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. mrhapiguy

    I want to know what this id10t thinks the female body can do to avoid pregnancy from a rape.

    Does he mean holy roller virgin mary type stuff; or some kind of ridiculous, glenn beck style pseudo-fake-science crapola. GOP should really start cleaning out the dummies in their ranks. They are not helping them at all.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  2. marty rogers

    wow. seriously? and this man want to be elected to public office? MIssouri is this what you want representing you to the rest of the country?

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. Debbie

    Todd akins is a idiot

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  4. deal2u

    This guy has to be smoking Missouri skunk weed

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  5. John Blackadder

    Is Romney still going to make Akin Secretary of Defense?

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. Joe Man

    A "legitimate" rape ???? How many kinds of rape are there ??? Do you mean a "good" rape versus a "bad" rape?? Do you mean a "tolerable" rape versus an "intolerable" rape?? With a fox in a box ??

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

    "He misspoke" Yeah....the moment he opened his pie hole.

    He's truly living proof that siblings should never breed.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  8. annebeth

    Rep. Todd Akin is the reason that there will ALWAYS be the need for abortion. Imagine being raped by him and having to have a baby fathered by a moron. Pro-Choice, is the best choice.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  9. Dave

    Another genius in the Republican ranks. I'm ashamed to be a Missourian.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. Willyboy

    What an unimaginably idiotic thing to say, much less believe. Akin is a classic example of rampant, willful ignorance of each and every TeaNut candidate. His type make me think IQ tests and psychological profiles need to be required before anyone is allowed to run for office. Or vote for that matter. This kind of thing makes me ashamed to be part of the same species as Akin...

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. ari hal

    In response to phylee – – – No, you are not the only one who is afraid for the future of women in the US. I'm a 60 yr old male in a swing state and I'm petrified – I'm afraid for my wife, for my sisters, for my daughter, for my nieces & and grand nieces, and for every women in the country – because a woman's right to control her own body is being challenged by the viscous Neanderthals of the religious right. I think it's time to reread Atwood's "Handmaiden's Tale." That's where we're going if the right has it's way & it's not a pretty picture.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  12. Tell It Like It Is

    I truly think we are becoming the laughingstock of the world. How are these people getting elected and more than one time. God help us with some of the morons trying to decide what is best for our country. This is not the best we can do, we can do much better than this.

    August 19, 2012 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. LOL

    '"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." don't think so. I'm thinking that you might be the worst advocate in the Senate not the strongest. You've more or less proven that.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  14. cfjermestad

    This story made me ill and made me realize that nuts are still being elected. Please, Missouri, do not let him hold public office.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. Oh my

    I believe that come-overs don't actually occur – you know – the human body has natural abilities to prevent that from happening especially if you are going to look like Rep. Akin.

    You know, I mispoke you can in fact have a comb over and look like Rep. Akin but rest assured you will have not bigger advocate working on behalf of intelligent people to ensure that idiot does not get reelected.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Me

    This whole country is going down the drain. The US will go back in time when the GOP takes over. Making healthcare a privilege and not a right, males taking over and controling all of women issues, returning to the "trickle-down" economy (and trickle-down really means that the super rich trickle the $ off-shore), less $ for education, less $ for social services. No, no, no; this country is about to do a 180 degree turn on everything. No wonder more and more Americans are renouncing the US citizenship. It is so sad to see how bad it is here. This country used to be a great place to live in. This country was a dream for many, and it is turning into a nightmare for everyone, including Americans.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. alexpdx

    A day in the life of the GOP, the same people who gave the world Sarah Palin.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. jean

    And Rep. Akin is on the House Science Committee? Yikes!

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. giofrey

    Who going to listen to the man from comb-over land. Another right wing GOP loser who can't think for himself and is using the tea baggers mis-information to pass laws. IT'S TIME FOR AMERICANS TO WAKE UP AND SQUELCH THESE MORONS!

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  20. scottaustintexas

    Wow. He's so...... stupid. Unbelievable.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  21. Major Tom

    This m0r0n is even stupider than he looks. And that's really saying something.

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  22. Mike

    Looks like Missouri is going to give Kansas a run for their money in the "dumb and dumber" contest. If you don't believe there is any grounds for abortion under any conditions (e.g. rape, incest, mother's chemotherapy), be a man and just say so. Invoke your God if you don't have a logical reason but leave science, something this guy thinks he can make up to suit his agenda, out of it! I know our school children rate far below other industrialized countries in math and science – anybody think our elected officials would do any better?

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  23. Jesus

    The profundity of xenophobic neo cons never ceases to amaze. "The internet is a series of tubes."

    August 19, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  24. us_1776

    Where does the GOP get these people?



    August 19, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. Thomas

    Ignorance at it FULLEST!!!!

    August 19, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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