ST LOUIS — Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin was repeatedly arrested during anti-abortion protests in the 1980s, including at least one incident when police had to carry him away, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday.
Akin, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in the Nov. 6 election, acknowledged last month during a campaign event that that he had been arrested about 25 years ago as part of an anti-abortion protest. But Akin has repeatedly declined to discuss additional details.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on its website Tuesday that its newspaper archives include at least three accounts of Akin being arrested in March and April of 1985 for criminal trespass and resisting arrest at abortion clinics in the St. Louis area. He apparently never was charged.
The St. Louis police department also confirmed in response to an open-records filed by a representative of the liberal advocacy group People For the American Way that Akin was arrested May 9, 1987, but it said records of the arrest were closed under state law because Akin was never convicted.
Akin's firm anti-abortion stance gained national attention in the Senate race when he remarked in a mid-August TV interview that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in "legitimate rape." Akin repeatedly apologized and said he was wrong but has continued to emphasize that he opposes abortion in all instances except rare cases when it is necessary to save the life of the woman.
A video circulating on the Internet in September showed Akin discussing his past involvement in abortion protests during a speech to supporters. He was recorded as saying: "You know, don't tell anybody I'm a jailbird." He explained: "a bunch of us sat in front of these doors and the police gave us a ride to the free hotel for a while, and you know how it goes."
At a Kansas City news conference last month, Akin confirmed he had been arrested about 25 years ago but provided no further details. His campaign said at the time that it would release additional details but never did so.
Asked last Saturday by The Associated Press to elaborate on when and where he was arrested, Akin again declined to do so.
"We're not talking about that at all," Akin told the AP. "It was 25 years ago, and I think it underlines the fact that I stand up for the things I believe and I'm pro-life, and we're just leaving it there."
Akin campaign adviser Rick Tyler said Tuesday that Akin does not dispute the Post-Dispatch account of his arrests but still has nothing more to say.
McCaskill's campaign declined to comment Tuesday about Akin's arrests. McCaskill canceled her campaign events through the rest of the week to be with her critically ill mother, who was in the hospital Tuesday.
The newspaper said it had missed the 1985 arrests in previous searches of its archives because the news stories had listed Akin by his first name, William. Akin went by his middle name, Todd, when he began his political career by running for the state House in 1988. He has continued to go by Todd Akin since winning election to Congress in 2000.
According to the Post-Dispatch archives, a 37-year-old William Akin from Creve Coeur — whose name and address matches other information about the future lawmaker — was among a group of protesters arrested on March 15, 1985. The newspaper's account said: "Nineteen anti-abortion demonstrators who refused to leave the waiting room of an abortion clinic in the Central West End were carried out by St. Louis police officers."
Three weeks later, another six protesters, including Akin, were arrested at another St. Louis demonstration. "Police had to carry Akin into an elevator," the story said.
On April 5, 1985, Akin was arrested again as one of 10 protesters who were "attempting to block entrances" at the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Ill., according to the paper. One clinic employee told the paper that the protesters caused minor damage and leveled "verbal abuse" at women entering the clinic.