When you cannot escape
Cos they’ve got it on tape
It’s “Legitimate Rape” to your credit
Now the system is broke,
Even GOP folk
Say you clearly misspoke when you said it
Still you must not lose face
With your radical base
You must keep them apace while you edit
Say you spoke off the cuff
But on rapists, you’re tough
Hope this whistle’s enough, and embed it.
But it’s out on the wire
And despite your desire
You have started a fire and you’ve fed it
Now, you miserable gent,
You begin your descent,
But your path only went where you led it.
You’ve likely heard already, about Rep. Todd Akin, who is the latest in a series of politicians and other abortion foes and clueless idiots to claim that rape (“legitimate rape”, that is) causes women’s reproductive systems to shut down, or emit a hormone, or otherwise actively prevent pregnancy from occurring. It’s a common enough myth that Planned Parenthood addresses it on their website:
I heard that a woman can’t get pregnant from being raped. Is that true?
No, it is not true. Women can and do get pregnant from rape. In fact, more than five percent of all rapes result in pregnancy. That is one reason why Planned Parenthood is fighting so hard to make it mandatory for emergency rooms across the country to offer emergency contraception to women who have been raped.
Emergency contraception can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 to 89 percent. More than 22,000 unwanted pregnancies a year could be prevented if all U.S. women who were raped were provided with emergency contraception.
A mixture of wishful thinking, Catholic school misinformation, and victim blaming (if she got pregnant, she must not have been legitimately raped), it’s a common enough belief that does not hold up to the slightest inquiry–but that does not stop it from flourishing. Confirmation bias works wonders–bad information that supports our world view is welcomed with open arms, while sound information that attacks it is fended off with all our ability. Akin “misspoke” (translation: got caught).
But what he said is what a sizable percentage of his base wants to hear, so he has to be careful in how he backs off. His “misstatement” was part of his “tough on crime” stance, wanting to punish rapists, but not punish the innocent babies. Presumably, when the microphones are off, he can even speak of punishing “legitimate” rapists, whom we can identify because they don’t actually create babies.
Note, though, in his concern for punishing rapists and protecting babies, which person has completely slipped beneath his radar. The woman is not even part of the formula. In backing off from his statement, Akin is forced to recognize half the population, and to express his “deep empathy” for them.
So deep is his empathy that it goes without saying. Apparently. At least, until someone points it out.