Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s claim that women rarely get pregnant from a “legitimate rape” sparked widespread outrage, but he’s not the first to make that claim.
“It’s an idea that comes from a man by the name of Dr. John C. Willke — a general practitioner who was president of the National Right to Life Committee for about a decade,” The New Republic reported.
In a book originally published in 1985 and again in a 1999 article, Dr. Willke asserted that women have surefire biological defenses against rape.
In his article, excerpted by the New York Times, Dr. Willke stated: “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.”
Dr. Willke hasn’t changed his views. He told the Times on Monday about a woman who is raped: “This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, uptight. She is frightened. The sperm . . . are less likely to be able to fertilize.”
He also claimed that “way under 1 percent” of rape victims become pregnant.
Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, countered: “There are no words for this — it is just nuts.”
According to the New Republic, Dr. Willke also asserted in the 1980s that RU 486, the “abortion pill,” causes cancer.
Akin, who is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, has so far refused to drop out of the race despite pleas from top Republicans, including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and the widespread condemnation of his remarks.
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