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The Mathematics of 'Legitimate Rape' and Pregnancy 1469

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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  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:01PM (#41069733)

    This is news for nerds, not tech news. Science is for nerds. Math is for nerds. I assume that's why it was added here, since we all know that sex is definitely not for nerds.

  • by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:10PM (#41069897)
    I don't get all this hubbub about "illegitimate rape" and what it means. It doesn't mean anything, because there's no such thing. Akin was using "legitimate" as an intensifier, not a qualifier. The opposite of legitimate rape isn't "illegitimate rape", it's consensual sex. What Akin meant was that if you got pregnant from a rape, it wasn't rape. You enjoyed it, you slut.
  • by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:12PM (#41069921)

    I think the telling point there that is even with the various women on birth control, not ovulating, etc, that there were still 5% (or higher) that still managed to get pregnant after one unwanted sexual encounter.

  • by compro01 ( 777531 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:27PM (#41070173)

    Total logic fail. A 15 year old male having sex with a 15 year old female is not statutory rape. You lose.

    That depends on the state. For example, in New York state, both would be charged with statutory rape.

    Whether said law is a logic fail itself is a different matter.

  • by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:32PM (#41070259)

    Statutory rape is often unforced.

  • by Gideon Wells ( 1412675 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @01:41PM (#41070393)

    The guy serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Citation: http://gop.science.house.gov/Members/Default.aspx [house.gov]

    So this guy has a say in the nation's direction on those things.

  • As far as I can tell, you're wrong and making things up.

    http://www.cga.ct.gov/2003/olrdata/jud/rpt/2003-r-0376.htm [ct.gov]

  • Did you realize that Rep. Todd Aken is on the Committee for Science, Space and Technology (according to his Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_akin [wikipedia.org])
    Isn't it amazing that someone this clueless about technology/how the world actually works would be on this committee?
    Now do you think that this belongs on Slashdot?
    Do you think Aken should resign?
  • by NotSanguine ( 1917456 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:01PM (#41070789) Journal

    If the fetus has a right to life, than all women who miscarriage need to be investigated to determine if they should be charged with some variation of manslaughter/murder over the death of their fetus (after all a miscarriage due to negligence is just as bad as letting a toddler drown in the bathtub isn't it?)

    Or you know, we could call birth the point at which you count as being "alive" and then not need to worry about all the edge cases like rape.

    I hate to break it to you, but this is already happening in Mississippi [guardian.co.uk] and elsewhere [nytimes.com].

    Note that the in places where this type of prosecution is going on, the anti-science, bible-thumping morons are running things. Why am I not surprised?

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:05PM (#41070849) Homepage Journal

    Which is all fair. When a moronic claim is made science is a good way to determine exactly how moronic it is.

    Best quote.

  • by arthurpaliden ( 939626 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:15PM (#41070997)
    People of the United States should remember that Paul Ryan(R) (forcible rape) along with Todd Akin(R) (legitimate rape) co-sponsored the "Sanctity of Human Life Act:H.R. 212" which says that life starts at fertilization and guarantees that life full protection under the law which of course has the effect of making women who miscarry guilty of murder.
  • Re:It's okay (Score:2, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:16PM (#41071017) Homepage

    Elsewhere in the Old Testament, there are very specific rules about what should happen if somebody is raped:
    1. If the woman is not married or engaged, the rapist pays her father 50 shekels of silver, and marries her.
    2. If the woman is engaged, the town is supposed to stone both her rapist and her to death. (both of these are from Deuteronomy 22) Apparently the justification for this one is that it's her fault she didn't scream loudly enough.
    3. If the woman is married, that's adultery, so both of them should be killed. (Leviticus 20:10)

    Which goes to show exactly how much the people that wrote those books cared about women.

  • by P-niiice ( 1703362 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:19PM (#41071077)
    Just because unemployment went over 8% doesn't mean the stimulus didn't prevent it from going to 12%. Economists are pretty much in agreement that the stimulus did good, but that it wasn't big enough to do well enough.
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:27PM (#41071239)

    The "Over" in "Overindulgence" pretty much spells that part out.

    While you personally have a stronger resistance to alcohol than say, some other person, it does not mean that alcohol effects you any differently chemically. As such, the thought experiment is not invalidated by your anecdote.

    Your proposal on how to behave at parties is directly corollary with the institutionalized double-standard I was referring to. Women can be more carefree in their behaviors, while men must be more proactively guarded, in order to avoid the problem. The addressing of the double standard is the problem; Men dont want to admit that they might not be in complete control (that is culturally unacceptable), and women dont want to admit that they could have been aggressors while drunk. (Dont you know, women are the FAIRER sex! they are delicate little flowers!)

    Being straight-up asexual, I see this problem differently, with much less sexual politicizing. I see one type of person being forced to be more guarded and careful, to counter a predatory and/or shamelessly callous but socially protected behavior in another.

    Really, BOTH should be guarded, as BOTH are vulnerable to the effects of over-consumption of alcoholic beverages.

  • by randomencounter ( 653994 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @03:13PM (#41071955)

    Older than that. A bit of research shows that it goes back millenia, and a bit of thought behind "what would move a person to such a hypothesis?" suggests that it is as old as men trying to justify rape.

  • Re:Woah woah (Score:5, Informative)

    by ideonexus ( 1257332 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @03:31PM (#41072269) Homepage Journal
    You're not a member of the GOP, but you vote for them based on a very biased selection of case studies in scandal. If you look at the long long long list of just political sex scandals [wikipedia.org] in America you will find there are plenty of Republicans who did not step down nor were they urged to after egregious behavior and many democrats who were urged to step down.
  • by Skarecrow77 ( 1714214 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @03:43PM (#41072457)

    of course!
    why didn't I think of that?

    now if only we can figure out what to do with the 600,000 (minimum) extra babies -per year- that would be piling up assuming even the most generous estimates for adoption-seekers vs abortions....

    http://www.ithaca.edu/faculty/cduncan/230/adoption.htm [ithaca.edu]

  • Wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:01PM (#41072733)

    A lot of this is a matter of what you read into the bible and how you deal with the cultural differences. The verses in Deuteronomy are principally about punishments for adultery and premarital sex. As evidenced by verse 27: "because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her." and in verse 24 "she did not cry for help though she was in the city" the woman is never considered to be wrong in the case that she was raped.

    Here are the verses in question:

    22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

    23 “If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor's wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    25 “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, 27 because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

    28 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.

    It's important to understand that at the time men were expected to look after women, so your daughter would live at home until she was married and if she was attacked it was assumed that there was someone who could come and fight off her attacker. In the case of a wife, it was assumed that the husband or his slaves or servants would be there to keep her from getting raped. So the assumption is that if she's having sex, she is doing it willingly and concealing it from her husband/father.

    Applying these verses to modern life would be difficult as many women live independently for much of their lives. But they clearly can say a woman who was raped has not sinned. These laws don't consider the case of a woman who isn't living at home and isn't married, so it would probably be wrong to try to apply it in that case. Also, it is no longer culturally acceptable to betroth you daughter to someone, so that further complicates any contemporary application.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@wo[ ]3.net ['rld' in gap]> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @05:55PM (#41074409) Homepage Journal

    Pregnancy carries risk for the mother as well, and giving birth to an unwanted child of rape causes psychological damage and harm to the mother's life.

    On top of that the mothers behaviour during pregnancy can harm the child, e.g. by smoking. Some people do advocate making smoking during pregnancy illegal. More generally though in order for a child to be born healthy there is a lot that the mother needs to do to avoid the many risks, and by not allowing abortion is the mother also obliged to do those things? Give up her job perhaps, take time off even if she can't afford it? Pay for medical care?

    The situation is so complex and varied I think the only thing we can do is give women (and men) a choice and then support their decision as best we can.

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

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@nOSpAM.got.net> on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @08:16PM (#41075883) Journal

    In fact the ancient Jews were once a Matriarchal society, and that is up until the founding of the Judaism we all now know and love, that fixed than whole "Women are people" problem" right up. Here's a laugh. The work by Dr. Robert Sapolsky [wordpress.com], a Stanford Anthropologist, on stress and societies dominated by alpha males is absolutely fascinating. In fact what he discovered using baboons (who by the way made superb surrogates for human male dominated societies) was that patriarchal societies are marked by naked aggression, bullying, posturing, violence, coercion, politics and high levels of stress for all but the alpha males. Whereas matriarchal societies tend to be happy, collaborative, consensus based, and in general lovely places for all the members of the troop. Go figure. Matriarchal societies don't fare well, because they don't tend to war. They prefer to negotiate and come to mutually beneficial agreements, and what fun is that, you need to justify that military industrial complex... stupid women. Anyway, just an really interesting look into the monkey in man.

    Look around. What do you see? Christianity, Judaism, Muslim, Buddhism, and a wild mix of African religions that are strongly influenced by the other middle east religions. The vast majority of people on the planet live in violent patriarchal societies, because those are the ones fighting to rule the world. You can't poke a stick in a bunch of pissed off brown people without seeing the religion at the core. If you think the history of Europe or America is any better, think again. So. Patriarchy like Fascism is great for getting things done, but the quality of life it leaves behind is sort of sucky. Maybe we can learn something from the Baboons.

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

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2012 @01:00AM (#41077753)

    http://www.mediaradar.org/research_on_false_rape_allegations.php [mediaradar.org]
    False allegations of rape are believed to be more common than many persons realize. These are the findings of four research studies:

            A review of 556 rape accusations filed against Air Force personnel found that 27% of women later recanted. Then 25 criteria were developed based on the profile of those women, and then submitted to three independent reviewers to review the remaining cases. If all three reviewers deemed the allegation was false, it was categorized as false. As a result, 60% of all allegations were found to be false.1 Of those women who later recanted, many didn't admit the allegation was false until just before taking a polygraph test. Others admitted it was false only after having failed a polygraph test.2
            In a nine-year study of 109 rapes reported to the police in a Midwestern city, Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin reported that in 41% of the cases the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred.3
            In a follow-up study of rape claims filed over a three-year period at two large Midwestern universities, Kanin found that of 64 rape cases, 50% turned out to be false.4 Among the false charges, 53% of the women admitted they filed the false claim as an alibi.5
            According to a 1996 Department of Justice report, âoein about 25% of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI, ... the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing.6 It should be noted that rape involves a forcible and non-consensual act, and a DNA match alone does not prove that rape occurred. So the 25% figure substantially underestimates the true extent of false allegations.

    And according to former Colorado prosecutor Craig Silverman, âoeFor 16 years, I was a kick-ass prosecutor who made most of my reputation vigorously prosecuting rapists. ... I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations that were made to the Denver Police Department. ... A command officer in the Denver Police sex assaults unit recently told me he placed the false rape numbers at approximately 45%.â7

    According to the FBI, about 95,000 forcible rapes were reported in 2004.8 Based on the statements and studies cited above, some 47,000 American men are falsely accused of rape each year. These men are disproportionately African-American.9

    Some of these men are wrongly convicted, sentenced, and imprisoned. Even if there is no conviction, a false allegation of rape can âoeemotionally, socially, and economically destroy a person.â10


    Dash Cams, Polygraph Machines, and other Recording devices. Because humans lie.
    Eyewitnesses misremember.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.