Media Rightly Highlights Akin’s Gaffe

Colin Bean, Staff Writer

On Aug. 19, Republican Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape. To this Akin answered, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This comment is not only biologically inaccurate, but highly offensive to rape victims.

Some argue that the media has been covering this story more than necessary, especially since it has been covered more than Vice President Joe Biden’s speech in which he said, “[Mitt Romney] is gonna put y’all back in chains.” The difference between the two comments is that Biden used a poor choice of words, and Akin truly believed what he said.

The media is justified in covering Akin’s comment as much as it is because a senate candidate demonstrated tremendous ignorance on such an important public policy issue. Considering that the topic of abortion is a pivotal issue for Republicans, Akin’s comment had a major effect on the Republican Party.

Shortly after Akin made the legitimate rape comment, he made an apology solely engineered for political gain. In his apology Akin said, “I used the wrong words in the wrong way.” This apology didn’t help Akin, because he claimed he misspoke instead of fully admitting he was wrong. It was clear that he had not misspoke, and knew exactly what he was saying, because he continued to say, “but let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something.”

Akin’s comment is also receiving such a remarkable amount of media coverage because this is not an isolated incident. Anti-abortion politicians have been spreading the false idea that rape doesn’t lead to pregnancy for years. In 1995, Republican representative Henry Aldridge said, “The facts show that people who are raped, who are truly raped, the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant.”

This claim could not be more wrong. A 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that the rate of rape-related pregnancies is about the same as unprotected consensual sex. However, this idea has continued to be relevant because it allows anti-abortion lawmakers to argue that there shouldn’t be exceptions for abortion in the case of rape.

Akin called the media coverage an “over reaction,” and has decided not to drop out of the Missouri Senate race. However, almost every Republican has requested that he drop out, including members of the Tea Party, of which Akin is a member. Akin should drop out, because he is damaging the reputation of the Republican Party.