‘Douche du Jour’: Tea Party Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin Says Women Don’t Get Pregnant from “Legitimate Rape”
A Republican congressman and Tea Party-backed candidate for US Senate has raised eyebrows and ire by opining that women do not become pregnant as a result of “legitimate rape.”
The New York Times reports that Rep. Todd Akin, a six-term congressman representing Missouri’s 2nd congressional district, drew harsh rebuke from the left, right and everyone in between after asserting that a rape victim’s body blocks unwanted pregnancy.
In an interview on KTVI’s “The Jaco Report,” Rep. Akin asserted that he was staunchly opposed to abortion under nearly any circumstance, even rape.
When asked about pregnancies resulting from rape, Akin replied:
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Outrage followed. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Akin’s Democratic opponent, quickly tweeted:
“As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases,” she wrote, “I’m stunned by Rep Akin’s comments about victims this AM.”
“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” McCaskill said in a statement released after her tweet. “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”
“Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue here,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz wrote in an e-mail. “The real issue is a Republican Party – led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.”
Jezebel, a blog focusing on women’s issues, managed to sound a scathing yet humorous tone in an “Official Guide to Legitimate Rape” post.
It’s not just women and Democrats who are livid with Rep. Akin. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has called on Akin to drop out of his Senate race. Brown was joined by GOP Sen. Rob Johnson of Wisconsin in calling on Akin to withdraw from the race. And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Akin’s remarks “inexcusable,” “insulting” and “wrong.”
“What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it,” Romney said.
According to the Los Angeles Times, around 30,000 American women become pregnant each year as a result of rape.
UPDATE: Rep. Akin issued the following statement in which he walked back his offensive comment:
“As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. 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. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”
“I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.”
UPDATE: Appearing as a guest on former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s radio show on Monday morning, Rep. Akin apologized for his rape comment.
“We all make mistakes,” Akin said, retracting his earlier comment. “The many people who supported me know that when you make a mistake what you need to do is say you’re sorry.”
“This was a very very serious error,” he added. “Rape is never legitimate.”
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