U.S. Akin made a stir with his comments about what he called "legitimate rape."
The gist of what he said: he had spoken with doctors who told him a woman’s body has mechanisms, if a woman is raped, to avoid pregnancy. Aside from the fact the claim is baseless in science, other aspects of his comments bothered me.
He explained to the interviewer that in the case of rape, perhaps the rapist should be punished, but not the baby.
First, rape is a crime. At one time, in this country, it was a capital offense in most states. So to toss off the line that maybe the rapist should be punished is to pooh-pooh what, in Indiana, could be a Class-A felony. I do not know of a delineation between "rape" and "legitimate rape" under the Indiana Code. Second, a fetus is not a "baby." Those cells only have formed as the basis for a human life—maybe, because complications could develop and the cells might not multiply beyond a point before miscarriage—and are not a human life.
What bothered me, about this particular part of the interview, was there was no mention of the woman who had been raped. I guess in Akin’s mind, the woman is a vessel. The man is important enough to be considered for prosecution—maybe. The fetus already is a human being. The woman did not merit mention in his statement.
Akin’s reasoning—or lack thereof—reminds me of the character of Dolores Umbrage in the last Harry Potter book. Umbrage presides over the trials of Muggles (non-magic people) accused of the practice of magic. Even though the accused might have graduated from the school for witchcraft and wizardry, if the person’s parents were not magic folk and the person thus not a "pure blood," the person could not lawfully possess a wand.
If abortion is legal in cases of rape, but a woman cannot get pregnant during rape, then how can we make an exception for abortion in the event of rape?
Akin’s beliefs are scary. His statement was abominable. It is unfortunate that many people agree with him. Apparently, Rep. Paul Ryan does. They co-sponsored measures on this topic in Congress, and sought to re-define rape.
And Ryan could be a heart beat away from the presidency if Romney is elected.