Saturday, September 01, 2012

Just A Little Threat Between Friends

Many people concluded Representative Todd Akin (R-MO.) was rather stupid when, asked about whether there should be an exception to a ban on abortion if the woman is raped, he stated

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin continued. He did not provide an explanation for what constituted "legitimate rape."  But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Research makes clear that Mr. Akin was wrong.    A study conducted by Jon and Tiffany Gottschall, from St Lawrence University in Canton, New York, reported in New Science magazine in 2001 of women who had been raped found that just under 8%  who had not been using contraception became pregnant as a result of the attack.    The researchers compared that figure to a separate study which found that the percentage of women who got pregnant from a consensual, one time act of intercourse was 3.1%.   According to this article, the Gottschalls (although others argue otherwise) "believe one possible explanation is that women feel more attractive and sexy when ovulating and unconsciously give off signals that rapists might pick up.  Another possible explanation is that rapists target attractive and healthy-looking women."

Akins' belief may not have stemmed from stupidity but from some combination of ignorance and/or ideological bias against women's reproductive freedom.   But neither ignorance and ideological bias can account for his response to a comment made by a prominent Republican and reported by Alexander Burns:

Karl Rove phoned Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin to apologize for having joked about killing the Republican congressman, an Akin spokesman confirmed to POLITICO.

Akin adviser Rick Tyler said Rove spoke with Akin Friday about his remarks, and that the Akin camp believes it would be appropriate for Rove to make a public apology as well.

"I'm assuming that Karl will make a public apology," Tyler said. "The right thing to do would be for Karl to make a public apology. We appreciate the personal apology."

Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier that Rove told a gathering of donors in Tampa that Akin had to be forced out of the Senate race, and joked that if Akin were "found mysteriously murdered, don't look for my whereabouts."

Tyler said Rove called the embattled Senate candidate and "spent about three minutes" explaining that he didn't know there had been a reporter in the room and that he would not have made such a comment if he'd been aware of her presence.

"After about three minutes, Todd asked: are you calling to apologize?" recounted Tyler, who said that Rove responded in the affirmative.

"Todd was gracious and he accepted his apology," Tyler said, adding that the episode had not changed Akin's determination to continue his campaign: "Akin's in it to stay."

Rove and other national Republicans have pressured Akin to end his Senate campaign and the Rove-linked group American Crossroads has canceled its advertising in Missouri.

He didn't know there had been a reporter in the room and that he would not have made such a comment if he'd been aware of her presence.   .  As far as we know , Rove apparently didn't say he was wrong for making the comment or even that he didn't believe it.   He was sorry it got out.  Note to Todd:  when someone says he made a comment of which he expected only a select few to be aware, it is not an apology- it is a warning.     If someone threatens your life (jokingly, of course) in private and then regrets the remark was made public, you might want to consider a bodyguard.

Karl Rove will not have Todd Akin murdered, obviously- not after the remark was made public. Nor will he arrange an assassination after telling a bunch of people he was considering it.   But if Politico's report was accurate and thorough, pressure has been applied, and not of the subtle variety.

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