After Rep. Todd Akin (R – Mo.) made egregiously false statements on how rape victims cannot get pregnant, it’s shocking that there is such a clear misunderstanding in our society surrounding the basics of conception and the female body. And it's not just Akin who has made such mindless comments. There have been comments from a number of top political officials who have echoed Akin's absurd beliefs.
So it's time for a little bit of a health lesson. On behalf of all women out there, it’s time to get the facts straight and clear up a few of the many misconceptions that people like Akin have.
That said, here's a little guide to debunk some common, but dangerous, misconceptions about pregnancy from rape.
Fiction: “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – Rep. Todd Akin
Fact: Although the human body is miraculous and does an amazing job at fighting foreign entities, a female body doesn’t just “shut down” when a woman is the victim of rape. The uterus is pretty egalitarian; if egg meets sperm and implants on the uterine wall, it’s fair game as far as the uterus is concerned.
Fiction: “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that [pregnancy] is a rarity, if ever.” - Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge
Fact: I’m not sure what kind of “medical authorities” Aldridge is referring too, but a woman’s ability to get pregnant is not controlled by “juices” flowing, it’s actually based on a little something called hormones. It all starts when a girl begins her journey in womanhood, thanks to a little thing called the pituitary gland. The gland is in charge of releasing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control menstruation, a monthly “gift’ to most women who can bear children.
Let me draw it out for you:
Fiction: “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are one in millions and millions and millions," - state Rep. Stephen Freind (R-Delaware County)
Fact: For one, pregnancy from rape is not that rare. Every year, there are about 250,000 instances of rape, and that number only accounts for the ones that are reported. From there, 32,000 rapes result in pregnancy, meaning one in every eight cases of rape lead to pregnancy. That doesn’t sound very “rare” to me.
Fiction: “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” - Federal Judge James Leon Holmes
Fact: Over the past 35 years, it has snowed twice in Miami. So lets do the math. Because 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year, that means that 1,123,535 pregnancies have resulted over the past 35 years, which means it is 563,175 times more likely for a rape to result in pregnancy than it is to see snow in Miami.
Now, if you noticed anything with the two infographics above, there were no “juices,” no snow, and nothing “shut down.” When the violent sperm attacked the scared egg, it still implanted on the helpless uterine wall because the woman’s body was functioning like any normal one would. Now if that doesn’t explain how a pregnancy can result from a “legitimate rape” to Akin, than the man has more problems than we realize.
And here's one more just in case:
Fiction: "If a woman became pregnant, she must have experienced orgasm, and therefore could not have been the victim of an 'absolute rape,'" medical historian Vanessa Heggie (referring to a widespread belief)
Fact: Women don't need to have an orgasm to become pregnant. All you need for conception is an egg and a sperm, so as long as the woman has ovulated (which happens before intercourse) there is nothing standing in the way of pregnancy. If only some people weren't stuck in the past ....