“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
- Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), Friday, August 17, 2012. (Interview aired Sunday, August 19th)
Representative Akin’s statement radiates a sheltered worldview so separate from science, medicine, social progress, and decency that it shocks the country to the core, conjuring a firestorm of frenzy from Democrats and Republicans alike.
In his apology today, he invokes 9/11 to explain his pro-life views, explaining that the first responders “didn’t ask for identification of those they saved because all lives are important.”
"They don't check their ID to see whether they're important or not, they just take them to safety and run back for more. They, by their lives, speak as Americans of what we think about the value of human beings and how much respect we hold people with."
His words echo the essence of public service and of medicine as well, though his interpretation represents the direct opposite of these principles. When a woman comes to her doctor for help, her doctor does not check her rape “ID” to determine whether her rape is “legitimate” or not. Likewise, doctors fight for “patients over politics” because this idea that our patients are “ID’d” as important or not based on level of coverage is abhorrent to the foundations of the profession. Medicine is an intensely moral profession, where the soundest ethic is to provide the care we know best, no matter the background of our patients.
As the implementation of the ACA continues to unfold, we will be faced with painful compromises. During the early phases of this process in 2009, former President Clinton warned us to not allow perfect be the enemy of good. I always keep that in mind when impatient with health care reform. However, when Rep. Akin makes such transparently inaccurate statements with such destructive implications for health care for America’s women, I know I cannot be patient because what Mr. Akin said was wrong. While perfect may not be, wrong certainly is the enemy of good. We may compromise the length of the strides we take in reform, but we cannot compromise their direction. Loud and clear, we must look forward to reform as we continue to stand our ground.