Dear Commons Community,
U.S. Representative Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee from Missouri, provoked a maelstrom yesterday by saying that in instances of what he called “legitimate rape,” women’s bodies somehow blocked an unwanted pregnancy. The New York Times reports:
“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.
“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 comments, made during an interview with KTVI-TV that was posted on Sunday on the station’s Web site, 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.”
Mr. Akin is a member of the House of Representatives Science Committee.