Whether women can get pregnant from rape is not a partisan debate—it is a matter of fact. They can. Unfortunately, when public figures say something often enough and loud enough, invidious untruths start to feel like facts to the public. They take on lives of their own.

To keep this from happening, Akin’s comment needed to be disputed immediately, in the same stories in which it was first reported. The political horserace stuff is all speculation—no one knows whether or how Akin’s comments will affect his Senate race or any other race. But real women will be hurt in real ways if Akin’s untruth persists. And that’s a fact.

 

Jennifer Vanasco is a is a news editor at WNYC and the former editor in chief of MTV Network's LGBT news site 365gay.com. She writes about social minorities, national politics, and culture. Her award-winning newspaper column on gay and women's issues ran for 15 years.