If I could push a button and get rid of the biggest idiot currently in Congress, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri) would be out on his ass. I'm stating this opinion crudely and bluntly for good reason: I can barely contain my anger. And I know I'm not alone. Millions of women would be pounding that button in outrage. (Especially rape survivor Renee Devesty whose story is at the end of this post.)
Akin is currently running for the Senate seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
If he even had the ghost of a chance, yesterday he blew it when Akins told KTVI-TV:
First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
As NBC News reports, everybody is piling on him, especially his own party:
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who heads the GOP's Senate campaign efforts, called Akin's statements "wrong, offensive, and indefensible." He called on Akin to "carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about and has fought for throughout his career in public service."
Former congresswoman and current Senate candidate from New Mexico, Heather Wilson, has also called on Akin to step aside.
Other Republicans have also been critical of Akin, including presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who called the congressman's remarks "inexcusable."
Joanne Bamberger, a political analyst and frequent network news commentator who blogs as PunditMom, tweeted to her followers:
Angry over Rep. Akin's remarks on "legitimate rape"? Please join me, @Kari Dahlen & @Laurie White by making a $5 contribution to Sen. Claire McCaskill's campaign. #$5-4-McCaskill
Even ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, was disgusted and immediately issued a response to Akin's idiotic statement:
Recent remarks by a member of the US House of Representatives suggesting that "women who are victims of 'legitimate rape' rarely get pregnant" are medically inaccurate, offensive, and dangerous.
Each year in the US, 10,000-15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest. An unknown number of pregnancies resulting from rape are carried to term. There is absolutely no veracity to the claim that "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down." A woman who is raped has no control over ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg (ie, pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.
Any person forced to submit to sexual intercourse against his or her will is the victim of rape, a heinous crime. There are no varying degrees of rape. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and insulting and minimizes the serious physical and psychological repercussions for all victims of rape.
If Akin continues to cling to his Senate campaign, he does so at the displeasure of his own political party along with medical professionals, survivors of rape, and women everywhere who are disgusted that such ignorance found its way into Congress. It's time for him to step down from his campaign and from Congress. There is no place in the political process for someone so backward-thinking and insensitive and just plain stupid.
Survivor and rape victim advocate Renee Devesty -- who became pregnant after a violent rape, chose to end her pregnancy, and broke her many years of silence to write about her experience for this website -- was livid when she heard Akin's comments. She told me:
I don't even know what to say. I'm furious. I'm just furious that this statement could be thrown out there. Can't Akin understand what goes on in your mind when you are raped? And when you find out that you are pregnant? That's insanity. I can't even find the words to say how insane that is... that he could think any woman can choose to decide not to become pregnant after being raped. That the body could "shut that whole thing down."
How can you validate rape? How can you categorize rape? How can you decide what is "legitimate rape" and illegitimate rape? I am so angry that these comments are being thrown out there casually with no regard for the emotional and psychological process that these women go through. There's so much damage done when a woman is raped and it takes years to move past what happened. We didn't have a choice when we were raped. It's insane to say our bodies have the ability to shut down that process. Just insane.
Update: After our phone interview, DeVesty went on to write a powerful commentary for Salon.com. It's painful, devastating, and honest. Both her Salon piece and her story here on About.com reveal difficult truths about the aftermath of rape and what it takes to survive.