Politics

3 million Americans have been pregnant after rape. But hey, this Virginia Republican hasn’t met them

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Vega wasn’t done there. Someone at the May campaign event where Vega made her comments, audio of which were obtained by Axios, asked her, “I’ve actually heard that it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped. Have you heard that?”

Vega thought it seemed plausible, answering, “Well, maybe because there’s so much going on in the body. I don’t know. I haven’t, you know, seen any studies. But if I’m processing what you’re saying, it wouldn’t surprise me. Because it’s not something that’s happening organically. You’re forcing it. The individual, the male, is doing it as quickly — it’s not like, you know — and so I can see why there is truth to that. It’s unfortunate.”

This is, of course, total flipping nonsense. Note that Vega seems to be floating two possible mechanisms for rape to not result in pregnancy: First, “It’s not something that’s happening organically. You’re forcing it”—or, as then-Rep. Todd Akin said in 2012, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” (False.) Second, Vega said, “The individual, the male, is doing it as quickly—it’s not like, you know,” which seems to translate to … speedy ejaculation and therefore less sperm? 

Going back to the CDC, one of the major forms of rape-related pregnancy is as a part of intimate partner violence, often with reproductive coercion. Apparently that doesn’t enter Vega’s law enforcement officer consciousness.

Also, what is that “It’s unfortunate” at the end of her comment? She’s just said—falsely—that pregnancy only very rarely happens as a result of rape. It’s not true, but if it was, what would be the unfortunate part here?

Akin’s 2012 “legitimate rape” comments helped sink his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill. Now Republicans have another candidate in a competitive race saying something that’s substantively similar, albeit without the gross, flippant quotability of “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Democrats should absolutely seize on her comments, which were made as an argument against rape exceptions for abortion bans—as Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin seeks a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Vega is dramatically out of step with Virginia voters, 88% of whom say abortion should be legal under at least some circumstances.

Voters in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District should know where their candidates stand. “Rather than punish America’s women, lawmakers must stand with them,” Spanberger said in a statement on Friday after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “And rather than pursue extreme new laws, our elected officials must remember their obligation to protect our basic rights. Today is a dark day, but it cannot be the end of our efforts.” The alternative is Vega’s opposition even to abortion in cases of rape or incest, because she personally hasn’t seen very many such cases and hey, maybe that’s because “there’s so much going on in the body” and “it’s not something that’s happening organically” and “The individual, the male, is doing it as quickly.”

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