This article contains sensitive material regarding sexual violence which may be triggering for some. If you are triggered by this article and you would like to talk with someone please call:
Sexual Assault/Wellness Advocate
Meghan K. Root, MA, MEd
First Responders Network
Imagine a scenario in which, though all the events are perpetrated by someone else and are happening to you and you alone, you are unable to make any decisions regarding the outcome and the consequences. For example, consider a woman who has been raped. Her entire world is shattered and she’s left dealing with the mess her attacker made. She knows him, she sees him, or even if she doesn’t physically see him, she can remember it too often. Another constant reminder: there is a tiny, tiny, combination of cells growing inside her and some politician wants her to keep that baby regardless of whether she want to. He wants her to carry that reminder (in addition to her pain) for on average of 266 days.
Representative Todd Akin (R-MO 2nd District) said in an interview with KTVI-TV, a St. Louis television station, “It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
I, as a young woman, reading this was outraged. Since when has rape been defined by the adjective “legitimate?” I thought rape was rape: someone being forced to have sexual intercourse. Representative Akin, what exactly makes a rape illegitimate? Is it that the woman didn’t try to stop her rapist hard enough? That she wore too revealing clothing? That she brought it upon herself and it’s her fault? No, by all means of logic and moral decency: rape is rape.
The next topic of issue is that Akin seems to believe that a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy caused by rape. It is apparent that he is not aware of how the birds and the bees work. A woman’s body biologically cannot distinguish between consensual sexual intercourse and rape. The fact that he even said this leaves us with two options: one, that he did not know anything about what he was talking about, or two, he simply misspoke and could not express himself clearly. I, however, am leaning towards the first choice based on a later comment.
“I believe deeply in the protection of all life, and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion, and I understand I may not have their support in this election,” Akin said in a statement he released.
To be frank: I am pro-choice. I believe if you think abortion is morally wrong you do not have to get an abortion. But if abortion is the best option for your life, you should be allowed to get an abortion. I cannot imagine any woman treating abortion lightly. It is a very personal and very emotionally charged decision. I believe the woman should be informed of the risks and other options before being allowed to get an abortion. But they should be allowed to make that decision for themselves.
In the case of rape, however, abortion should never be made illegal. It would be punishing the woman for something she is not responsible for. It’d be torture and so morally and ethically wrong. Akin saying that the baby of a rape is an “innocent victim” is a loaded term. He mixes together two things: a baby of consensual sex, and a baby from rape. The baby from rape is innocent purely by virtue that they are a baby, but they are not the true victim. The true victim is the woman. The baby is secondary because it was conceived from a crime. To protect a result of a crime is injustice. The woman has had years of human experience, memories, relationships while the baby has not. They have no human existence yet. The possibilities of that baby could be limitless, but the child would also know that they were not created with consent. They were forced upon their mothers in the way of a crime, and would you ever wish that upon an innocent child? To know that they weren’t wanted? I would personally rather spare such a pure and innocent life of that. There will be more babies, more opportunities, but not at the cost of rape.