The Root of Todd Akin’s Pregnancy-Rape Theory

This article is from the Daily News archives; originally published in 1988.

Is this what Todd Akin believes about “legitimate rape”? Rape trauma causes women to “secrete a certain secretion”?

HARRISBURG — The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are “one in millions and millions and millions,” said state Rep. Stephen Freind, R-Delaware County, the Legislature’s leading abortion foe.

The reason, Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.

Two Philadelphia doctors specializing in human reproduction characterized Freind’s contention as scientifically baseless.

Oh dear god.

(h/t jwb)

[cross-posted at ABLC]

86 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    So if a woman gets pregnant, she clearly wasn’t raped. See how well that works?

    Sure, there’s no Republican War on Women. None at all.

  2. 2
    ABL says:

    We have special spermicide in our vaginas, apparently.

  3. 3
    bobbo says:

    So then this crackpot is only a slight favorite, right?

  4. 4
    f space that says:

    If the Dems were smart, they would run national ads showing this sick fuck and say, “this guy is a Teabagger, he is a Republican, this is what they think and say”.

  5. 5
    Teddy's Person says:

    Experts say that the experience of talking causes republicans to secrete lies.

  6. 6
    Schlemizel says:

    He goes on to suggest that the punishment should only go to the rapist – but fails to explain how forcing the woman to carry a baby to term is not punishment.

    You really have to wonder if this clown is really that stupid or if he is counting on voters to be that stupid.

  7. 7
    hildebrand says:

    @ABL: If that is true then why are we kvetching about contraception? Jeez, clearly you wimmen-folk have been holding out on men everywheres.

    On a far more serious note – how could anybody, anywhere ever vote for this creep? Anybody who votes for him should have their head examined.

  8. 8
    👽 Martin says:

    @bobbo: Leading by 8.5% for MO Senate. This was supposed to be an easy pickup for the GOP. We’ll see if it still looks that way by weeks end.

    I guarantee there are 2-3 new polls being rushed into MO as we speak.

  9. 9
    Schlemizel says:

    @ABL: That explains why you girls only get pregnant when you WANT to! So really its not us guys who are to blame its all on the gals!

    I feel so much better about it all now

    Thanks – (what on earth do you have to be angry about? since its all your choice?)

    Gaaawd, I no longer want to live on this planet

  10. 10
    Heliopause says:

    Secretions, I knew it! That’s what’s causing the impurity of my bodily essence.

  11. 11
    Schlemizel says:

    @hildebrand: Actually they should have their ability to reproduce removed – maybe we could end this plague in a generation.

  12. 12
    Ruviana says:

    I did abortion rights stuff for years and ths was a common story on the anti-choice side back in the mid-70s. It periodically makes a return among the anti-choicers so I have to say that I’m not surprised.

  13. 13
    ABL says:

    @Schlemizel: I want to get off. (the planet, that is.)

  14. 14
    hildebrand says:

    @f space that: This – a thousands times this. An ad saying this needs to be run ad nauseum until the country gets it through their collective thick skulls that we are up against the most repellent bigots and misogynists ever.

  15. 15
    Violet says:

    The Akin creep:

    “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

    “The female”? WTF? He can’t even say “woman” or “lady” or “girl” or “female person”. It’s just “female”. Women are totally depersonalized for him.

  16. 16
    👽 Martin says:

    Huh. I wonder how many rapists believe this?

  17. 17
    celticdragonchick says:

    Charles at LGF has suggested that this comment from Akins qualifies as the most offensive and evil thing (yes, evil) yet suggested by a GOP politician this year…and we still have three months till the election to outdo this one!

  18. 18
    Ash Can says:

    @Schlemizel: He evidently figures that women don’t enter into the equation because they aren’t actual people, unlike males and fertilized ova.

  19. 19
    dmsilev says:

    There’s also the episode from 2 years ago in the House, described by The Daily Show:

  20. 20
    Leo says:

    My grandfather has and will vote for this guy. Damn near ruined Christmas dinner talking about how great he was. Ugh.

  21. 21
    hildebrand says:

    @Schlemizel: I am with you – but that still leaves the current generation with having to deal with their bile.

    Time to tie Romney to the extremists in his own party – because his flip-flopping more than tacitly encourages this kind of deadly and horrific nonsense.

  22. 22
    Ash Can says:

    @Violet: Within that context, the word “female” works fine. It’s his overall reduction of women to nothing more than pieces of biological machinery that identifies him as the misogynist he is.

    And I’ll repeat what I said in the previous thread on this topic: If he keeps talking like this I don’t see how McCaskill doesn’t end up with a good shot at holding her seat. By all means, make this sociopath keep talking.

  23. 23
    Woodrowfan says:

    @Ruviana: Jessie helms used to spout this nonsense too…

  24. 24
    Svensker says:

    The reason, Freind said, is that the traumatic experience of rape causes a woman to “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.

    Someone should ask Freind if this also happens when tender innocent young white wimminz are raped by strapping young thug bucks.

  25. 25
    JustAnotherBob says:


    Gaaawd, I no longer want to live on this planet

    There are parts of the planet that are saner than are we.

    They laugh at us….

  26. 26
    Ash Can says:

    @Schlemizel: And actually I should make that “men and fertilized ova.” Seeing as he’d just as soon see poor kids starve, he obviously doesn’t care about boys.

  27. 27
    Mike E says:

    @Woodrowfan: beat me to it…to wit, a typical Helms supporter:

    “I don’t agree with everything he stands for, but he really believes in what he espouses, so you gotta respect the man for that!”

  28. 28
    Betsy says:

    Where is this meme coming from? Does anyone remember back about a decade ago when Rep. Aldridge, a dentist, said “The juices don’t flow” in women who have been raped, so they can’t get pregnant? Google it. Where is this “theory” or old men’s tale coming from??

  29. 29
  30. 30
    NancyDarling says:

    ABL, this guy wants to repeal the Federal voting rights act of 1965 too. He says elections are a state issue.

    Also, this guy sponsored a bill to redefine rape and not use federal funds for abortion if it wasn’t “forcible rape”. The current golden boy of the teabagger/lunatic fringe (Ryan) voted for the bill.

  31. 31
    ed says:

    “Secrete a certain secretion?” Hey, whoa there Professor. Don’t get wonky on us simple folk.

  32. 32
    Jerzy Russian says:


    We have special spermicide in our vaginas, apparently.

    I can totally see how that could evolve through natural selection.

  33. 33
    Hungry Joe says:

    So it turns out that women don’t need access to birth control after all: They’ve got an on-board system. That solves that problem.

    Still … if abortion becomes illegal, what happens when a woman decides to throw the figurative switch and activate her magic secretions? Wouldn’t that make her an abortionist? Shouldn’t she be prosecuted to the full extent of the law? However this plays out, a “Law & Order” spinoff seems inevitable.

  34. 34
    Publius39 says:

    You all are forgetting about one thing; we need to see if the rape was “honest rape.” if that’s the case, then there’s no risk of a woman actually getting pregnant. I’m sure Ron Paul would agree with me about this theory.

  35. 35
    mechwarrior online says:


    I’m really not sure stupid comments like this are a deal breaker. Abortion is just a tricky subject. If you believe in a soul and the spirit then abortion is simply mass murder of gods children before they are able to defend themselves. It’s a moral abomination of the highest order against the weakest and most precious among us.

    If on the other hand you don’t believe in a soul and think all that religious/spiritual stuff is horseshit and mumbo jumbo than abortion isn’t much of an issue as for a long part of gestation a child isn’t a physical human. So disposing of it isn’t really a moral issue at all.

    Peoples minds are already made up. A lunatic defending one side or the other of the issue isn’t going to make people change their mind, nor will a perfectly reasonable argument. Screaming and saying “but that dudes a crazy person” is fun, and cathartic, but it’s not going to make people budge who think that abortion is snuffing out human souls left and right.

    Personally I don’t give a shit. I’m an atheist so I’m pro abortion. I also find nothing wrong with it as a method of birth control or if someone simply didn’t even want the baby, regardless of if it kills a human life or not. It’s just not something I care about.

    Abortion wars are great for grabbing the popcorn and watching everybody lose their minds though.

  36. 36
    folkbum says:

    This is an inevitable consequence of the conservative education pipeline. Akin got his degree at a seminary founded by an ultraconservative branch of the Presbyterians. With their home schools, Christian schools (taxpayer funded more and more), Bible colleges, and even bible grad schools, Christians are being taught this kind of shit as science.

    Akin is of an older generation, but there are millions of them out there now just getting into the world and politics whose only schooling has been entirely in the Christian mold, with facts only incidental to doctrine.

    What I mean is, it will get worse, not better, in the coming decades.

  37. 37
    hueyplong says:

    It’s understandable how people are going after his “science,” but just as offensive and far less comical is the entire concept of assuming that the number of “legitimate rapes” is a whole lot lower than the number of rapes.

    It’s some f*cked up, repugnant sh*t to be throwing out a “theory” that allows slugs like himself to argue that any woman who is still pregnant 6 or 7 months after her rape has now “scientifically” cleared her assailant as though the DNA didn’t match up or something.

    When is the general population going to start to get pissed off at these know-nothing thugs?

  38. 38
    jp7505a says:

    Being from his district, I can vouch for the fact that if you put him in a box of door knobs it would lower the collective IQ of the box by 100%

  39. 39
    General Stuck says:

    Shorter wingnut – Precious. Bodily. Fluids. will save the day.

  40. 40
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Akin 2012: A Better America Win the Future Bitch Had it Coming!

  41. 41
    Yutsano says:

    @General Stuck: Heh. No wonder Obummer wants to steal them!

  42. 42
    Publius39 says:


    While I agree with the premise of your post, I think that there is something that you are overlooking; we are becoming a less religious country.

  43. 43
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @celticdragonchick: Not to mention what they’ll be spewing after the elections . . . Remember how the vitriol stopped once the results were announced in 2008? Yeah, me neither.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:


    It’s really, really old. Like ancient Greeks old. It would be fascinating to see how these old folktales keep popping up if only people didn’t insist on making them influence public policy.

  45. 45
    xian says:

    you didn’t rape that

  46. 46
    mamayaga says:

    Looks like Akin has actually felt the heat of the blowback on this — he’s kinda sorta trying to walk it back. Apparently even a “legitimate” rape doesn’t justify an abortion, so you females who have been victimized are just out of luck.

  47. 47
    👽 Martin says:

    And he’s already trying to walk them back. He misspoke. The words came out all wrong. He was trying to make a point about the free market creating jobs and somehow the reporters heard stupid shit about rape instead.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Publius39 says:


    you didn’t rape that

    Well played sir/ma’am, well played.

  50. 50
    NancyDarling says:

    Akin is on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

  51. 51
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Proof that this is bullshit: Akin was born, his mother’s body didn’t reject such a cretinous blob of protoplasm when it had a chance to do so.

  52. 52
    a geek named Bob says:

    Listening to republicans go on about sex and reproduction, two comments come to mind…

    1.) The stupid… it BURNS!

    2.) They shouldn’t talk about things they don’t regularly engage in.

  53. 53
    Publius39 says:


    Not shocking at all there. Bachmann is on the House Intelligence committee despite the fact that she has no fucking clue about foreign affairs(and not an ounce of actual “intelligence”), and Paul Ryan is chair of the budget committee even though it has become demonstrably clear that he is borderline enumerate, along with understanding basic budgetary policy. But, they raise a lot of money for the RNC, so its all good I guess.

  54. 54
    Bruce S says:

    “scientifically baseless” is the epitome of understatement.

  55. 55
    folkbum says:

    @Publius39: At the same time, the Republican Party is getting more religious. This is where the problem lies.

  56. 56
    jwb says:

    @mamayaga: Sounds like Akins will be getting remediation on stupid shit you can believe but can’t say if you want to get elected. Fortunately, the walk balk itself sucked and he doubled down on the no-exception to abortion ever line, so I don’t know that it really helped.

  57. 57
    👽 Martin says:

    @folkbum: Well, this is the ‘new minority’ response. Movements always gets loudest before they get overrun by society. When your opposition cranks things up to 11, you can trust that you’re winning. The theocrats are losing, so they’re organizing within the GOP like they never did before, and they’re screaming louder than ever before. They’ll be gone from power before long.

  58. 58
    JPL says:

    If rape victims can’t get pregnant, then if they take the morning after pill, it is doing nothing. So why is he against that?

  59. 59
    Publius39 says:


    Touche. But, we can all take solace in the fact that the GOP is actively trying to marginalize themselves within the country. At this point, we sit back and play the waiting game and hope that the demographic changes happen sooner rather then later.

  60. 60
    jwb says:

    @Martin: I wonder. Certainly, the opposition cranking it up to 11 is a sign of crisis, but often crisis plays out unexpectedly. And if society always overruns movements, the overrunning takes many forms; and that which opposes a movement rarely finds what it expects when society turns against the movement. That’s what makes the time of crisis “interesting,” as in the old Chinese curse.

  61. 61

    @f space that:

    If the Dems were smart, they would run national ads showing this sick fuck and say, “this guy is a Teabagger, he is a Republican, this is what they think and say”.

    No, he’d just gain fans, and a large fraction of viewers would believe him. This is what makes debunking so difficult: to even present the ideas you’re debunking is to promote them to some degree.

  62. 62
    quannlace says:

    Where’d they get this crap?
    From the ‘Republican’s Boy’s Own Book of Sexual Secrets!’

    I gotta ask, do ANY of these clowns have female relatives. Ones who, if they can’t successfully argue reality to them, at least whack them upside their heads.

  63. 63
    Yutsano says:

    @JPL: Because we need to make sure those durn sluts are shamed proper like. Also SHUT UP THAT’S WHY!!

  64. 64
    MjOregon says:

    The doctor that Freind references in this 1988 article is Dr. Fred Mecklenburg, the husband of Marjory Mecklenburg, a militant anti-choice activist and “core member” for many years of the American Citizens Concerned for Life, a Minnesota anti-choice/pro-life group founded in 1968. Hardly an impartial voice even if he is a gynecologist.

  65. 65
    mclaren says:

    This doubtless also explains why men who are raped don’t get pregnant. But just to be absolutely sure, we need to do a scientific experiment to test that theory.

    On Todd Akins.

  66. 66
    Warren Terra says:

    Reposting someone else’s comment from the parallel thread on LGM, because it’s just that good:

    Hogan says:
    August 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm
    And when I say “doctors” I mean “a batshit insane state representative [Stephen Freind] from Pennsylvania.” Of whom Gov. Milton Shapp once said, “What a Jesus we have in Freind.”

  67. 67
    kay says:

    I don’t think he walked it back at all. He said he has empathy for victims of sexual assault.
    Does he think a rape can result in a pregnancy?
    No. Scratch that. I don’t care what he “thinks” or “believes”.
    Is he willing to accept THE FACT that a rape can result in a pregnancy?
    These are important questions, his political ambitions aside.
    Conservatives with 14th century views on women serve on juries.

  68. 68

    @Betsy: I think it’s just an old folk belief on par with the one that you can’t get pregnant the first time, or standing up. The interest it serves is obvious, so I wouldn’t be surprised at it getting propagated.

  69. 69
    AHH onna Droid says:

    @JPL: I wish you could pose this very question we could all e watch his gears grind to a halt, as Kirk killed the computer.

  70. 70
    transientseeker says:

    This is literally medieval: back in the Middle Ages, courts would throw out any allegations of rape from a pregnant woman, since the theory was that this indicated that she enjoyed the rape and thus sinned as well by accepting the rapist’s seed.

    Just disgusting.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:


    Until Victorian times, it was believed that a woman’s orgasm was necessary for conception, so therefore pregnancy after a rape was proof that the victim was a slutty slut slut who enjoyed having sex with the man she accused.

    And the belief that a woman had to have an orgasm in order to conceive is much older than medieval beliefs, though now I can’t find my cite. I think it was Greek since that’s where so much of our original medical theories came from.

  72. 72
    ET says:

    Stupid fucking bastard.

    I guess this is the kind of “scientific thought” that we can expect from creationists.

    Seriously this guy is so stupid I hardly have words.

  73. 73
    Schlemizel says:

    @Ash Can: They care about boys if they can get them into uniform and kill brown people for them.

    But it is funny to think about the fetus fetishist – 49% of fetuses are female yet they care for them with the same passion as the preferred 51%. Once they are born of course they are only good for one thing.

  74. 74
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    You really have to wonder if this clown is really that stupid or if he is counting on voters to be that stupid.


  75. 75
    transientseeker says:

    Exactly, this is basically the hoary grandfather of all zombie lies.

    And, if I remember correctly, my source on my first post–the Gies’ Life in a Medieval Castle–indicates that the source is Christian readings of Classical authors, both Greek and Roman. So, yeah.

  76. 76
    Dean Booth says:

    “The facts show that people who are raped, who are truly raped, the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work, and they don’t get pregnant.” — Henry Aldridge, north Carolina legislator, 1995

  77. 77
    Dean Booth says:

    “The facts show that people who are raped, who are truly raped, the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work, and they don’t get pregnant.” — Henry Aldridge, north Carolina legislator, 1995

  78. 78
    Dean Booth says:

    “The facts show that people who are raped, who are truly raped, the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work, and they don’t get pregnant.” — Henry Aldridge, north Carolina legislator, 1995

  79. 79
    ottercliff says:

    Expect a firm, assertive “Uhh, those aren’t the words I would have used” from Willard.

  80. 80
    Just One More Canuck says:

    “scientifically baseless” – is that science-guy talk for “fucking crazy”?

  81. 81
    Pinkamena Panic says:

    @AHH onna Droid: Sadly, it’d be more like this scene from Portal 2, given we’re dealing with a prime specimen of gopo idioticus.

  82. 82
    dance around in your bones says:

    \@kay: Jezuus H. Krist.

    Yeah, facts are facts. I don’t care what this person ‘thinks’ or ‘believes’.

    Also. FYWP. My comments keep disappearing. I don’t know why the hell…….

    Prolly not up to snuff.(OMG! I know it’s nothing personal!!)

    Mebbe I’ll just keep listening to music and lurking. Fuck it.

  83. 83


    Yes the Republicans are getting more religous, which is a problem, but it seems to me that the politization of religion has hurt both the Republican party AND organized religion with the young.

    This is not a bad thing.

  84. 84
    Berial says:

    If you have no idea what critical thinking even means, you can be tricked pretty easily. When you and your ‘tribe’ completely reject science, you can be talked into believing just about any ole thing, because you don’t understand the PROCESS of discovery. It is a weakness that conservatives have grabbed onto, and don’t seem willing to let go. They have their ‘gut’ and their ‘book’ that lets them ‘know’ whatever their betters tell them they aught to know.

  85. 85
    Tom Stickler says:

    @MjOregon: Your comment would be more precise if you spelled Mecklenberg correctly.

  86. 86
    Jackie says:

    A cause to boot this guy has spread across Facebook.

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