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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Column: The legitimate rape

According to Todd Akin, Republican representative from Missouri, rape does not result in pregnancy. He also says that his views are different from those of his opponent who “supports abortion.”

Mr. Akin, not only have your statements offended the vast majority of the population of this country, but you have flaunted your ignorance and embodied everything that is wrong with religiously based political campaigns.

This is a science column, not a political column, so instead of filling the lines with political rants and party favoritism, this column will use science and fact to, in essence, show everyone why Akin is wrong.  Akin is wrong about rape and pregnancy, and he is wrong about abortion.

In a reality-based world where scientific inquiry means progress and knowledge, it is just as important to prove what is wrong as it is to prove what is right. Our society puts up with a fair amount of conspiracy theories, supernatural beliefs and outdated ways of thinking. With the abundance of papers being published and research being done, it is often difficult to parse the wheat from the chaff. In this case however, just 10 minutes of homework could have saved Akin from all the embarrassment he is now enduring.

Akin made his statement based on “what [he] understand[s] from doctors,” but it turns out that the only “doctor” he is referencing is the author of an extremely controversial paper from 1972, The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician’s Perspective, which used research conducted at Nazi death camps in the late 1940s.  According to the most recent research, however, between 5 and 6 percent of rape victims in the United States become pregnant, resulting in nearly 32,000 pregnancies every year. Furthermore, many prominent physicians state that rape-induced pregnancy is close to twice as likely as pregnancy from consensual sex. Let me repeat that: Rape is almost twice as likely to result in pregnancy as consensual sex. So not only are Akin’s statements misogynistic and insulting, but they are completely opposite to accepted medical fact.

Another fantastical claim made during this same speech was that if women wanted to, they could “shut down the whole process,” as in, shut down the pregnancy process at will. Pregnancy occurs when a woman is ovulating, and sperm fertilize an egg. If sperm are present, whether through consent or by rape, a woman has no more control over the physiological process than any of us have over the beat of our heart.

Now let’s explore the anti-abortion and anti-contraception debacle.  Akin’s entire basis for making abortion illegal is that it is not necessary because rapes do not result in pregnancy. This is a bogus, pseudo-scientific claim that has been debunked over and over again. The argument is that making abortion and contraception legal will only lead to promiscuous behavior. That is akin to saying that lifejackets should be illegal because they lead to dangerous behavior in water, or seat belts should be illegal because they make people drive recklessly.

Akin’s other major mistake was claiming that his opponent was “pro-abortion.”  I can say with near complete certainty that no one is pro-abortion. People are pro-choice, as in, they may not support the act of abortion itself, but they believe in the right for a woman to choose her own course of action. It would be a rare occurrence that someone would actively support abortion as a practice.

What many people fail to realize is that freedom of religion also implies freedom from religion.  A non-religious individual should have no obligation to obey a religiously based law, just as no one would expect a Christian to obey Jewish laws, or a Jew to obey Islamic laws, and so on.

It is totally fine to have religious beliefs.  It is totally fine to have strong religious beliefs.  It is not totally fine when an individual or group tries to force those beliefs onto others, especially when those beliefs consist of archaic laws and practices.  The extreme evangelism and bigotry endemic in many of these beliefs are not only a violation of our country’s laws, but flaunt the blatant ignorance of the beliefs’ adherents.  Every year, let us ask the 32,000 women pregnant from rape whether that rape was legitimate. See how that goes.

HUDSON LOFCHIE can be reached at science@theaggie.org.


  1. SMH. Even though you claim this is a scientific article (and should therefore be objective), your writing is saturated with prejudice.
    I definitely see some of your points, but in your criticism of Akin, you also exposed quite a bit of your own ignorance.
    “…especially when those beliefs consist of archaic laws and practices…”
    You are obviously (and sadly) basing many of your opinions on a generalized understanding of religion, not on any real or hard knowledge.
    Lastly, if you took a moment to empathize with people who are Pro-Life (at least those who are serious about it and not just jumping on the bandwagon), I hope you would see this issue from a different perspective–
    example – let’s say years in the future, our government passed laws that stated it was okay to kill people who wrong you if you get legal permission to end their life. And for the sake of argument, let’s say that it became an acceptable social norm, but you yourself deep down felt that it was wrong to take someone’s life like that anyway, even though the rest of society thought you were just some overly religious nut. Would you just brush it off and say, “Well, I’M not okay with killing people, but it’s their choice because they were the ones who were wronged”? Or would you act on what your conscience is telling you and try to help those people/change the law?
    That’s exactly how pro-life people feel about the issue of abortion. They can’t just sit back and let innocent people die just because it’s the social norm not to consider a fetus as a human being. They can’t, in good conscience, do nothing (which, honestly, is sorta what being pro-choice is. You kinda even say it in your article third paragraph from the bottom).
    Anyways, I hope you understand at least a little bit where pro-lifers are coming from. I don’t mean to sound aggressive or anything. I was just very saddened by your article and what seems to be your opinion of us.

  2. i really enjoyed reading your editorial regarding the foolish comments made by a foolish. It is nice to see the collegiates, where I was educated, talking about, and writing about issues of such importance. Continued success and continue educating others through the power of the medium.


  3. Here is the good news: Akin refuses to drop out of the race for US Senate. But here is the bad news: the Democrats do not seem to be rallying folks in swing states to vote against the Romney/Ryan (R&R)regime that would work to outlaw abortion even in the case of “legitimate” (as distinguished from feigned) rape.

    I am afraid that most citizens – including UC Davis students – will do nothing or way too little to forestall the installation of the R&R regime. Students might want to read or re-read THE GRAPES OF WRATH. That is where Americans are headed under R&R.


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