Facing South
Facing South

INSTITUTE INDEX: The harsh politics of rape pregnancy

Date on which Congressman Todd Akin, an anti-abortion rights Republican who is running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, wrongly claimed that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant because the "female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down": 8/19/2012

Year in which Akin (top left in photo), who holds degrees in management engineering and divinity, first joined the House Committee on Science and Technology, where he continues to serve: 2001

Date on which Akin, speaking on former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee's radio show, said he would stay in the race despite calls to resign from prominent Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): 8/21/2012

McConnell's score from NARAL Pro-Choice America for his voting record on reproductive rights: 0

Year in which former Arkansas State Rep. Fay Boozman, who at the time was running for U.S. Senate, claimed wrongly that fear-induced hormonal changes could block a rape victim's ability to conceive: 1998

Year in which North Carolina State Rep. Henry Aldridge, an anti-abortion rights Republican from Pitt County, claimed wrongly 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": 1995

According to a 1996 study by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), percent of rape victims of reproductive age who become pregnant as a result of the assault: 5

Number of rape-induced pregnancies that translates to per year for adult women in the U.S.: over 32,000

According to that same study, percent of rape victims who opt for abortion: 50

Percent who opt to carry the pregnancy to term and keep the baby: 32.2

Number of states where men who father children through rape enjoy the same custody and visitation rights as other fathers: 31

Date on which the Republican National Committee's platform committee, chaired by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, approved a plank opposing abortion that offers no exception for women who are raped: 8/21/2012

During his 15 years as a delegate to the Virginia General Assembly, number of bills McDonnell (top right in photo) supported to restrict abortion even in cases of rape and incest: 35

Following public outcry, date on which Gov. McDonnell withdrew his support for a provision in a Virginia anti-abortion bill that would have required a woman seeking abortion to first undergo an intrusive vaginal probe: 2/28/2012

In the version of the anti-abortion bill that did eventually pass in Virginia with McDonnell's backing, hours before receiving an abortion that a woman must now undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound: 24

Percent of Virginia voters who opposed the ultrasound bill: 52

Percent of Virginia voters who said the government should not make laws aimed at changing the minds of women seeking abortion: 72

Number of states with laws mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortion: 10*

Year in which Congress changed federal law to disallow Department of Defense health coverage to pay for abortions for U.S. military women who are raped, instead forcing them to pay out of pocket: 1981

Year in which U.S. Rep. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) first introduced an amendment to provide active-duty servicewomen the same rights to affordable abortion as the people they're protecting: 2011

Month in which U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) (bottom left in photo), chair of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, stated his opposition to the Shaheen amendment because it would be "getting a foot in the door of taxpayer money being used for abortions": 7/2012

Number of sexual assaults that were reported in the military last year: 3,191

Number that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes actually occurred: 19,000

Applying the numbers gleaned from the MUSC study, number of those military rapes that are likely to result in pregnancy: 950

Year in which Sen. McConnell (bottom right in photo) voted to maintain the existing ban on abortions at U.S. military bases: 2000

* Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia. As of this month, the laws in North Carolina and Oklahoma were temporarily unenforceable pending a court decision.

(Click on figure to go to source. Photos of Akin, Wilson and McConnell are official congressional portraits; photo of McDonnell by Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia.)

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