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McCaskill Statement on Akin's "Legitimate Rape" and Pregnancy Remarks

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McCaskill Statement on Akin's "Legitimate Rape" and Pregnancy Remarks

St. Louis, Mo. — McCaskill for Missouri 2012 released the following statement from Sen. Claire McCaskill after Todd Akin said women who are victims of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant because their bodies have a way to "shut that whole thing down." As a former prosecutor, Claire McCaskill has worked closely with hundreds of rape victims and intimately understands their trauma and pain. It is that experience that makes Akin's statements so outrageous.

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," said McCaskill. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

Today, St. Louis station KTVI aired an interview with Akin, where he made the following statement:

JACO: Ok, so if an abortion could be considered in the case of say a tubal pregnancy or something like that, what about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?

AKIN: Well, you know, people always want to try and make that as one of those things... "Well, how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question?"

It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment. But the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Akin previously was the cosponsor of a bill to redefine rape, and it was recently reported that Akin opposed a state law against spousal rape because it might be used as a tool against husbands in a "messy divorce."


Akin Co-Sponsored Bill to Redefine Rape. In 2011, Akin co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, which would redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt only “forcible rape” and not “rape” generally. According to the Washington Post, the Act would make a version of the Hyde Amendment permanent. The Hyde Amendment, which had been renewed every year since 1976, prevented some federally-funded health care programs from covering abortions, with exceptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened. However, under the language proposed by the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, rape becomes “forcible rape.” The Washington Post reported that the bill’s critics believed “the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.” [HR 3 Co-Sponsors, 112th Congress; Washington Post, 2/01/11]

Akin Questioned Spousal Rape Law Because It Might Be Misused “In A Real Messy Divorce As a Tool and Legal Weapon to Beat Up on the Husband.” Reported Talking Points Memo in August 2012, “Back in 1991, as a state legislator, Akin voted for an anti-marital-rape law, but only after questioning whether it might be misused “in a real messy divorce as a tool and a legal weapon to beat up on the husband,” according to a May 1 article that year in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via LexisNexis).” [Talking Points Memo, 8/10/12]

Study: Rape More Likely to Result in Pregnancy Than Consensual Sex. According to a study published in Human Nature in 2003, rape is more likely to result in pregnancy than consensual sex. "Is a given instance of rape more likely to result in pregnancy than a given instance of consensual sex? This paper undertakes a review and critique of the literature on rape-pregnancy. Next, it presents our own estimation, from U.S. government data, of pregnancy rates for reproductive age victims of penile-vaginal rape. Using data on birth control usage from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, we then form an estimate of rapepregnancy rates adjusted for the substantial number of women in our sample who would likely have been protected by oral contraception or an IUD. Our analysis suggests that per-incident rape-pregnancy rates exceed per-incident consensual pregnancy rates by a sizable margin, even before adjusting for the use of relevant forms of birth control. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are discussed, as are its implications to ongoing debates over the ultimate causes of rape." (emphasis added) [Jonathan A. Gottschall and Tiffani A. Gottschall, "Are per-incident rape-pregnancy rates higher than per-incident consensual-pregnancy rapes?," Human Nature, Volume 14, Number 1 (2003)]

Over 32,000 Pregnancies Result from Rape Each Year. According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology in 1996, 32,101 pregnancies result from pregnancies each year. "The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion." (emphasis added) [Melisa M. Holmes, et al, "Rape-related pregnancy: Estimates and descriptive characteristics based on a national sample of women," American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Volume 175, Issue 2 (1996)]


Publication Date: 
Sunday, August 19, 2012