There Are Still Politicians Who Think You Can’t Get Pregnant From Rape

Remember “shut that whole thing down?”

AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger

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During a hearing by the Idaho House of Representatives on a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a fetal heart monitor, Angela Dwyer, an employee at a crisis pregnancy center who testified in support of the bill, explained that in her experience, she had seen two rape victims choose not to abort—one kept the baby and the other chose adoption. The proposed legislation does not make an exception for victims of incest or rape.

Rep. Pete Nielsen responded, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident.” He then added, “That may be true with incest a little bit.”

According to the Spokesman-Review, Nielsen stood by his remarks after the hearing. He said pregnancy “doesn’t happen as often as it does with consensual sex, because of the trauma involved.” According to Scientific American, women get pregnant from rape as frequently as they get pregnant from consensual sex.

When pressed on the matter by a reporter who asked him how he knew this, Nielsen replied, “That’s information that I’ve had through the years. Whether it’s totally accurate or not, I don’t know…I’ve read a lot of information…Being the father of two girls, I’ve explored this a lot.”

Nielson’s comments echoed those of former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who once memorably said on a television interview, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” Akin lost his Senate bid shortly thereafter in 2012 to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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