Recently Missouri Senatorial candidate Todd Akin stated that he opposes a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, even in cases of rape, because he says “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy. He claims that a woman’s body somehow knows to “shut the whole thing down” and prevent pregnancy that might result from a sexual assault.
Rape is rape and it is ignorant and insensitive to suggest that some forms of rape are legitimate and others are not. Additionally his claim about pregnancy is medically inaccurate; there is absolutely no evidence that the female body can instinctively defend itself against pregnancy as Akin suggests. According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, 25,000 become pregnant women each year as a result of rape. For Akin to suggest that their experience is illegitimate is appalling.
It is disturbing that people are legislating and running for office who have such a fundamental disregard for women and women’s health. Akin is not alone in his beliefs, though. His statements reflect the views of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and many others. Last year, Ryan cosponsored a bill that would essentially redefine rape in order to create legislative barriers for women seeking to terminate a pregnancy. It would do so at one of the most traumatic and vulnerable points in a woman’s life. San Diego Congressman Brian Bilbray co-sponsored the bill to redefine rape. He also voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Bilbray calls himself a moderate, but his record shows him in lockstep with extremists like Todd Akin.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has stated that he wants to shut down Planned Parenthood and the nation’s family planning program, which currently provides five million low-income people with lifesaving cervical, breast and testicular cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception. As most people know, more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood services are preventive and federal funds do not pay for abortion except in very rare cases. There is no other organization that does more to reduce the rate of abortion than Planned Parenthood.
Linda LeGerrette, board of directors
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest