Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

The unseemly competition to condemn Rep. Akin

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 22, 2012

Why are so many pro-lifers rushing to condemn the moronic public remarks by Rep. Todd Akin about “legitimate” rape? Pia de Solenni characterizes Akin’s comments as “idiotic” rather than “moronic,” but she asks the same question.

Granted, what the Missouri Senate candidate said was stupid. Certainly he damaged his own public image. His opponents are having a field day. His statement has provoked a full-scale media frenzy; liberal commentators are falling all over themselves competing to say how wrong he is.

In her comment on the uproar, Pia de Solenni points to a New York Times report as an example of the overkill:

The NYT ran a story yesterday, “Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape.”

Here’s a quote from the first expert:

“There are no words for this--it is just nuts,” said Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

Shouldn’t an expert be able to point to hard facts? Maybe a study or two? Instead, “it is just nuts.” Thanks for the expert opinion.

This is not an argument about reproductive biology. There is no serious debate about the scientific merit of Akin's comments—and perhaps that is why the Times quoted an un-serious response. This is a political debate, with liberal pundits seizing on a dumb remark to pummel the conservative candidate.

From a pro-life perspective it is unfortunate that a candidate with impeccable pro-life credentials made such a foolish statement. It’s doubly unfortunate if that foolish statement results in the election of a pro-abortion Senator from Missouri. So I would certainly understand if Republican party leaders made discreet phone calls, urging Akins to drop out of the race.

What I don’t understand is why pro-life leaders felt compelled to issue public condemnations of the unfortunate candidate’s comments. Akin condemned himself; why should pro-lifers need to say anything at all? Better to save one’s time and ink to fight against ideas that are even more idiotic than Akin's biological theories—such as, for example, the notion that the best way to punish a rapist is by killing his child.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: EiLL - Aug. 25, 2012 3:41 PM ET USA

    30 years ago when I was a practicing RN, & a spokesperson for a local prolife group, I was taught that due to the fight, flight, fright response - the female body exhibited physiological changes that made conception difficult, not impossible. I do not agree with the venom of the attack on Rep. Akin. Did anyone listen to entire interview? His point was to love the child, to protect the innocent.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Aug. 23, 2012 2:41 PM ET USA

    I have to say that Rep. Akin's comment was so bizarre that even the most charitable among us want to run and hide. This was so over-the-top. Pro-Life organizations have several spokespersons who were children conceived after rape. We know these people exist, and therefore statistical studies, should they exist, are irrelevant.