Rape and Pregnancy and Politics

by Sharon Mahler
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(Sep 22, 2012) Does a woman's body react differently to rape than to consensual sex?

During the 2012 election campaign, this became a big issue when Republican candidate Todd Akin said in an interview that women who are raped are unlikely to become pregnant. There was an immediate firestorm of criticism. Our Mr Johansen has written an article on this site about this incident, but I'd like to add my own comment, if you please.

In news story after news story on the subject, we were told that the idea that a woman's body can somehow magically tell that she is being raped is ridiculous. The New York Times printed an article (Aug 21, 2012) with the headline, "Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape", that included quotes like, "'There are no words for this -- it is just nuts,' said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School." And, "Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that 'to suggest that there's some biological reason why women couldn't get pregnant during a rape is absurd.'" Over and over the basic medical fact was drilled into our heads: sex is sex, there's no way a woman's body would react differently to rape than to any other form of sex.

And then, then a paragraph or two later many would add a comment like this: "Are they rooted in facts, even a little bit? Well, no. One 1996 study about the incidences of rape-related pregnancy found that 5 percent of rapes resulted in pregnancy. One study put that number as high as 8 percent in cases in which birth control was used. For comparison, in consensual, unprotected sex, the pregnancy rate is only 3.1 percent." (Medical Daily (Aug 21, 2012) (I suspect they meant, "cases in which birth controal was not used, but like, whatever.)

Do you get it? When a pro-lifer said that a woman's body might behave differently in consensual sex than in rape, they laughed at the stupid idea that her body could magically tell the difference. And then a paragraph later they say that a woman's body can and does "magically" tell the difference, it's just the effect is the opposite of what the pro-lifer claimed. The idea that a woman's body might somehow magically know that she is being raped and so make her less likely to get pregnant is absurd, ridiculous, stupid, demonstrates profound ignoranance of the most basic facts of biology. But the idea that a woman's body might somehow magically know that she is being raped and so maker her more likely to get pregnant, well that's a serious scientific theory worthy of study and research.

Oh wait, did I say that that's an idea that should be researched? Stupid me: It's a proven fact! So apparently "science" has proven that women's bodies can and do somehow magically determine that she is being raped. As long, that is, as the results of that research are politically useful to the pro-choice cause. But if the results of that research might prove politically useful to the pro-life cause, well then the idea is so stupid and ridiculous and offensive that anyone who would even suggest such a thing should be laughed out of the room.


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