[Jeff Roberson / AP]
Senatorial nominee from Missouri Todd Akin made televised remarks yesterday that included the assertion:
...from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy after rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.
It's unclear how common this and similar misconceptions may be, or to what extent they realistically influence productive conversation. Federal Judge Leon Holmes has been quoted in the past:
Concern for rape victims is a red herring, because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.
In light of the pervasiveness of the abortion conversation, it's worth reviewing what we know about this aspect of reproductive physiology.
From a holistic perspective, one might hypothesize that a woman's body could respond to the extreme stress and trauma of enduring rape in such a way that she would be physiologically more likely to miscarry (or not to conceive at all). There is a multi-million dollar alternative reproductive health market aimed at optimizing an environment for conception -- sexual positions, foods, colors, aromas, feng shui -- so there could be something to a theory that the other, much darker end of that spectrum functions analogously.