Even Pro-Life Christians Think Congressman Todd Akin Is "Extreme"
"He seems a little extreme."
Those were the words we were shocked to hear this morning when we spoke to a pro-life Christian leader about the idiotic comments made by Congressman Todd Akin about women being able to magically end a pregnancy when they're the victims of "legitimate rape."
Pastor Robert Fleischmann is the national director for the Christian Life Resources, a Jesus-y type group "intended to educate on the value and sanctity of human life."
Fleischmann penned an essay posted on the group's website yesterday that -- at first glance -- seems to defend Akin's moronic ramblings. That, he explains to the Voice, is not the case.
"What I was trying to point out is that we're barking up the wrong tree -- why are we even tackling this issue (abortions for rape victims)? I think we should go after the bigger picture."
Fleischmann, who identifies himself as a "pro-life" Christian, says that Akin's comments were incredibly insensitive, but that doesn't mean he's necessarily wrong. He admits that it doesn't make him right, either.
Fleischmann points to studies that show the trauma of rape can potentially cause women to become less fertile -- which backs up Akin's claim that "something happens" when a woman is raped that could potentially prevent pregnancy. He admits, however, that they are just studies, and nothing has been proven one way or another.
From Fleischmann's essay:
Taking Representative Akin's words in the best possible way we can accept his apology for failing to respect the high emotion of the rape issue. Now, how do the facts hold up?
Akin suggested that the emotional trauma of a rape creates some sort of natural birth control reflex in a woman's body. He does not say pregnancies never occur, but in fairness he does not acknowledge that fact either. Is he just clinging in hearsay and rumor?
Right now news sources are quick to repeat the familiar mantra that a pregnancy occurs in 5% of rape cases. It is a 16-year old statistic lifted from a study of 4,008 women. A 1982 study of 692 women suggested the chance of pregnancy occurring from a rape to be between 2% and 4%. While statistically 2% to 5% is not a large percentage, for the victim the prospect no matter how remote emotionally compounds an already traumatic event.
But let's be honest here - Akin violated the emotional sanctity of this topic with his term, "legitimate rape." We now want to know the accuracy of his statement. Emotionally, there is no debate that even 2% is 2% too much. Is it true that the trauma of the rape reduces the chances for pregnancy?
I have yet to see a study that demonstrates some sort of contraceptive effect from a rape. I do believe, however, it is not an unwarranted conclusion.
Fleischmann, who comes across as reasonable and respectful in his defense of the pro-life movement, says the anti-abortion crowd tends to focus more on "what they're against" than what they're for: life.
"[The pro-life movement] is always characterized by the lowest denominator," he says. "Someone shoots an abortion doctor and [the pro-life movement] as a whole gets a bad name. I'd rather say 'let's sit down and talk about it.'"
Fleischmann, while not a radical, doctor-shooting maniac, maintains that there are alternatives to abortions for rape victims.
"I would rather them go to a shelter. I'm much more of an advocate of what I'm for, not what I'm against," he says. "I'm not in favor of compounding one sin with another sin. I'd rather help people through [the trauma of rape]."
Regardless of your stance on abortion, one thing is clear: Congressman Todd Akin has achieved "lowest denominator" status -- and he's running for the United States Senate (sigh).
See Fleischmann's essay here.
Follow on Twitter: @JKingVoice
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.