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US Congressman’s ‘legitimate rape’ comments cause outrage

/ Aug 20, 2012 9:13AM / Print / ()

Republican Todd Akin, a conservative US Senate candidate, has caused a flurry of outrage on Twitter overnight following his suggestion that pregnancy from rape is “really rare”.

According to the Associated Press, the Missouri Congressman, who is running against incumbent Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill, was asked in an interview on St. Louis television on Sunday if there were any circumstances in which he would support a woman’s decision to have an abortion.

When asked if he supports abortions for women who have been raped, Akin, who labels himself as Missouri’s most conservative congressman, said: “It seems to me, first of all, 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 down the whole thing down.”

Akin added: “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.”

Akin’s opponent McCaskill, a former prosecutor seeking a second term, called the comments “offensive” in a statement issued on Sunday.

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

According to CBS News, Akin issued a statement on Sunday which said: “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. 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.”

This month, Akin comfortably won the Missouri Republican US Senate primary, during which former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee praised him as “a courageous conservative” and a “Bible-based Christian” who “supports traditional marriage” and “defends the unborn”.

Akin, who holds a Bachelor of Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, served as an officer in the US Army following graduation, receiving an honourable discharge from the Army Reserves in 1980.

Akin and his wife Lulli, whom he met while working at IBM, have six children and four grandchildren. Elected to the US House of Representatives in November 2000, Akin is a leader in his local church and a former board member of the Missouri Right to Life.

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