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. Vote McCaskill!

    Todd Akin just inspired me to make a contribution to the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill.

    But sadly, the redneck, uneducated morons in Missouri will probably elect this loser.

    When are MEN going to stop trying to make these decisions for WOMEN?

    August 19, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. Repandum

    Man, we live in one sick society.

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. GB

    How else would he be able to say or know such a thing?

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. Neal Busch

    Some day there will be a mechanism to instantly remove politicians who publicly demonstrate that they are complete imbeciles. But than again, who voted them into office in the first place?

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. cliff

    ...............And this guy is running for a Senate seat? Looks like the Tea Party is bellying up to the 'ol COOL AID bowl...... again..........

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Bob

    Biden is home saying: A Republican misspoke tell me it isn't so. What is that bit about throwing stones?????

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  7. Renae

    No wonder this country is going to hell in a hand basket so fast.Ignorant people like these & people keep right on voting for them.He's is so stupid. WOW

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  8. Patricksday

    This is why the Republican Party is such a horrible shape, they act very uneducated, maybe because for the most part its true. Thank you for paving the way for a sure win for Honorable President Barack Obama, who has shown more Christian Charity with his actions than any recent President of the USA.

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  9. J. Shors

    How can idiots like this be running our country??????!!!!!!!!!

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  10. loulou


    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Daniel

    Abortion is an act of God. If it wasnt, he wouldnt let it happen.

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Jimbo

    Missouri's stage slogan should be 'welcome back to life as it was in the 1700s". i'm surprised Akin didn't also go on about his intention to hold witch trials and the need to bring back burning at the stake as a criminal punishment.

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. Chris

    This guy sits on the House Science, Space and Committee?! Really?!! Don't you have to have at least a 9th grader's grasp of Biology to sit on that committee? Of course, I guess you'd also have to have a grasp of the consequences of being a victim of violent crime and half an ounce of compassion to not force a rape survivor to give birth to her attacker's spawn.

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Kevin Williams

    Oh. My. God.

    August 19, 2012 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. awaysaway

    Another GOPer making up "science" to meet his needs. What an embarrassment for poor Missouri.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  16. livingston

    For that statement alone the jerk should be throw out of office. He needs to crawl back under the rock that he came from. To think that this 'person' was elected to any office at all shows that the people who voted for him need mental health exams. I bet he also believes that some women 'ask for it', too. What a dangerous fool.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    "In a statement Sunday, Akin wrote that he misspoke in the interview."

    [ Wink, Wink. ]

    Unfortunately for Claire McCaskill, there are many, many Neanderthals still living in America who absolutely believe exactly what this ... er, gentleman, suggested to be truth.

    Once the unwanted child is born the child may - or may not - enjoy the fruits of a less than benevolent America. Those born into poverty generally become adults whom the lesser of us blast as ... well ... as a pox on a society not willing to offer further protection to them beyond their fetus-stage.

    As far as I am concerned, America - indeed the world itself - is over populated now. This gentleman reminds me why.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. marty rogers

    wow. what an imbecile. and this guy wants to make policy that will affect millions of women? the GOP is an embarrassment to this country.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. wxqz

    It's just like that song in the wizard of oz, "I could do ti do ti do do, I could do ti do ti do do, If I only had a brain..... "

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. john

    these are the kind of morons the repulicans think should be running the country-UNBELIEVABLE!

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    If you read thru the comments, you will understand how an inconsiderate uninformed person like Akin can serve in elected office. This man already serves as a Representative so what does that say about his district? Please don't vote for anyone this stupid...I am sorry but he is stupid.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  22. JediTigger

    Men like this are why I left the GOP during the Reagan era.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  23. ArthurP

    I am just surprised that he did not come out and say that all women who miscarry should be investigated for murder and at a minimum charged with manslaughter.

    August 19, 2012 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  24. RIJim

    Why do people keep electing these morons??!

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  25. airbornevet

    Ha,this guy! I seriously laughed out loud. "Well what I understand..." "...the body just shuts down..". Way to do your homework kid! I mean you are only voting on a policy that affects millions, nah not that important or anything. This guy really passes as a candidate? What has happened to this country!?! The republicans/fox"news" are killing it. They did so much damage 2000 – 2008; 2010-2012 and now want to use the same tactics that will continue this. Some people are the weaker and slower of a gene pool and we can distinguish them by their Confederate flag on their back windows and republican affiliation. He is a republican representative on the Science Space Board?? This guy!?!?! As an independent, I honestly do not think republicans should be allowed to have anything to do with innovation at a leadership level. Unless they are pioneering it from the ground up, but don't hold your breath on that.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
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