Todd Akin on Abortion: Victims Of ‘Legitimate Rape’ Don’t Get Pregnant [Video]

Missouri Republican Rep. and Senate nominee Todd Akin said in an interview Sunday that in the case of what he called “legitimate rape,” the “female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

In an interview with KTVI-TV on Sunday, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), the GOP Senate nominee, was asked if he supported abortion in the case of rape.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin said. “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.”

According to The New York Times, the comments provoked howls of outrage from Democrats and women’s rights organizations.

Senator Claire McCaskill, the Democrat who will face Mr. Akin in the November election, immediately took to Twitter with a blunt response: “As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases,” she wrote, “I’m stunned by Rep Akin’s comments about victims this AM.”

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

In response Akin’s comment, Mitt Romney’s campaign said that he and running mate Paul Ryan support abortion rights for rape victims.

“Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” Andrea Saul, a Romney spokesperson, told The Huff Post.

Todd Akin, 65, won the Senate Republican primary this month with strong support from Missouri’s religious conservatives.

Later, according to The Huff Post, Akin’s campaign released a statement Sunday on the issue, where the congressman admitted that he “misspoke” in the KTVI interview.

“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. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve,” Akin, who has a background in engineering and is a member of the House science committee, 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. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election,” Akin said.

For reference, a 1996 study by the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency” and is “a cause of many unwanted pregnancies” — an estimated “32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year.”

Akin’s remarks immediately ignited a social firestorm on Twitter, with many users condemning his remarks and pointing out the clear factual flaws in his understanding of biology, writes Mashable. The term “legitimate rape” was trending within hours of the interview being picked up by a major media outlet.

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