So, as you may have heard, Mr Akin, the Republican Party Senate candidate in Missouri (hi, Missouri!) has some weird views on rape, conception, and abortion. Basically, this is what the Todd Akin t-shirts are going to be saying this November:
It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that [conception following rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Ha! “That whole thing!” Lovely. Now, much of the controversy surrounding these views stemmed from his use of the term “legitimate rape“, but really that was (it seems) just a temporary bout of word salad. He misspoke. You know, like when (Warning: old joke ahead) you want to say “Please pass the salt” but end up instead shouting “YOU RUINED MY LIFE!”
Anyway, Akin himself says he misspoke — i.e., he didn’t mean to say “legitimate” — and so we can’t really ever know otherwise (I guess we are to assume that he is not misspeaking when he is telling us that he misspoke).
But the more substantive controversy remains. Because Akin’s main point was not that rape was/is/can be “legitimate”, but that — get this — a woman’s body is able to prevent pregnancy when she is being raped. Continue reading “Todd Akin’s empirical question”