Washington, D.C. — Rep. Todd Akin's campaign is standing by the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri's 2008 claim that doctors commonly perform abortions on women who "are not actually pregnant."
Akin's evidence consists of a news report from 1978 and the claims of a former Planned Parenthood official, a spokesman said.
"There's ample evidence that abortion doctors on any number of occasions have deceived women into thinking that they're pregnant, and then collect money for a procedure that they don't perform," said Rick Tyler, a spokesperson for Akin's campaign. "And I say they don't perform it because obviously the women weren't pregnant."
Tyler cited a 1978 investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times that claimed that dozens of "abortion mills" were performing unnecessary abortions for profit.
There is scarce other, or more recent, documentation of alleged unnecessary abortions for profit. Asked if Akin thinks unnecessary abortion procedures are still a major problem, Tyler said, "Who would know? No one reports on it anymore."
"That's a war on women that never gets reported," he continued. He added, "I don't want Todd to be held to some standard because there's no accurate reporting on abortion, because there isn't."
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report annually on legal abortions in the United States, but anti-abortion activists have long contested official statistics.
A prominent anti-abortion figure also rallied to Akin's defense on the point Wednesday. Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood branch in Texas and, more recently, a public and staunch anti-abortion advocate, endorsed Akin, telling BuzzFeed:
"In support of Congressman Todd Akin, I can attest that when I served as director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, we often scared women into getting services they did not need - including abortion - so we could collect the fees," Johnson said in a statement released to BuzzFeed on Wednesday by Akin's campaign. "This included women who were not pregnant and women who were in the process of miscarrying.
The statement continued, "Anyone that would attack Congressman Todd Akin for his factual comments on the House floor in 2008 are misguided at best."
Johnson filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood in 2009, reported on earlier this year, alleging that her branch had filed false Medicare claims for profit. After quitting her job with Planned Parenthood, she published a book last year detailing the evolution of her views on the issue of abortion.