Todd Akin Coins a New Kind of Sexual Assault. ‘Legitimate Rape’

The Tea Party candidate for a Senate seat in Missouri has some highly unusual views.

Rep. Todd Akin
Representative Todd Akin, who is seeking a Senate seat in Missouri, has added a new phrase to our lexicon: “Legitimate Rape.” (Roll Call/Getty Images)
A former Gourmet staffer, Lawrence enjoys writing about design, food, travel, and lots of other stuff.

Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Senator who is seeking a second term, is seen as one of the most politically vulnerable Democratic incumbents this fall, but her opponent just gave her campaign a big boost.

“In an effort to explain his stance on abortion, Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked ire across the political spectrum on Sunday by saying that in instances of what he called 'legitimate rape,' women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy,” reports The New York Times.

“Asked in an interview on a St. Louis television station about his views on abortion, Mr. Akin, a six-term member of Congress who is backed by Tea Party conservatives, made it clear that his opposition to the practice was nearly absolute, even in instances of rape.”

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“'It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,' Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. '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 Los Angeles Times reported that Akin posted a conciliatory note on Facebook, but it “wasn’t exactly an apology, nor did it clarify his position on the relationship between rape and pregnancy.”

Here’s what he said: "As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. 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.”

The New York Times noted that, “Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement...A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”

But that’s not certain.

PolitiFact Wisconsin said, “The seven-term congressman [Ryan] has taken a consistent anti-abortion stand—National Right to Life says he has never voted against its position in 13 years—that has earned him 100% ratings from anti-abortion groups and 0% ratings from abortion-rights organizations.”

“News coverage of Ryan’s first congressional race in 1998, as well as statements he made to the National Right to Life Committee, a leading anti-abortion group, show Ryan has taken a stricter anti-abortion view than Romney. The only anti-abortion exception Ryan favors is situations where an abortion is needed to save the life of the mother.”

And the Huffington Post recently observed that Paul Ryan “supported a highly controversial bill that Democrats nicknamed the ‘Let Women Die Act’ which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to provide a woman emergency abortion care, even if her life is on the line.”

Whether all of this will influence the women’s vote in the presidential election remains to be seen. But as far as Akin goes, Facebook user Michael Mendis probably spoke for many Missouri voters yesterday. His comment, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, leaves little room for interpretation:

“Akin, you utter moron...This was supposed to be a winnable seat for us. Now you’ve blown it. You’re going to be trying to explain away this comment all the way to November, and it won’t do you any good. Step down now and let someone else have the Republican nomination.”

Do you think Todd Akin can recover from his legitimate rape comment, or is his candidancy doomed? Tell it in COMMENTS.

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Lawrence Karol is a writer and editor who lives with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet staffer and enjoys writing about design, food, travel and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence | TakePart.com

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