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.