Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

August 20, 2012

Senate candidate's comments on rape stir outcry

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Congressman Todd Akin, a conservative Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, sparked a furor and earned a rebuke from Mitt Romney's campaign after saying that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in "a legitimate rape" and that conception is rare in such cases.

Akin, a six-term congressman running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, was asked in an interview broadcast Sunday on St. Louis television station KTVI if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

"It seems to me first of all, 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," Akin said of a rape victim's chances of becoming pregnant.

Akin said in an emailed statement later Sunday that he "misspoke" during the interview, though the statement did not specify on which points or comments.

"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," Akin's statement said.

Akin also said in the statement he believes "deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action."

Akin's comments brought a swift rebuke from the campaign of presumptive GOP presidential candidate Romney.

"Gov. Romney and Congressman (Paul) Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said.

McCaskill, who is seeking a second term, in an emailed statement Sunday called the comments "offensive."

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