Blaming Rape Survivors

Blaming Rape Survivors

Dear Lauren,

Victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant because a woman’s body will shut down and prevent the pregnancy. Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) actually said that–in other words, he’s saying that if a woman does get pregnant, she must not have been raped.1  Even scarier? He’s running–and leading–in the race for Missouri Senate.

These comments are shameful, ignorant and dangerous. Todd Akin must resign right away.

What he said was bad, but it was hardly a gaffe or poor choice of words. In 2011 he and Representative Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s VP pick, led the push in the House of Representatives to redefine rape as “forcible rape” to further restrict rape survivors’ access to abortion. As a state senator, Akin questioned whether anti-marital rape laws would be abused by women in messy divorces (he eventually voted for the anti-marital rape law).2

Prominent leaders on both sides of the political aisle are demanding that Akin resign–can you join them and sign this petition today?3 If enough of us join in we can make sure that the media scrutiny of his comments doesn’t fade until he steps down. Anyone who doesn’t understand basic biology and tries to create more hurdles for rape survivors seeking justice doesn’t belong in the United States Congress.

Add your name to the petition.

The sad truth is that more than 32,101 pregnancies result from rape every single year.4

Here’s what Akin said yesterday:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in an interview Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

And while he later stated that he “misspoke,” he is yet to apologize or clarify what it was that he didn’t mean to say.

Here’s how Ilyse Hogue at The Nation sums up Akin’s comments as they stand: “In his (Akin’s) world view, the rape victim’s body will be the ultimate judge of whether a crime has taken place. If she gets pregnant, by Akin’s standard, her reproductive organs consented to the pregnancy, so she must have consented to the sex.”

The repercussions of his statements are already playing out. Prominent reporters are now openly questioning whether all rapes are real–increasing an already unreal cultural burden on survivors brave enough to report them.5

If you thought this year could not get any more scary in terms of the assaults on women, you were wrong. In the summer of 2012 we are debating whether all rapes ought to be treated equally and which are less “legitimate” than others.

This is dangerous. And it’s not a gaffe. Todd Akin has a real history of trying to redefine rape to make it harder for rape survivors to get reproductive health care. Now that he has been exposed in public, he must resign. Please sign the petition right away.

Add your name to the petition.

Thanks for speaking out.

–Nita, Shaunna and Kat, the UltraViolet Team


1. The Danger of Laughing At Todd Akin, The Nation, August 20, 2012

2. Republican Senate Nominee: Victims Of ‘Legitimate Rape’ Don’t Get Pregnant, Talking Points Memo, August 19, 2012

3. Growing Number Of Conservatives Call On Akin To Withdraw After ‘Legitimate Rape’ Comments, ThinkProgress, Aug 19, 2012

4. Republican Senate Nominee: Victims Of ‘Legitimate Rape’ Don’t Get Pregnant, Talking Points Memo, August 19, 2012

5. Politico reporter ventures defense of Todd Akin, Washington Post, August 20, 2012