Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) recently won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. He will be taking on Sen. Claire McCaskill in November. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape, and he explains that this position really isn’t a big deal because legitimate rape victims very rarely get pregnant.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin said that even in the worst-case scenario — when the supposed natural protections against unwanted pregnancy fail — abortion should still not be a legal option for the rape victim.

“Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

It would be biologically possible for the female of a species to develop some kind of spermicide that would be triggered by unwanted sexual advances, but women do not come with such a nifty feature. So, Todd Akin is wrong about that. But it’s probably more of a concern that he makes this distinction between legitimate and illegitimate rape. Just by way of example, a woman who is being raped may fight back with everything she can muster or she may submit quietly, depending on her personality and the situation. If someone has a knife to your throat, you’re probably not going to risk getting cut. There is no right way or wrong way to respond. That’s why you can’t make a distinction between forcible and non-forcible rape, as some conservatives have recently done.

Finally, there is Akin’s position that a woman who has been raped and impregnated will not be punished in any way by having to give birth to the rapist’s baby and then decide what to do with it. In his world, the only possible punishment for the crime is for the rapist or the resulting embryo. It’s like the victim and her interests and emotions don’t even exist.

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