Republican Senate candidate and House member Todd Akin (R-MO), who is running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said this during an interview with a local TV station that aired today:
“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is 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. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”
“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 later said in a 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.”
“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.”
A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1996 found that the national rape-related pregnancy rate was at about 5% among victims age 12 to 45.
This has been a tight race in Missouri to unseat McCaskill who has served one term in the Senate. Recent polling shows Akin slightly ahead of McCaskill. Akin’s comment will likely inspire women’s and reproductive rights groups to toss more money into this close race.