Certain Republican politicians’ theories about rape and pregnancy stem from Nazi experiments


Emily Bazelon TRACES the roots of a myth:

At a congressional hearing Wednesday, Rep. Trent Franks [above, right], a Republican from Arizona, argued against an exception for rape and incest victims from a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. He said, “…[T]he incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” He is of course following in the footsteps of former Rep. Todd Akin [above, left] of Missouri, who said that women can stave off pregnancy after a “legitimate rape.”

These claims are false, of course, or as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists puts it, “medically inaccurate, offensive and dangerous.” That is not all that’s wrong with the claims. They originate with Nazi experiments on women in concentration camps. Here’s what I wrote about this last November:

“In the aftermath of Akin’s statement, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on a 1972 essay by an obstetrician named Fred Mecklenburg, who cited a Nazi experiment in which women were told they were on their way to die in the gas chambers—and then were allowed to live, so that doctors could check whether they would still ovulate. Since few did, Mecklenburg claimed that women exposed to the emotional trauma of rape wouldn’t be able to become pregnant, either…The essay was published in a book financed by A.U.L.”

A.U.L. is Americans United for Life, a pro-life advocacy group with increasing clout because of its success in drafting model state laws to restrict abortion. The line from the Nazis to Mecklenburg to Akin and Franks runs through Jack Wilke, a doctor who is the former head of the National Right to Life Committee.



  1. expdoc

    This kind of post is why you are a hack.

  2. doc: What do you mean “hack”?

    The blithering idiots Franks and Akin are peddling a theory that originated with the Nazis (and was even attributed to the Nazis by a so-called pro-life leader), and I’m a “hack” for linking to an article that traces that connection?

    Get a grip, doc. And get a brain.

  3. Neftali

    expdoc is correct. Calling out Republicans for stupid comments is one thing. Its quite another to endorse writings connecting them to a group of people responsible for the holocaust.

    All around Epic fail on Pat’s behalf.

  4. expdoc

    Ironic that these guys, crazy as they may be, are arguing to protect a fetus after 20 weeks gestation and Pat advocates a woman’s right to kill that same child.

    A child by the way, who after 22 weeks gestation is a very viable human being.

    And Pat call’s these guys Nazis?

    What a joke.

  5. wilson

    Expdoc, Pat or his position? Or both?

  6. shawnnews

    The belief is older than Nazism.

  7. David C Rodriguez

    exodoc….you are wrong about fetus at 22.weeks being.viable unless by viable you mean 10% survival rate…not very viable in my opinion. Another right to lifer lie. RTL and teabaggers have one thing in common allergies to the facts.

  8. cutiepi

    Rupubs are such hypocrites, and thats a gentle adjective. A. Why are a bunch of grown ass men arguing about what women should do…and B. These are the same people who only want to give tax breaks and funds to the rich. Wanna cut off poor people aid and food stamps and the like….but will force you to take care of the baby they dont wanna have anyparts of.

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