Rep. Todd Akin's statement, made in an interview aired Sunday, threatens to recast a Senate race in which he starts as the favorite.
Rep. Todd Akin, the newly christened GOP Senate nominee in Missouri, said in an interview that aired Sunday that “legitimate rape” rarely causes pregnancy.
Explaining his no-exceptions policy on abortions, Akin was asked why he opposes abortion even when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
“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.”
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Akin issued a statement Sunday saying he misspoke.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Akin’s statement could recast a Senate race in which he starts as the favorite, but national Republicans are concerned about his ability to execute a winning strategy. Akin won the GOP nomination two weeks ago — a result that Democrats hailed as a potential game-changer in a tough race for them.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was outraged by Akin’s claim.
“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” McCaskill said in a statement. “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”
According to a 1996 study by the Medical University of South Carolina, about 32,000 pregnancies result from rape annually in the U.S. About 5 percent of rape victims are impregnated.
“Rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency,” the study says, according to an abstract. “It is a cause of many unwanted pregnancies and is closely linked with family and domestic violence.”