Another Good 100% Pro-Life Candidate Flubs on the Rape Question

Yesterday, U.S. Congressman Todd Akin — Republican candidate for U.S. Senate out of Missiouri — was asked about abortion in cases of rape, and responded with a major faux pas:

It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, if it’s a legitimate rape, that’s really rare. The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

And then he went on to say,

The punishment ought to be on the rapist, and not in attacking the child.

I’ve received numerous e-mails and Facebook messages this morning asking me about this, and in a radio interview with Teresa Tomeo this morning, I was asked my thoughts on this as well.

First of all — NEVER say “legitimate rape!” Ron Paul used the same terminology last January and he got lambasted for it too, though he was saying that if it’s “legitimate rape,” then he’d give his daughter or granddaughter the Morning After Pill, which, of course, is not pro-life. This kind of remark only serves to perpetuate the suspision of rape victims’ accounts. It’s estimated that only 1% of rape victims ever see their rapist convicted as charged. Rape is rape. “Legitimate rape” almost sounds as if it was somehow justifiable. If you are 100% pro-life with no rape exceptions, there is no need to question the veracity of a rape victims’ account, because you are against all abortions. It would not matter if a woman was not or not raped. Rape exceptions in the law actually put the government in the position of having to ascertain when the child was conceived, who the father is, whether the child was conceived during the alleged rape or during intercourse with her husband or boyfriend, and if the child was conceived during the time frame of the alleged rape, then the government would need to determine whether the sexual intercourse was consensual or not. For example, this occurs because of the Hyde Amendment exceptions which provide for governmental funding in cases or rape. If a woman wants to have tax dollars pay for her baby to be aborted, then the states must determine whether she meets a Hyde Amendment exception, and therefore, must have standards for scrutinizing whether or not her story of rape is “legitimate.” So rape exceptions serve to perpetuate the injustice against rape victims that their accounts are to be viewed with skepticism, and it further leaves the majority of impregnated rape victims wholly unprotected under the law. Rape exceptions suggest that a “real rape victim” couldn’t possibly love “the rapist’s baby” and that rape victim mothers don’t exist. This is what Shauna Prewitt points out in her piece: “Giving Birth to a ‘Rapist’s Child’: A Discussion and Analysis of the Limited Legal Protections Afforded to Women Who Become Mothers Through Rape.”

Secondly, these candidates seriously need coaching on how to respond to challenges to their 100% pro-life position, and abortion in cases of rape. Senator Rick Santorum, during his presidential campaign, said that he thinks that a child conceived in rape is “a gift from God,” and he was made fun of for that. Just Google images for “Santorum rape” and you’ll see all of the posters where he is mocked for this statement. While I believe it’s true that every child is a gift from God, including children conceived in rape, I don’t believe this was the best response for the interview. If it had been my birthmother sharing that she believes that I’m a blessing and a gift from God, she would not be mocked and ridiculed in the same way he was. And then Sharron Angle, during her Senate race in Nevada, said it’s a “lemonade situation,” which did not come across well at all. The problem is not with these candidates’ values. The problem is how they express them.

Here are my suggested responses for candidates when asked about rape and abortion:

1. The Supreme Court has said that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment for rapists and that rapists don’t deserve the death penalty. I don’t think the innocent child conceived in rape deserves the death penalty for the crimes of her father. It seems to me that is cruel and unusual punishment.

2. Rape victims are 4 times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion, with a higher rate of suicide, murder, drug overdose, etc.. As someone who really cares about rape victims, I want to protect them from the rapist, and from the abortion, and not the baby. A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim — an abortion is. We need to educate the American public on the truth in this matter and not make public policy based on myth and misinformation.

3. Rape victims choose abortion at half the rate of the average unplanned pregnancy, which is over 50%. Only 15-25% of rape victims choose abortion, depending on the study. The majority of rape victims choose to raise her child — not “the rapist’s baby” — HER child.

Of course, I also think it helps to share a personal story and there are lots available, of women who became pregnant by rape and either regret aborting, are raising their children or are birthmoms, as well as stories of those of us conceived in rape and/or incest. You can find those stories on my website: and

For life,

Rebecca Kiessling

11 thoughts on “Another Good 100% Pro-Life Candidate Flubs on the Rape Question

  1. Rebecca, while I agree with you that there should NEVER be exceptions for abortions, I think you and most people aren’t seeing things from the same direction as Todd Akin. His was a lawyer’s answer – a legitimate rape in the sense that penetration actually took place by the person(s) being accused of rape, as opposed to falsely accusing someone of rape, for example, like in the Duke Lacrosse Team case. There are many other cases where someone is accused of rape and then later exonerated by the alleged victim. The Brian Banks case comes to mind. It’s a difficult thing to ascertain, whether someone reporting being raped really was raped, or is a jilted girlfriend/ex-wife wanting to get back at her ex, or even someone attempting to extort money from a fameous person – look at how many phoney paternaty suites are brought against fameous people such as Michael Jackson.Anyway, in all other regards, yours is a very powerful message and I will be praying for you and your cause.
    For Life!


  2. This incident gave me opportunity to encourage some coworkers to “google” you & your work, Rebecca ! I pray that these ladies will see that the truly caring position is the Pro-Life position.


  3. “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Duet. 4:16).

    Sadly so many pro-lifers are so ready to hand out exceptions for waiting a few days, getting parental consent, or saying “Korban” that these things are not surprising. We train them when pro-life groups will give 100% pro-life ratings to political candidates with rape and incest exceptions.

    If we won’t even tow the hard line for the unborn child, are we really expecting the secular world to stand up and do it?


  4. I agree with a lot of what you say, Mrs. Kiessling, but to piggy-back on Chuck Harding’s comment, the use of “legitimate” rape also might have been intended to rule out “statutory” rapes, which would not involve the same biochemical response that Congressman Akin suggested makes conceptions rare in cases of “forcible rape.” His medical claim is up for debate, sure, and I would love to see a good piece strictly on that front. However, I find that interpretation of his language perfectly acceptable. It is a shame that Akin simply retracted his statement without proper clarification. His election possibly could have been saved with a strong explanation like my possibility, but now, he has revealed himself to be a politician willing to obviously lie about misspeaking, in order to pander to the politically correct police.

    P.S. As a person who was conceived by incestuous rape, I know fully well that, no matter how low the figure, some rapes do result in pregnancy. Thank you for your efforts to let the world know that we are out there, deserving the same chance at life as every other human ever conceived.


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