A Brief History of the Campaign's Outlandish Rape Headlines

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To judge by just the headlines from the last few months, you'd think our election was not taking place in enlightened America, where women have been able to vote almost 100 years, but in some distant country that's still struggling with the idea that you should punish rapists, not rape victims. What makes the headlines seem so absurd is that they state what should be the glaringly obvious, so it's a little unsettling that what we all thought was agreed upon by civil society turns out to be controversial enough to be worthy of a headline. Ideas like, rape is not God's gift to womankind. Or, that rape "is rape" and not some other thing. Or that national elected officials strongly disagree with any suggestion that it might be some other thing.

The most recent—and without context, totally absurd—headline was from The Hill: "Santorum: Mourdock 'didn't say rape was a gift from God.'" The story was former presidential candidate Rick Santorum's explanation to CNN that "What the Senate candidate [Richard Mourdock] said is that the child is a gift from God and whether it's conceived by rape or not, it's still the gift of human life is a gift from God, and that's what he said." Thank you for clarifying that, Mr. Santorum. Rape is not God's gift to womankind, but a rape pregnancy is kind of like His get-well card.

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August 19 -- The Todd Akin Era Begins

  • "Candidate: Rape doesn't end in pregnancy" -- UPI.
  • "Rep. Akin: Pregnancy from rape is 'really rare'" -- Associated Press.
  • "Akin Blasted for 'Legitimate Rape' Comment; Senate Candidate Says His 'Off-the-Cuff Remarks' Are Not Truly Reflective of His Views" -- Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune.

August 20

August 21

August 22

August 23

  • "Will women have to pass a 'rape test'?" -- Palm Beach Post.

August 24

  • "Stats show thousands of rape-related pregnancies" -- Detroit Free Press.
  • "Not the first rape discussion and not the last" --The Oxford (MS) Eagle.

August 26

August 27 -- Enter Tom Smith

  • "GOP Senate candidate says out-of-wedlock pregnancy and rape are 'similar'" -- Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News.

  • "Pa. Senate Candidate Backs Off Unplanned Pregnancy-Rape Comparison" -- ABC News.

August 29

August 31

September 7

  • "Defining rape can be tricky territory" -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

September 17

October 10 -- Meet Roger Rivard

October 11

October 24 -- Richard Mourdock Weighs In

  • "Pregnancy by rape holy: GOPer" -- New York Daily News.
  • "God intended pregnancy from rape, candidate says" -- Harrisburg (PA) Patriot News.
  • "Mourdock: God at work when rape leads to pregnancy" -- Associated Press.
  • "Obama Says 'Rape Is Rape'" -- The Atlantic Wire.

October 25

  • "Obama on rape comments: They 'don't make any sense'" -- CNN.

Note: Headline citations without links are pulled from LexisNexis.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.