Here is my TIME.com column today on the problem of trying to police the kind of trauma that merits an abortion :
It’s Code Red as Republicans try to distance themselves from Representative Todd Akin’s recent startlingly inaccurate biology lesson. Claiming that victims of what he called “legitimate” rape could somehow “shut down” the process of conception, Akin, who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has since tried to dismiss his remarks as boorish, one-off musings. (He meant to say “forcible rape,” not “legitimate rape.”) Obama issued an unequivocal statement that “Rape is rape.” Meanwhile, a Romney-Paul spokeswoman quickly clarified that their administration would permit abortions in cases of rape.
But the story doesn’t end with a bizarre, unscientific comment about how reproduction works. This embarrassing episode is only the latest in a long string of Republican rape canards that present a binary view of female sexuality where some women are deemed worthy of legislative sympathy while others are not.
The ignorance is reaching a new crescendo but it goes back decades. We heard from periodontist-turned-lawmaker Henry Aldridge that women who are “truly raped” can’t become pregnant because the “juices don’t flow.” Others, including a Federal judge, have called pregnancy from rape aslikely as “snow in Miami” and “one in millions in millions,” while some have embraced specious claims about the effect of emotional trauma on conception from “assaultive rape” (so called), and other science-bending notions. Former state representative Stephen Freind once opined that raped women “secrete a certain secretion” to prevent conception. (If such a thing existed, surely the pharmaceutical industry would like to hear about it.)…