Political pressure: Akin – recap

Todd Akin lost his 2012 bid for the Senate. Akin suggested during the campaign that women’s bodies could reject pregnancy by rape.

I was fascinated by his intention to ride out the controversy despite even his own Party officials trying to pull him out of the race.

His passion and belief was not enough. He lost by 12 points to the Democrat, Sen. Claire McCaskill.

He blamed the Republican Party for being his other challenger in the race.

I am also fascinated by the nature of the controversy itself. Both Akin and those who criticised his comments, including Barack Obama, were all wrong about the actual science of conception. In short, conception rates via rape are higher than consensual sex, but miscarriages are also higher. In a strange way, Akin was more right than his critics. The subject is unpleasant, but what’s fascinating is how the public discussion was almost completely inaccurate, and emotionally driven from all sides.

In the above links and others, you can see how the heat of the controversy meant even those who tried to put the actual science forward had to go to great lengths to ensure they were seen to be on the “right” emotional and social side of the debate. The debate wasn’t about facts though. It was made into a debate about attitudes to women. When debates morph like that, it’s incredibly difficult not only to ensure rational accuracy, but to escape the set narrative.

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