X

'Legitimate Rape' Was a Medical Theory ... in 1200s

But several modern-era lawmakers share it
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 20, 2012 12:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – If you found Rep. Todd Akin's comments on "legitimate rape" positively medieval, you're right—quite literally. As far back as the 13th century, a British legal text notes that "without a woman's consent, she could not conceive," the Guardian reports. Centuries later, in 1814, a medical text notes that "without pleasure in the venereal act," conception is essentially impossible, making "absolute rape" an unlikely cause of pregnancy. The idea ties to a prevailing notion of the time: that a woman must have an orgasm to conceive.

story continues below

But it's not just our ancestors who would have found Akin's claim credible. In the late 1980s, a Pennsylvania state representative called the odds of such pregnancies "one in millions and millions and millions." A decade later, a North Carolina lawmaker said that when a person was "truly raped, the juices don’t flow," reports the Washington Post, which shares a few other examples. It also shares the results of two studies: one that suggests at least 30,000 pregnancies occur from rape every year, and another that found 6.4% of rape victims under age 45 become pregnant. (Read more Todd Akin stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
X