Rep. Todd Akin isn't alone in his radical views of rape—or his bizarre beliefs about reproductive biology.
In 1995, North Carolina State Rep. Henry Aldridge said that “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," before adding that “to get pregnant, it takes a little cooperation.”
In 1997, Leon Holmes, a prominent Republican pro-lifer in Arkansas wrote, “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conception from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snow in Miami.” Holmes was later appointed as a federal judge by President George W. Bush.
The list of Republicans who are pro-life, even in cases of rape or incest, is long: Nevada’s Sharon Angle suggested bearing the child “was really a lemon situation into lemonade." Rick Perry and Sarah Palin both opposed abortion in all cases, and Republicans from seven states have proposed bills that remove protections for rape and incest victims seeking abortions.
This “position is not the outlying position for the Republican Party, it has become the Republican norm,” Rachel Maddow said on Monday's The Rachel Maddow Show. She went on: “Quietly over the last few years, as the Republican Party has slipped its mooring, and the party apparatus has largely fallen apart, and the conservative movement has taken over, rape and incest exemptions have sort of fallen out of favor.”
One particularly famous bill, the mandatory transvaginal ultrasound legislation in Virginia, was championed by Republican Governor Bob McDonald.
“The furor over the bill is widely viewed as having derailed Bob McDonald’s chances at being a vice presidential nominee. And honestly I think that’s because he got famous for it,” Maddow said. “But in skipping Governor Ultrasound, Romney just picked someone who has the exact same policy record as Governor Ultrasound.”
Enter Rep. Paul Ryan.
“Why didn’t that exact same policy record derail Ryan’s chances for getting picked for the number two spot on the ticket?” Maddow asked.
Indeed, Ryan has co-sponsored a federal version of the mandatory ultrasound bill, and was an early co-sponsor, along with Akin, of H.R. 3, a bill that sought to narrow the definition of rape in federal law to only include “forcible rape.”
“I think we’re seeing a cycle that just keeps repeating itself," New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich told Maddow. "When the whole Sandra Fluke, contraception, Rush Limbaugh fracas happened, everyone was embarrassed in the Republican Party who wants to win, because it blew the story. It told America what this party is about in terms of women’s issues.”