"Rape is an evil act. I used the wrong words in the wrong way, and for that I apologize," he says in the ad, which was first posted by Politico. "As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them."
"The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy," he continues. "The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness."
First, let's define the term "rape." When pro-lifers speak of rape pregnancies, we should commonly use the phrase "forcible rape" or "assault rape," for that specifies what we're talking about. Rape can also be statutory. Depending upon your state law, statutory rape can be consensual, but we're not addressing that here.
Efforts to outlaw abortion and legislatively narrow the definition of rape to only the most violent assaults go hand in hand, as abortion opponents believe rape exceptions to abortion bans will be exploited by women to obtain abortions in an environment in which it is otherwise outlawed. Rape, therefore, needs to be defined differently -- to be defined more narrowly and to be defined, most critically, as something that does not result in pregnancy.Akin says his sin was not his concept, but to use "the wrong words in the wrong way." He wants to maintain his position, and his position is that women want to use rape as an excuse for an abortion. Now you can follow that off into the weeds about access to abortion, but that's playing Akin's game. The issue here isn't really access to abortion. The issue here is the definition of "rape."
Akin, under the smooth guidance of Mike Huckabee, sought to change his original word choice from "legitimate" to "forcible." Unless rape is "forcible," it's not real rape, because the issue is about consent. Note that second quote: "Depending upon your state law, statutory rape can be consensual...." That's the kind of thinking that led the US Conference of Bishops, and others, to freak out about how federal money was going to get spent in the discussions surrounding HB 3 in 2010. It's completely false. Statutory rape is rape by definition, not by evidence of consent or the lack thereof. The issue is, an always has been, and always will be: consent.
Of course it is, if there is no consent. But where rape is still associated with force, where rape is still only considered "legitimate" if it is "forcible," we are going to be facing this question anew. The canard that will not die is not the idea that rape cannot lead to pregnancy (and so pregnancy negates rape); it is the idea that rape is violence, or it isn't rape at all. It is the idea that rape is a gateway to access social resources, money, or even society's sympathies.
The canard that will not die is that women use rape the same way they use sex: to get what they want. This isn't an assault on abortion access. It's an assault on human beings. While you do have to fight ideas with ideas, let me reiterate this blog's informal motto and, before I do, remind us all: Eyes on the prize.
AKIN: You know, Dr. Willke has just released a statement and part of his letter, I think he just stated it very clearly. He said, of course Akin never used the word legitimate to refer to the rapist, but to false claims like those made in Roe v. Wade and I think that simplifies it….. There isn’t any legitimate rapist…. [I was] making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.
Res ipsa loquitor. At least, I think it does.