The Republican Party is hoping Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) shuts up.
The six-term congressman, who is running against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill for one of Missouri’s Senate seats, made a jaw-dropping remark about rape.
When a St. Louis TV station on Sunday asked Akin about abortion in instances of rape, he said:
“It seems to me, 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: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
The female body does not, in fact, “shut that whole thing down.”
The American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
noted in 1996 that “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant
frequency” and is “a cause of many unwanted pregnancies.” The study,
which liberal blog Talking Points Memo
highlighted, found that an estimated “32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.”
Shortly after the comment aired, McCaskill fired off a tweet
, saying: “As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this.” She included a link to the video of Akin’s appearance.
The term “legitimate rape” became a trending topic briefly on Twitter on Sunday as word about the statement bounced from Twitter to the blogosphere to larger news sites. Later on Sunday, Akin tweeted
that he had misspoke.
The congressman’s office also released a statement
, in which he clarified his remarks and pivoted to lob an attack at Democrats.
"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, adding in the statement later:
“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.”
The statement did little to squelch the firestorm, and according to a report in Politico
, Akin has the GOP concerned. If he loses to McCaskill in November, Republicans will have a more difficult time gaining control of the Senate.
Currently, he's leading his opponent in the polls.
“For God’s sake,” a Missouri GOP operative told Politico
about Akin’s remarks. “DEFCON 5. Panic for the rest of the ticket. Major intervention needed.”
Some Republicans have called for Akin
to drop out of the race.
Reports have also tied Akin to GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The pair co-sponsored a bill
in the House of Representatives last year that sought to distinguish between “rape” and “forcible rape,” a move that was ultimately dropped due to public opposition.
Ryan and Mitt Romney released a statement
on Sunday indicating they disagree with Akin’s remarks.
With even his Republican allies cutting him lose, Akin appears to be drifting in the wind. Can any amount of PR magic by his staff help him?