A previous study found that five percent of rape incidents result in a pregnancy among women of reproductive age and estimated that rape causes more than 32,000 pregnancies in the United States every year.So 95% of rape incidences do not result in pregnancy. So let's return to Akins comment along with the above definition of "legitimate rape": 5% of those persons subject any act of sexual intercourse that in accordance with established law is deemed unlawful due to being compelled through physical force or duress, have a pregnancy as a result. Therefore Akin's comment in regards to the frequency of pregnancy via rape is actually correct. So where did he go wrong? The erroneous part of Akins statement was the whole "the woman's body can shut things down" in response to being raped. Certainly those 5% are certainly not going to want to be told that their so called "anti-rape" biological defense mechanism failed to kick in. And certainly no one should be telling any victim of rape such a thing. That is indeed offensive. However that does not change the fact that under stressful conditions the human female body will have problems conceiving and carrying to term, a child. There certainly is not an on/off switch as Akins claimed there was, but rather a set of responses that may be triggered after a rape (or any traumatic event). But let's not take my word for it. Let's look at the literature on the subject. Here's the NCBLI (National Center for Biotechnology Information ) on the subject: Stress reduces conception probabilities across the fertile window: evidence in support of relaxation
CONCLUSION(S): Stress significantly reduced the probability of conception each day during the fertile window, possibly exerting its effect through the sympathetic medullar pathwayAnother article Stress and other environmental factors affecting fertility in men and women: overview says:
A close association between stress and eating disorders is frequently found in female patients presenting with anovulation and amenorrhea. This is not surprising since both conditions lead to a slow-down of the LHRH pulse generator and consequently, of gonadotropin secretion and gonadal function.Another article from the journal Human Reproduction (subscription required) :Should fertilization treatment start with reducing stress? tells us:
There is substantial initial evidence that the psychological disposition of the parents-to-be influences their fertility and thus the outcome of fertilization techniques. There is ample evidence that lower stress levels mean better female and male natural fertility, though there is as yet no conclusive experimental evidence that lower stress levels result in better fertility treatment outcome. However, first reducing stress may diminish the number of treatment cycles needed before pregnancy is obtained, may prepare the couple for an initial failure of treatment or even make the more invasive techniques unnecessary. the follicular levels of glucocorticoid hormones, especially lower follicular cortisone and a higher cortisol/cortisone ratio have shown to have a significant effect on pregnancy rates in IVF. The female reproductive tract contains catecholamine receptors (Moran, 1975); thus, catecholamines—which are related to stress, see Table I—may affect fertility, for example, by interfering with the transport of gametes through the Fallopian tube or by altering uterine blood flow (Schenker et al., 1992). A substantial number of studies found that anticipatory anxiety and high anticipatory cortisol levels prior to oocyte retrieval (OR) and embryo transfer (ET) result in lower pregnancy rates, as do depression, high active coping, high avoidance and high expression of emotionI would humbly suggest that the act of being raped is stressful. I would suggest that the aftermath: worrying about life ending diseases, court dates that can go on for months, possibly facing the perpetrator, or not having the perp caught and at large, are all long term stressors that would qualify as things that could have an adverse effect on possible ovulation or carrying to term of a fertilized egg. Given the report above that the vast majority of rape incidents do not result in pregnancy (32,000 is less than .01% of the total US population) it is clear that a variety of factors, known to many couples who have had a hard time conceiving, can and probably do act to prevent conception or the carrying to term of a human child. So given this and far more information available, it is flat out wrong for certain "news" outlets to claim that Akins was presenting "junk science" nor were the claims of the "rarity" of pregnancy resulting from rape statistically incorrect. Akins may not have understood the science. But the science is not "junk". So Akins actual faulty language was the suggestion that women somehow have an on/off switch that they can/do/must activate in order to prevent pregnancy. That is offensive and deserves to be pointed out as such. However; he rest of the statement, on it's face is actually accurate. However to see that we must take off our political blinders and our ideological glasses and turn off our "immediate outrage" switch.