UPDATE: Romney campaign rebukes Todd Akin after rape comments

Monday, August 20, 2012 | 8:20 a.m. CDT; updated 10:21 a.m. CDT, Monday, August 20, 2012

ST. LOUIS — Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, a conservative Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, sparked a furor and earned a rebuke from Mitt Romney's campaign after saying that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in "a legitimate rape" and that conception is rare in such cases.

Akin, a six-term congressman running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, was asked in an interview broadcast Sunday on St. Louis television station KTVI if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

"It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said, referring to victim's chances of becoming pregnant.

Akin said in an emailed statement later Sunday that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not specify on which points or comments.

"In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin's statement said.

Akin also said in the statement he believes "deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."

Akin's comments brought a swift rebuke from the campaign of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Romney.

"Gov. Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.

McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, in an emailed statement Sunday called the comments "offensive."

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," McCaskill said. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

This month, Akin won the state's Republican U.S. Senate primary by a comfortable margin. During the primary, Akin enhanced his standing with TV ads in which former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee praised him as "a courageous conservative" and "a Bible-based Christian" who "supports traditional marriage" and "defends the unborn."

Akin, a former state lawmaker who first won election to the U.S. House in 2000, also has a long-established base among evangelical Christians and was endorsed in the primary by more than 100 pastors.

Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, on Sunday called Akin's remarks "flat-out astonishing."

"That kind of rhetoric re-traumatizes sexual assault victims. ... That kind of talk, I believe, is intended to shame women," she told AP Radio.

Akin was interviewed on KTVI's "The Jaco Report," and also talked about numerous campaign issues, such as voter ID laws, the economy and Medicare. A spokesperson for KTVI said the interview was conducted earlier in the week.

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Gary Straub August 20, 2012 | 9:26 a.m.

This is not only Akin's belief but many others including Paul Ryan. If this offends you then you may want to take another look at the candidates, if not then you should seek counseling.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 9:48 a.m.

Slow down there Chief! It is against the law for Federal funds to be used for abortion services. Hating on someone that wants to follow the law is ummm, offensive. If you want to change the law, go for it. This is America!

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall August 20, 2012 | 10:16 a.m.

@Mike Mentor, sorry, try again. The law prohibits Medicaid funds from being used for elective abortion, but provides exceptions for rape victims and women who need an abortion for medical reasons.

Akin would outlaw ALL abortion. While he has stated that he misspoke about raped women somehow having some kind of "rapey sperm assasinators" and being able to avoid pregnancy, he is still against a raped woman being able to have an abortion.

Akin and Ryan co-sponsored a bill which only allowed abortions in the case of "forcible rape," which caused outrage and was defeated.

I'm sure that if Akin gets elected and has his way, all the rape victims in the country will be really grateful that he has "empathy" for them. It will make their lives so much better to know that even though they are not allowed to make decisions for themselves about their own body, Akin by-golly feels bad about what they're going through.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 20, 2012 | 10:46 a.m.

Mike: we are talking about rape here!
He also needs to clarify what a legitimate rape is.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 20, 2012 | 10:59 a.m.

Dumb comments on Akin's part. He's been leading McCaskill in some polls, and some are saying this could be his "macaca moment" (referencing the George Allen gaffe).

Most voters, right and left, get that many GOP candidates are pro-life and opposed to abortion. But to have a politician weigh in with some specious explanation like Akin's makes him sound just weird.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 11:54 a.m.

Communication is key. I agree with Robin. Read the headline. Clearly Romney/Ryan are separating themselves from the ignorant comments made by Akin. I think it is ignorant to try and lump "Ryan and many others" in with Akin's conmments as Gary tried to do. Hence, "slow down there chief".

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 20, 2012 | 12:57 p.m.

("But, does it make sense?
...* A woman is capable of being fertilized only 3 days (perhaps 5) out of a 30-day month. Multiply our figure of 133,000 by three tenths. Three days out of 30 is one out of ten, divide 133 by ten and we have 13,300 women remaining. If we use five days out of 30 it is one out of six. Divide one hundred and thirty three thousand by six and we have 22,166 remaining.
* One-fourth of all women in the United States of childbearing age have been sterilized, so the remaining three-fourths come out to 10,000 (or 15,000).
* Only half of assailants penetrate her body and/or deposit sperm in her vagina,1 so let's cut the remaining figures in half. This gives us numbers of 5,000 (or 7,500).
* Fifteen percent of men are sterile, that drops that figure to 4,250 (or 6,375).
* Fifteen percent of non-surgically sterilized women are naturally sterile. That reduces the number to 3,600 (or 5,400).
* Another fifteen percent are on the pill and/or already pregnant. That reduces the number to 3,070 (or 4,600).
* Now factor in the fact that it takes 5-10 months for the average couple to achieve a pregnancy. Use the smaller figure of 5 months to be conservative and divide the avove figures by 5. The number drops to 600 (or 920).
* In an average population, the miscarriage rate is about 15 percent. In this case we have incredible emotional trauma. Her body is upset. Even if she conceives, the miscarriage rate will be higher than in a more normal pregnancy. If 20 percent of raped women miscarry, the figure drops to 450 (or 740).

Finally, factor in what is certainly one of the most important reasons why a rape victim rarely gets pregnant, and that's physical trauma. Every woman is aware that stress and emotional factors can alter her menstrual cycle. To get and stay pregnant a woman's body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There's no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy...this factor certainly cuts this last figure by at least 50 percent and probably more. If we use the 50 percent figure, we have a final figure of 225 (or 370) women pregnant each year. These numbers closely match the 200 that have been documented in clinical studies...")
("Is abortion justifiable in cases of rape or incest?")
Atkin's comment is a reflection of his own personal religious belief which seems to be politically incorrect.
Many Christians believe that adoption services are an alternative to abortion.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 20, 2012 | 1:08 p.m.

I did not lump Ryan in, he lumped himself in by publicly stating and voting many times for no abortion even in rape cases. Do you feel that a woman should come to term after being raped? How would you feel after being forcibly impregnated and then forced to carry the child of that act in your body for 9 months?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 20, 2012 | 3:09 p.m.

@Gary Straub:
Rape is an act of violence.
Is killing a developing human fetus an act of kindness?
Some people believe that life begins at conception.
What does "how a person emotionally feels" have to do with "killing" an unborn child?
Shouldn't "feelings" be left to the victim and professional counseling?
Who's protecting the life inside the womb?

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 4:03 p.m.

Gary, I am trying not to call you the name I would call Harry Reid right now, so I will just say you are not being truthful. I don't know of any major R's including Ryan, who you mentioned by name, that feel we should outlaw abortion in the case of rape.

The article states as much, stating that Akin quickly said he mispoke and that Romney/Ryan "rebuked" and stated clearly that their administration would not oppose abortion in cases of rape, but you apparently didn't even read it... Either that or you mispoke or lied...

(Report Comment)
Robin Nuttall August 20, 2012 | 5:01 p.m.

Mike Mentor, Ryan and Akin co-sponsored a bill that tried to narrow the definition of rape to "forcible" rape (like there's any other kind?) and both are well known in the record for being very adamant about abortion being totally illegal for anyone, REGARDLESS of circumstance.

Ray Shapiro, a study has already been done, and quoted several places in the media today, that shows that women who are raped have a significant chance of becoming pregnant.

But beyond that, the entire issue about abortion is in the end about subjugating and minimalizing women and their roles. Obviously old white guys are FAR more capable of telling us what we should do with our own bodies than we are. We are not to be trusted to make well thought out, intelligent decisions; that must be taken from our hands. Further, we are far less important than any child we may carry. We are meaningless, mere vessels for the all important fetus. Until, of course, that child is born, after which the GOP would have offer neither mother or child any care or services or help.

One more note for those of you who are anti-choice. I think somehow you have it in your head that if abortion is outlawed, well then by-golly all children will be carried to term (and birthed into a meadow of flowers and butterflies I'm sure). Instead, what will happen is that girls will go back to coat hangers and back market clinics, and women and their babies will die. But since you don't seem to care about us, the women, perhaps that will not matter to you.

Women should have the right to choose. Period. Full stop.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 20, 2012 | 6:06 p.m.

Robin, I am pro life, but it aint easy. I don't know all the legalities, first off. But, i assume if 2 underage people engage in sex, they are both guilty of rape. I would want that baby carried to term unless it posed a serious health risk to the mother. If you feel that the woman has the choice to kill that baby, then i would also assume that the male in this example is guilty of nothing but simple assault if she wants the baby but he punches her in the gut and the pregnancy is terminated? I really dont ask this way to be hateful, but i really do feel like life begins at conception and no one walking the Earth has the right to end an innocent human life. It is the way I feel. I would want the punching male put in jail for something worse than a simple punch in the gut. I would not want a teenage girl that made a mistake put in jail for having an abortion. But, I also want our government to be as concerned with the life inside the mother the same way it is concerned about the mother. To let the mother kill a child because of inconvenience is in my mind clearly marginalizing the life of an innocent child. This leads me to be pro life with an asterisk maybe? I wish i could brush over the fact that we are talking about life and death decisions for an innocent human being, but my conscience won't allow.

(Report Comment)
frank christian August 20, 2012 | 8:35 p.m.

In USSR, religion was suppressed. Abortion was free, paid for and administered by government. Women during child bearing years averaged 7 abortions, 25 not unheard of. Today in Russia, there are more recorded abortions than recorded births.

(Report Comment)

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