'Law & Order: SVU' Episode Revives Controversial 'Legitimate Rape' Election Claims (Video)
Last night's Law & Order: SVU episode was ripped from the headlines AND fringe medical journals.
The NBC crime drama focused on "legitimate rape," a buzzword brought to national attention when former Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin claimed during an interview that a woman could not get pregnant if she was a victim of a real rape, because, as he claimed, "the female body has ways to try to shut [the pregnancy] down."
The claim sunk his campaign to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, but the issue fared better on SVU.
The case in the show involved a sports reporter who was raped by her cameraman, became pregnant and gave birth to a child. A congressman/obstetrician -- seemingly inspired by former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has been maligned for his use of the term "honest rape" -- testified that legitimate rape does not cause pregnancy. His words very closely mirrored those that Akin used in his interview.
The doctor in the show was attacked by the prosecution and investigative team; Ice-T's character, Detective Tutuola, called him a "crackpot," and the prosecutor drew into question his recent medical work (he last published in a medical journal 30 years ago).
Akin defied calls to abandon his campaign, and ultimately the Republican National Committee sent funds to try to help him win the election; he also received support from conservative stars such as Kirk Cameron. But he came under fire from the national media (he canceled on Piers Morgan, who instead interviewed an empty chair), Hollywood (see: Tina Fey), Democrats and women's rights organizations and fell decisively to McCaskill.