FROM THE DESK OF... ANDREA FRIEDMAN, DIRECTOR OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH PROGRAMS
The recent comment by Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" provoked an unusual outcry, but the strategy he is using is not unique. The use of bad science is part of a long-term effort to limit - or eliminate - women's access to abortion and it has been effective in legislatures and encouraged by the courts.
The roadmap for passing legislation based on questionable science that will then be upheld in court is clear. Find someone with a scientific background to make an "Akin argument" -- proclaim a scientific fact that justifies the conclusion that abortion is bad for women's health. Repeat the "Akin argument" over and over as fact. Write it into legislation and then tout the proposal as being good for women's health. When challenged in court by the real science, point to the initial scientific conclusion you made up, demonstrating medical uncertainty. Then note that the state's interest is helping women. You've just secured a law that harms women in the name of helping them.
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