UPDATED with comments from local Senate candidates: GOP Senate candidate says ‘Legitimate rape’ rarely causes pregnancy
On August 20, 2012 At 3:30 pm
Responses : 4 Comments
The WaPo reports that Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, said in an interview Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy. Akin won his party’s nomination to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill, who called his comments offensive.
From the report:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV in a clip posted to YouTube by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Akin added: “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
Not only is Akin’s statement devoid of any medical facts, it reinforces the idea held by some conservatives that some women “ask to be raped.” But to be perfectly clear, Akin wants to force a woman to carry a fetus fathered by her rapist to term, as he makes clear in a followup statement:
“I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. 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.
To be clear, all of us understand that rape can result in pregnancy & I have great empathy for all victims. I regret misspeaking.
Update: Local candidates for Maine’s US Senate seat have weighed in on Akin’s statement:
State Sen. Cynthia Dill (D):
We all need to take that gut check. This is just the latest GOP far-right attack on women in this country. Mitt Romney has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that millions of women depend on for health care concerns, cancer screenings and birth control. Remember Romney’s gruff statement? ‘Planned Parenthood, we’re gonna get rid of that.’
Now we have Rep. Akin saying ‘legitimate rape’ doesn’t lead to pregnancy, because women’s bodies can somehow halt the biological process. And that magic biology is the reason why he opposes abortion for rape victims. He believes that pregnancy as a result of rape is ‘really rare.’ In fact, whenever there is a ‘legitimate rape,’ he said, pregnancy cannot take place. And I offer his full quote: ‘If it’s a legitimate rape,’ he said, ‘the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.’ These aren’t gaffes. This is a pattern of thinking about women and their status in 21st Century America. And it is simply terrifying.
We don’t want this man, who is a sitting member of the U.S. House, anywhere near any laws affecting women in the United States. We don’t want him anywhere near any health care concerns regarding women. He seems to think the year is 1712, not 2012. The reality about rape is grim and shocking. Every day in the U.S., 1.3 women aged 18 and older are forcibly rape – every minute. That amounts to 1,871 rape victims per day in the U.S., or 683,000 rape victims per year. And rape and sexual assault are extremely difficult to combat because the crimes are so significantly underreported. Why? Because victims don’t want to come forward and report the crimes – that is how large the social stigma is in this country.
With thinking like Rep. Akin’s, you can see why that stigma continues to exist, unabated and unchecked. The environment for reporting rape and sexual assault in this nation is toxic and is often biased against the victim. This is not the America that we know and love. This is not the America that I meet every day in my campaign tours of Maine. I have said this before and today it bears repeating: The far-right ideology has taken over our national government, it has seized the Congress, and Democrats need to come together and fight it.
Is this your vision for America in the 21st Century? It is not mine. It is not President Obama’s. And it is not the vision of the Democratic Party and the vast majority of hard-working American people.
Sec. of State Charlie Summers (R) calls for Akin to resign from Congress:
As a husband and a father I found Rep. Akin’s comments shockingly offensive, reprehensible and indefensible. They are beneath the dignity of the United States Congress and he should resign effective immediately.
Angus King (U):
It is a ridiculous and offensive statement to everyone.
Andrew Ian Dodge (U):
The fact that the man is able to run for US Senate as a Republican is quite disturbing and should disgust everyone involved in American politics. The 21st century Senate does not need ignorant buffoons like Akin in it. He needs to drop out of the race and return to whatever putrid hole he crawled out from.