While engaging on twitter regarding my post on Tuesday, one of the awesome people I follow re-tweeted some very disturbing images. The original poster’s brother came home from school with a classmate’s paper. This paper is supposed to be a debate piece, and it argues about rape and pregnancy by citing Todd Akin and 12th century British texts. This kid is apparently 15 years old.
I took debate for 3 years in high school. Let’s go point for point here.
Ladies and gentlemen: the topic for today’s speech is that: women who get pregnant after rape were not really raped.
I firmly agree that women who get pregnant after rape were not really raped.
Firstly, this is stated in the book of Fleta published in circa 1290.
In addition, this is a long lived legal argument and is also contained in Samuel Farr’s Elements of Medical Jurisprudence, published in 1814.
In this case, young sir, you are correct. Farr did indeed make this argument, and the Fleta did discuss this very topic. However, Farr also believed that the normal signs of puberty in a young girl were sufficient evidence that she could not be raped (because if she was undergoing puberty, then she probably was having sex), and he also believed that an imbalance of “humours” were the way that someone became sick.
Moreover, this valid medical point is supported by many reputable, well-educated and informed people such as Todd Akin, Senator Steve King, Dr. Fred Mecklenburg and GP John C Wilke to my first argument.
I’m sorry, what? For starters, politicians are never a good source for a medical argument, so we are striking those two right off the bat, especially since they both cite your third and fourth examples of “reputable, well-educated and informed people” for their poorly informed arguments.
This is stated in the book of Fleta, which was the standard legal handbook of Britain in the 13th century.
“For without an excitation of lust, or the enjoyment of pleasure in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place. So that if an absolute rape were to be perpetrated, she would not become pregnant.”
This paragraph is from book one volume two, although this is an old point, it makes it no less valid and is stated in many other medical journals.
This clearly demonstrates both the value of the book of Fleeta and even in the 13th century that people and Doctors knew the truth about rape and pregnancy.
Yes, the Fleta was the standard legal handbook during the time of Edward IV. You have that correct. But that is most definitely not from the Fleta. In fact, that quote comes directly from your second source. Not the Fleta. Doctors in the 13th centry also believed in trepanning, bloodletting, and that birthmarks were a sign that a child was conceived via witchcraft. 13th century physicians are not reputable sources for your arguments here.
And now to my second point,
Sir Samuel Farr, who was a reputable doctor and medical researcher with over seven published medical journals, stated that:
“If, however, the woman should have conceived at the time alleged in the appeal, it abates, for without a woman’s consent she could not conceive.”
Although this was published in 1814, this was a time of many medical breakthroughs and is still constantly being proven by doctors and medical researchers and has the full support of many people.
Oh! There’s the quotation from the Fleta! Really, young sir, this was poor debating strategy on your part, and indicates that you were not paying much attention to your paper.
I believe that there is an underlying point to both of the original arguments that you are missing. At both of these points in history, doctors actually believed that a woman could not conceive if she did not orgasm during intercourse. In fact, both of these treatises drew from the ideas that a woman’s sexual organs were simply the inverse of a man’s. The vagina was an inverted penis, the ovaries were actually testes, the uterus was a scrotum, etc. I’m sorry, was that too much for your still-developing brain to handle? Of course, “many medical breakthroughs” that are “still constantly being proven by doctors and medical researchers” have shown this to be patently false.
This has the support of many reputable people such as:
- Todd Akin, who is a reputable politician and Republican, he is also a strong Christian and family man.
- Senator Steve king, who is a congressman for Iowa and scored a 100% rating with the National Right to Life Committee
Ohhhhh. I see where you’re going with this. I’m sure that much like these men, you believe that if a woman was raped, she was “asking for it”. Or, conversely, that those sluts who dare to have sex before they are ready to care for a child should just keep their legs closed or suffer the damned consequences, right?
- Doctor Fred Mecklenburg, who has four published medical journals on the subject.
- And GP John C Willke who has a distinguished career as a physician.
Once again, your failure to delve deeper into the subject at hand has failed you, young sir. Mecklenburg and Willke used the one test performed by the Nazis on the very same prisoners who they were starving, beating, raping, and putting to death by the millions to inform their opinions regarding rape and pregnancy.
The Nazis chose women who they believed were ovulating, and put them in a gas chamber, but didn’t turn on the gas. Because, as the Nazi researchers claimed, these women didn’t ovulate, Mecklenburg and Willke then extrapolated that data and spun it to assume that when under extreme stress, like, oh, during rape, that women were incapable of ovulating. Never mind that most of these women were literally starving! Did you know that women who are malnourished won’t ovulate? Of course you didn’t. And I bet that you didn’t know where Mecklenburg and Willke got their information.
In fact, according to research done by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (a peer-reviewed journal, unlike the publications that your illustrious doctors have published) in 1996, at least 5% of women who are raped annually become pregnant. That’s over 30,000 unwanted pregnancies due to rape. A separate study in 2001 showed that the number was closer to 6.5%.
You forgot one other politician in your list of crazies, young scholar. Former Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephen Freind claimed that women have some special secretion that will kill a rapist’s sperm even before it reaches the uterus. I can only imagine that when he was asked how this occurs, he just threw up his hands and said “I dunno, MAGIC!”
You see, your examples have been proven wrong, time and time again. [Hold onto your seats, dear readers, you're not going to believe the next part!]
The bulk of people opposed to this argument are feminists and people wanting to cash in on child support.
Evidence of this is that the mother of a child can receive 10% of the father’s income, which can amount to large amounts of money.
You’ve got to be kidding me. 10% is a large amount of money? According to the US Census Bureau, in 2006, the average wage for a man in the US is $39,403. Do the math, kid. 10% is $3,940.30. The average cost of raising a child to the age of 18 is currently estimated to be $295,560. No, that piddly 10% figure that you have quoted does not mean “large amounts of money” to the average person.
[Here's where we veer into the territory of the truly crazy.]
With the issue of Feminists, these people are women, usually with poorly paid jobs with no skill or training who wish to receive more money than men doing the same job and are more often than not balding.
I laughed so hard at this point that I had tears streaming down my face. No, young sir, we are not. More often than not, we are college educated, have high paying jobs, we just want to be paid the same amount as a man doing the exact same job, and we have hair in all colors and styles. Yes, some feminists are bald, but I imagine that’s only because they choose to shave their heads.
I suppose that, being all of 15 years old, you have embraced the popular culture’s idea of what a woman should look like, right? Thin, gorgeous, impeccably dressed, perfectly shaped big breasts, long hair, makeup (but not too much, or she looks like a whore). Well, kid, you’re in for a rude awakening when you learn that not everyone lives up to your impossible standards. I’m a feminist, but I have long hair. I’m a little overweight, and I prefer to wear jeans in my everyday life. Your idea of what a real woman (and a feminist!) looks like is skewed so far that I feel sorry for you, and any girl you date.
So look at the facts, would you trust a balding woman attempting to cash in on child support or many reputable people, including doctors.
I’ll take the bald feminist any day of the week over the men you cited. At least they will research their positions thoroughly, and have credible sources to back up their viewpoints.
I hope your teacher is a feminist.
There’s been so much in the news in the past few months about abortion, contraception, and a woman’s right to choose that as I said in a previous post, I’ve been overwhelmed. I’d like to take a moment to get a little idealistic.
When I was in high school, I took a class about early human development. We learned about the stages of pregnancy, and the different stages children go through in their first two years of life. At one point in my class, we were given the task of brainstorming the ideal situation to have a child. We already knew that adoptive parents had to fulfill certain criteria in order to be able to have a child, so we were told to imagine a “test” of sorts that a woman (or a set of parents) would have to pass in order to have a child.
If I remember correctly, we came up with the following points:
- Financially stable, with at least six months worth of income in accessible savings.
We came up with this because pregnancy and raising a child are both expensive. There’s also the risk of complications with the pregnancy or child’s health leaving one or both parents unable to work for a period of time. We thought that at least six months of income in the bank would help ease that potential burden.
- Emotionally stable, with a supportive network of friends and family.
Just like the financial cost, pregnancy and raising a child can be unexpectedly difficult, emotionally. We learned about postpartum depression, and how the woman’s emotional state can affect the child’s development in the womb. Having a supportive network of friends and family, especially people who are geographically close, is important to making sure that the parents can have a break occasionally.
- Good health, and good health insurance.
Making sure that the woman is already in good health when she gets pregnant, and maintains her health during the pregnancy were also stressed during my class. Proper nutrition and regular exercise, as well as the ability to see a doctor when necessary, were things that we deemed of highest importance to the development of the child.
- A stable and safe place to live.
Being teenagers in the suburbs, we were imagining owning a house with a large backyard. While I no longer think that is necessary, I do think that living in a relatively safe neighborhood, and taking the proper precautions to baby-proof your house are incredibly important.
- Ease of access to hospitals, schools, and other important services.
I think this one is self-explanatory.
I am close to many women who have had children without checking any of these boxes. Their children are happy and healthy, and they are excellent mothers. I still think that all of these are important things to have in place before I consider having children, and that is why I chose to get an IUD. When I decide to have children, it will be because I am ready. This is not a criticism of any woman or her choices. I fully realize that this is an idealistic list.
I would posit that is also idealistic of the Republican Party to expect to reduce accessibility to contraception and abortion and to somehow still not have any unwanted pregnancies occur, or for parents to not need some sort of assistance to care for their children. Abstinence education just exacerbates these problems. People are going to have sex, and sometimes, despite precautions, pregnancies occur.
If you had to come up with a list like this, what would you put on it? Do you think that the list we came up with in high school was good? Have you formulated a similar list? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
This picture has been making the rounds on Facebook recently. It has a lot of really important statistics, but I would like to point out a couple of things.
1. Millions of women use hormonal birth control for reasons other than for contraception. If a “house of worship” would be happy to cover the cost of Vicodin for post-surgery pain, why wouldn’t they also be happy to provide pain relief for women’s menstrual cramps, or the awful pain that is related to endometriosis?
2. Why is it a big deal if women want to be on birth control because they want to use it as a contraceptive? Religious leaders seem to be absolutely obsessed with the state of a woman’s uterus. For Christians, the argument seems to be that using contraception goes Genesis 1:28 (“Be fruitful and multiply”). With nearly 7 billion people on the planet today, that argument just isn’t relevant.
3. Religious leaders seem to honestly believe that they should be able to force women into the false dichotomy of “married women who have sex are saints” and “unmarried women who have sex are dirty sluts who deserve to be punished by being unhappy, disease ridden, single mothers who will never get out of poverty”. There’s no middle ground in this argument. At some other time, I will discuss The Purity Myth, which I believe is required reading for nice girls who like sex.
4. I would like to see an additional statistic here. I recently read in the New York Times that areas with wide access to information about contraceptives, and contraceptives themselves, have fewer incidences of abortion. One can correlate that there are fewer unintended pregnancies, and therefore fewer abortions. (For those of you that somehow don’t know, abortion is a widely discussed and controversial topic in the US, and is particularly reviled among the religious.)
Lets get religion out of health care, out of legislation, and OUT of the bedroom. What you or I do in private is nobody’s business. If a woman wants to have sex, she should be able to do so without her employer or her health care provider making her feel like she is a bad person for wanting to do so without getting pregnant. In the end, the only people who should have any voice in the matter are the ones in the sexual relationship, who would be the parents of any child that was conceived in that relationship.