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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rep. Todd Akin can’t use economy to distract from ‘that whole [rape] thing’

    You know how you wouldn’t go to a car mechanic if you needed a plumber? Or an engineer when you’re looking for a dog walker? Republican Rep. Todd Akin, of Missouri, is just another example of why you wouldn’t call a legislator if you’re looking for a doctor.

    At a time when Democrats are accusing the GOP of waging a “war on women,” Akin, a Senate candidate, did little to counter the claim during a TV interview posted Sunday: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

    Naturally, the Internet fired back at Akin. Comic Rob Delaney linked to the interview and Akin’s Twitter handle, writing that, “I know rape jokes are ‘out of favor,’ but Rep. Todd Akin of MO has an amazing one.”

    In minutes, Twitter users were advising Akin to take a basic biology course in addition to dropping out of the Senate race.

    Akin’s assertion is bizarrely common. Antiabortion advocate Dr. Jack C. Willke, an author of the book “Why Can’t We Love Them Both: Questions and Answers About Abortion,” told the Los Angeles Times in an interview that this can be traced back “30 and 40 years. When a woman is assaulted and raped, there’s a tremendous amount of emotional upset within her body.”

    That “upset” can be enough to prevent pregnancy by interfering with ovulation and fertilization, Willke said.

    But in 2001, researchers at St. Lawrence University examined the results of the National Violence against Women Survey, a study by the U.S. National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and found 6.4 percent of 405 respondents had gotten pregnant.

    So, wait. If the 6.4 percent of women who do get pregnant after rape had just been more upset by their assaults, they could have prevented their pregnancies? Is that how science works?

    According to New Scientist magazine, the figure rose to nearly 8 percent when the study’s researchers accounted for birth control users.

    On Monday, the national GOP informed Akin that it would not spend money to help elect him to the Senate after his comments, and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Akin’s remarks were “inexcusable.”

    The backlash forced Akin to backtrack: “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Akin said in a three-paragraph statement posted on his campaign website Sunday.

    It’s hard to believe Akin’s sincerity, considering you don’t just “misspeak” about the assaults of thousands of women. Actually, hundreds of thousands. An estimated 300,000 women annually, really, according to Department of Justice statistics.

    Akin’s statement ends with his declaration that the election is about a wide range of issues: “We’ve had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs. That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats’ failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead.”

    What’s it called when you throw a bunch of numbers about unemployment and deficits at the end of a non-apology to roughly 300,000 women? A distraction?

    — Kristina Bui is the editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at
    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @kbui1

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