes. Guess which pres candidate was endorsed in 2007 by the “doctor” who developed this rape-contraception “fact”? (The name rhymes with “Omney”),0,80862.story

  46. Kimberly says:

    In many mammalian groups but especially among primates it is the perogative of high-status males to control the reproduction of females of the group. This is achieved utilizing multiple behaviors which include infanticide, assertion of prime mating priviledges, and expulsion of competing males from the group.

    It’s no surprise then that we see politicians consistently waging war on the rights of women to reproductive self-determination. My own opinion enlarges the high-status males theory articulated above to include the following concepts:

    1-Republican pols are more likely to engage in these behaviors because their world view is dominated by a pyramid-shaped heirarchy of human valuation, with wealthy white males occupying the top tier of the pyramid;
    2- female republicans participate in the high-status male control of all females in the group, thereby enhancing their status with and power among these top-tier males by becoming gender traitors and buying in to the world view;
    3-only by accepting this reductionist view of republican political behavior can all thoughtful people democratize themselves by evolving beyond what is truly privitive (that is, truly derived from the primate) behavior

  47. Ann says:

    Is it any wonder that house republicans continually claim climate change is a hoax and evolution is “not on solid ground”. Many republicans do not believe DDT was harmful to wildlife and that second hand smoke causes cancer. Now I realize what we are dealing with. It all makes sense now, we are dealing with people who are incredibly ignorant in science or hopelessly in bed with the corporations or religious leaders spouting their misinformation.

  48. Kevin says:

    Rep Akin,

    Science is not a body of knowledge, it is a way of thinking. In that sense, while I do not fault you for making incorrect statements about basic biology, I fault you for failing to take seriously the effort one must make as a representative of science to ensure one has not been hoodwinked.

    You have failed to subject your beliefs to the kind of honest and objective intellectual rigor that the citizens of this country should be entitled to. It is an embarrassment to our political system that you somehow met the standard for scientific literacy within the house of congress.

    I strongly urge you to resign from the House Committee on Science, Space & Technology. We deserve better.


    Kevin Olson

  49. Byron says:


    I agree with your fervor on the subject. You are obviously as shocked as most people about the ridiculous nonsense spewing from Akin’s mouth. You are, however, guilty of mistaking facts. Yes, DDT is harmful to all manner of flora and fauna. No, second hand smoke does not “cause” cancer. Before you get all uppity and start quoting false statistics, second hand smoke CAN increase the chances for cancer, but is not a cause. We are all genetically predisposed to be more or less susceptible to various illnesses. This is no attack. I am merely correcting an error.

  50. Byron says:

    I’ll call your “test” and raise you. Not only should folks serving on various committees and boards be educated, certified and tested in that area, I think no one should be allowed in public office without military or civil service, as well as the specific education to back up the position. We, the people, put these ignorant clowns in office and then let them make decisions…time to find the reset button.

  51. Nora Miller says:

    From a page on Second Hand Smoke and Cancer on the website of the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health: (

    At least 69 chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to cause cancer.


    Q: Does exposure to secondhand smoke cause cancer?

    Yes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have all classified secondhand smoke as a known human carcinogen (a cancer-causing agent).

    As you say, not an attack, merely referring you to an authoritative statement in response to your comment.

  52. Monica says:

    Not only does Akin lack any kind of background in this field, this guy lacks even basic understanding of how human reproduction works. The fact that he lacks this knowledge but believes he is qualified to speak on or regulate the issue is what is extra scary.

  53. Byron says:

    LOL, you may have me there. I will concede to your use of a common definition of carcinogen. If you do a little more research you will see a shift in the definition of carcinogen to: an agent that causes cancer or increases the risk of cancer either by initiating or promoting it. While this is similar to what you presented, there is a very distinct and important difference between the two. I could go into what the difference between carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, and embryotoxins is, but it would take far more typing than I care to do. I’ll just say that it is much easier to tell the average layperson, “this is bad for you”, than it is to tell them, “based on your genetic construction, you are 50% more likely to die from this than the person next to you”. Thank you for your response.

  54. Nora Miller says:

    Likewise, thanks for your response. A pleasure to have such an exchange without the usual race to the bottom. And I appreciate your distinctions, and recognize that it’s probably just Not That Simple.

  55. Byron says:

    Since you seem to be a fan of authoritative statements backed up by reputable references, apply this to my previous statement.

    You did in fact understand what I previously wrote: smoking and second-hand smoke does not cause cancer. The professional literature and publications misuse the language. I don’t think this is any nefarious plot against the Big Tobacco, I do think the misuse was with the best intentions.

    References (I back up my statements with facts, will those who respond do the same?)

    1. Articles:

    Pisani P, Parkin DM, Bray F, Ferlay J, Estimates of the worldwide mortality from 25 cancers in 1990, Int J Cancer 1999 Sep 24;83(1):18-29; “Tobacco smoking and chewing are almost certainly the major preventable causes of cancer today.”
    American Thoracic Society, Cigarette smoking and health.. , Am J Respir Crit Care Med; 153(2):861-5 1996; “Cigarette smoking remains the primary cause of preventable death and morbidity in the United States.”
    Nordlund LA, Trends in smoking habits and lung cancer in Sweden, Eur J Cancer Prev 1998 Apr;7(2):109-16; “Tobacco smoking is the most important cause of lung cancer and accounts for about 80-90% of all cases of lung cancer among men and about 50-80% among women.”
    JAMA 1997;278:1505-1508; “The chief cause of death included lung cancer, esophageal cancer and liver cancer. The death rate was higher for those who started smoking before age 25. If current smoking patterns persist, tobacco will eventually cause more than two million deaths each year in China.”
    JAMA 1997;278:1500-1504; “We have demonstrated that smoking is a major cause of death in China….”
    Hecht SS, Tobacco smoke carcinogens and lung cancer, J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 Jul 21;91(14):1194-210; “The complexity of tobacco smoke leads to some confusion about the mechanisms by which it causes lung cancer.”
    Sarna L, Prevention: Tobacco control and cancer nursing, Cancer Nurs 1999 Feb;22(1):21-8; “In the next century, tobacco will become the number-one cause of preventable death throughout the world, resulting in half a billion deaths.”
    Liu BQ, Peto R, Chen ZM, Boreham J, Wu YP, Li JY, Campbell TC, Chen JS, Emerging tobacco hazards in China: 1. Retrospective proportional mortality study of one million deaths, BMJ 1998 Nov 21;317(7170):1411-22; “If current smoking uptake rates persist in China (where about two thirds of men but few women become smokers) tobacco will kill about 100 million….”
    Nordlund LA Trends in smoking habits and lung cancer in Sweden. Eur J Cancer Prev 1998 Apr;7(2):109-16; “Tobacco smoking is the most important cause of lung cancer and accounts for about 80-90% of all cases of lung cancer among men and about 50-80% among women.”
    Skurnik Y, Shoenfeld Y Health effects of cigarette smoking, Clin Dermatol 1998 Sep-Oct;16(5):545-56 “Cigarette smoking, the chief preventable cause of illness and death in the industrialized nations.”

    2. Websites:

    JAMA Website: [link no longer active as of 2004]; “Yet huge obstacles remain in our path, and new roadblocks are being erected continuously,” writes Ronald M. Davis, M.D., director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich., in urging a review of the effort against “the most important preventable cause of death in our society.”
    JAMA Website: [link no longer active as of 2004]; “According to the authors, tobacco use has been cited as the chief avoidable cause of death in the U.S., responsible for more than 420,000 deaths annually ….”
    JAMA Website: [link no longer active as of 2004]; “The researchers reported that deaths caused by tobacco….”

    3. The World Health Report 1999, chapter 5 and Statistical Annex and CDC data (

    4.Mutat Res 1998 Feb 26;398(1-2):43-54 Association of the NAT1*10 genotype with increased chromosome aberrations and higher lung cancer risk in cigarette smokers. Abdel-Rahman SZ, El-Zein RA, Z

    5. Schwartz AG, Rothrock M, Yang P, Swanson GM, “Increased cancer risk among relatives of nonsmoking lung cancer cases,” Genet Epidemiol 1999;17(1):1-15

    6. Amos CI, Xu W, Spitz MR, Is there a genetic basis for lung cancer susceptibility?, Recent Results Cancer Res 1999;151:3-12

    7. Silica, asbestos, man-made mineral fibers, and cancer. Author Steenland K; Stayner L Cancer Causes Control, 8(3):491-503 1997 May

    8. Lam S, leRiche JC, Zheng Y, Coldman A, MacAulay C, Hawk E, Kelloff G, Gazdar AF, Sex-related differences in bronchial epithelial changes associated with tobacco smoking, J Natl Cancer Inst 1999 Apr 21;91(8):691-6

    9. Ignacio I. Wistuba, MD, Comparison of Molecular Changes in Lung Cancers in HIV-Positive and HIV-Indeterminate Subjects, JAMAVol. 279, pp. 1554-1559, May 20, 1998

    10. Kumagai Y, Pi JB, Lee S, Sun GF, Yamanushi T, Sagai M, Shimojo N, Serum antioxidant vitamins and risk of lung and stomach cancers in Shenyang, Cancer Lett 1998 Jul 17;129(2):145-9 China.

    11. Nyberg F, et al., Dietary factors and risk of lung cancer in never-smokers, Int J Cancer 1998 Nov 9;78(4):430-6

    12. Sinha R, Kulldorff M, Curtin J, Brown CC, Alavanja MC, Swanson CA, “Fried, well-done red meat and risk of lung cancer in women.” Cancer Causes Control 1998 Dec;9(6):621-30.

    13. Young KJ, Lee PN, Statistics and Computing Ltd, Surrey, UK. Intervention studies on cancer, Eur J Cancer Prev 1999 Apr;8(2):91-103

    14. Long-term inhalable particles and other air pollutants related to mortality in nonsmokers.
    Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1999 Feb;159(2):373-82.

    15. Blot WJ, Fraumeni JF, Lung Cancer Mortality in the US: Shipyard Correlations Source, Ann N Y Acad Sci; 330:313-315 1979 UI: 80659437

    16. Lee IM, Sesso HD, Paffenbarger RS Jr, Physical activity and risk of lung cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1999 Aug;28(4):620-5

    17. Kamp DW, Greenberger MJ, Sbalchierro JS, Preusen SE, Weitzman SA, Cigarette smoke augments asbestos-induced alveolar epithelial cell injury: role of free radicals, Free Radic Biol Med 1998 Oct;25(6):728-39

    18. The Complete Reference Collection, 1996-9, Compton’s.

    19. Lee PN, Forey BA, Trends in cigarette consumption cannot fully explain trends in British lung cancer rates, J Epidemiol Community Health; 52(2):82-92 1998

    20. Pandey M, Mathew A, Nair MK, Global perspective of tobacco habits and lung cancer: a lesson for third world countries. Eur J Cancer Prev 1999 Aug;8(4):271-9

    21. Jahn O, [Passive smoking, a risk factor for lung carcinoma?], Wien Klin Wochenschr; 108(18):570-3 1996

    22. Nilsson R, Environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer: a reappraisal, Ecotoxicol Environ Saf; 34(1):2-17 1996

    23. Finch GL, Nikula KJ, Belinsky SA, Barr EB, Stoner GD, Lechner JF, Failure of cigarette smoke to induce or promote lung cancer in the A/J mouse, Cancer Lett; 99(2):161-7 1996

  56. Byron says:

    A pleasure to have had a discussion with you Nora! I truly appreciated such a positive exchange. If any of my above communication seemed abrasive, I had no intention and apologize. I hope to interact with more individuals of your character and caliber.

    vade in pace (go in peace)

  57. No word yet from the American Medical Association, AOA, ACP, or ACEP on Akin’s vision of the science of “legitimate rape”. If you’d like to request that the AMA break its’ silence, go to:

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  59. Oliver H says:

    Hey, given that Akin has practically been backed up by the GOP given that they exclude abortion in case of rape in their platform, I don’t see why he should be singled out. But try to tell the GOP that they have no business being on the science committee… I don’t think you’ll have much luck with that.

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