Jane Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a right-wing group that 's known for its extremist views on medicine. Thus, it's the group you'd expect would come to the defense of Todd Akin's discredited claim that rape rarely causes pregnancy because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Is the risk of pregnancy lower with forcible rape, and if so, why? Off the cuff, Todd Akin gave a layman’s restatement of the point made by some pro-life physicians that the female body has some defense mechanisms against pregnancy in cases of rape.
The process of fertilization, implantation and maintenance of pregnancy is an intricate one, highly dependent on hormonal signals. Stress is conceded to make miscarriage more likely by disrupting the hormonal milieu. What could be more stressful than a forcible rape?
The intensity of the media outrage against Akin’s remark shows that this is not a scientific dispute about numbers, or the definition of “really rare.” Medical science is being replaced by political demagoguery about the issue of rape.
Actually, the person injecting politics into the issue is Orient. What do doctors who aren't pushing an agenda have to say?
"What we know is that chronic stress can decrease fertility," said Dr. Sharon Phelan, a fellow at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico, in a telephone interview with CNN.
Phelan cites emotional, medical or nutritional stress as forms of chronic stress.
"The acute stress does not have the same impact," she added, referring to the act of rape.
A 1996 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology estimated 32,101 pregnancies in the United States each year result from rape.
Orient then deviated even more from medical reality to launch an even more explicit political attack:
Starting from one extreme, some radical feminists appear to believe that most if not all sex involving a man and a woman is a rape. The man is always the perpetrator, and the woman, a victim. Clearly, there are activities that are not forcible rape and do not involve the same emotional reaction, but are still not legitimate. These would include statutory rape, “date rape” and seduction. To suggest that a woman ‘s dress or behavior might in some cases have contributed is, of course, unacceptable.
At the other extreme, radical Muslims appear to believe that rape rarely if ever occurs, and that all non-marital contact between a man and a woman is illegitimate and the fault of the temptress. From the fury directed at Akin, you’d think he had advocated Shariah law and “honor” killings.
Politicians who claim to be pro-life are often adamant about preserving an exception for rape or incest. This exception is a fig leaf over the reality of what an abortion is. Coming too close to The Question is feared to jeopardize the chance to gain political power.
Akin’s phrasing became a convenient pretext for raising a disproportionate clamor as a diversion from the real problem. Those politicians and commentators who are calling for Akin’s head have signaled where their priorities lie.
Remember, this is the woman who was accusing others of replacing medical science with "political demagoguery." Or was she talking about herself?