Is that what Akin meant, though? Not really. By using the word "legitimate," Akin sought to distinguish between circumstances he considers an actual rape, as opposed to other circumstances that he doesn't consider rape at all. The originally intended language of the so-called No Taxpayer Funding For Abortions Act, considered early last year by the House, makes perfectly clear what that distinction is with its abandoned efforts to redefine rape to only include those deemed "forcible":
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.
Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes.
Bryan Fischer of the social conservative advocacy group American Family Association drew the exact same distinction in his Twitter defense of Akin on Monday:
One would think that the biggest worry in life that men like Fischer and Akin have is that a whole bunch of women somewhere are going to make false accusations of rape. And it would seem like delusional paranoia if it weren't part of a carefully orchestrated strategy. Despite the desire of the Republican Party as stated in its platform to outlaw any abortion at all with no exemptions for rape, incest, or even maternal health, those who follow the worldview of Akin and Fischer know that most women—and many men, too—will find abhorrent the idea that anyone should be forced against her will to carry her rapist's fetus to term. But let's suppose that these people get their way for the most part and outlawing abortion outside of those specific limitations becomes the law of the land: Fischer undoubtedly fears that there will be an epidemic of false rape allegations from women seeking to legalize abortions they would otherwise not be entitled to under this hypothetical law. The only solution, in their minds, is to proactively redefine what rapes are legitimate and which ones aren't: That way, only those who are absolutely blameless in their eyes can qualify for the exemption. It's like South Dakota Sen. Bill Napoli said a few years ago:
“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged,” he said. “The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”
Brutalized, sodomized religious virgins get a pass. But underage girls emotionally coerced by older men, those plied with alcohol or drugs, the mentally ill or disabled, or victims of date-rape? Since they weren't self-evidently brutalized and sodomized—since there's no way to tell for absolutely certain if that 12-year-old was coerced or if she was just a slut who was asking for it—then they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt, in the Akin worldview. After all, it could be thought of as consensual sex that later got called rape. And even it's rape from a legal point of view, it's not rape from the point of view of their morals: the morals that dictate that women must live in a dehumanizing cage, and that any negative consequences that occur from venturing outside it are theirs and theirs alone to bear.
And if that 12-year-old is at risk of death from her pregnancy, then in the ideal world of the Republican Party, it's okay too.
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