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August 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

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Todd Akin alone on 'legitimate rape' remark

Rape is rape, and ignorance is ignorance

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin made a statement saying that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy; this statement is not only insulting and insensitive, but is also completely inaccurate [“Akin goes it alone with rape comment,” page one, Aug. 21].

First, the unstated position that some rape is not legitimate is as appalling as the attempt by vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan to rewrite the federal abortion laws to apply only to “forcible” rape. No means no, and, as stated by President Obama, rape is rape.

Second, human physiology does not change when violence is visited upon it. The risk of pregnancy with a single act of intercourse, forced or consensual, depends on the woman’s age, timing of her menstrual cycle and whether and what contraception is being used. The argument could be made that rape is more likely to result in pregnancy, since a woman would less likely to be using contraception.

Over 10 percent of all women in the United States have experienced forced sex at some point. Many women never report the crime, as they are isolated, afraid or ashamed. If they were to seek medical care within five days of a rape, they could receive emergency contraception and decrease their risk of pregnancy. Rep. Akin’s comments are insulting, insensitive, inaccurate and ignorant.

— Sarah Prager, MD, MAS, Seattle

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