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. Cem

    Wow! I can't believe what I just saw. Did he really say that? Is he really that stupid? Why are people this stupid even in the government!

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

    my God! This guy is actually in our government? Sitting on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee ?
    He is surely a "child left behind" if he belives what he says... or is it just voodoo science to go along with the Republican economic model?

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

    To think that this individual sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee helps is horrible. He probably has never had a science course in his life much less understanding the basic processes involved with reproduction.

    August 19, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Bruno

    He is clearly an imbecile, but that comb-over deserves praise.

    August 19, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |

    I was referring to those responsible for sending this doorknob to Washington SIX TIMES!

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  6. Kevin

    Abortion should be legal period!! It's is not these people business to stick someone with an unwanted kid simply because they want to!!

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Davis Todd

    Maybe that's the answer to the abortion pandemic – more legitimate rape.

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. louis

    This is what all of the Rebublicans believe if a woman is raped in any shape or form she must carry/raise that unwanted child and be reminded every day,everytime she looks in that childs face what happened. just imagine how she tells that child who it's father really is, just think what that child carries with them their whole life.

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  9. Rick

    This idiot must be____________________________!

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  10. pkw

    seriously..are you kidding me do these people get elected...??

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  11. Chris Biagi

    I am conservative, and Republican but let me say for the record this moron does not speak for me. I would be offended and enraged if a liberal Democrat made the statement and I have no different response for someone who is labeled conservative and is a registered Republican. No woman should ever suffer rape, and those who do should never be made to feel in any way that she was to blame, or that her rape was not a rape. What this jerk said basically was "If you get pregnant you weren't raped". MORON!

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  12. Scott

    These comments represent just another red flag warning of the dire consequences for women and girls if these knuckle dragging morons take control of the United States Senate and the White House in early 2013! Wake up America!

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. Jag0419

    This man shouldn't be in public service. He's ignorant. And these guys pass legislation based on these ignorant mindsets.
    If any good comes from this comment it will result in his defeat. He's toast.

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. Big G

    Here we have a Ladies and Gentlemen,The Biggest Bunch of Out and Out BS on the planet!

    A Round of Applause for the One of the Biggest Wackos in the Fed Government! He's just a small part of what's running your Criminal Government!

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  15. clearskies

    Talk about poor choice of candidates, GOP

    August 19, 2012 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. GonzoG

    Congressman–if you want to go back to Biblical Law–instead of JAILING the GUY for RAPE–Force the Victim to MARRY HIM.

    Oh, "She's under 16?" Gee, Well , Biblically, it's still a vailid marriage.

    She's already married? OH< Dang, She's a Bigamist now–I guess SHE needs to go to jail.

    Or Does that mean they take her to the football field and stone her?

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  17. nnnn

    this sounds like something that would fall out of durbin's mouth. like when he went out to tell us if we want to stop tornadoes we need to buy a hybrid. which leads to the question of why di we get tornadoes pre 1900 when cars didnt even exist?

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. Teresa

    Did he really say something that stupid???? I really hope Missouri voters know what to do with this kind of ignorance.

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Herbert D. Stern, M.D.

    Ordinarily I do not post responses to articles on-line, but this is the last straw! I am surprised that the posts above did not refer to a key point (Akin – who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee). I am not sure how he demonstrates the empathy he says he feels, but in addition to being abysmally ignorant (and from the "Show Me State" at that), he is just plain mean.

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  20. Jesuits to Paul Ryan: "Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favority philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ".

    WOW, what a French feminine hygiene cleansing receptacle!

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Gene Coughlin

    And here I thought the birthers were crazy. This guy is 100% nuts!

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  22. Ron

    He sits on the House Science Committee!!! OMG!

    Help! Help! Help!
    Are there any countries out there where a fed up American can find refuge?

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  23. pct1999

    Oh God please smite these Right wingers from the face of the Earth

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  24. Phrankie

    6 Terms, does someone so ignorant keep getting reelected...what is going on Missouri??

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  25. sbreezy

    what is wrong with this political party? there is something incredibly wrong with this group of people. i refuse to believe its just stupidity

    August 19, 2012 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
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