October 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

The case for required Bio 101 courses for politicians: Rep. Todd Akin


I think all politicians, before taking office, and every 5 years after taking office, should be required to take a basic biology class.


A clear understanding of biological processes is becoming more and more important in politics these days. At the same time we are seeing an increasing number of politicians making critical errors in public statements about matters of biology, including cell and reproductive biology.

At one point in the past, I’ve suggested that the Vice President of the U.S. should be required to be a scientist. This would be akin to Spock on Star Trek, who was the 2nd in command of the ship. I still believe that.

There is no better illustration of the importance of politicians taking refresher Bio courses than Rep. Todd Akin, who is running again Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri. He appears to lack a fundamental understanding of biology.

Akin is against allowing women to have abortions in the case of rape. To support this extreme position, he in public made the statement that if women are raped then they do not get pregnant for biological reasons (see video below).

This is of course a total myth and a very hurtful one. He also uses the term “legitimate rape”, another very harmful and offensive thing to stay, implying that there are numerous cases of fake rape. In fact, as President Obama said today “Rape is rape”.

Off to Bio 101 for you, Akins….however, I think in fact you are beyond help.

Many of your Republican colleagues could use a refresher course as well, but it should be mandatory for all national level politicians regardless of party affiliation.

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