Each month, a woman releases an egg (“ovum,” in science speak), which travels down one of two fallopian tubes and hangs out in the uterus for some days awaiting a sperm. If a sperm and egg meet, usually through intercourse, and connect, in a process called fertilization, a pregnancy can occur. The egg, which is a cell and thus cannot be said to have anything like feelings, does not distinguish between the sperm of a rapist and the sperm of Prince Charming.
I learned this information in the seventh grade, thanks largely to a yellow paperback given to each member of our class by our biology teacher. The book was filled with edifying drawings and explicit information. And though it was titillating – when you’re 13, all information of this sort is titillating – it also instilled in me a profound fear of getting pregnant as an adolescent as well as the clearest possible sense of how that might occur.
Today, thanks to a successful campaign largely by members of the conservative Christian community to remove frank talk about sex from schools and teach abstinence instead, kids don’t learn that kind of information….
Instead of learning about how sex works, kids are getting the message that the mechanics don’t matter because, in any case, it’s yucky girl stuff… which is exactly the kind of thinking that might lead a person to grow up and, at the mature age of 65, to go on TV and talk about how rape, if it’s really rape, doesn’t get you pregnant. The concern here is not just that Akin is a numbskull. It’s that Akin’s disinterest in the facts is reflective of a broader contemporary disinterest in facts – and in science. Religious faith is crucially important to so many lives, but it should not be a hall pass that allows you to sit out the class on how babies are made.
~ Lisa Miller, attempting to tie Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remarks to abstinence education, The Washington Post, August 23
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