Rep. Todd Akin Says Women Can Shut Down Post-Rape Pregnancy [Updated]

Republican Congressman and GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, Todd Akin, said this weekend that so-called “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy.

Rep. Akin’s remarks

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From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that down. 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.

Rep. Akin, currently the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri, is a longstanding, outspoken opponent of abortion. He has, in the past, suggested banning the morning after pill in all cases. “As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion, and I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country.”

But even within the context of a pro-life argument, these recent remarks are hard to understand — starting with the idea that one can categorize rapes as either legitimate or non-legitimate, and even more muddled by the concept that women can psychologically control whether or not they become pregnant after they are raped. One might be able to draw the conclusion from his comments that he believes that women who do become pregnant after they are raped didn’t try hard enough to keep themselves from bearing the child of their rapist.

If you would like to see the comments in context, watch a longer cut of the interview here.

“Rep. Todd Akin” is currently a trending topic on Twitter.

Thus far, the only high-profile defense of Rep. Akin’s comments came from conservative radio host Dana Loesch:

Akin’s incumbent opponent Claire McCaskill has weighed in on the controversy:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin celebrates his win in the senate primary race at his campaign party at the Columns Banquet Center in St. Charles, Mo., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. Christian Gooden / AP

UPDATE 5:15 PM ET, August 19:

Akin has released a statement saying that he “misspoke,” although he does not clarify what he was trying to say.

As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. 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. 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. 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.

“But I also believe that this election is about a wide range of very important issues, starting with the economy and the type of country we will be leaving our children and grandchildren. We’ve had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion-dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs. That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats’ failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead.

Via livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com

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