Representative Akin, Your Appallingly Inaccurate Comments Underscore a Significant Barrier to Reproductive Health Care: MISINFORMATION

Photo by Karl Grobl

This week, the US has been abuzz about Senate candidate Todd Akin’s offensive comments. They have already been repeated ad nauseam, so no need to give them more air time here. Suffice to say, they were appallingly disrespectful and inaccurate. Fortunately, his comments have not gone unchallenged. And they have highlighted a significant barrier to providing reproductive health care: misinformation. 

So often in the realm of sexual and reproductive health, misinformation abounds, but is not corrected. That’s not the case here. The publicity garnered by his comments has brought stark attention to the fallacies behind his remarks. It’s been refreshing to see the range of commentators jumping in to provide medical feedback and ensure accurate sexual and reproductive health information is discussed. Too often, that’s not what we see.

Let’s use Representative Akin’s ridiculous remarks to share with others the critical needs that women still have both in the US and in countries around the world.In countries where Pathfinder works, we encounter women who are provided with inaccurate information about contraception, or communities where misinformation about safe pregnancy and delivery is prevalent. Only it’s not headline making news. Unfortunately, these situations fly below the radar, leaving only a wake of women without access to the quality reproductive health care services they need.

Representative Akin’s remarks highlight the need for improved conversations about sexual and reproductive health care both in the US and abroad. It’s critical that we turn misinformation into empowerment by using these instances as teachable moments. Whether through humor, commentary, discussion, tweets, blogs, news stories, or conversations with friends, let’s use Representative Akin’s ridiculous remarks to share with others the critical needs that women still have both here in the US and in countries around the world. Let’s start conversations about subjects that all-too-often do not get discussed like gender-based violence, rape, pregnancy, contraceptives, and yes, even, uteruses.

Women everywhere need and deserve access to quality sexual and reproductive health services everywhere. If we can stamp out misinformation about women’s health, bodies, and care, we can take down another barrier women face each and every day.

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Although Rep Todd Akins went out of his way to make a fool of himself regarding his knowledge of women and sexuality, he is not very far removed from the Republican Party's anit-woman attitude. It is one that give you the feeling they would like to restore to them their status in society as it was in the early 19th Century. That which amazes me most is the blind spot Republican Party women have regarding the party's anti-woman programs and attitudes. The up-coming Republican Convention in Tampa, FL, will probably bring forth a party platform that does not, in any way, favor women.
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Representative Akin reflects the ignorance prevalent about reproduction and contraception in the U.S. as well as a naive concept of women's rights and human rights in general.
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