Is rape really a culture war issue? Yes.

When Missouri Rep. Todd Akin hoisted himself on the petard of his theories about the biology and social context of rape this week, he raised some big questions.

The biggest?  Where do these theories come from?

Let’s revisit first what Rep. Akins — who is currently in the fight for a US Senate seat — had to say.

First, he raised a question about the validity of rape claims, suggesting that “if it’s a legitimate rape” the female body has certain natural defenses that will protect a woman from pregnancy.

The logic is pretty straight forward:  If a woman gets pregnant, then in at least some cases she must have been engaged in an act that doesn’t qualify as “legitimate” rape.

He then lays out a theory that the female anatomy does, in fact, possess some mechanism that “will shut that whole thing down” and prevent conception in most cases of violent rape.

Akin acknowledges that there are some cases where the defense mechanism “didn’t work or something” and where a woman will become pregnant as the result of sexual violence.

Here’s what he says about that eventuality:  “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist, not on the child.”

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, Joe Scarborough asked a good question about Akins’ statements:  “Who thinks that way?  What doctors?”

Unfortunately, the media quickly pivoted away from this line of inquiry, settling instead on the idea that Akins had committed another gaffe or bumble.  In a photo spread, Politico equated Akins with other “clumsy” politicians and campaigners.

But the simple fact is that rape is one of the most anguishing and troubling pivot points in our national culture war.

A growing number of conservatives see the concept of rape as a feminist manipulation, a legal standard which has been expanded well beyond its “legitimate” meaning.

This isn’t fringe stuff.

Last year, House Republicans pushed a measure that would have limited federal funding for abortions only to women who have experienced “forcible” rape, suggesting that another kind of rape might be possible.  The term was eventually dropped from the bill.

Conservatives have also questioned whether the concept of “marital” rape might weaken the institution of marriage.  In 2003, one of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees was held up because of writings about rape and criminal justice:

[Jude James Leon] Holmes argued in a 1997 article co-written with his wife for a Catholic publication that “the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband.” In another article, he incorrectly claimed that “concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.”

In the 1990s, a state lawmaker in North Carolina argued before a state House Appropriations Committee that women don’t get pregnant when raped, because “the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work.”  This from the AP:

Republican Representative Henry Aldridge made the remarks to the House Appropriations Committee as it debated a proposal to eliminate a state abortion fund for poor women.

“The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant,” said Aldridge, a 71-year-old periodontist. “Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

A similar view was offered in the late 1980s by then state Rep. Stephen Freind from Pennsylvania, often described as a leading opponent of abortion in that state.  This from the Philadelphia Daily News.
The reason [victims of rape don't become pregnant] Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.
If 1988 seems like ancient history, wind the clock forward to this year when state Senator Chuck Winder in Idaho suggested that rape might be an excuseused by women hoping to avoid restrictions on abortions.

“Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this,” Winder said on the Senate floor. “I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”

This concept, that rape might be a red herring, used inappropriately by wives, was shared by Rep. Akin himself, who voted reluctantly for a marital rape bill in Missouri after fretting that the law might be used “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband.”

Some parts of the conservative argument about rape can, of course, be dismissed out of hand.

Rape does often lead to pregnancy and there is no scientific merit to the claim that the female reproductive system possesses some sort of defense mechanism that stops pregnancy in certain instances.

(The CDC reports that some 32,000 pregnancies a year occur because of rape.)

It is also a demonstrable fact that many sexual assaults and rapes occur within relationships and marriage.

But it’s important for journalists to tell this story accurately and in context.

What Rep. Akin said fits into a broad concern within the conservative movement that the concept of rape has been misapplied as part of an effort to weaken the institution of marriage and as a strategy to maintain legal abortions.

A lot of conservatives also still point nervously back to the 1960s and 1970s when feminist theorists were, in fact, pushing to broaden the definitions of rape, sexual assault and date rape.

This political and intellectual framework matters.

Fortunately, one of the most important underlying principles of Akins’ statement is beginning to draw scrutiny, namely the concept that abortion should be illegal even in cases where rape caused the pregnancy.

CNN is reporting that this “value” has moved to the mainstream of the Republican movement.  Indeed, the GOP’s platform for next week’s convention includes language banning abortion in all cases, with no exception for incest, rape or the health of the woman.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Lawmaker-Says-Rape-Can-t-Cause-Pregnancy-3036411.php#ixzz1plYb6Vjh

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89 Comments on “Is rape really a culture war issue? Yes.”

  1. tourpro says:

    Rep. Kerry Gauthier (D) …..

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  2. JDM says:

    Talk about piling on. This is a lot of words to cover one GOP poor choice of words.

    No, this won’t sink the conservative movement. It will likely end the ambitions of GOP Senator candidate.

    But to try to make hay out of this is just another example of liberal pile-on.

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  3. Kathy says:

    Technology has brought our personal opinions and the right to speak those personal opinions to a whole new level.

    In the realm of our government leaders, I realize “to whom much is given much is required”. Yet, it seems over the top.

    Case in point, Rep. Kevin Yoder is reprimanded because of skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. Do I care? No.

    If I wanted to play tit for tat, the Republicans really get nailed with this stuff, don’t they? But wait. I thought in the U.S. we had free speech?

    Before I get nailed with “Do you think it was right what Akin said?” – let me say he has the right to say it. The fact that he is scientifically proved wrong is not the point. The point is how intolerant some have become – who preach tolerance.

    What a distraction.

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  4. Pete Klein says:

    Yes!
    Rape is rape. Period. Any male forcing himself on a woman, even if he is married to her, is not a man.
    Having an abortion after being raped is no different than regurgitating poison after one has been poisoned.
    For my money, I wasn’t a human being until after I was born. To be a human being requires one to know they are human, one of many who not only have a heart beat but also breathe in air.

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  5. Larry says:

    This reads like an attempt to parlay the comments of a fool into a branding of conservatives as all opposed to feminism in general and specifically, abortion. It almost makes one feel sorry for Akin. It’s bad enough to be an idiot on a local level without going national. Isn’t this rather like branding all liberals as being soft on crime?

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  6. Brian Mann says:

    Larry – It’s not an attempt to brand anyone. It’s an attempt to put Akin’s comments into context. Click any of the links that I included. You’ll see that there is a broad, complex discussion on the right about the use (and perhaps misuse) of the concept of rape in our society and legal system. Akin expressed some very specific views which are shared by a lot of people. Pointing that out is…journalism.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  7. George Nagle says:

    Representative Todd Atkin’s comment reflects the beliefs of his highly conservative church. He’s not a fool or a loose cannon.

    He’s speaking out of the community of which he’s a a part. This supports Brian’s point that “this isn’t fringe stuff.”

    Atkin graduated from his church’s seminary with a Master of Divinity degree.
    See http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/faith_and_politics/rep_todd_akin_the_republican.html

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  8. laurie says:

    This isn’t simply a matter of a “poor choice of words.” This man — a man who sits on the House Science and Technology Committee no less — truly and unabashedly believes something which can be scientifically and statistically proven untrue: that the female body has defenses to prevent pregnancy in the case of rape. It’s not a matter of “free speech” either. Does he have the right to spout this misguided drivel? Absolutely, and no one’s argued otherwise. Does the press have a right to point out that a Congressman and possible future Senator is an idiot? They not only have the right, they have a responsibility to do so. This is a man who is running for a seat which could decide which side of the aisle gains the majority in a completely partisan Senate, which could make all the difference in the world to a woman like me (especially when one side of the aisle seems hell-bent on legislating my reproductive system.) “Feel sorry for Akin?” You’ve got to be kidding! If shaming Akin is what it takes to get people to wake up an realize what kind of ignorant fools we’re all electing to our government, then so be it. If the recognition that a man so utterly misguided can climb to such a high level of government makes even .00001% of the electorate take a closer look at their potential candidates in November — regardless of what party they belong too — than something good will have come of it.

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  9. JDM says:

    laurie: “If shaming Akin is what it takes to get people to wake up an realize what kind of ignorant fools we’re all electing to our government, then so be it.”

    Care to shame Bill Clinton? How about Ted Kennedy?

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  10. Peter Hahn says:

    This mixes sex, abortion and men’s attitudes towards women all in one very public “mis-speaking”.

    However, the concept of “legitimate” rape sounds like an anti-abortion law concept. They are afraid that if there is an exception for rape, that some women will claim they were raped? Or is it only provable forcible rape?

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  11. laurie says:

    JDM, thank you for illustrating everything that is wrong with politics and public debate these days. Brush aside any valid points that might have been made with a dismissive “well, the other party does bad things too! Nah nah nananah!”

    You seem to be insinuating otherwise, but Clinton was raked over the coals in the press at the time just like Akin is is being now. As for Kennedy, that was before my time, so I’m going to have to defer to others’ memories on that one.

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  12. Will Doolittle says:

    A classic post, Kathy: According to you, it’s intolerant to point out the intolerance of others. They’re exercising their right of free speech, which we should value. So we’re trying to squelch free speech when we point out that something someone said was stupid, scientifically wrong, oppressive, sexist, or all of these wrapped up in one colosally bad notion.
    I am intolerant of intolerance. I do hate hateful speech. I am prejudiced against prejudice. I do want people who spout unenlightened babble to shut it.

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  13. JDM says:

    laurie “well, the other party does bad things too! Nah nah nananah”

    Not at all. Clinton was not raked over the coals. He was defended. I wasn’t participating on this blog at the time, but who knows, he may have been defended, here.

    I’m not suggesting you dismiss Akin. I’m suggesting you also use the same measure on everyone.

    Let’s not hold Akin to the “conservative” standard, and Clinton, Kenndey, et.al. to the “liberal” standard.

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  14. Brian Mann says:

    JDM –

    Are you suggesting that President Bill Clinton raped someone? That’s what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the legal and societal standards that surround rape. Rape is not salacious behavior. It’s not having an affair. It’s not behaving inappropriately. It’s not even lying to congress. So to be clear: Are you suggesting that at some point Clinton was accused of raping a woman and people somehow gave him a pass on it?

    If not, then I fear that what you are doing blurs the lines here in troubling ways. And it speaks directly to my point that for many conservatives even a concept as apparently black and white as rape falls into a much more complicated ‘dialectic’ about moral and immoral behavior.

    You may be right that some liberals downplayed the seriousness of Clinton’s indiscretions. But did they try to cover up an act of sexual violence? Those are two profoundly different things.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  15. Mervel says:

    It all goes go back to the abortion debate.

    It is a bizarre way to get to a position that holds that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape. Akin and others (as brain points out it is not just him but a train of thought), somehow feel the need to justify their stance by blaming a women for a rape, much like happens in extremist Islamic nations when women are blamed for a rape, sometimes even being forced to marry the rapist.

    There is a whole subtext of the abortion debate that those in the trenches know and what the general public finds bizarre and disturbing. The reason that some congressmen wanted the word “forcible” in the earlier legislation was they were worried that it was a Planned parenthood plot to claim that ALL teenage pregnancy was essentially statutory rape, and thus all teenage pregnancy was rape and thus you could use government dollars to pay for all teenage abortions.

    I remember when that came up as I get some of those newsletters, but to the regular person, this is nutty and I think it is paranoid nuttiness.

    People get all caught up in this debate and forget to look around at the real world, if you don’t do that you sound really really crazy like Akin and others sound.

    There is an argument that would hold that even in the case of rape abortion is wrong; but it has nothing to do with the violence of rape.

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  16. Mervel says:

    All sexual activity between someone over 18 and someone under the age of consent which is 16 or younger in NY (differs from state to state) is rape for example. Clinton got under the wire by a couple of years.

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  17. Mervel says:

    I think Lewisnki was 19 and he was 50 something. Not rape, but not far from the definition either.

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  18. Brian Mann says:

    Mervel -

    Yes, having sex with a 19 year old women is profoundly far from the definition of the rape.

    This, I think, is the rubber hitting the road in this discussion.

    Rape is a violent crime. It is not in a gray zone along with inappropriate or indiscrete or just plain creepy behavior.

    When those sorts of muddly things happen, people are at liberty to make all the usual societal decisions:

    Who behaved well in this situation? Who didn’t? Is this a person we want in a position of authority?

    But rape is a crime, a clearly defined one. There is an assailant and there is a victim. When someone is accused of rape, courts decide if the charge can be proved and, if so, what punishment should be meted out.

    I think your post (like JDM’s) speaks to the muddle on the right that currently exists around this issue, where rape is often conflated with a more ambiguous cloud of acts that are (by some definitions) immoral or repugnant and where our responses are also more nuanced.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  19. Peter Hahn says:

    The logic seems to be, If abortion is always wrong, even in the case of rape or incest, then it would be nice if it was not possible to get pregnant via rape. That seems to be the “science” that Akin has come up with. But where does it come from? And is there a corollary about incest?

    The “legitimate” rape, it seems is more about not letting women claim they were raped just to get a safe, but otherwise illegal abortion (if the strict anti-abortion laws were passed).

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  20. Mervel says:

    I agree Brain.

    However as I said sex between anyone over the age of 18 and anyone 16 or younger, regardless of force or not, is by definition rape.

    So rape is rape correct? Do you consider statutory rape to be “real” rape? Say the case of a 19 year old and a 15 year old? (As an aside I DO consider it rape, as does the law).

    The muddle is not on the right only on this issue.

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  21. TomL says:

    Holy red herrings, batman!

    Clinton, Kennedy, the drunken skinny-dipper in the Sea of Galilee? Prurient personal behavior scandals that might indicate something about a politician’s judgment, but have little direct bearing on legislation.

    Akin’s statement does matter as a policy issue. The man is on the House Science & Tech Committee. He was a co-sponsor (along with Paul Ryan) for a bill that banned abortion except for ‘forcible’ rape – a ludicrous verbal construction, since rape by definition is unconcensual, meaning forced.

    While Akin may have been the bluntest, there have been a number of politicians, mostly conservative Republicans, who refer to “legitimate rape” or “forcible rape” or “REALLY rape”. And the belief that rape cannot result in pregnancy seems to be widespread.

    I understand (and respect) that some people oppose abortion even in cases of rape because they see it as taking an innocent human life. But advocating legislation like a constitutional ban on all abortion (which is in this year’s Republican plank), by using the claim that raped women don’t get pregnant anyway, is the epitome of mendacity or ignorance, and yet is regularly done, and not just by Akin.

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  22. Mervel says:

    Consider the muddle further. If you provide birth control to a 15 year old who is having sex with someone who is an adult (18 or above), in that case you would be a party to rape, would be facilitating rape and protecting the rapist if you do not report the crime. This is one of the reason’s planned parenthood declines to be covered under the mandated reporting laws that other institutions are held to.

    So these issues are certainly a muddle I agree.

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  23. Brian Mann says:

    Mervel – Yes absolutely – statutory rape is rape.

    -Brian, NCPR

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  24. Mayflower says:

    We are witnessing a frenzy of Republican leaders lining up at microphones to condemn this Congressman and demand his withdrawal. “He does not reflect our position; this reflects poorly on him, not us,” they cry.

    Sorry. Suddenly treating him like the crazy uncle in the attic won’t wash. Why? Because, of course, the Republican leadership didn’t keep him in the attic; instead, they assigned him to a majority seat on the Science and Technology Committee of the United States Congress.

    Do they believe what he believes? Who knows? — but let us grant the benefit of the doubt and assume that they do not share his views. So, what does it say about the leadership of the Republican Party that, while they “disagree, disapprove, reject, condemn, etc. etc. etc.” they would, nonetheless, promote him to such a position of influence over the affairs of this country?

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  25. myown says:

    Faith is believing something is true in the absence of any facts or data.

    Ignorance is believing something is true in the face of contrary facts and data.

    Tolerance of faith can be noble. Tolerance of ignorance is always wrong.

    Mixing ignorance and ideology has negative consequences that lead to such things as prejudice, hatred and wars.

    Education is an effort to overcome ignorance.

    Public/political discussion today allows too much deference to ignorance. Mr. Akin’s comments were of ignorance and have no place for an elected official responsible for setting public policy. The duty of the press is to not only report when a public official speaks ignorantly but also to make the facts and data known and clear to dispel any notion of validity.

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  26. JDM says:

    Brian: “I think your post (like JDM’s) speaks to the muddle on the right that currently exists around this issue, where rape is often conflated with a more ambiguous cloud of acts”

    No, what Bill Clinton did to Juanita Broaddrick was a violent act.

    Nice try to overlook that one.

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  27. Pete Klein says:

    See, this is what happens when “liberals” decide they are going to try to meet the anti-abortion halfway by accepting the idea that abortions should be illegal except in the case rape or incest.
    I say abortion should be legal – period!
    As to Akin’s idea that the punishment should be severe for the rapist, I agree. But it off.

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  28. Pete Klein says:

    I wrote the above too quick and didn’t proof read because I am tired of the topic.
    I meant to write – cut it off.

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  29. Will Doolittle says:

    The even broader context here is conservative antipathy to science, accompanied by conservatives’ tendency to make up their own, fictional “science.” This weird tendency applies to Akin’s rape statements and other fabulist nonsense from other conservatives on global warming and evolution.

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  30. Brian Mann says:

    JDM -

    The Broaddrick case is a complex one.

    I know that many conservatives feel that Clinton should have been charged with a crime because of Ms. Broaddrick’s allegations.

    But after various investigations (by journalists, the FBI, the US House) no criminal charges were filed and independent observers have reached starkly different conclusions about the merits of her claims.

    My take on this is simple:

    If enough evidence can be gathered that Clinton committed the crime of rape, he should be tried.

    If a jury convicts him of rape, he should serve time just like any other rapist.

    But under the American system of justice, people — even presidents and former presidents — are presumed innocent.

    Finally, I want to point out that your argument here continues to treat rape primarily as a fungible culture war concept.

    It is an accusation, in your view, which is applied selectively, one which “liberals” are very strict on unless they are talking about “one of their own.”

    You are, if I read you right, suggesting that liberals too have cases where rape is not considered “legitimate.”

    I don’t think this washes.

    There may indeed be instances where people of power escape justice in our society, but that doesn’t equate to a policy on the left that muddles the concept or importance of rape.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  31. Kathy says:

    A classic post, Kathy: According to you, it’s intolerant to point out the intolerance of others.

    No, I don’t think it’s intolerant to point out the intolerance of others. I was pointing out technology (24/7 news stations, internet) hashes and re-hashes this – why?

    Much of it seems petty.

    I think we could all grow thicker skin.

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  32. Kathy says:

    Larry said: This reads like an attempt to parlay the comments of a fool into a branding of conservatives as all opposed to feminism in general and specifically, abortion.

    This would be the same if we branded liberals in support of feminism in general, and pro-choice.

    There’s a wide spectrum on both sides.

    As George pointed out, He’s speaking out of the community of which he’s a a part.

    There were studies done in the late 70′s supporting Akin’s claim.

    http://www.hli.org/index.php/cloning/685?task=view

    Akin’s usage of “legitimate” rape is causing an uproar with women, I am sure. Yet, is Akin correct in this usage? There are men who have been wrongly accused of rape. And some staunch, far-right conservatives perhaps believe that the onset of the feminist movement has caused some women to have found such strength in the movement or anti-men that they would go to this extreme.

    I think the thing that is so baffling to me is how can our culture be so sexually charged; reflected in our entertainment, magazines, etc., and so readily accessible – yet we crucify our leaders?

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  33. Will Doolittle says:

    The rape questions are not petty, Kathy. Do you really think they are? Do you think it’s petty to point out to a man, repeatedly and in many contexts, that he is wrong when he says women’s bodies shut down in cases of rape to prevent pregnancy? Is it petty to insist that the phrase “legitimate rape” is offensive?
    Some things are petty. I agree the Sea of Galilee skinny-dipping is amusing and not important.
    But because some things are petty, that doesn’t make everything petty.

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  34. Oops, we can’t say anything about this.

    That would be (horror) “incivility”.

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  35. Kathy says:

    The rape questions are not petty, Kathy. Do you really think they are?

    No, because I said much of it seems petty – meaning the hashing and re-hashing that continues with 24/7 technology until someone resigns.

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  36. Kathy says:

    I am willing to call the GOP on what I believe is ridiculous – that Akin should resign from the senate race.

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  37. Kathy says:

    I get it folks. There’s lot of far-right, Conservative Christians out there who have lowered the gavel on society and have shown no mercy.

    Because of this, they give Christianity a bad name, causing people to recoil.

    There is a time to stand up with what you believe in despite popular belief and I have no qualms with people doing so – with graciousness.

    But whenever a Christian leader says something that is based on traditional morals or values, there is a huge gasp. The baby is thrown out with the bath water.

    Let’s face it. We’re tilting far on the “anything goes” scale. Last night I heard a journalist say we’re just “this far” from seeing live sex on TV or in public.

    So, if anyone stands up for what they believe in and it doesn’t fit with the program, they are tarnished for life.

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  38. Mervel says:

    As a person who is pro-life I do get a lot of the literature, email blasts etc, from the hard core activists. Brian is on to something though that Akin is not totally an aberration, he certainly is not the mainstream pro-life, but he is not alone.

    If you believe that a human being is created at the moment of conception, you have certain consequences flowing from that idea. One of them would be that it is not the person’s fault if they were conceived through the horror of rape. Now Akin seems to be off on this strange trip to justify his thinking because rape might not be rape or might not be so bad or might not ever really happen etc. In addition there was all of this thinking that the definition of statutory rape would be expanded and thus the rape exemption would be expanded. It’s all kind of paranoid thinking.

    The whole issue of statutory rape then gets into birth control and how that plays into those who provide birth control to young girls. So it is all part of the same political fighting.

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  39. JDM says:

    Brian Mann: “Finally, I want to point out that your argument here continues to treat rape primarily as a fungible culture war concept.”

    Certainly, that is not my intention. If anyone has a record of mistreating women, it is Bill Clinton. That he can take the stage as a major figure in the Democratic convention, is despicable, especially in light of the way the media condemns statements like Akin’s.

    The only “good” that may come from this is that Akin drops out, and his replacement turns out to be twice as conservative, and then beats McCaslin.

    That may not be the way to bet, but it is the way to pray.

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  40. Pete Klein says:

    Statutory rape is certainly something that can cloud the water.
    When the charge is made, you really need a judge who can see beyond the letter of the law.
    What do I mean? I think it is one thing when you have someone above (how far above?) the age of twenty who has consensual sex with a girl of say 17. I think it is a whole different thing when we are talking about consensual sex when there is only a year or two difference between the underage person and their partner.
    This becomes especially true if we are going to continue to insist girls mature earlier than boys.

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  41. Peter Hahn says:

    Here is the “study” where that comes from http://www.christianliferesources.com?5068

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  42. Kathy says:

    Thanks Peter Hahn. Helpful.

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  43. Kindra says:

    The comment was completely unintelligent for an elected official. Get him out! There is a cause to remove him spreading across the Web – http://www.youstand.com/cause/82112/remove-todd-akin-from-the-house-science-committee

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  44. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Helpful? How? To find out that there are 200,000 rapes every year – and of course we are only talking about rape of women here – and that we are having this discussion brought about by despicable people who want to re-define rapes so that they can push a political agenda on abortion?

    I find it mind boggling that this post has dragged on so far. What is there to talk about? The guy (Akin) is a despicable idiot. End of comments.

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  45. Kathy says:

    Helpful to bring some light to why Akin said what he said.

    I was looking for the basis of his stand.

    Didn’t say I agreed.

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  46. PNElba says:

    “Dr. Willke is the president of the nationwide, educational Life Issues Institute. He has served for ten years as president of the U.S. National Right to Life Committee. He helped found the International Right to Life Federation in 1984 (president emeritus).”

    Just the guy I want doing a “study” on how a women’s body resists pregnancy when raped legitimately.

    What really concerns me is that there is zero difference between what Akin believes and what Ryan (an thus Romney) believes.

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  47. Mervel says:

    I don’t know PNE, I don’t really think that is true. I don’t know Ryan’s full stances on abortion beyond that he is pro-life. Romney is pretty all over the map on the issue, at one time in his political career he was outwardly pro-choice, certainly he has changed or is now saying he has changed on the issue.

    But I don’t think that means they buy into all of this strange rape stuff. But in every movement you have a crazy element I am not sure we can lump anyone who is pro-life into the same camp as the thought process of Akin and those who think like him about rape.

    Unless you have heard Ryan talk about rape and this other stuff before?

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  48. Larry says:

    OK, so now rape denial and bogus reproductive science are mainstays of conservative, Republican political thought? I thought Romney clearly repudiated Akin’s comments.

    Brian and Will: you call yourselves journalists? I thought journalism was reporting fact. You are both editorialists, and cheerleaders for anti-Republican liberalism. There’s a big difference between fact and opinion but you two consistently blur the lines. Remember, painting with that broad brush works both ways. A mixed metaphor for certain, but I think you get the point.

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  49. Rep. Akin’s comments basically said that any woman who gets pregnant and says she was raped is a liar because rape doesn’t result in pregnancy. That makes as much sense as throwing an accused witch into the pond all tied up and if she drowns she wasn’t a witch (they actually used to use that as a test). His comments display an ignorance that goes back to the 1800s and do not commend him as someone who should be deciding important issues for the rest of us.

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  50. Peter Hahn says:

    Larry – representative Ryan co-sponsored legislation with similar rape language related to abortion.

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