Idaho state representative Pete Nielsen is the latest politician to proudly display his lack of knowledge about basic biology and the process of conception. During a discussion about a bill that would require Idaho abortion providers to inform women as to where they could receive free ultrasounds, Representative Nielsen (Republican, if you were wondering) offered the opinion that “In many cases of rape, it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the situation, that may be true with incest a little bit.” (The bill being discussed was approved by the committee 13–4 and will head to the Idaho house.)
This is not the first or last time we’ll hear a politician opine that the violent circumstances of rape preclude a pregnancy, the most famous being Todd Akin’s 2012 assertions about “legitimate rape.” Nielsen proudly joins that cadre, and in a follow-up interview with KBOI 2News, doubles down on his beliefs despite being told, rightly, by many people that “I don’t know what I’m talking about and I need to get educated.”
Nielsen explained, “The chance of conception in that type of a situation is not as great as it would be in a consensual situation. Now I didn’t use those terms, but that was what I was thinking.” He continued on to note that he had read the information somewhere, before he became a state representative, but could not recall where he’d learned it.
When pushed on the subject of whether he believes that a rape victim can never get pregnant, Nielsen demurred, noting, “No, no, I just think that it’s much more difficult, because of the trauma, that the body itself is not going to accept, like it would in consensual sex.”
Naturally, there are plenty of folks, including medical professionals, taking the time to inform Nielsen that he is dead wrong. “I have received quite a bit of email from what I assume by the name are female doctors all over the United States and they just simply say I don’t know what I’m talking about,” he said. But that’s certainly not going to change his mind. “They may be correct in their opinion. But I do know this, that trauma is going to affect the body and the emotional conditions of that young lady.” Apparently, for Representative Nielsen, pregnancy doesn’t count as an effect on the body.