For a moment there, I was worried. It looked like the oafish Todd Akin -- the would-be senator who went out of his way to secure the rapist vote -- might actually say something defensible. In a follow-up interview
, he tried to explain that he used the term "legitimate rape" to distinguish forcible rape from "false claims."
Some of my feminist readers may prefer to believe otherwise, but false rape allegations do occur. (Their frequency is a matter of intense debate; see here
.) In a previous post, I discussed a famous court case
involving a woman named Eunice Pringle and theater impresario Alexander Pantages. You could also look up such names as Crystal Gail Mangum, Heidi Jones, and Danmell Ndonye. In some cases, false claimants hope to gain financially. In other cases...well, I can only repeat a syllogism I've used before: Out of every ten people, one will go crazy. Women are people. Therefore...
Akin, alas, did not refer to Eunice Pringle. Instead, he said that he was...
...making the point that there were people who use false claims, like those that basically created Roe v. Wade.
"Jane Roe" was a woman named Norma McCorvey, who did indeed, for a brief time, make an untruthful claim that a rapist sired her third child. As this
women's history site puts it...
The rape story was of little consequence to her lawyers, because they wanted to establish a right to abortion for all women, not just those who had been raped.
She made the false claim on the advice of friends because Texas law at the time allowed for abortion
in the case of rape. After she agree to function as a test case for feminist abortion rights activists, that pretense was dropped. Many people don't know that McCorvey never had an abortion; she later converted to fundamentalist Christianity.
In no sense can one say that a "false rape claim" created the Roe v. Wade decision. The lie was dropped before the case reached the Supremes, and played no role in the Court's opinion. The text is here
; the word "rape" does not appear.
Akin's knowledge of biology is, of course, far more risible than is his ignorance of judicial history.