Demand Apology from Congressman Who Agreed that “Legitimate” Rape Doesn’t Cause Pregnancy

Target: Former Congressman, Phil Gingrey of Geogia

Goal: Ask former Congressman, Phil Gingrey, to apologize for his insensitive comments about rape victims.

Last year, senatorial candidate Todd Akin made the remark to KTVI-TV that in cases of “legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing [pregnancy] down.” Outrage ensued after this comment, since many women’s rights organizations felt that Akin was blaming victims by assuming that women who became pregnant from rape must have been lying about being sexually assaulted. In our country and throughout the world, rape is an underreported crime because women feel ashamed and afraid of being blamed for sexual assault. Akin’s comment perpetuated this stigmatization.

Former U.S. Congressman, Phil Gingrey, recently said in a town hall meeting that Akin was “partially right” about women’s likelihood of becoming pregnant from rape. He said that Akin was trying to explain that some teens may lie to their parents when they become pregnant from consensual sex, and instead claim that they were raped. Considering that rape is an underreported crime, this is statistically less likely to happen than rape resulting in conception.

Gingrey is a former gynecologist and explained that adrenaline, which will be rushing through a woman’s body during rape, can prevent conception. While this may be true, Gringey fails to realize the effects of assuming that rape cannot result in pregnancy. Young women in particular are already fearful of reporting sexual assaults. We should be encouraging these women to come forward when they are raped, not assuming that they are lying if they become pregnant. Ask Congressman Gringey to apologize for his insensitive comments about rape.


Dear Phil Gingrey,

Last November, you claimed in a town hall meeting that Akin was “partially right” when he said that women could not become pregnant from “legitimate rape.” Comments like yours help to perpetuate stigmatization against rape victims. You explained that what Akin likely meant is that teens who became pregnant from consensual sex might lie about being raped, thus making it an “illegitimate rape.” Younger women and teens are already unlikely to report sexual assaults and by claiming that teens who become pregnant from rape are lying, you are creating stereotypes that survivors of rape are not victims, but liars.

As a former gynecologist, you are no doubt correct about the adrenaline that is present in a woman’s body during rape that can sometimes prevent conception. However, as you also mentioned, if a woman is ovulating, she can easily become pregnant from rape. To defend Senatorial candidate Todd Akin, however, is to claim that women’s bodies should or do automatically prevent conception from occurring during rape, which is not accurate. A woman cannot force her body to prevent pregnancy from occurring during rape, and to suggest that this is the case is preposterous.

Please help us to end the stigmatization against rape victims by apologizing for your comments about rape. We should be encouraging rape victims to come forward and report their crimes, not implying that if they become pregnant, they must have been lying. Please do not engage in victim blaming and apologize for your comments.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Frank de Kleine via Wikimedia Commons.

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