By AATTP Guest Contributor, Sky Palma
The atrocities of rape and incest have long been a thorn in the side of the pro-life movement, since they provide two powerful moral arguments for keeping abortion legal — and as long this has been on their agenda, manufacturing false science to tilt this moral balance has been a reliable tactic of the Religious Right.
While conspiracy theories about Planned Parenthood’s racist eugenics programs in poor neighborhoods have somewhat made it to mainstream right wing circles, the more bizarre inventions about abortion and its relation to biology have managed to stay within the boundaries of Evangelical Christian punditry. Evidence for these claims are always attached to “scientists” and “doctors” who unintentionally reveal themselves to be undercover activists in the pro-life movement — with their “studies” consistently condemned and debunked in science journals.
One of these myths, a false link between abortion and breast cancer, has been a fairly consistent mainstay within pro-life propaganda and even glossed the lips of Rick Santorum in a Fox News interview back in February 2012, somehow managing to elude a fiasco.
In the run-up to the end of the 2012 election, Todd Akin’s now infamous comments created an uproar and he subsequently claimed to have misspoken. But his bizarre ramblings that suggested a woman’s body can fend off forcibly deposited semen simply regurgitated Christian pro-life literature that has been in existence for over a decade. In an article first published in 1999, the founder of the International Right to Life Federation, John C. Willke writes:
Finally, factor in what is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that’s physical trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. To get and stay pregnant a woman’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.
Here, in clear published print, is Akin’s “gaffe” elegantly fleshed out in the sparkling language of pseudo-science. His only mistake was to introduce this already-established thinking into the public discourse during an election cycle that had been relentlessly bludgeoned with the emotional blackmail of social issues.