The statements by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) about “legitimate rape” and pregnancy were shocking [“Republicans look to force Akin out of Senate race,” front page, Aug. 21]. There is, of course, no such thing as “legitimate rape”; every rape is deplorable and illegal, as Mr. Akin later clarified. He also stated that he used the “wrong words” and should have said “forcible rape.” As if any rape isn’t forced.
Mr. Akin’s comments were not only tasteless, they are scientifically wrong. It’s deeply disturbing to hear that an elected official who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology believes that women who are raped can “shut that whole thing down” and not become pregnant. How does that work? Does he think there’s some barrier a woman can suddenly produce?
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men . . . have been raped at some point in their lives.” Given the prevalence of rape in our society, perhaps our lawmakers should focus on rape prevention and providing the services and support survivors need. And maybe Mr. Akin and others who seek to restrict a woman’s right to an abortion, even when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, need to take a Human Sexuality 101 course. Good grief.
Linda D. Hallman, Washington
The writer is executive director and chief executive of the American Association of University Women.
Rep. Todd Akin’s original statement about rape was indefensible and beyond apology for one simple reason: It revealed what he genuinely thinks about rape. While he may now say “rape is never legitimate,” his original statement reveals that he thinks there are circumstances in which a man can have sex with a woman without her consent that would not constitute “legitimate” rape.
Simply put, there was no legitimate misstatement (a legitimate misstatement would be, for example, calling our secretary of state “Bill” instead of “Hillary” Clinton); he spoke what he believes to be true, and it’s appalling.
Mr. Akin is a legitimate disgrace with no legitimate place in Congress.
Julie Reiley, Bethesda
The recent comment from Rep. Todd Akin demonstrates just how out of touch so many of our leaders are. It also shows the importance of electing leaders who are educated in science, not fearful and ignorant of it.
Michael Pravica, Henderson, Nev.