Everyone knows that Todd Akin made some bizarre and offensive comments about rape and abortion, but no politician (including Akin) wants to talk about the substantive issue.
Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said in an interview Sunday that pregnancy from rape is "really rare," and doesn't happen in instances of "legitimate rape" because women have "ways to shut that whole thing down."
First, everyone knows there are such things as "legitimate rapes" and "non-legitimate rapes". It's a clumsy use of words, but presumably Akin was trying to differentiate between rapes and false accusations of rape. Maybe he was also trying to differentiate between forcible rape and statutory rape, in which the victim is willing but is not legally allowed to give consent. Anyway, these distinctions are not insignificant, but they are meaningless when it comes to the discussion of rape and abortion.
Second -- regardless of how you define "rape" -- women do get pregnant from rape. Rape can result in pregnancy, so both pro-choicers and pro-lifers need to address the matter rather than avoid it. Regardless of how rare pregnancy from rape may be, the incidence is non-zero.
Jenni was conceived when her mother was raped by a boyfriend as a teenager. She is a human reminder of an uncomfortable truth denied and minimized by people on all sides of the abortion issue: Rape can result in pregnancy, which means it can create innocent babies.
"A lot of people like to sweep it under the carpet," Jenni told me Wednesday. But, if commonly cited statistics are correct, hundreds of thousands of Americans walking around today were conceived in an act of rape. Jenni, and legions like her, raise a tough question for pro-lifers who don't want to talk about rape cases. Her smiling face and growing family -- she has three kids of her own -- is also damning to pro-choice people who argue that abortion is a necessity for a woman impregnated by rape.
Pro-lifers want to dodge the issue by saying that it's very rare, but that's irrelevant even if true. They don't want to be saddled with accusations of punishing a woman who was the victim of a terrible crime.
Pro-choicers want to dodge the issue because a baby that is the result of rape is no less worthy of life than any other baby. A baby is a baby, regardless of whether the mom was raped or forgot her birth control pill or was trying to conceive.
For my part, I don't think we need special rules for abortions. I think unborn babies are people, and the rules for killing them should be the same as the rules for killing anyone else. Killing can be justified in self-defense, but you can't go around killing people just because they are a huge inconvenience to you or because their father committed a horrible crime against you.
I can barely imagine how difficult it would be for a woman in such a circumstance, but victims of crimes should not ease their own suffering by inflicting suffering on other innocent people.