Representative Todd Akin has, unwittingly to be sure, harmed the pro-life movement, his senatorial race in Missouri, the Republican party, and therefore quite possibly the nation.
Every person who speaks or writes for the public will make an occasional faux pas, and sooner or later will write or say something inappropriate. The game of “gotcha” that the media play — especially with regard to Republicans and conservatives — is what makes so many politicians sound robotic when they speak.
But Congressman Akin said something that cries out for condemnation and retraction — and necessitates an explanation.
On a Missouri TV program Sunday, he was asked his position on abortion in cases of rape. Mr. Akin responded, in part, that “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.”
While he should not have used the term “legitimate rape,” he could have explained later that, given the expanded definitions of rape, not all claims of “rape” are truly rape. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
entry for “Feminist Perspectives on Rape,” for example, states that “we must recognize that, in some cases, ‘yes’ also means no. . . . The man may threaten to sue for custody of their children, to derail her green card application, to evict her, or simply to sulk and make her life miserable for days should she refuse to have sex. Which (if any) such nonviolent coercive pressures should be regarded as rape, either morally or legally, is a matter of some controversy.”
That would have largely ended the issue. And he could have further noted that Republicans generally incline toward harsher penalties for violent crime than do Democrats.
The far greater problem was the other part of Congressman Akin’s comment: “From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy is] really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
As one wit put it about such a comment: That was worse than wrong, it was stupid.
Mr. Akin should say so.
And so should the pro-life movement.
Unless — and this would be upsetting — he, and the movement, don’t think this comment was stupid.
Pregnancy from rape is rare because a “woman’s body shuts down”?
Who told Mr. Akin this? And why would he believe it, even if some doctor did tell him this?
Here is my theory.
I have spent a good part of my life showing what an intellectual bubble the Left lives in. That is why so many could believe that boys don’t really prefer trains to tea sets or girls dolls to army soldiers. Those who believe such nonsense usually live in an intellectual bubble. They are raised by liberal parents, taught by left-wing teachers from high school through graduate school, watch left-wing MTV and news, listen to liberal NPR, go to movies produced by leftists, etc. Their whole world is left-wing. They don’t watch, listen to, study under, or socialize with conservatives.
Bubbles tend to produce nonsense. When the only people you talk to, read, and socialize with agree with you, it is easy to abandon critical thinking.
And when you are morally right — and those who argue for a right to life of unborn human beings (or human fetuses, if you prefer) are morally and even scientifically right — a bubble can make critical thought even more difficult.
I wonder if that is not the case with Representative Akin’s comment. If I were at a dinner party with Mr. Akin and he said what he said in his Missouri television interview, as much as I consider the vast majority of abortions in America to be immoral acts, I would have respectfully asked the congressman whether he was aware of the marauding armies throughout history that raped women. Did he assume that very few of them — like the German women raped by Soviet soldiers at the end of World War II — got pregnant? Did he not know how many raped slaves gave birth? Was he not aware of the tragedy of the women of Darfur who, after being raped by Sudanese Arab soldiers, are abandoned by their families for getting pregnant out of wedlock?
This country is on the verge of an inexorable moral, social, and economic decline. The Left is doing to America what it has done to almost everything it has deeply influenced — the arts, the university, religion, culture, minorities, Europe: ruining it. It is therefore morally incumbent on conservatives to do everything in their power not to give the Left legitimate targets.
Therefore, the pro-life movement should announce that the comment on pregnancy has no basis in truth. And since truth is a supreme conservative and religious value, the movement neither espouses nor condones untruths. The Republican party has said this. And since Todd Akin has not said this, his candidacy is no longer viable.
Morality, truth, and the most important elections in our lifetime demand no less.
— Dennis Prager, a nationally syndicated columnist and radio talk-show host, is author of Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He may be contacted through his website, dennisprager.com.