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The Mathematics of 'Legitimate Rape' and Pregnancy 1469

Posted by timothy
from the you-said-rape-twice dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "James Hamblin, MD writes in the Atlantic that it's unclear how common the misconception that women rarely become pregnant after rape may be, but remarks by Missouri Senatorial nominee Todd Akin that 'if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down' (video) may provide some benefit as a learning opportunity. 'From a holistic perspective, one might hypothesize that a woman's body could respond to the extreme stress and trauma of enduring rape in such a way that she would be physiologically more likely to miscarry (or not to conceive at all),' writes Hamblin. After all there is a multi-million dollar alternative reproductive health market aimed at optimizing an environment for conception so there could be something to a theory that the other, much darker end of that spectrum functions analogously. But that hypothesis doesn't hold, to any relevant degree. A widely-cited 1996 study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology sampled over 4,000 women and found that the rape-related pregnancy rate was 5.0 percent and studies from other countries have reported the percentage to be even greater."
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The Mathematics of 'Legitimate Rape' and Pregnancy

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  • There are no Facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:59AM (#41069699)

    The whole reason that this comes up is because you get guys, who ignore facts and place their bias out there are the truth. This is why you get Kentucky trying to get rid of evolution, stupid senators making dumb comments about rape. Throw in the good ole-boy network of reenforcing stupidity (on basically anything) we get these stupid statements and stupid laws.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:59AM (#41069709)

    Presumably James Hamblin is an older white male. He seems to be missing the point here. The problem with the statement isn't that it's factually / scientifically inaccurate. The problem is the term "legitimate rape." The senator's statements (if taken with any bit of truth) imply that if a women were to get pregnant in the case of rape it was not a "legitimate" or "real" rape.

    This is just more from the "war on women" department. And while I don't agree with the stupid soundbite slogan "war on women" -- the disturbing trend which gives rise to it is a serious problem politically, but more important, socially.

  • by Lexible (1038928) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:00PM (#41069723)
    There must also be 'illegitimate rape,' right? Send that clown packing back to the anti-woman nut house he escaped from.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:02PM (#41069757)

    The hypothesis is that women do not get pregnant through sex unless the sex was consensual, and the evidence is that in fact they do. I suppose some statistics would be involved if you wanted to do a hypothesis test. But it's not some complex mathematical model, nor hugely contested.

  • by Spiked_Three (626260) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:04PM (#41069789)
    Yeah, the dude is a douche, no question. But even as someone totally opposite of probably everything he believes, I knew what he was saying was women forced to have sex vs those who lie about it afterwords. And what he thought might happen, as pointed out be earlier poster, isn't entirely unbelievable. If there is a market to help you get pregnant, there could be a 'mechanism' that prevents pregnancy. Possible, studied, and rejected. So he is an uninformed idiot. Beyond that there isn't much news to it, BUT in the world we live, were a company with less than 10% market share can be the most valuable company in history, there has to be something to make the news sell.

    This my friends is a result of showing how easily you (the proverbial you, as a population) can be fooled into thinking something is important, when it is not. Everything you have seen on TV on this issue, is about selling commercials, nothing more. And from what I can tell, is working exactly as planned.
  • by kubernet3s (1954672) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:06PM (#41069817)
    This is also stuff that matters.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:06PM (#41069819) Journal
    Doing a scientific analysis of elements in the news is always good for nerds. It's good for everyone, we need more of it.

    Also, consider shit like this [slashdot.org] and this [slashdot.org].
  • Correlation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlashDread (38969) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:07PM (#41069839)

    When you get pregnant after rape, you either secretly liked it, or it was consentual.
    The bastards the US calls politicians never seize to amaze me with their vile.

  • by Antipater (2053064) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:07PM (#41069845)
    Well, there's two problems. When someone says something like this, you have to do two things: 1. Get rid of the idiot who said them (that's what you're doing). And 2. Disprove what he said so that fewer people believe it in the future. That's what Hamblin is doing. Doing one doesn't remove the need for the other.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:09PM (#41069873)

    Actually, what he suggested with his comments was that we can't allow abortions in cases of rape because women will just lie to get access to abortions (because, duh, if it was really rape they wouldn't be pregnant). Which is a far worse blunder, IMO.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:10PM (#41069895)

    I wouldn't be so sure his flawed understanding of rape and conception is his motivation for opposing abortion in the case of rape.

    I understand women can get pregnant from a rape, but still think abortion in the case of rape should be outlawed. The child is still a life and isn't responsible for the rape. Therefore, the child doesn't deserve to be punished with death for a crime he or she didn't commit.

  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:13PM (#41069957)

    Based on no empirical evidence, I am guessing that rapes are actually more likely to lead to pregnancy than consensual sex because of modern family planning. A woman who is expecting sex is more likely to be using birth control than a woman who is raped.

  • by bhagwad (1426855) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:17PM (#41070005) Homepage
    It could well be a math issue - you don't believe statistics is a good way to find out the relative probability of something?
  • by poity (465672) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:18PM (#41070021)

    Also, political threads = potential flamewar and lotsa page views. Even free software nerds need money.

  • by neminem (561346) <neminem AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:20PM (#41070047) Homepage

    It is true that one common meaning of the word "legitimate" is "lawful". But another common use of the word "legitimate" is to imply merely that it actually -happened-. For instance: a legitimate arson would be one where a guy burned a building down for fun. A non-legitimate arson would be where a guy burned down a building because the owner of the building paid him to as part of an attempt at insurance fraud. Similarly,
    a "legitimate rape" would be one in which nonconsensual sex was forced on someone. An illegitimate rape would be "girl pretends that consensual sex wasn't to get back at her boyfriend". Neither of those situations are pleasant, but they do both occur.

  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:24PM (#41070119) Homepage Journal

    Since when is this a site for *tech* news? There are other sites that do that. This is a "news for nerds" site, and tech news is just part of that.

    This "women can't get pregnant from forcible rape" meme has been around for a long time, though, and the right to life movement has been promoting this myth [christianl...ources.com] for years now. It has been used as an argument against emergency contraception [catholicnewsagency.com].

    This particular story is about public ignorance of science, so it may not be news *to* nerds, but it qualifies as news *for* nerds. It's not news that ignorant people believe in creationism, it *is* news when creationists use their clout to restrict the teaching of evolution or to give equal billing to creation "science". It isn't news that some people (largely the same people who push creationism) believe a woman can't get pregnant from rape. It *is* news when somebody runs for office proposing to make laws based on that superstition. It's news for *everybody*, but the nerd's special bailiwick is the science and math part.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:25PM (#41070143) Journal

    Well, there's the little matter of that bill to restrict Federal funding for abortions, based in no small part of kinds of rape (ie. violent vs. statutory) that Akin and Ryan co-sponsored. While Ryan can't really be held to account for Akin's apparently first grade understanding of female reproduction, the fact is that both men are close allies when it comes to how the Federal government should define rape. Ryan isn't in the center of the target, but he's certainly somewhere on it.

  • by Creedo (548980) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:26PM (#41070157) Journal

    Therefore, the child doesn't deserve to be punished with death for a crime he or she didn't commit.

    It's not punishment. It is a medical procedure. Furthermore, it is a medical procedure being performed on someone who is not you, therefore you have no say in the matter. If and when it is your uterus which has been forcibly impregnated, then by all means, you will get to make that call.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:26PM (#41070161)

    The child isn't being punished because the child does not exist starting at conception. A child doesn't exist for the first several months of pregnancy.

    The victim of rape should not be punished. And being forced to birth the child of your rapist is an unimaginably cruel punishment that wouldn't even be fit for a convicted criminal.

  • by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:29PM (#41070215) Homepage Journal

    "largely for the flimsy reason that they were both cosponsors of the person-hood amendment"
    that;s not flimsy.
    From Ryan's historical actions, it only seems he thinks women can not be raped unless they are somehow harmed outside of the sexual intercourse part of the rape. Hitting, slapping, etc...
    This is part of the rising war on women form that party; which stems from the religion rights belief that women are second class citizens.
    AS an FYI: Mormons also believe women are 2nd class citizens.

    *For brevity.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:31PM (#41070241) Journal

    But it is a math issue. Akin has made the claim that somehow women who are raped can fend off pregnancy. So, there is a solid claim here that can be investigated, and before one starts pondering the means by which women can prevent rapists' sperm from fertilizing their ova, it seems useful to investigate the rates of pregnancy from rape.

    Actually, what I find interesting is that I've read in various places that the odds of pregnancy from a single act of coitus is somewhere around 5%, so if 5% for rape is the statistic, then, from a purely biological point of view there is little difference in fertilization rates between consensual unprotected coitus and forced coitus.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:31PM (#41070253)

    It should matter to nerds and anyone else that a man who displays such little care of concern for the nature of reality is a member of the House and seeking office in the Senate of the United States. He represents a constituency the neither understands basic science nor believes that it is necessary to do so in order to make decisions that will govern your personal and professional lives.

    Listen to what he is saying, and imagine the implications. A woman is raped... she is forcibly inseminated & the embryo is viable. In this twit's world (and that of others who want to force their 'values' on you) she would have no right to seek an abortion of this undesirable pregnancy. Period.

    Furthermore, he's implying that he's been informed by doctors that, "there are ways the female body has of shutting this thing down." First of all, he doesn't understand basic biology. Secondly, he's sadly misinformed about the nature of the rights of the individual. Third, if this is the kind of leadership you want to see in Congress and you're a geek, how do you think it's going to effect your ability to seek federal funding for any research that runs afoul of the whims of a such a zealot?

    If you still think it doesn't matter, then move to Missouri and see if can help Akin in his quest, but don't expect to be able to discuss science openly for fear that you'll be expelled from his inner sanctum of trusted keepers of the supreme knowledge.

    From the NIH

    CONCLUSIONS: Rape-related pregnancy [nih.gov] occurs with significant frequency. It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.

    Offer up your own daughter for sacrifice, Mr. Akin, but keep your simplistic, religious immorality out of my life!

  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:34PM (#41070277) Homepage

    I'm reluctant to feed the troll, but it needs doing:

    Seconded. While nobody should doubt that women can use sex as a women from time to time, EVERYBODY should doubt, for lack of evidence, that this phenomenon is discursively significant when set beside the shockingly common, underprosecuted, and yet extremely serious crime of rape.

    Meanwhile, there is an embarrassment of evidence about the prevalence of rape and the ways in which our criminal justice system and society at large do not take the problem seriously enough. This social problem is caused, in very large part, by efforts to discredit and embarrass victims with much the same rhetoric as the GP's. So if, when confronted about a story about someone not taking rape seriously enough, your response is something like the GP's, you are either ignorant of the very well known facts, a cretin, or have your head way up your ass. Probably all three.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:39PM (#41070347)

    I agree for the most part, but the world is not black and white. Here's a little hypothetical thought experiment:

    A teenage man (say, 19, so above majority age) goes to a party, which involves alcohol. He gets drunk enough to become sufficiently intoxicated to black out the evening. He wakes up in his bed at home, after being dropped off by friends. 3 months later, a girl who was at the party claims a paternity suit against him for her now 3rd month pregnancy, the test shows positive. he does not remember giving consent, and does not remember the woman at all.

    Now, Flipside.

    A teenage woman, (Say, 19, so above the age of majority), goes to a party which involves alcohol. She gets drunk enough to be sufficiently intoxicated to black out the evening. She wakes up at home in her bed after being dropped off by friends. She has semen stains in her panties. She does not remember giving consent, and promptly makes use of a female hotline to report her "rape."

    These situations are essentially identical, however the female's view holds more gravity than does the male's. Contrary to what many feminists might claim, a non-consentual pregnancy and subsequent child support mandate can ruin a man's life, just as much as the unconsentual pregnancy itself can ruin a woman's. In both cases, informed consent could not be considered a given, because both were heavily intoxicated. This makes both instances fall de-facto under the umbrella of rape.

    Both cases have identical themes: A person is encouraged by the party to become intoxicated, and is then taken sexual advantage of while judgment is impaired. That is straight up rape.

    Why is it then, that men in this circumstance are more frequently saddled with being the SOURCE of the rape, and denied protections as a victim of rape, while women are more frequently granted the protections of being the victims of rape, while men are saddled with the blame for such rape?

    I would say it is because of cultural bias, and double standards; women are percieved as more vulnerable, (when both are equally vulnerable to alcohol and other drugs), and thus requiring the stronger protections. Men are conversely considered to be "stronger", and being raped in this way is even culturally approved of in a disturbingly sick fashion.

    I really do believe that it is possible to have a no-fault rape case. Both participants get smashed and fuck like rabbits while out of their minds, and assert they would never have consented to the sex while sober. How does the law react to such a circumstance? Does it punish both victims for their over-indulgences? Who pays child support?

    See the problem?

  • by FatAlb3rt (533682) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:41PM (#41070377) Homepage
    A child doesn't exist for the first several months of pregnancy.

    Actually, a child doesn't exist for the first few months of its life.
  • The real math... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:41PM (#41070389)

    ... is that the Republicans are hosed this November if they continue to double down on all of this.

    And this is one of their central tenets on rape, that there is "legitimate rape" and "well, it's not rape-rape, because she had an orgasm" or "she deserved it because she dressed like a slut and forced the weak spined guy to rape her." It is so central to the "pregnancy as punishment for moral failing" in fundie circles that they will not relinquish this point. Because to relinquish it means they could be wrong on other things about pregnancy and abortion too. It's a point of faith held very deeply.

    Which is why the GOP platform calls for a constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape.

    But don't you dare call it a war on women. Right? *spit*

    So get the popcorn, and find your favorite chair, because this is going to be an epic amount of derp.

    --
    BMO

  • by DeathToBill (601486) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:42PM (#41070405) Journal

    I think that both the terms "legitimate rape" and "war on women" are unhelpful. Both sides of this argument need to face up to a simple-to-say but very difficult-to-solve problem: rape is hard to judge, and preventing rape is not the only priority of our society.

    The desire to prevent rape is balanced against the desire to acquit the innocent. Our society currently, and has for a long time, preferred to acquit the innocent than to convict the guilty. Since there are inevitably cases where proof is not certain, this means that we also prefer to acquit the guilty rather than convict the innocent.

    This breaks down to a degree for rape. By its nature it is infrequently observed by witnesses. This judicial system requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that (a) a specific event happened (what event depends slightly on your jurisdiction) and (b) one of the parties involved did not consent to it.

    Some cases are straight-forward. When a man grabs a woman in a park and rapes her behind a wall, it's pretty clear that consent was not given. Then you only need to prove that the event happened, and you have a case. The event is usually pretty easy to prove - it leaves physical evidence.

    But in many other cases, consent is not straightforward. When two drunk teens are fooling around and things go too far, or (in many jurisdictions) when consent is withdrawn during intercourse, or, indeed when Julian Assange goes to bed with someone at night and decides he'd like a bit more the next morning, then it inevitably descends in to a mess of he-said she-said. At present, when a case comes down to one person's word against another, of roughly equal credibility, the law will acquit, because we prefer protecting innocence to punishing guilt. That means that some rapists walk free because it's his word against hers.

    We could change this. The law could be changed so that women making a complaint of rape are believed by default. But that is placing the prevention of rape above the priority of protecting the innocent. Do you really believe that this would never be used to persecute the innocent? This would mean that some innocent people go to prison and spend their lives on a sex offenders register because their partners found a cruel way to get back at them.

  • Re:Woah woah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:42PM (#41070407)

    I'm not a member of the GOP, but I think it speaks volumes when those in charge of the party denounce and even take efforts to derail the campaign of somebody who says something so stupid. In fact, it seems they always do this. Mark Foley, Larry Craig, etc, all examples of people who

    I've only been old enough to participate in two elections, but I haven't voted democrat in either of them, because they have never demonstrated that kind of integrity. Ted Kennedy killed somebody and rather than serve time in jail he served time in the US senate for the rest of his life. And that's not even the worst, when Dan Crane (R) and Gerry Studds (D) both admitted to having sex with teenagers on literally the same day, Dan Crane was kicked out of office by the GOP, whereas the Democrats kept Gerry Studds in office until he retired 12 years later.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:49PM (#41070573)

    "I understand women can get pregnant from a rape, but still think abortion in the case of rape should be outlawed."

    I like my solution to this issue. Let's take everyone who is against abortion, and put them in a line. We will abolish ALL abortions, and if you want, even contraception. When a woman becomes pregnant with a child she does not want, she will be forced to have it. BUT - when the child is born, it will be given to the person at the front of the line, instead of the mother. That person will have the child as long as that child needs parenting. Does not matter if the mother is affluent, or a crack-whore, and the person in line does not get to choose. If the child has Down's Syndrome, or some other equally disabling condition then I guess that parent will be parenting for a long, long time. How's THAT for you putting your money where your mouth is?

    Oh, yes, and after you get your chid, if you still feel the same way about the issue, you get back in line at the back of the line, so you can get another child. How many times do you have to get back in line? Until you no longer believe that it's the best solution. How's THAT for you putting your money where your mouth is?

    I'll bet most of you won't get in line to begin with - bunch of hypocrites mostly, who just want to control women, with no consequences to themselves.

  • by GodInHell (258915) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:51PM (#41070595) Homepage
    To be fair, that's not true. I find his remarks more abhorrent because of the underlying thesis:

    Akin's argument is essentially that when a woman is "legitimately raped" i.e. doesn't want to have sex with the man forcing himself on her, there can be no pregnancy. Therefore, whenever a rape victim gets pregnant, she actually wanted to have sex with that man, so it wasn't "really" rape, because secretly deep down she wanted it. Therefore, since she wanted to have sex, she should be responsible for the product of that act -- the baby. And thus, its okay to put her in jail if she aborts the rapists baby.

    That's why the Republicans have been out there trying to split hairs between "rape rape" "forcible rape" "legitimate rape" and the term us commie hippie pinkos use (i.e. RAPE). Because, as any republican pastor could tell you, deep down that every feminist secretly wants a good round of "illegitimate raping" at least once a year.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:51PM (#41070601)

    I think our time is better spent reigning in the ignorant conservative Christians.

    They've completely destroyed the Republican party by driving out everyone with critical thinking skills, which is something no Muslim could have accomplished. It took dumbass Christians reacting to the Muslims to do that.

  • Re:It's okay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xevioso (598654) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:53PM (#41070649)

    One of many reasons why I am a devout evangelical atheist is because of all the Ten Commandments int he Bible, God chose not to outlaw rape. The Christian God apparently chose " Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." as a more important rule to lay down than "Thou shalt not rape." Rape has been used as a form of violence and control since the beginning of recorded human history, and in fact it has only been within the past hundred years that it has been seen as the true horror that it is in modern society, and this is IN SPITE OF religious dogma, not because of it.

    God could have chosen to make it perfectly clear that this was one of the most evil sins that could be committed and should be outlawed under all circumstances. But the God presented in the Bible, and in the Koran, chose not to.

    This is one of the reasons why I'm an atheist.

  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:01PM (#41070783) Homepage

    Your "couples wanting to conceive" group will disproportionately sample less-fertile couples, as the most fertile couples will already have kids.

  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#41070827)

    Shouldn't an atheist say "those ancient dudes who made up the Bible chose not to..."?

    Just sayin'

  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:05PM (#41070851)

    A child doesn't exist for the first several months of pregnancy.

    Although something exists through the first several months of pregnancy, and it is certainly alive and it is certainly human (what other species is it, if not human?)

    This is just a fact, not an argument. An argument would be if I were to then introduce another premise--like, "And no human entity at any stage of its life-cycle should ever be killed for any reason"--and then drew a conclusion from that. That would be an argument.

    The ordinary, uncontroversial fact that a human in the early stages of its life cycle exists immediately after pregnancy, and that entity is destroyed in the course of an abortion, should be the grounding for any argument on the morality and legality of abortion.

    My own position is that the destruction of this human entity (I won't say "human being" because that comes loaded with all kinds of connotations that are not fulfilled by the fetus, so anyone who uses that kind of language is either confused or deliberately misleading) is entirely up to the person carrying it. She after all is in the position to have that entity's best interests at heart, far more than me or you or the Organs of the State or anyone else. If she believes the best thing to do is destroy that entity, that she should be free to do so.

    Every human society has some means of disposing of the results of unwanted pregnancies, usually via some form of infanticide. Access to abortion is a vast improvement on this, putting the person who has the greatest knowledge and greatest interest in the matter in charge of the choice is the only reasonably optimal way of making the decision, and if anything in the matter should be considered a crime, it is having a child who is not wanted and will not be loved.

  • by G00F (241765) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:09PM (#41070905) Homepage
    <quote>Therefore, the child doesn't deserve to be punished with death for a crime he or she didn't commit.</quote>

    So forcing the kid to grow up as a reminder that mom was raped? Think that kid will feel loved, or even if that kid is loved well, knowing or finding out that you are here only because some jackass raped the #1 person in your life?

    And have you ever been pregnant before, or an S.O? It's not exactly something wonderful unless you are looking forward to what they are creating. Puking, bloating, weight gain, morning sickness, damage tot he body, even risk of death, loss of work, new clothing. Waking up every morning "fatter" than the day before because you got raped. So, 9 months of punishment for the mom plus the delivery. And what about caring for this kid? Who pays? oh punish the one who was raped again.

    And to expound on another pearlier point, giving birth is not without risks. Sure, modern medicine has made it feel almost trivial, but the risk is always there, some more than others. Who gets to make that call of what risk is acceptable?

    And what about daddy? Does he have access to the kid? and to the mom? Lawsuits? Who pays for all this? and who is being punished?

    I am always disgusted when other people feel the need to take away rights of others so that they can feel empowered.
  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:16PM (#41071007)
    I know this sets the requirements pretty high, but I think it's reasonable to expect our lawmakers to investigate what the legal distinction between "rape" and "forcible rape" is, and vote accordingly. Ryan was either not educated enough to do so, which is a character flaw - or he understood the distinction and chose to support "only forcible rape" provisions intentionally, which is damning.
  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:19PM (#41071073) Homepage Journal

    But it is a math issue. Akin has made the claim that somehow women who are raped can fend off pregnancy. So, there is a solid claim here that can be investigated, and before one starts pondering the means by which women can prevent rapists' sperm from fertilizing their ova, it seems useful to investigate the rates of pregnancy from rape.

    This is exactly it. The "big deal" isn't that a conservative thinks there is some sort of magic that God put in women to prevent unwelcome pregnancy (conservatives believe all kinds of ridiculous things so this is not a shocker at all). The big deal is that Rep Akin was appointed to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology in the U.S. House. This obviously puts him in a position to influence the nation's policy toward science, and since he is clearly a firm disbeliever in science as a whole it is really important that as many people know about this tragic mismatch as possible.

  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:25PM (#41071187)
    But you do understand that in many cases the woman would have no interest in undergoing the pregnancy or caring for the child when it was born, right?

    So clearly you should vote for a political party that supports state-sponsored health care for women impregnated by rape, and extra state-sponsored funding for the health care, shelter, food, clothing, and education of the child, right?

    So what party would that be? Because it sure as FUCKING HELL is not the United States Republican party. They'll hate the woman for aborting the embryo, but they'll hate the baby sucking on the social welfare tit even more.
  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:27PM (#41071233)
    You made my point better than I did. The religious conservatives in the United States need another political party, because the Republican Party might fight like hell to keep that fetus alive, but they will march straight into hell before they lift a finger to help it after it's born.
  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:30PM (#41071289)
    Another issue is Trickle Down Theory helps lower unemployment, there are many who say it works; but there is no eveidence to support it. It does show that the wealthy have better lobbyists than the poor.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:32PM (#41071321) Journal

    An excellent observation. It's absolutely fascinating to me that the GOP's social conservative line isn't all that far from the hard-line Islamist line that a female victim of rape somehow actually was responsible for that rape and really it's more a situation of fornication, rather than violence.

    There are some truly disturbing people filling up the hard-right ranks of the Republican party, and considering that Paul Ryan is a co-sponsor of amendments that seem to stem from this very kind of thinking, it certainly shines a new light on Ryan as well.

  • by houghi (78078) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:33PM (#41071351)

    Furthermore, it is a medical procedure being performed on someone who is not you, therefore you have no say in the matter.

    We (as in we, the people) have a say in other peoples medical procedures all the time. We tell people that they are not allowed to take certain substances for medical reasons.
    We have a say in what other people are allowed to do all the time. We tell them they must wear a seat-belt or a helmet.
    So why not here?

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:35PM (#41071373)

    Men can subconciously detect women who are at the fertile point of their cycle, among other things men find women more sexually attractive. The obvious (to me anyway) hypothesis is that rapists are more likely to attack women who are ovulating.

  • by DuckDodgers (541817) <keeper_of_the_wolf@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:43PM (#41071513)
    But the whole point is that sex-that-is-legally-considered-rape is morally equivalent to sex-under-duress. The 14 year old girl is too young to consent to sex, so it's still rape. The girl who has sex with a guy because he'll douse her son in gasoline and light him on fire if she refuses is still being raped. The girl who has sex with a guy because he'll kick her out of their home and she'll risk freezing to death is still being raped. The girl that is drunk out of her mind (maybe because her date put roofies into her drink, but even if she was just stupid and drank too much) is still being raped. A person suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or an anxiety disorder, or some similar mental problem who relies upon her psychological counselor for aid and gets seduced by their counselor is still being take advantage of by someone in a position of authority. She may believe the sexual encounters are consensual, but that person is abusing his or her position - it is still rape. (And just to be clear, I used "girl" and "she" but the victims could also be men.)

    Now you can argue that the age of consent for statutory rape laws in most of the US should be lowered, and I would agree. But outside of that, Akin is trying to make a distinction between two things and there is none. Sex has to be between legal adults, without being intoxicated by legal or illegal drugs, with both people on equal footing (i.e. one not in a position of mentoring or authority over the other), without physical violence, without the threat of physical violence, without the threat of loss of physical safety.
  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyerNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:00PM (#41071775)
    No, GP is saying that the 7th and 10th commandments forbid you from coveting your neighbor's possessions, and unmarried women were considered one of those possessions. So if you covet your neighbor's 18 yr old unmarried daughter, you are breaking these commandments. GP makes a the jump that raping someone is an extreme form of coveting them, and so is covered under these commandments.
  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twocows (1216842) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:00PM (#41071785)
    A lot of the problem is that it's hard to determine the truth in a lot of rape cases, and our system is supposed to err on the side of the accused. The US criminal justice system sets "beyond reasonable doubt" as its standard. In a lot of alleged rape cases, it's the victim's word against the accused's, which is pretty much impossible to prosecute.

    As for which is more common, rape or false rape accusations, I have absolutely no idea and don't want to touch that issue with a ten foot pole. I think they're both serious crimes, at the very least.
  • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:07PM (#41071877)

    Ever been pregnant?
    me neither.
    Wife was though.
    Looked pretty damn unpleasant.

    you ever given birth?
    me neither.
    seen it though.
    looks like it hurts a whole hell of a lot.

    also, you know, there's that whole "now I've got a kid I don't want" thing, that's pretty harsh too.

    ever had a kid? I have. they're expensive, they're a pain in the ass, and they completely destroy your life. the only thing that makes them bearable is that you love the flying fuck out of them. Now take away that part where you want the kid and add in the part where you're constantly reminded of one of the worst experiences of your life every time you look at them.

    now tell me again how that's not harsh fucking punishment?

  • by guises (2423402) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:28PM (#41072233)

    but rather believes that at some arbitrary time the unseen individual is suddenly real (like, second, third trimester, a specific number of days into pregnancy), just a magic but arbitrary switch that has nothing to do with physical development

    This isn't exactly correct. As you say, it's somewhat arbitrary and difficult to determine ethically what exactly a baby is and when it comes into existence. However, it's not very difficult at all to identify something which is not a baby. My keyboard is not a baby, no one would ever mistake it for one. Nor would anyone ever mistake a fertilized egg or an embryo for a baby. They have nothing in common with a baby beyond DNA (something that my keyboard is covered with).

    So they're not saying that a baby comes into existence at this time and therefore prior to that abortion is okay, they're saying that this thing is clearly not a baby so... what's the big deal?

  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:39PM (#41072405) Homepage

    Cite your study so the rest of us can read it. I call bullshit.

  • by Rene S. Hollan (1943) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:49PM (#41072523)

    See, I'm an engineer. A scientist. What's in a name? "Legitimate" in that context is just as good as anything else. Of course, it is an unfortunate term politically. And, I am well aware of political agendas fueled by pesudo-science.

    The term may be inflamatory, but such things sometimes are useful to draw attention to the rest of one's argument, whereupon it can be considered in the whole on its merits.

    I do think the term "rape" has been diluted to the point of being rediculous. There is a difference between consensual sex between minors, women who lacked dimished capacity through their own voluntary consumption of alcohol, those who changed their mind right in the middle of the "main event", and those that are grabbed, manhandled, stripped, penetrated, and quite possibly beaten within inches of their lives. I grew up with the last of these as the mental image of rape. All the others might very well be exploitation, assault, even sexual assault, sleazy and wrong, but they do not rise to the same level of violence, depravity and the body's possible reaction. I might even be so bold as to suggest that if the evidence does not support the hypothesis, perhaps the rapes studied were not "legitimate enough" to use the author's own vocabulary.

    I would further suggest this: the ever-increasing set of actions which get included under the legal umbrella of "rape" are likely part of a misandrist agenda to create in the mind the image of the most violent act above so as to encourage a "guilty if accused because the crime is so horrible" societal bias. "No" is no, and wrong is wrong, but to vigorously prosecute those who's actions barely meet the legal definition, in circumstances often lacking mens rea, because they are easy pickings, while avoiding the harder prosecutions, in order to pack prisons-for-profit, is a greater injustice to women (and people in general), than an inappropriately chosen adjective.

  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pdabbadabba (720526) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:52PM (#41072569) Homepage

    Do you really think that male contempt for women is so high in the West that they'd dismiss rape claims out of hand?

    Also, yes. You just did, in very elaborate fashion.

  • by zwede (1478355) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:53PM (#41072589)

    My point is both religions have some scary rules and if the people who write laws are true believers, and base laws on their religious beliefs, the results can be frightening.

  • by jheath314 (916607) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:59PM (#41072699)

    From the context of his remarks, I don't think Akin was referring to false versus truthful claims of rape per se, but rather that he was referring to the distinction Republicans are trying to draw between "forcible rape" and all other forms (i.e. statutory rape, or situations where the woman is unable or unwilling to fight back against her attacker.) The Republicans tried to pass a bill with the "forcible rape" distinction, but backed down after public outcry, so Akin's remarks aren't really outside his party's official position on the matter... he's being disowned by the party only because he drew attention to their stance.

  • by Theaetetus (590071) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .todhsals.suteteaeht.> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:32PM (#41074097) Homepage Journal

    This breaks down to a degree for rape. By its nature it is infrequently observed by witnesses. This judicial system requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that (a) a specific event happened (what event depends slightly on your jurisdiction) and (b) one of the parties involved did not consent to it.

    Some cases are straight-forward. When a man grabs a woman in a park and rapes her behind a wall, it's pretty clear that consent was not given. Then you only need to prove that the event happened, and you have a case. The event is usually pretty easy to prove - it leaves physical evidence.

    But in many other cases, consent is not straightforward. When two drunk teens are fooling around and things go too far, or (in many jurisdictions) when consent is withdrawn during intercourse... then it inevitably descends in to a mess of he-said she-said.

    Not just rape, though, or rather, by singling out rape, you're suggesting that victims of rape are inherently less credible than victims of other crimes. Do you believe this?
    For example, fraud is a case of he-said, she-said where a victim claims they were fooled and the defendant claims the "victim" had all the facts on hand.
    Or for example, robbery is a case of he-said, she said where a victim claims they were held up and the defendant claims the "victim" gave them a gift.

    In other words, other than the violent ones that leave physical evidence, the majority of crimes fall down to victim testimony vs. defendant testimony, or he-said, she-said. Yet, it's only rape or sexual assault where we think that's not enough, hence even the name "he-said, she-said."

    And I should point out that, in cases of rape or sexual assault, physical evidence is frequently discounted too: many people make the argument that the grabbed-woman-in-a-park was actually really consenting to public anonymous sex, as evidenced by her clothing, or her being in that area at night, etc., etc. Or, for example, that the maid allegedly raped by Strauss-Kahn was really giving him a consensual beej, and she was just so into it that she tore her rotator cuff (perhaps she was really into BDSM and consenting to have her arm held behind her back?).

    In fact, even where facts are not in dispute, people will still modify them in cases of sexual assault to minimize the criminality. For example:

    or, indeed when Julian Assange goes to bed with someone at night and decides he'd like a bit more the next morning, then it inevitably descends in to a mess of he-said she-said.

    He said he wanted a bit more and slipped it in before she woke up. She said the same thing. There's no he-said, she-said there. Rather, it's about whether his belief that he had her consent was reasonable in view of her previous denial.

    We could change this. The law could be changed so that women making a complaint of rape are believed by default. But that is placing the prevention of rape above the priority of protecting the innocent. Do you really believe that this would never be used to persecute the innocent? This would mean that some innocent people go to prison and spend their lives on a sex offenders register because their partners found a cruel way to get back at them.

    On the contrary, you're suggesting that women making a complaint of rape shouldn't be believe by default. In other words, you're saying that these women are guilty of making a false report unless they prove themselves to be innocent. I'm going to suggest that you hadn't fully thought through the implications of your statement.

  • Re:It's okay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @06:13PM (#41075327)

    No, that statistic is in line with my personal experience. But you have to know a woman pretty well before she'd tell you if she'd been raped, so it's likely that you just don't know how many of the women you know have been raped. The statistic is not bunk at all, and I'd strongly encourage you to learn more about this subject.

  • Re:It's okay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rei (128717) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @06:32PM (#41075529) Homepage

    Sooooo.... you took the following data:

    1.5-10%, 2-8%, 2%, 2%, 3%, 3-31%, 3.8%, 5.9%, 8%, 10.3%, 10.9%, 11%, 11.8%, 18.2%, 20%, 22.4%, 24%, 41%, 41%, 45%, 47%, 90%

    and reached the conclusion that it's 10-50%? Looks to me like the median is 11%. If you want to discount older studies and you look at only more recent studies, say 2000 and later:

    3%, 5.9%, 11%, 11.8%, 41%

    Median is also 11%. In short, approximately only one in nine rape accusations is false. But you better believe that rape victims get smeared almost every time based on the assumption that they're lying, and fear of this is one of the main reasons that keeps people from coming forward most of the time.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @06:35PM (#41075555) Journal
    It's a clump of cells. It may have a clump of brain cells, but is the brain even viable? Can it support a personality or just function at that stage? And when it switches from "clump of neural cells" to "functioning human being finished the boot sequence" how do you tell and say "this is now a person"? It's all a bunch of fuzzy, imaginary magic--we want to believe there's a line somewhere, but even if we had an idea of where it is we wouldn't know it when we crossed it.
  • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @07:03PM (#41075787)

    What does that have to do with anything?

    If everybody had to raise their own cow, feed it, water it, slaughter it, and butcher it... how many hamburgers do you think they'd eat?

    Hell, most people wouldn't even want to get their appendix removed if they had to watch it.

    people are squeamish... at least until you spend time in the bowels of the internet.

  • Re:It's okay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gorobei (127755) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @07:24PM (#41075977)

    * "...women can use sex as a WEAPON..." of course. Oops.

    Oh, that makes so much more sense now. Glad you cleared that up.

    "Sex as a WEAPON" like "I stab you with my sex?" "I blow you up with my sex?" "I shoot you with my sex?" Oh, wait, I see, a man assaults a woman and she was using sex as the weapon, he was just the innocent victim of the attack. Got it.

    I totally understand this. It's like me (a rich person) using money as a weapon. I have something other people want, so they beat me up and take it. All my fault, I was using it as a weapon, and they were the victim of the weapon.

    Sheesh, unless you are missing an eye due to a vicious hard nipple attack, seek professional help if you think sex is ever a weapon.

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @11:43AM (#41082713) Homepage

    So you're not a feminist? You don't believe in equality?

    I agree that everyone should be treated equally, but they are not, and the laws that seem to favor women clearly illustrate male privilege, otherwise there wouldn't be an imbalance and there would just be human laws.

    "Most gender issues are utter bullshit. What if I treat a female..."

    And you just played your hand: you've never, ever attempted to understand gender issues, otherwise you'd never say something this ignorant. You might as well be commenting on a neurosurgery discussion group. The fact that you would whine about laws not being equal demonstrates you still haven't made the realization of your privilege yet.

    Part of your confusion is that you are benefitting from male privilege but don't realize it. One of the hardest realization for any privileged group to come to is that they are in fact privileged. I'm going to do a horrible job explaining this to you, but the first reaction any privileged group has when hearing it is violent denial. So I'm not going to explain because I have trouble getting my ideas across.

    Basically, men run the world and treat women like shit -- everywhere and for all time except for the last 100 years where privilege is being explored seriously -- and I'm sure you're seething right now to tell me how wrong i am... then laws try to correct this imbalance. If men weren't the default institution of power, laws would have less appearance of bias.

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