Court Rejected Akin’s Faulty ‘Legitimate Rape’ Science Nearly 300 Years Ago

Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) claim that the “female body” can avert a pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape” was presented to a British court nearly three centuries ago. As law professor Eugene Volokh points out, it did not do very well. The court held in 1716 that “it hath been said by some to be no Rape to force a Woman who conceived at the Time; for it is said, That if she had not consented, she could not have conceived . . . this Opinion seems very questionable.” The first American court rejected Akin’s bad science at least as early as 1820, when an Arkansas court held that “[i]mpregnation, it is well known, does not depend on the consciousness or volition of the female. If the uterine organs be in a condition favorable to impregnation, this may take place as readily as if the intercourse was voluntary.”