Missouri Republican Senate candidate questions whether victims of ‘legitimate rape’ can become pregnant


Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin questioned whether victims of “legitimate rape” can become pregnant during a televised interview on Sunday. 

SOURCE: Fox 2 St. Louis / American Bridge PAC

Read more: Transcript: Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin on whether abortion should be allowed in cases of ‘legitimate rape’

When asked whether abortion should be legal in cases of rape, Akin told Fox 2 St. Louis reporter Charles Jaco:

“Well, you know, uh, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, ‘Well, how do you – how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.’ It seems to me, first of all, 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 whole thing down. 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.”

Akin, a self-proclaimed staunch anti-abortion conservative, said he believes that life begins at conception. However, his suggestion that rape can’t result in an unwanted pregnancy betrayed his woeful ignorance of how the human reproductive system works.

(A 1996 Medical University of South Carolina study found that “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency”, estimating more than 32,000 women are impregnated as a result of rape each year.)

Furthermore, Akin’s use of the term “legitimate rape” revealed his cruel, misogynistic attitude towards women who are victimized in such a brutal manner. In essence, Akin’s position is that women who were raped should not be allowed to legally end their unwanted pregnancies.

Here’s why: Based on his idea that “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”, if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape, to Akin it “proves” that the rape was, in fact, simply violent but “consensual” intercourse. And if the woman somehow consented to being raped – which isn’t possible given the definition of rape – then, according to Akin, she should bear the responsibility (and burden) of continuing the unwanted pregnancy.

Akin’s willingness to re-victimize and inflict such suffering and indignity on women stood in stark contrast to his self-righteous claims on how much he respects and seeks to “optimize” life.

Akin’s comments ignite political firestorm

Akin’s comments drew criticisms from his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

“It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape,” said McCaskill, a former prosecutor. “The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive.”

Even President Barack Obama weighed in, calling Akin’s views “offensive.”

“Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me,” said Obama. “So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”

Akin issues apology, claims he “misspoke”

Seeking to control the damage, Akin issued a written apology for the comments he made on the Jaco Report, claiming that he “misspoke.”

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview,” said Akin. “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.”

It’s worth noting that in his apology, Akin maintained his position that abortion should not be legal even in cases of rape.

Read more: House Republicans pass H.R. 3 in latest attack on women’s reproductive rights

Although Akin claimed that he had “misspoke” in using the term “legitimate rape”, the six-term Congressman last year co-sponsored H.R. 3 “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”, which initially included the “forcible rape” language that redefined rape to exclude statutory rape and sexual assaults of women who have been drugged or who are mentally disabled.

Background on Missouri Senate race

Two weeks ago, Akin won the Republican primary in Missouri, defeating 7 GOP opponents with 36% of the vote. He will face off against incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in November.

A SurveyUSA poll conducted between Aug. 9 through Aug. 12 showed Akin leading McCaskill by 11 points.

Republicans could control the Senate if McCaskill is unseated.


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