Abortion is front-and-center in the presidential campaign due to a congressman’s flub on national TV.

In case you’ve missed the news, Todd Akin, a Republican congressman from Missouri running for the Senate, was asked about abortion in the case of rape. His response:

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare… If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Needless to say, such remarks proved offensive. Akin appeared to be making distinctions between violent rape and other forms (statutory perhaps?) as he sought to answer the question about abortion. Other Republicans are calling for him to pull out of the race while the Romney-Ryan campaign quickly tried to distance itself from the remarks.

Rape is a horrific crime with countless emotional and psychological repercussions. No one should ever speak of such an atrocity without having their heart gripped with sympathy for the victim. Any time we speak about such an unspeakable act of violation, we ought to consider the weight of our words.

Even so, as disturbing as Akin’s remarks are, I am concerned about the conflation of issues that suddenly appeared in the aftermath. Once the comment went viral, Republicans all over the country began distancing themselves from the remarks (rightly so) while also claiming to be pro-life except in the case of rape. (Romney is an example.)

The media circus moved quickly from discussion of Akin’s remarks to a wider discussion about the legitimacy of abortion in a tough case. And some “pro-life” politicians took the bait, not only condemning Akin’s unfortunate remarks but also declaring their support for abortion in this particular case.

Let me be clear: Allowing abortion in the case of rape is not the way to express sympathy toward a victim of this crime. Abortion only destroys the life of another victim.

That’s why I wish the conversation with Akin had gone more like this…

Host: So you also believe abortion ought to be outlawed in the case of rape?

Akin: Rape is a horrible crime, and a rapist ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I stand for human rights over against anyone who would violate the life of another – from the rapist to the abortionist.

Host: So you’d outlaw abortion in the case of rape?

Akin: Absolutely. As I said, I stand for human rights for all, including the unborn.

Host: But why should a woman who gets pregnant out of no fault of her own be forced to carry a pregnancy to term?

Akin: It is a tragic situation indeed. And my heart goes out to any woman in such circumstances. That’s why I could never recommend that she abort her child. Inflicting violence upon another innocent victim, in this case the baby, is not the way to move past the tragedy of her own innocence being taken.

Host: So you’d pass laws that would force her to carry on the pregnancy?

Akin: Like I said, I stand for the rights of all human beings. Even in a difficult situation like rape, the unborn child should have human rights. We must not let circumstances dictate to us when humans have rights. Otherwise, we could justify all sorts of atrocities in the name of “difficult circumstances.”

Host: But having a child as a result of rape would be a terrible reminder of the crime, wouldn’t it?

Akin: That’s possible. But let me ask you another question. If a woman chose to carry her child to term and then found that every time she looked at her infant she remembered the horror of the rape, would we allow her to smother the baby?

Host: Of course not!

Akin: You’re right. Because no matter how difficult her circumstances, we recognize the humanity of the infant. Unfortunately, many in our society refuse to recognize the humanity of the unborn.

Host: But your opinion on the humanity of the unborn shouldn’t be forced upon a woman who doesn’t hold that view.

Akin: Biology textbooks and scientists tell us the same thing we see when we look at a 4-D ultrasound: the fetus is human. Now, you can make the case that the unborn human should not have rights. And many do. That’s why unborn girls are aborted at a much higher rate than unborn boys, not only in places like China but in the United States as well. That’s why the number of children with Down Syndrome has plummeted. That’s why so many abortion clinics target inner-city areas with high minority populations. You see, once we begin to discriminate against some human beings, we are on the fast track to denying human rights for others.

Host: So you stand by your conviction that abortion should be outlawed even in the case of rape?

Akin: I believe that all innocent human life should be protected. So, yes. This difficult situation is about three people: the rapist, the mother, and the baby. Currently, there is no death penalty required for the rapist. I refuse to believe we ought to give an innocent victim a sentence more severe than the perpetrator of the crime.

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41 thoughts on “What Todd Akin Should Have Said About Abortion and Rape”

  1. jenn says:

    The type of “rape” the left doesn’t want to discuss is this – Woman goes to Planned Parenthood wants a free abortion – abortion in the case of “rape” are covered under medicaid.

    There are real victims of rape who become pregnant so Akin’s statement about not being able to get pregnant is some voodoo science that the proLife movement tries to push, but there are alot of women who get abortions crying “rape” when it was all consensual. Republicans tried to change some of the rules and of course the left portrays them as not caring about “rape” victims when their are women who are not victims at all.

    1. Z Boyer says:

      Really? You know, Scripture states that you will need to give an account of every idle word you speak (or write).

      1. Joe says:

        Jenn was merely stating her opinion, Z. Stop your judging!

  2. Dave Moser says:

    Trevin,
    This post is every bit as good as your previous post about how you wish the conversation about homosexuality would go in the media. Thank you for boiling away the distracting arguments on both sides on both issues and reminding us about what the real issue is.

  3. Marie says:

    In my country, we have a serious rape problem – it is estimated that one in two women will be raped in their lifetime. It sounds implausible but it’s what we are living with. The government had to legislate a standard hospital response to ensure that the huge volume of victims received appropriate treatment. The standard post-rape treatment (administered within 48 hours of the incident, if it is reported) includes a few months of counselling, a month of antiretrovirals to prevent HIV, and the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy. I have a problem with abortion, but not with the morning after pill – since it will not dislodge an embryo that as already implanted itself in the womb. It struck me as a sensitive response to a shockingly widespread problem in my society.

  4. Christiane says:

    I think Akin represents a portion of Republican thinking that has shown up in many, many ways recently.

    All back-peddling aside, it would be difficult to calculate the effect of all of what has been said and proposed and done on women voters this coming election, not just in Missouri, but also nationally.

    Not all Republican people feel as Akin does, but enough do so that there is much more than just a ‘perceived’ problem. Akin has put it out on the table again, for good or for ill, but even if he quits the Senate race now, the harm is done. Who knows its effect to come.

    Best scenario: Romney and Ryan recant a lot of the stuff that Ryan has proposed in the past and they do this quickly. Why? Ryan was not always that ‘far’ from the positions of Akin. They must act quickly.

    1. Z Boyer says:

      I’m just placing this near your comment, it’s not a reflection on what you wrote. Here’s something to think about: A real conservative zealot, Simon, was one of the Lord’s disciples. A real liberal guy, Matthew, was a tax collector for the Roman empire that oversaw Israel during the Lord’s time on earth. If these two had not focused solely on the Lord Jesus and His teaching–which is not of this world–they would have been at each others throats, like the conservatives and liberals today. People: Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again. Get off this abortion kick. Deny yourselves (and your conservative/iberal views), pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus. Read Scripture. Do what He says. Lead some poor soul to Him by your actions and His words. What part about this don’t people understand? Got a problem with abortion? Why dont’ you have the same problem with drunk drivers who kill people? About murderers? How about car jackers? What about child molesters? Why can’t you people stop debating abortion and start yielding to the Holy Spirit?

      1. Pro-Lif3 says:

        Z Boyer, all the things you ask us to battle are illegal. It is illegal to drive drunk, murder people, and car jack them. What would you have us do? I will continue to support the illegalization of abortion until Roe. v. Wade is overturned.

      2. Tamara says:

        Nice idea. If we shared Christ with everyone and discipled them, none of the problems that you mentioned would be around and I pray and work for that day. In yielding to the Holy Spirit, we’ll be compelled to help those in need including speaking out and voting to protect unborn babies.

  5. Joel says:

    Well, I listened to the interview, and I think what he said is being taken out of context. I’m not agreeing with what he said regarding women’s bodies impeding the process (though I’ve heard that before from other sources, so I imagine it’s not something he concocted in his own head), but I think it was ripped out of context to fit the mainstream media’s presupposed viewpoint that he is an evil white conservative man, who think all women deserve to be raped. That’s not at all what he said, and even if what he said was incorrect, it still didn’t doesn’t change the context of what he meant, which was that abortion in the case of a rape still a crime against an unborn child, which further complicates the original crime of the rape. I wish he had not said what he did, for I think it hurts him politically, but I agree with his sentiment, and that is that abortion is NEVER the right answer, and that we as Christians ought to rightly stand tall against it. Politically speaking, he took the bait that he was offered, and he chose his words less than wisely, but (I believe) honestly.

    Does this make my support of him waver like all these other weak-kneed “conservatives” who are scared of their own shadows on this particular issue? Not one bit, because his support of the unborn seems matched by hardly anyone in the political arena today, and if I ever am in his shoes to be asked such a question, I hope that the Lord will me the fortitude to be as strong in my own conviction.
    I also think “legitimate rape” is a underhanded mention of the fact that many times so-called rape is a legal definition (i.e. statutory rape, where the sex is consensual), or where women consent to sex, only to cry rape later to get back at the male for any number of reasons…

    Note that I do NOT support rape in ANY context; I do think that the issue is highly charged enough that people stop thinking rationally the moment the “R-Word” is thrown into the conversation. Rape, in the appropriate context of the word, is a societal evil, and must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But I have little sympathy for those women who participate in consensual sex (which society flaunts as a completely appropriate behavior, by the way), only to cry “rape” once they have any reason to get back at their erstwhile lover.

    I am also disguted that even conservative are abandoning him in droves, driving the final nail in the coffin, in that (along with the liberals) they also have abandoned all pretense of adhering to Judeo-Christian morality. Since when did we embrace the sexual revolution? There has been no mention of the unavoidable fact that loosening sexual standards has made abortion a mainstream dinner-table topic, rather than something which we as a society condemn!

    It’s appalling to realize that the majority of professing Christians in America share the same values with those who are bent on evil. I for one applaude a man who is willing to consistently take the high road in regards to morality, who has demonstrated that every day he has been in public office, and who is willing (if necessary) to sacrifice his political career for those values he holds as a Believer in Christ. Shame on those who are too weak to act likewise! SHAME!

    In the spirit of full disclosure, Todd Akin is a family friend, and I have worked on previous campaigns, though on this particular one.

    That being said, I fully support his position on the abortion issue, and himself as a candidate, and I advise any sane Missouri voter to do likewise.

    1. Z Boyer says:

      You seem to worry over so many things: women having consensual sex, women doing this and that. And your status as a professing “Judeo-Christian” is not going to get you anywhere with the Lord Jesus. You need to sell everything you own–including this “status” as a STAUNCH conservative. You must deny this sin. You must become dead to the sin of “fighting” for your man Akin. Akin didn’t die on the cross for your sins. Your focus is all wrong.

  6. Radiance says:

    I disagree with this article. Todd Akin was trying to dance around the issue without invoking his faith…He was attempting to be “logical” “scientific” and “legal” in his argument rather than addressing the core of the matter which is spiritual. Akin should have been open about his Christian convictions and their source: the Word of God — and let the voters decide from there whether they want him in office.

    1. Pro-Lif3 says:

      There are numerous ways to fight abortion. One can use the Christian argument or one can use the secular argument. If I am debating a Christian, I can choose the Christian. However, using scripture with an non-believer is throwing pearls before swine. Sadly, saying “God says it is wrong” will not work with atheists. In these instances you have to use logic and science.

  7. Derek says:

    Rape and an ensuing pregnancy is one of the most difficult, emotionally charged issues I’ve seen. The lines are often divided quite sharply. The hypothetical interview is great because in it, Atkin (hypothetical Atkin) stands for all human rights, no exception.

    One of the best books I read dealing with this subject is a novel by Francine Rivers, Atonement Child. If you haven’t read it, you really should. It’s powerful.

  8. Thank you for this balanced and thoughtful post. I think it is so important that the pro life movement be characterized by consistent logic, truthfulness, and love. Saying that it is ok to kill one baby but not ok to kill another is horribly hypocritical on the part of any pro life advocate. If we are anti abortion, we must be anti abortion in all instances, because it is only then that we are fighting for true human rights, not just a political/emotional stance.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Trevin, that was a brilliant repsonse! All pro-life politicians should read it and COMMIT IT TO MEMORY.

  10. Josh McPherson says:

    Trevor…we shared a burger at Re:train a few years ago. Thanks for the time and effort to put down your thoughts. I found them very helpful. Appreciate your work in serving the church and helping us think well. Blessings,

    Josh

  11. Thank you for this post concerning such a delicate topic.

  12. frenchexit81 says:

    “Inflicting violence upon another innocent victim, in this case the baby, is not the way to move past the tragedy of her own innocence being taken.”

    Of all the hugely problematic and fallacy-riddled claims made in the hypothetical interview (which wouldn’t really have been better at ALL than what he actually said), this is the absolute worst. It is not up to YOU to determine what the best way is to move on from the tragedy of being raped.

    1. Tony says:

      Frenchex so then if its up to you because its YOUR body then its a possible answer to kill the baby in the womb? The power to take an un-born child’s life should be in the hands of the mother? thats OK? thats a possible way to move forward?

      1. Z Boyer says:

        Tony. Get over yourself. You only care about your self-righteousness. Be honest with yourself. Then repent, turn to the Lord Jesus, deny yourself (your sinful, self-righteous nature) and follow Jesus.

  13. Z Boyer says:

    The decision to have an abortion must be left up to the women. God can and will and does forgive this sin. God can and will and does condemn people to exist apart from Him for eternity if they commit the one unpardonable sin, which is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, who always testifies of Jesus Christ crucified for our sins. This is what the religious don’t understand. They also don’t know they own hearts, for God knows full well that they do not care about the unborn or the fetus: they care about how self-righteous they are. The human heart is deceitful and wicked, who can know it? God knows who the self-righteous are. You self-righteous will be judged with the lack of mercy–and the abject stupidity–you use to judge others.

    1. Ian Dunn says:

      Hey man, I’m not trying to attack you when I say this, because I know I’m guilty of doing the same thing, but when I read your comments on this post, I see the same self-righteousness and lack of mercy that you criticize other people for having. Some of your comments towards other readers are just plain mean.

  14. Z Boyer says:

    Do you people honestly believe that the Samaritan woman at the well whom the Lord told personally He was indeed the Messiah didn’t have any abortions? She had a bunch of husbands. The Lord addressed her sexual immorality in a very gentle way. What is the problem with you people who claim to be “christians?” You are so unlike Jesus Christ. You need to understand that God is NOT interested in making someone the world’s greates anti-abortion conservative, but in conforming us to the image of His Son.

    1. Tony says:

      Z, I’ve read all your comments and can honestly say you may be missing the point here. If merely asking those three questions make me self-rightious then OK.. But the point is not that abortion is an unforgivable sin, or if the samaritan women had an abortion, or that this blog is an example of people being to zealot about the killing of un-born babies. I’m certain the author of his blog would agree with you that abortion is a forgivable sin. Although that does not make it somehow OK for a women to choose to kill her baby. Nor something we should not stand up for in the civil sphere as a modern day genocide. My point to Frenchex was regarding this humanistic thought of “your body”… If its merely your body then “why should you be punished with a baby” is a fitting logical statement for an “all about me” view of life – and will never one to see this issue for what it really is.

      “Any society which can tolerate these things, let alone legislate for them, has ceased to be civilized. One of the major signs of decadence in the Roman Empire was that it was unwanted babies were “exposed,” that is, abandoned and left to die. Can we claim that contemporary western society is any less decadent because it consigns its unwanted babies to the hospital incinerator instead of the local rubbish dumb? Indeed modern abortions is even worse than ancient exposure because it as been commercialized and has become, at least for some doctors and clinics, and extremely lucrative practice. But reverence for human life is an indisputable characteristic of a humane and civilized society” Stott.

      and here is a GREAT quote
      “… only God can decided life and death… That is why abortion is such a terrible sin. You are not only killing life, but putting self before God; yet people decided who has to live and who has to die. They want ot make themselves almighty God. They wan to take the power of God in their hands. They want to say, “I can do without God. I can decided.” That is the most devilish thing that a human hand can do…” Mother Teresa.

  15. Jim3031 says:

    Todd Akin’s sin isn’t so much that he said something incredibly stupid. It was that he wasn’t fully prepared to answer a question that every pro-life politician has to KNOW is coming their way! He could have said any number of things that would have confirmed that he is opposed to the killing of all human life, especially the most innocent, without managing to put both feet in his mouth all the way to his knees. Anyone who aspires to high political office must be enough of a politician to do just that. I wonder how many other brain cramps exist in his maniacally egotistic head that might ruin other opportunities for the pro-life cause down the road. If Obama should win Missouri and then the election because of this incredibly stubborn and stupid man… I don’t even want to think about it.

  16. Andy says:

    People don’t seem to be realizing that Akin didn’t say that pregnancies resulting from rape were impossible, he just said they were rare, which is absolutely correct. It appears that conservatives have turned on Akin due to the media’s twisting his words around. It is a fact that women under extreme stress and trauma have difficulty conceiving, which a rape is sure to bring. As for the “legitimate rape” comment, I am sure Akin is referring to the fact that many “victims” of drunken hookups do claim rape to morally justify their abortions. I am not hating on women here, just pointing out that just like men, many women are extremely sinful creatures.

  17. JR says:

    While I agree that the Christian position would prefer to counsel a woman not to abort even when raped, I don’t agree that in the case of rape it is legally or ethically defensible to require the woman to not make use of something like the morning after pill.

    Hypothetical: If an agent of the FBI decided to force himself into your house to live there for nine months, eating all of your food and using all of your facilities for free, DO you or DON’T you have the right to kick him out of your house, even though you knew with 100% certainty that his enemy was standing right outside and immediately be able to kill the FBI agent? (in this case, the FBI agent has no ability to defend himself)

    What should you be legally required to do for that man? Should the federal government REQUIRE you legally to feed and house the FBI agent for 9 months?

    I would say that, yes, it would be a very “Christianly” and hospitable thing to do, to protect and care for an innocent and valuable person. But the question is: should we be legally transposing our conscience in a matter such as rape onto the society at large?

    1. Pro-Lif3 says:

      The FBI scenario is silly and unrealistic. A parent has an obligation to their child. The first obligation is not to kill him.

    2. Brian Hammonds says:

      I’m really hesitant to engage something as serious as rape and a resulting pregnancy through the type of hypothetical analogy you put forward. It could come across as really insensitive to those who have been involved in such a difficult circumstance. But, if I understand your analogy correctly…the indefensible FBI agent is the unwanted baby, the person with the house is the pregnant woman, and the FBI agent’s “enemy” is the doctor performing the abortion (i.e, “standing right outside and immediately be able to kill the FBI agent”). In your analogy the person with the house seems unable to get rid of the indefensible FBI agent’s “enemy”, and so to kick the agent out of the house would surely result in his death.

      The problem is, in the real world a woman must intentionally take the unborn child in her womb to a medical facility where the “enemy” (abortionist) is invited by the woman to “stand outside” and wait to kill the child. That is closer to hiring a hitman to kill the unwelcome FBI agent than being stuck in the house with him and wanting to kick him out, but being faced with this supposed ethical “dilemma”. While a case of rape that results in pregnancy does impose something on the mother she did not choose, I don’t think your analogy is a good one.

      In the real world, a woman involved in this tragic circumstance can wait for the child to come out on his/her own through birth, when there is not an “enemy” (abortionist) waiting outside. The choice of what to do afterward is also difficult (keep the child or put the child up for adoption). But I don’t think we want to punish the child for the actions of the rapist. That was the point when Trevin wrote, “Currently, there is no death penalty required for the rapist. I refuse to believe we ought to give an innocent victim a sentence more severe than the perpetrator of the crime.”

      Again, I sympathize with anyone in this difficult situation…but I want to stand on the side of life and human rights. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  18. Tamara says:

    It’s easiest understood when people look at it from the baby’s point of view. My favorite choice of “would of/could of” responses is “How would you like to be murdered because your father was a rapist?” There is no difference between the unborn baby and the people talking is age and growth and development. James Robison is a good example. He, a product of rape, has been responsible for providing wells and feeding programs for the hungry and thirsty and works without salary from his ministry program to stop human trafficking and does a great many other good things for our world. I’m glad he wasn’t aborted. He’s just one who was allowed to live. How many creators of jobs, cures for cancer and peacemakers were aborted and we are all missing the blessing of their lives?

  19. Daniel B says:

    What Akin “should” have said isn’t that relevant, because it assumes a different Akin than the one who exist. The one who exists is an affront to pro-choice and pro-life folks alike.

    [[ As for the “legitimate rape” comment, I am sure Akin is referring to the fact that many “victims” of drunken hookups do claim rape to morally justify their abortions ]]

    People lie about all sorts of cimres without getting “legitimate” tacted on to the real victims. It’s a double standard that Mr. Akin holds there.

    [[ You need to understand that God is NOT interested in making someone the world’s greates anti-abortion conservative, but in conforming us to the image of His Son. ]]

    This is the false dichotomy fallacy.

    [[ Do you people honestly believe that the Samaritan woman at the well whom the Lord told personally He was indeed the Messiah didn’t have any abortions? She had a bunch of husbands. The Lord addressed her sexual immorality in a very gentle way. ]]

    The Lord forgave many things all throughout the Bible – none of that implies that those things should all be made legal.

  20. Joe says:

    @Z. Boyer: Stop judging everyone here. This is a place to share opinions and discuss this issue. Your comments are doing nothing to enhance the discussion, so how about leaving this place to those who simply want to share idea without being badgered by you.

  21. Becky says:

    The title of your article is not logical. Todd Akin was right to say what he believed. You think that Todd Akin should have said a lot of wise and discerning things but he is not a wise and discerning person. What he intended to say was the too-stupid-to-be-believed lie that women’s bodies can prevent conception when they are raped. His comments gave the voters a sense of his intelligence level and they rightly did not re-elect him.

  22. T says:

    The last 2 sentences of this post nailed it on the head.

    (I descend from child rapists. I would approve of the death penalty for rape and molestation. I do not approve of killing babies – or of the clear implication that descending from a rapist is worse than being one.)

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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