The truth about sex and pregnancy, as told to Todd Akin

Dear Congressman Akin: When a man and a woman love each other and decide that the time is right, they call the stork. Nine months later, a little bundle of joy arrives on the happy family’s doorstep. That’s how pregnancy occurs when two consenting adults engage in intercourse, right?

No, Todd Akin, that’s not how it works. Your unfounded remarks about how conception takes place are exactly the reason why politicians should not make medical decisions about a woman’s body. It is extremely disconcerting that somebody like yourself, who clearly has no knowledge about the women’s life cycle, or how pregnancy even occurs, is attempting to legislate my medical decisions.

Let’s talk sex, Mr. Akin. Each month a woman ovulates, meaning that her ovaries release an egg. For a span of approximately 24 hours, that egg, if exposed to a sperm, can be fertilized. The catch is that sperm can live up to a week in a woman’s body. So if a man and a woman have sex, and a sperm enters the womb within a week of ovulation, there is a chance that the intercourse could result in conception. That chance is the same whether the sex is consensual or not.

It would be great if our bodies had some magical emergency valve where if we didn’t want to get pregnant, we wouldn’t. That would likely result in far less abortions than any type of anti-choice legislation conservative law-makers could ever cook up.

However, the female body does not have such a safety mechanism. The stork doesn’t skip over rape victims.

More disconcerting is your bizarre notion of “legitimate” vs. “illegitimate” rape. No means no. I understand that consent can sometimes fall within a gray area, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved. However, when a man or a woman is forced to have sex, against his or her will, he or she has been raped. End of story. The question of legitimacy has no place in this discussion.

Please tell me what an illegitimate rape looks like. “I’m sorry ma’am, it doesn’t seem that you were traumatized enough to make your rape legitimate.” “I’m sorry sir, it seems that the rape you endured wasn’t violent enough to meet our strict standards of legitimacy.” Victims of violent crimes need not be further victimized by our legal system.

Now, how to proceed? I think you should apologize, and acknowledge that you did not merely misspeak but that your remark was completely divorced from fact or science. If you truly want to atone for your remarks, you should back off, and leave our vaginas to the gynecologists. No other medical decisions are legislated. If masturbation or Viagra were illegal, we’d be having a different conversation. People who do not understand the female body should not create legislation that affects it.