The Many Legitimate Inspirations for SVU’s Legitimate Rape Episode

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People say that women love Law & Order: Special Victims Unit because they like to watch rapists get convicted, something that doesn’t happen enough in real life. If that’s the case, SVU failed to deliver last night, in its much-promoted legitimate rape episode, titled “Legitimate Rape.” One holdout juror (we’re meant to suspect the crucifix-clutching, middle-aged woman) obstructed the conviction because she was convinced by an expert witness that a woman who claims to have gotten pregnant from rape, as the famous sportscaster plaintiff did, is lying to herself and the Lord. According to him, the body “shuts down” ovulation under stress of "legitimate rape." Watch the very familiar-sounding testimony below.

The Todd Akin comparison has been made far and wide (including by Senator Claire McCaskill), which is not fair to all the other obvious inspirations for this composite character. There were shades of Ron Paul, a real congressman-slash-obstetrician who, like the witness character, is suspicious of women who cry rape when it wasn’t an “honest rape.” As far as the witness’s medical opinion is concerned, he is most closely aligned with Dr. John Willke, the chief propagator of legitimate rape myth, who is published in fringe anti-abortion journals and has been called “nuts” in print. The witness is also described as trying to outlaw abortion after rape because it would be considered “tampering with evidence,” legislation which was legitimately put forth by New Mexico state legislator Cathrynn Brown. (She said it was all a big misunderstanding.) The flag pin could have been inspired by anybody.