Akin’s statement called ‘medically inaccurate, offensive and dangerous’

By Shelby Smithey…

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has called the statements by Rep. Todd Akin (Rep-Missouri) on rape and pregnancy “medically inaccurate, offensive and dangerous.” Local professionals who deal with rape and domestic violence victims are disheartened by Akin’s views.

Rep. Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, received backlash from a wide variety of political figures for claiming that victims of rape rarely get pregnant as a result.

In an interview with a St. Louis, Mo. television station Sunday, Akin claimed that the female reproduction system can somehow prevent conception in an event of a rape.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin said. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be of the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Erika Smith, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Trauma Specialist at Lakeview Center, said that Akin’s comments are disheartening for several reasons.

“A 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that an estimated 32,000 pregnancies result from rape each year, with many of the victims being adolescent girls sexually assaulted by someone known to them, often a relative,” she said.

About 4,000 adult American women took part in this three-year study that assessed the prevalence and incidence of rape and related psychical and mental outcomes. According to the study, rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency and is the cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.

“Also, a 2003 study of data from the National Violence Against Women Survey found that the rate at which women got pregnant after an incident of sexual assault was more than double the rate of pregnancy following one act of consensual intercourse,” Smith said. “Congressman Akin’s comments are also a reminder of how far we have to go to educate policy makers in our country about sexual violence – a crime that is often misunderstood and that is far more prevalent than most people realize.”

Sue Hand, director of the Northwest Florida Favor House, said that she is rarely surprised at the lack of awareness in these situations.

“This goes to show the ignorance that still exists in society involving violence against women,” Hand said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a statement that said Akin’s remarks are “medically inaccurate, offensive and dangerous, as each year in the United States, 10,000 to 15,000 abortions occur among women whose pregnancies are a result of reported rape or incest.”

Smith also said that Akin’s comments contribute to the underreporting of rape, as many women are afraid to report the crime because they fear not being believed or being blamed.

“Women who are raped do not have control over ovulation, fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg,“ Smith said. “Rape is a crime. Always.”

Please call the 24-hour rape crisis hotline 433-RAPE (7273) if you are someone you know has been a victim of rape.