August 19th, 2012
04:32 PM ET
10 years ago

Missouri Republican claims 'legitimate rape' rarely results in pregnancy

(CNN) - U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who won Missouri's GOP Senate primary earlier this month and will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November's general election, said Sunday that he misspoke when he claimed "legitimate rape" rarely resulted in pregnancy.

Answering a question about whether or not he thought abortion should be legal in the case of rape, Akin explained his opposition by citing unnamed bodily responses he said prevented pregnancy.

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"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," Akin said of rape-induced pregnancy in an interview with KTVI. A clip of the interview was posted online by the liberal super PAC American Bridge.

"If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin continued. He did not provide an explanation for what constituted "legitimate rape."

He added: "But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."

In a statement Sunday, Akin wrote that he misspoke in the interview. He maintained his opposition to abortion for victims of rape.

"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 wrote. "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," Akin continued. "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."

Statistics on pregnancies that result from rape are difficult to produce, since rape is a crime that often goes unreported. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, along with Planned Parenthood, each estimate that 5% of rapes lead to pregnancy. A 1996 study from the Medical University of South Carolina found the same percentage, adding that 32,101 pregnancies occurred annually from rape.

Akin, a six-term U.S. congressman, touted his socially conservative values on the primary campaign trail, and gained the support of 2008 presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He was one of the first members of Congress to join the Tea Party Caucus in 2010 and has easily won re-election in recent years.

The lawmaker raised a notable $2.2 million this cycle, as of July 18.

Akin - who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee - has long held a hard-line stance on abortion. He is opposed to abortions in all circumstances, and has said he also opposes the morning after pill, which he equates to abortion.

McCaskill, who is up against Akin in November's general election, almost immediately struck upon her opponent's comments Sunday, writing on Twitter: "As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM."

She later released a statement condemning her rival as "ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape."

“The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive," she continued.

McCaskill's website also splashed Akin's comments across the homepage, and included a link where supporters could donate money to McCaskill's campaign.

Republicans consider McCaskill, first elected in 2006, highly vulnerable in her re-election bid for a second term. Ahead of the GOP primary, a Mason-Dixon poll showed the senator falling behind each of the three main GOP competitors in hypothetical match-ups among registered Missouri voters.

A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney wrote that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, did not share Akin's sentiments on rape.

"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg wrote.

CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Liptak and Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: Abortion • Missouri
soundoff (758 Responses)
  1. Matthew

    Dumb dee dumb dee dee. Not much to add here. How stupid can you be. Did someone actually elect you? What a shame. You are a disgrace. Please resign.

    August 19, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  2. Wraith

    We have the power to decide if folks like this represent us in government. What we need to do is complain less and vote more. I can assure you that i will be voting, and doing my best to urge others to vote for the welfare of thier Mothers, sisters, and daughters. We all have a voice use yours !!!

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  3. gingersue

    OMG! Some men actually believe that women release eggs during orgasm, and have no clue what ovulation is. I suspect this man believes that. He needs to be educated immediately!

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. JohnBorg

    Why does the Right seem to be getting more and more reactionary and oppressive. If there are any moderate or sane Republicans left, please please save your party! (If not, hopefully it will sink soon).

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  5. Tammy

    It really boggles the mind that in the year 2012 anyone is this stupid and persuaded people to vote him into office. Missouri to step up to the voters box and get rid of him.

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  6. Bennycat

    In a sane country, this man would be certifiable. My condolences to his wife and his daughters if he has any. Let's hope the people of Missouri are smarter than this.

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Sick!

    This guy should immediately step down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyone who supports this guy is sick in the head.

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. Lins

    Any woman who votes republican is a damn fool

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  9. HARRY

    Who was his source? Dr. Mengele?

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  10. dreamer96

    It there any end to these fools and what they say??.....
    Is he saying all women should always walk around with an aspirin between their legs....
    What the heck is a legitimate rape???? It that what Catholic wives use for birth control??

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  11. Kathy Weyer

    Good God. Who elected this idiot, and where did he get his MD? Unbelievable. And exactly what is a "legitimate rape"? You mean there's an illegitimate one?

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  12. tbird

    And they will vote him right on in. No wonder why our country is so messed up.

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  13. mkboyds

    another idiot republican

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  14. blessedgeek

    DEFCON 5 - The Republican Party and hence the Congress of the US has been infiltrated by agents of the Taliban.


    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  15. Texan

    As Governor of the great State of, um, uh.... what ? Oh yeah, Texas... I approve this message !

    August 19, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  16. Charles

    Just another in a long line of well informed Republicans. This is worse than Rick Santorum's money man Friess and his comment about the aspirin birth control method. If it wasn't so scary it'd be funny.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. enzo

    I would like to know how you would do the research to even prove such an outlandish claim? I don't know whois more ignorant, Todd Akin or the people who support him. Probably a tie.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Bob

    As a judge in Juvenile Protection Court, I can assure you that the many 12 and 13 year olds that have been raped, often by relatives, and who then become pregnant, have no such ludicrous body mechanism. Once more conservatives have demonstrated that they are out of touch not only with reality but with biology. Forcing a child, who has already been through such horrendous trauma, to carry a pregnancy to term, is nothing but cruel and unusual punishment.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  19. Milest

    Re. Akin: Have you forgot you can be impeached. What an insensitive and misinformed idiot. You are not American.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  20. Maximum bob

    What an idiot, and he can be a Senator?

    Shame on you you, Missouri, you deserve this if you choose to elect this idiot.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  21. yuri pelham

    Whenever there's an opportunity, the news media should ask Romney or Ryan to comment. By their response they may be judged. ( Note the similarity to a New Testament quote ). Did you know that the Barnam and Bailey Circus used to have a freak show? Well that function has been taken over by the Republican Party.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    wow just wow... What a true Christian visionary for the future of the American people, one theocracy under god.

    Make no mistake, there is a Christian version of sharia law, and you're witnessing the first stages of it's implementation in our government.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. Patsy

    Woww... I'm speachless. USA doesn't look stupid, this man is stupid. Who will vote for this guy?

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. Daniel

    Please vote this guy out

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  25. manhandler1

    Ok..".I've been raped....EGG...put up your super shield and keep those rapist sperm from getting in. SPERM...swim around in endless circles and if you see an"'s all built in.

    August 19, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
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