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. Gam5

    God help us if this idiot is returned to the House. Please people of Missouri this is what you can expect from the republican party. We don't need this kind of mentality running our country.

    August 19, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. thismoldhouse

    There is no response that can even begin to address what a moron this creature is. And sadly, he will probably be re-elected. Such a sad state of affairs when someone like this not only walks among us but is actually an elected official. Absurd!

    August 19, 2012 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    This idiot should be recalled and not allowed to run for office. How did people even let him get this far?

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. jg

    I wonder how strongly he feels about protecting human life when the life in question belongs to a Muslim....perhaps in Pakistan or Iraq? I wonder how he will vote when it comes to the military budget to make more drones? Will he vote to protect human life in Iran? Will he vote to sanction the Israelis when they attack Iran?

    Or is the only human life he cares about neonatal? Like ALL other members of the GOP????

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Buckhippo

    I'm just disgusted by these self serving politicians who are uneducated and out right bigots and racists. AMERICA WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE LIKE THIS!!! I used to be such an optimist about people but I am convinced its the idiots like this that are elected by idiots like him that will without question ruin the most incredible country on earth. VERY SAD.

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. TR

    It was stupid to allow himself to fall into this lamestream media trap. The left loves to use the argument that abortions have to remain legal in the case of rape or incest. But this is EXTREMELY rare. I don't believe it has anything to do with a woman's subconscious ability to "shut down" or whatever he was saying, but it's no so rampant that thousands of babies have to be murdered on the off chance that a rape/incest does produce a pregnancy.

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. Shawn

    I'm a republican and this is very embarrassing and an insulting. Just resign and go away.

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    dem or rep doesn't really matter does it. idiots like this are truely whats ruining our once great country.

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. gregory21

    And he's only one of the idiots in congress.

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  10. Sherry

    This man can not possible be in his right mind! Legitimate rape!!! Only a politician with few brain cells could come up with this! As a woman, I am appauled beyond words...VOTE DEMOCRAT and keep government out of our bodies!

    August 19, 2012 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  11. Slapanelephanthard

    Rep Akin, you are right, it is kinda of like when your extremist belief's shuts down your brains ability to think correctly. Please dont let the door hit you on your way out in November,

    August 19, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  12. dwhitmarsh

    Where do they find these no mind, prejudiced idiots?

    August 19, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  13. Herb

    One politician that is best off keeping his mouth shut. Stupid comments like that do not help the party or him. There are some in both parties that are best not showing the world their lack of grasp on the real world

    August 19, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  14. Sam

    I think what he meant to say, was if the girl gets pregnant, she has to marry the rapist, and then he's a father and not a rapist. Pretty sure he learned that at Heritage University.

    August 19, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Nocordoba

    A bit of a bad word choice but I have a question for the people here supporting "womens choice".

    Would any of you be willing to die or to have never existed for your parents enjoyment or better success?

    August 19, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  16. canadianscot

    When are these " educated" people going to stop using the word misspoke to explain there stupidity. How can one "misspeak"? You can mispronounce, be taken out of context possibly, but most of the time if you say what Akin said you meant to say it. Misspeak is a complete cop out. I wouldn't give this guy the TV remote never mind any say in how the country should be run.

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. Science teacher

    And he is on the science, space and tech committee! Yikes! We are doomed.

    Is this what Rome was like when it was beginning to fall?

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  18. Paul

    Wow, what a moron, that actually got elected by more morons.

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  19. Beavis

    Didn't Ted Kennedy "legitimately murder" someone? He still served as a Senator til death so I'm sure this guy has a point.

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  20. Brad76

    Is this guy for real lol

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  21. Jay McKeen

    "The defense of science and reason is the great imperative of our time." – Christopher Hitchens

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  22. garwin1

    Wow, this just took ignorance to a whole new level.

    And that's a horrible comb over, by the way.................

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  23. Jacqueline Miles

    Under what rock was this cretin found?

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  24. Bob

    Back to the dark ages, Representative Akin?
    Next are you going to say it's howwomen dress that invite rape as well?

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I am so glad that Todd Akin is running against Senator Claire McCaskill. She is a gem of a lady. She will beat him handily. This yet again shows how insignificant the GOP has become in the eyes of ordinary people. First the pick if Paul rAYN as VP, who is the architect of SS privatization, Medicare vouchers, killing Medicaid, against women's rights, and more importantly the man who stopped the GOP leadership from negotiating with President Obama. And he calls himself a Catholic! Now this guy Todd Akin.
    I cannot wait to see the Presidency, House, and Senate under Domocratic control in November. God Bless America!

    August 19, 2012 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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