Eddie Vetter

First They Came For Todd Akin . . .

In Abortion, Politically Correct, Todd Akin on August 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’ll now vet the merits of the Todd Akin kerfuffle. The Akin affair is a prime example of our debased public discourse, or of what Susan Jacoby called the current “age of American unreason.” Within seconds of Akin’s comments, mouths frothed and nostrils flared. There was no time to think and respond rationally. Jacoby says that more and more we’re seeing “a new species of anti-rationalism . . . that leaves no room for contemplation or logic” (Jacoby, American Age of Unreason, p. 283 and xi-xii). The responses to the Akin “gaffe,” by both sides of the political aisle, have been more emotional than thoughtful. This is in line with what Ronald Dworkin said when he lamented “the lack of any decent argument in American political life.” This is right. There’s no real argument, there’s simply teeth gnashing and agitating. Because, as Dworkins notes, “most people have no interest in discussion or debate with those they regard as belonging to an entirely alien religious or political culture” (Dworkin, Is Democracy Possible, 22). Some involved in the “discussion” will no doubt reply incredulously: “Look around you, there are hundreds of people arguing vehemently!” That is to equivocate on what I mean by ‘argue.’ Sure, there’s noisy assertion-cymbals clanging with contentious sound and fury signifying non-argument. There’s squabbling. There’s disputing. There’s yelling of conclusions. But there is not genuine debate. There’s no argument in the sense of giving reasons for a conclusion that instance valid structures of arguments. And while I disagree with Jacoby and Dworkin on many issues in the above cited works, they’re certainly right to lament our public discourse. In what follows I’ll do the unpopular and offer a defense of Akin, even if disagreeing with certain infelicities of language as well as aspects of his follow-up “clarification,” and focus on the heart of the issue—where the real argument should take place.

Context

The context is this: Akin was asked in an interview about his position on abortion. Akin said he doesn’t agree with it but said it could be considered in a case of tubal pregnancy. But if it could be considered in the aforementioned case, then:

Interviewer: What about in the case of rape? Should it be legal or not?

Rep. Todd Akin: Well you know, people always want to try and make it as one of those things, how do you– how do you slice this particularly tough ethical question.

It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, uhh, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but I think the punishment ought to be of the rapist and not attacking the child.

The main issue seems to concern his use of the term “legitimate rape.” The lesser issue seems to concern the putative medical claim about what abilities the female body has while being raped. So that’s the context out of which the brouhaha  developed.

Reactions

The reactions fall into two categories, viz., Akins’s comments were (1) inflammatory and (2) misinformed. President Barack Obama’s comments are representative  of (1). In a press conference he said, “Rape is rape. The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.” In response to (2), the basic response is to cite medical doctors who ostensibly disagree with Akin’s medical claim. The more “rigorous” [sic] of these responses attempt to straight-up debunk his claim, and all of these responses have made recourse to this study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which claims that, at least sixteen years ago, “The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.” These responses have crassly and succinctly been summed up by The Onion,

“(1) [Akin is] a big fucking idiot,

(2) [Akin is] a nauseating slug of a human being who doesn’t deserve to live, and

(3) [Akin is] essentially everything that’s wrong with this country and with humanity in general.”

Onion is saying here what the media want to say when they state their feelings about Akin, but I’ll show this confidence is misplaced.

Response

Ad (1): So the phrase “legitimate rape” is unconscionable, and worthy of scorn and ridicule. Why is that? Well, Obama’s position is to assert an uninteresting tautology (i.e., “rape is rape”) and bemoan “The idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about.” First, let’s get the rhetorical-but-funny response out-of-the-way: “Akin didn’t say that, someone else made that happen.” Sure, it came out of his mouth, but he had to use roads and bridges to get to the news station. Moreover, he needed teachers, either to educate him in his alleged ignorance, or to fail at their duty and not teach him the proper way to think. If Obama says we should share the praise for our actions, then we should also share the blame.

But enough if this, on to the more serious reply. Obama appears at loggerheads with his own Machine, including himself. For example, just recently the White House, under the leadership of Joe Biden, launched the 1 is 2 Many campaign where they specifically say that “Young women still face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault,” and if you watch the short PSA, Obama himself refers to dating violence. I assume ‘date rape’ is included in the set of ‘dating violence,’ and so Obama is “qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about.” Whitehouse.gov also includes papers, reports, and comments on things like “prison rape” and “statutory rape,” and the DOJ even uses Akin’s terminology when it referred to “forcible” rape. Does Obama know what’s going on under his own roof, and why isn’t he coming down on himself and the White House? But even if he weasels out and says he didn’t mean “rape” to be included in “dating violence,” the problem he raised remains: Isn’t “violence, violence?” Why should we “qualify and slice” what types of violence we’re talking about? Indeed, isn’t the liberal machine all about qualifying and slicing things into types and group-identities? Instead of “murder is murder,” we have “hate crime,” or we qualify types of harassment against women, viz., “sexual harassment.” So Obama is just demagoguing.

More to the point: what is wrong with the phrase “legitimate rape?” Suppose I say, “If F is a legitimate G.” Seems to me that shouldn’t strike one as problematic from the get go. Seems to me normal people would think I’m simply saying, “If F is a real G,” or “If F is an authentic G,” or “If F is an actual G.” (As an aside, it does not appear to me that for F to be a legitimate G there has to exist “illegitimate Gs.” So, logically, stating something of the form “F is a G,” does not commit me to the existence of illegitimate Gs.) Now, let’s plug-in some values for ‘F’ and ‘G.’ Suppose I say, “Only if that bill is a legitimate dollar, can you (legally) buy a soda with it.” What my statement conversationally implies, and ordinary folk would concur, is this: “If that bill is a fake or a counterfeit, you can’t (legally) buy a soda with it.” Stated this way, it seems that in many cases, “If F is a legitimate G” simply means, “If F is a real instance of G,” or, “Are we dealing with a real G or a fake G?” On this view, there could and does exist illegitimate “rapes,” (see also here and here, and it could be that a lot of “illegitimate rapes” have been included in the data of ostensibly “legitimate rapes,” which would skew the data)

Another analysis arises when we look into say, “statutory rape” or “rape of a child.” Now, I might want to distinguish between legitimate rape of a child (for which I personally think the punishment should be death) and illegitimate ones. Before you start hyperventilating, take a second, breath, and think through this with me. Suppose some group includes in the set of X some subset of X called Y. Now, suppose there is real and legitimate debate about whether all the members of Y legitimately belong to Y, and thus legitimately belong to X. That is indeed the case in “rape of a child” or “statutory rape” cases. In some cases, a kid who just turned eighteen can be charged with “rape of a child” for having sex with his 16-year-old teenage girlfriend. But this category is dubious, and some might want to exclude these cases from what they mean by “rape,” thus labeling some ostensible cases of ‘rape’ as illegitimate for the purposes of the claim they want to make about legitimate, paradigm cases of rape. So there’s nothing wrong with the phrase “legitimate rape,” per se.

But Akin didn’t take my above approach. Instead, he said that he simply did not mean “legitimate” but meant “forcible.” If this is true, then the desire to politically lynch someone over using the wrong word is a bit harsh—especially in these alleged postmodern, relativistic times. And moreover, note that even Akin’s public mea culpa and subsequent clarification would draw the Obama ire for making a distinction—a distinction his own FBI makes, however. Furthermore, in full disarray, the Obama Machine is at odds with itself (again), for Akin’s clarification is viewed “by many as just as offensive because it diminishes date rape, which is extremely prevalent.” So Obama crucified Akin for qualifying and the “many” cited by Huff-Po criticize Akin for not qualifying! Apparently, Akin can’t win for losing! But there’s nothing offensive about using the term “forceable rape” (and the distinction matters, for if date rape is not classified as “forceable” rape (and it is not, according to neutral law enforcement agencies and apparently even Huff-Po) then citing pregnancy by date rape would not be a counterexample that could be used to show that Akin’s claims were “obviously and blatantly false”).

Ad (2):  I am not a medical doctor or the son of one, so I am not qualified to speak to the medical claims made. But having dispensed with the above “reason” for calling for Akin’s head, I’ll now turn to the claim that he made a false medical claim. One wants to dismiss this with a “So what?” I mean, big deal, the guy thought medical science said one thing when it said another. Or, he is simply ignorant of what the data apparently shows. Put me in a room with any layman or politician for an hour, record it, and I’ll come out with clips of them saying something stupid or acting like they know more than they know. People, especially ordinary folk, make claims all the time about what “science” has shown, and they’re almost always B.S.-ing. But let’s look at this further.

Now, I’m not making any claim either way vis-a-vis the validity of this claim, but there are some certified medical doctors who have made the very claim Akin made. How many people hear their doctor make some medical claim and then repeat it? Empathy dictates that the verbal shooters should now turn their guns on themselves. Thus, it’s not as if Akin was intentionally lying or simply making claims without any backing whatsoever. But let’s examine his claim, he said: “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that [getting pregnant from a rape is] really rare.” Moreover, this rape is “legitimate,” by which Akin claims he meant “forcible.” So, putting this together, Akin’s claim is this: “It is really rare to get pregnant by a rape of kind X.” Now, let’s inspect some responses:

Here’s an article by a medical doctor CNN posted. Essentially, the counter-argument from this doctor is that, “women do get pregnant from rapes.” Logically, this is completely compatible with Akin’s claim that “it is rare” to get pregnant from a rape. Next, the doctor does not bother to define “rape” and he does not in any sense give any data regarding the kind of rape Akin said he was talking about, viz., “forcible.” Rather, he plays the sophist and refuses to use the term “forcible” but uses the vague term “legitimate” instead, which allows him to make the claim that, “The body doesn’t differentiate between ‘legitimate’ rape and ‘illegitimate’ rape—whatever that is.” But that claim is worthless if we don’t define “rape.” For example, let’s define “legitimate rape” as forceable sexual assault and “illegitimate rape” what (18-year-old) Romeo did to (17-year-old) Juliette. If a woman is being forcibly raped, I would suspect her body could tell a difference between that kind of rape and, say, a Romeo and Juliette case of “statutory rape.” So there’s nothing in this article that destroys Akin’s claim, which is not to say his claim is true. I don’t know.

Here’s another article by another doctor. This doctor responds to the above linked to medical doctor’s (Dr. Wilke) claim that, “Assault rape pregnancies are extremely rare.” The comeback is to link to this study, and then act as if Dr. Wilke has been refuted. But—and recall I am not defending the empirical veracity of Akin or Dr. Wilke’s claim—the study does not refute either Akin or Wilke. Here’s the report of the study:

“The national rape-related pregnancy rate is 5.0% per rape among victims of reproductive age (aged 12 to 45); among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year. Among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator. Only 11.7% of these victims received immediate medical attention after the assault, and 47.1% received no medical attention related to the rape. A total 32.4% of these victims did not discover they were pregnant until they had already entered the second trimester; 32.2% opted to keep the infant whereas 50% underwent abortion and 5.9% placed the infant for adoption; an additional 11.8% had spontaneous abortion.”

The first problem is that “rape-related pregnancy” is a broader category than Akin’s “forcible rape” and Wilke’s “assault rape.” So our good doctor is simply playing fast and loose with the categories. I sure hope he did not conduct research this way throughout medical school. The second problem is that both Akin and Wilke claim that pregnancies resulting from type-X rapes are “rare.” Has our good doctor shown, by linking to the above study, that such rapes are not rare? No, he has not. Indeed, even granting his all-inclusive definition of “rape,” he has not shown they are not rare. 5.0% out of 100% is rare. But our good doctor instead says, “If 32,000 pregnancies per year is a ‘rare event, then some people are living in a very strange, disconnected world.” Notice he focuses on a number that sounds large and then concludes it can’t be rare (like claiming 616,000 people die from heart attacks in the U.S. each year, and screaming that we have a huge epidemic). But we must ask, 32,000 out of how many (like with the heart attacks, that’s out of 300 million, so, it’s rare)? According to this, there’s almost 700,000 forcible rapes per year, which means roughly 4.6% percent of rapes result in pregnancies. But notice, 4.6% is based only off forcible rapes, yet the 32,000 was not, thus the percept would be much smaller. However, 4.6% is still rare. So our good doctor—an apparent innumerate—simply tried to obfuscate the issue and make things look more common than it really is. Lastly, the same group the good doctor cites elaborates on definitions of rape, which shows they had the very broad definition in mind and not just “forcible rape,” a category they admit exists and is distinct from other kinds of rape (apologies to Obama).

Thus, there does not appear to be any refutation of either Akin’s or Wilke’s claim. Without that, the angry, unthoughtful, apparently ignorant, and merely political outrage directed at Akin is rationally unfounded.

The Real Issue:

To be sure, there this is the empirical issue of whether a woman’s body “shuts down” (whatever that means) during (has anyone tested a women during an “assault rape” to verify this either way?) a forcible rape. As President Obama said of the abortion question, “That’s above my pay grade.” I don’t know enough to say either way. Let’s assume Akin was wrong about that empirical fact. So what? The main planks of his claim have not been refuted (see above). But what’s the real issue here? The question that started the outlandish outcry was this: “Is abortion acceptable in cases of rape.” That question was not answered and is not being debated. The approach Akin took, if I can speculate, was to point out that those cases are outlier to the total number of abortions that happen in the world and thus detract from the debate. President Obama took the issue as a chance to demagogue and stated that Akin’s answers show why “Men are not qualified to make woman’s health decisions.” But not only did I debunk Obama’s “response” to Akin and show it to be ill-informed of what is going on under his own roof, and even contrary to his own ways of speaking, his answer shows a general ignorance of the pro-life argument. Here’s the pro-life claim: The fetus (or conceptus) is a human being. If this claim is true, then no one is trying to make health decisions for the woman. That kind of response blatantly begs the question against the pro-life claim. If anything, it’s making a health decision for the unborn child (on pro-life premises) who can’t make one for himself. Thus in an ironic turn of events, it is the Obama Machine that looks ignorant, not so much Akin. They simply butcher their interlocutor’s argument and ignore its central claim.

So, is abortion permissible in cases of rape? Well, that depends, doesn’t it, on the prior question of whether the pro-life claim is true—the one we should be debating. If that premise is true, what is Obama’s argument that shows this situation is acceptable: Person X rapes person Y which results in creating a new person, Z, and so Y can kill person Z. How does the deontic logic of that argument go, Barack? For it seems to have relevant parity to this case: Imagine that Sam slams his car into Mary’s car’s rear bumper. Is Mary at all justified in taking a bat to poor Eunice’s car? She had nothing to do with the accident. Indeed, Eunice might be in front of Mary. Sam slams into Mary cause Mary to slam into Eunice. Eunice didn’t ask to be slammed into, but on top of that, Eunice now has to have her car smashed with a bat. Is that right? Just? Fair? Or whatever alleged liberal desideratum is said to have all-controlling consideration?

But the real issue won’t be debated. For answers to those questions aren’t allowed in “public discourse.” No one wants to have a real debate, a real . . . argument; rather, people want to nakedly-assert, skew numbers, ignore distinctions, demagogue, grandstand, demonize, name call, anything but engage in rational debate. I get it, politics is a blood sport. But let’s do away with the notion that the liberals are the rational ones, the intelligent ones, the scientifically and philosophically sophisticated ones. Akin will probably be crucified over this. But if you’re on the side of reason and good thinking, this should offend you. Not only because the reaction is overboard, but more importantly, because the negative responses to him are backed by poor argument, obfuscation, and a certain obtuseness capable only by politicians and some university professors. I do understand that the above was an epistemic defense of Akin and that there may be non-epistemic, pragmatic reasons for him to step down. I wasn’t commenting on those. I do want to register, however, that those calling for him to step down shouldn’t pretend they have epistemic reasons for their claims, and that is in fact what they are pretending to have. Oh, one last thing, shame on those republicans calling on Akin to step down and bowing to the idol of political correctness. The conservative thing to do is take your time and think, not rashly progress ahead along with the angry mob.

Update:

Here’s some links to the thoughts of an conservative atheist (not that such labels should matter) on the matter:

http://keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/politics-11.html

http://keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/politics-10.html

http://keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/politics-9.html

http://keithburgess-jackson.typepad.com/blog/2012/08/abortion.html

  1. As a pro choicer, but one who considers himself free thinking and pro reason, I enthusiastically agree with a lot of the arguments made here and the reason driven way of thinking behind them. And I completely agree about the irrationality, shrillness, illogic, deafness to other arguments, and general negativity in most political discourse today and even ever since the beginning of civilization. In my book, both sides (left and right) are equally hopeless in this respect, while both sides – as this poster proves – have their shining voices of reason.

    However, I don’t feel its right to defend Rep Akin’s argument by splitting it up into components (sentences and even phrases) and arguing whether or not that sentence could be proven wrong in a court of law or peer reviewed academic paper. The guy wasn’t thinking that hard and slow when he chose his words, he was expressing his opinion fluidly. So you do have to interpret it as a whole, and in the whole context of the discussion, and on a slightly more emotional level than pure deconstuctivist dictionary and math based reason. I feel with all my intuition that Rep Akin – if he had the power – would make all abortion illegal, even in the case of rapes. And that’s something voters deserve to know (granted not in the ridiculous way the media has handled it – which by the way is always ridiculous towards both sides depending on which channel you tune in to and which idiot politician last spoke).

    Also, I feel its slightly dishonest to include ‘statutory rape’ of 18 year old Romeo and 17 year old Juliet in the discussion. When people use the word rape in the context of sex in a (non slang) discussion, almost all the time they’re talking about the horrible ugly forcible kind. I would bet my skin that Rep Akin did not really have statutory on his mind when he said ‘legitimate rape’. I would bet my skin that he was thinking something more along the lines of ‘women who were really raped by some random dude on the street, versus all those women who whine’. Again, I couldn’t prove this in a court of law and wouldn’t waste a news cycle on it if I managed a TV station, but if I voted in Missouri I would want to know about this and it would affect my vote.

    The whole subject of when a human life begins is a huge gray area. I find it equally ridiculous to say it begins when sperm meets egg and does its first split into two, as to say it begins when baby comes out of mommy and starts breathing (even though this is the moment that we call ‘birth’). Lets just agree for now that its somewhere in between, and before that TBD point its noone’s business but mommy what to do with her body (in as much as its noone’s business if I decide to chop my finger off in private), and after that point the immorality of ending baby’s life increases sharply (although I would hesitate to call it ‘murder’ until at least the point where baby could have been extracted by doctors and kept alive to lead a healthy life).

    Back to rape, even in a society where abortion is illegal, IMHO forcing an impregnated victim to deliver and raise the child – a result and constant reminder of a horrible violation – can end up causing much more misery to the mother, the child to be, and society at large than preventing that baby from being born (again, the much earlier the better). So its nowhere near as simple as the X->Y->Z argument.

  2. Thanks for the comment:

    Maybe he shouldn’t have said what he said and he probably wasn’t thinking as hard as I was for him. My comments had more to do with the *immediate* response people gave without bothering to see if a charitable reading could be given to his remarks. Second, the criticisms made by others were of the terms *per se* and not simply in the mouth of Akin. If you read the responses, they’re couched in such a way that *anyone* who makes such a comment is reprehensible.

    I include “statutory rape” for similar reasons, and to undercut Obama’s “there are no categories” claim, showing that there are such categories on state and federal law books and radars. More importantly, however, is that no one is defining “rape” yet at the same time pointing to studies that included the kinds of rape I cite among the rape/pregnancy studies. So such a term was fair game. In any case, it’s not “dishonest” to include statutory rape, especially when many of the statistics do, and especially to show that the legitimate/illegitimate comment is not illegitimate (!) per se, which it has been claimed to be.

    I did not make any argument about when life begins and nothing I said depended on any such argument. I did however point out that—wrong or right—the pro-life argument does not depend on a premise that precludes a “men” from saying women should’t have abortions. Being a “man” has nothing to do with “you shouldn’t take the lives of legally innocent people.” However, if the conceptus/fetus is a human being then it’s not “the woman’s body,” so that response begs the question.

    Lastly, no one is “forcing” anyone to “raise” the baby conceived by rape. The argument, as admitted, is more complicated. But I did not intend to argue against abortion here, so what I had to show was logically much weaker and easier than what you’re asking. Thus some of your comments are wide of the mark.

  3. [...] one person does know it. I encourage you to read First They Came For Todd Akin… over at a great blog called Vetting Obama. The author makes great points expounding on how poorly [...]

  4. The problem Akin is pattern. The right has established a clear pattern of fabricated scientific information so as to advance a political agenda they agree with. A rape exemption undermines the moral case against abortion, but without a rape exemption they pro-choice camp peels off about another 15% of the population. That’s a political problem it should not be allowed to change the science.

    Your own post is fairly good evidence of this where you treat the two sides as balanced. There is no balance:

    – There is no evidence that a women’s body is capable of differentiating between a rapist’s sperm and a non rapists’s sperm.
    – There is no proposed mechanism for this invulnerability to rape procreation.
    – There are thousands of years of history of women getting pregnant by rape and hundreds of thousands if not millions of people alive today that are the products of rape.
    – There is not one peer reviewed study supporting Akin’s position.

    I believe completely that Todd Akin was misinformed 3 days ago and was genuinely ignorant. Today after all the hubub he knows the truth and is continuing to defend misinformation. Persisting in that belief today though is lying. And that is the problem, a real and genuine moral failing to be defending bogus science because the world would be more consistent with his religion were his false science correct.

    More broadly, on a national level, the issue is about the Republican party tolerating this sort of scientific nonsense in their ranks and its effect on public policy. John Willke is a doctor, is the one who started this, and according to Akin (and I believe him) is the source for Akin’s claim. Willke is a liar pure and simple. The Republican party has been recruiting expert liars to defend positions in public on many issues of public policy. There is a real and important genuine debate as to whether a party that engages in systematic disinformation towards its population is fit to govern in a Democracy.

    As for a real debate on whether the pro-life claim is true I’ve had it several times. Prolifers can’t really defend the zygote or fetus being human once their surface claims are attacked. I suspect that’s never happened with you, since I’ll agree most pro-choicers don’t know that much about pregnancy either and what makes something human is complex.

  5. Thank you for the canned accusations, platitudes, naked-assertions, internet memes, caricatures, autobiographical remarks, and broad-brushing (and by the way, “there is no evidence for X” does not entail “there is evidence for ¬X.” In the above situation, we should be agnostic given the evidence we have—so yes, I was balanced: neither side has made a case on some of those claims, and you’ve said nothing specific to rebut my specific arguments and counter-arguments). Most of all, thank you for showing the audience here how liberals *argue* and *debate*, which is to say, they don’t; they grandstand and demagogue.

  6. Please the biology of human reproduction is well known. Name one credible medical journal that’s taken Willke seriously. And there is plenty of evidence for ~X.

    Here are some real articles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pregnancy_from_rape

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/us/politics/rape-assertions-are-dismissed-by-health-experts.html

    One side has made a case supported by well known medical journals the other side is making stuff up. Moreover, even if there weren’t tons of counter evidence the fact that there is no mechanism is decisive. I could claim that wearing an orange tee shirt during sex was effective birth control and their likely wouldn’t be a study directly contradicting me, that doesn’t make the claim less dishonest.

    You didn’t have any specific arguments. If forcible rape didn’t result in pregnancy there wouldn’t be thousands of years of history of girls being beaten and raped during wars getting pregnant. All over the planet there is counter evidence to Akin’s claim in very large numbers. Thankfully not in America because women here, even when they live in prolife states terminate.

  7. No one here has argued against “the biology of human reproduction.” Are you unable or unwilling to follow the argument?

    Now, let’s do some critical thinking for you and vet your links:

    Let’s look at the NY Times link:

    First, note that the article claims to take on this claim:

    [R] Women Rarely get pregnant from legitinate (i.e., forced, assault rape).

    Okay, now let’s see the doctor’s claim: “Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, said, that “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd.” Let’s summarize this as [C]

    [C] It is absurd to claim there is a biological reason women could not get pregnant during rape.

    Now, let’s note a few things:

    1. This isn’t “evidence,” it’s an assertion.

    2. It’s actually stupid to put arms akimbo and mouth agape and take issue with the claim that “there is SOME biological reason women couldn’t get pregnant during rape.” He needs to be more precise, for there’s plenty of “biological reasons” women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape.

    3. Most importantly, the original claim is that “it is *rare* to get pregnant from forced, assault rape.” That’s *different* from the claim that “women *couldn’t* get pregnant from a rape.”

    4. Note the key term *during*. Is there any evidence for what is happening, biologically, to a woman *during* a rape? Can you point me to the study on this? I’d love to out the researcher who studiously stood by taking notes *during* a forced rape.

    But THAT’s IT! There’s no “evidence.” In fact, the only “study” provided is the 1996 OB/GYN report that I subjected to critical analysis, and the NTY article does not interact with any of my arguments. As far as the empirical claim about what happens during a rape, that’s an *open* scientific question, and not one refuted by pointed out that it is indeed rare to get pregnant from forceable rape.

    So you’ve been caught playing the useful idiot incapable of thinking for himself.

    Then you say, “One side has made a case supported by well known medical journals the other side is making stuff up.”

    According to the evidence, as I show in this post, and which you have yet to undercut, pregnancy by rape *is* “rare. Defeat my arguments or go home. And here’s another fact: there has not been any study that I am aware of that studied *only* forcible, assault rapes. *All* the studies include a majority of non-assault rapes. Hence, those studies cannot falsify the Akin et al.’s claims since they *never made any* claims about *non* forcible rapes. According to the figures I had to guestimate off of, the percentage of pregnancies off non-forcible rape is *lower* that the average pregnancy rape for other rapes and consensual sex. That *supports* the doctors claim even more.

    Then you say, “You didn’t have any specific arguments.” That’s laughable to anyone who has bothered to read my post. But now let’s make you look more silly. You claim:

    “If forcible rape didn’t result in pregnancy . . .”

    Who has argued that “forcible rape does not result in pregnancy?” X happens rarely ≠ X does not happen. Please think and stop letting the media and the narrative and the meme do your thinking for you.

    Now, unless you move the discussion forward and actually offer an intelligent comment that isn’t self-evidentally absurd, easily falsifiable, clearly distortive, and just plain thoughtless, then don’t bother responding. My “About” page said bad/non-existant arguments would not be tolerated here. Sorry to be so harsh, but arrogant drones on the left will need to actually make good on their claims that they’re the intelligent ones among us. No free lunches here.

  8. OK evidence:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2080379/?tool=pmcentrez

    68 women raped during Bosnian war and held. Of those 29 became pregnant. Which I think disproves the existence of the Akin mechanism (I’m going to use this term for the supposed mechanism that prevents pregnancy) which prevents pregnancy from rape.

    And these are all forced rapes the women were frequently beaten before after and during and sexually humiliated during their captivity.

    Yuzpe, A. Albert; Smith, R. Percival and Rademaker, Alfred W. (April 1982). “A Multicenter Clinical Investigation Employing ethinyl estradiol combined with dl-norgestrel as a Postcoital Contraceptive agent”. Fertility and Sterility

    Held that rape victims in the USA became pregnant 2-4% of the time when not on birth control and not given an abortifacient drug immediately after. This was the study incidentally that made abortifacients standard in rape kits.

    As for the 1996 study it is well known that the rate of single consensual sex at a random time would be expected to be 2-4% so showing an incidence of 2-4% proves that there is no Akin mechanism. For the Akin mechanism to be present you would need a number well 2%.

    As for rape being a common cause of pregnancy of course it is not. Akin’s claim was that forced sex was less effective as a method of conception than other sex.

    He needs to be more precise, for there’s plenty of “biological reasons” women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape.

    I have yet to hear a single plausible mechanism for the Akin mechanism.

  9. Your inability to rationally think through this is great verification of the claims I’ve made in this post and others. Let’s help you out again, though I will not continue engaging you on this matter for my charity must come to an end and I must move on.

    Notice you do not deal with any of the evidence anyone in this debate has produced. I take that as a tacit admission that I have undercut or rebutted that evidence’s relevance.

    Next, you then cite an extraordinary case. You then claim that 29 of 68 women got pregnant. This is upwards of 40%. This is incredible, for it blows away every U.S. study by more than 40%, and is even < 40% higher than the pregnancy rate of consensual sex! That should have been a clue to you, but you won't let "visions" get in the way. You then claim this rebuts Akin's thesis. Does it? Note what the study tells us:

    “Forty-four of them were raped more than once, 21 were raped every day during their captivity, and 18 were forced to witness rapes”

    This introduces new factors, and thus explains the higher than average pregnancy rapes. This alone disqualifies this study from entrance into the debate we’re having vis-a-vis Akin’s claim. If you studied probabilities at all, then you’d note that if there is some probability of X happening in an arbitrary case, then if you increase the number of distinct cases, you raise the probability of X’s happening overall. And since Akin grants some probability (i.e., ‘rare’), then the “evidence” you cite is entirely consistent with Akin’s thesis!

    So, I’ve gutted that response of your. You then cite another study that concludes:

    “that rape victims in the USA became pregnant 2-4% of the time when not on birth control .”

    Right, and I’ve noted that and addressed that. 2-4% is *rare*. Moreover, that study did not *select* for “forceable assault rape,” which if it did, the percents would be even lower.

    Akin never said woman CANNOT get pregnant, he said it is RARE, and citing 2-4% does not undercut a claim of rarity. Moreover, there is no study done on (single) forceable assault rapes alone. So we have to guesstimate, which I did in the post. The number is lower than the percentage of pregnancies from non-forceable rape and consensual sex. In science, people float hypotheses to *explain* empirical data. Akin’s explanation has not been debunked or disproved (as i’ve shown time and time again). But even if it were, so what? We’d *still* need an explanation for the rarity; or, we’d need an actual study showing that it isn’t rare.

    Anyway, this is all beside the point. If the baby is a human person, I claim it’s wrong to kill it in the case of rape. If it’s not a human person, it’s more plausible that we can abort it in any case (though some who don’t believe it is a human person still argue against abortion on the grounds that it will become a human person if left alone, and it’s morally wrong to kill anything that will become a human person if left to develop naturally, so the debate would still be open). However, that debate wasn’t had. Instead, people acted as if Akin was an idiot for the claims he made. I have shown, repeatedly, that he’s not. Rather, it’s those who have claimed he’s “obviously” an idiot who are the idiots.

  10. Eddie I love how on every round there is always a paragraph of your name calling.

    Conception form a single act of voluntary intercourse is 2-5%. A ratio of 2-4% would imply that “forcible rape” is approximately as effective a means of conception. Yes that absolutely disproves “rare”. The point of making the claim of rare is to argue that rape is a far less effective means of conception that voluntary intercourse, i.e. if the woman is pregnant she probably secretly wanted it and thus the state should feel free to compel her to bring the fetus to term on threat of imprisonment. Wilke himself puts the number at .3%, out of 181k rapes there were 450-740 pregnancies. A ratio of 2-4% disproves Wilke, disproves Akin and absolutely undercuts a claim or “rarity”.

    As for Bosnia, it shows that women in high stress captivity under physical duress got pregnant a good percentage of the time. If there were a mechanism for preventing rape conception the number wouldn’t have been close to 40%. If Wilke’s .3% were accurate the number wouldn’t have been close to 40%, even with daily rapes. Bosnia disproves your theory that there were no studies of just forcible, this was a study of forcible rape. Women get pregnant just as often or almost as often from men engaging in forcible rape as they do from marital relations. This was virtually a controlled experiment. 68 women semi-randomly chosen badly mistreated and raped repeatedly, 40% got pregnant. It is hard to imaging how much better a controlled study could be for disproving the existence of the Akin mechanism which prevents conception.

    You can call me every name in the book and keep pretending that the data doesn’t prove the exact opposite of your claim. Akin was accused not of being an idiot, but of being downright evil for attempting to bring back an ancient and medieval doctrine that a woman who got pregnant from a rape was not raped since pregnancy for women required sexual arousal. The people who are attacking Akin are the ones making use of thousands of years of human history and countless case studies.

    Some of those studies incidentally show rape has even higher rates of conception than consensual sex: (see http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262700832/).

  11. Sorry CD Host, but when you begin with “your post is good evidence of an anti-science bias,” expect some name-calling.

    As for “forceable rape,” I’ve already shown that guesstimates put it below the average, but we do not have any study of the matter. You’re Bosnian scenario includes rapes that happen over and over, “day after day.” Thus the probability *would* be higher. But we do not have any study of the rates of pregnancy from single cases of forced rape. Thus, you don’t have *any* study that shows a rate of 2-4%. End of discussion.

    Anyway, you can get to 40% with .3%, please. You’ve already made enough math errors. Moreover, you’re assuming *independence* of the acts and keeping .3% *fixed,* but you have no idea if that is so or if Wilke would claim that.

    You’ve still not shown anything. We’ll have to be done at this point, as my charity must come to an end.

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