Missouri Congressman Todd Akin is the GOP’s nominee seeking to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Today, in an interview with the Fox affiliate in St. Louis, he was asked about the legality of abortion in the case of rape, an option the Congressman opposes:
Host: “What about in the case of rape, should it be legal or not?”
Akin: “Well, you know, people always want to try to make that as one of the things as in, ‘How do you slice particularly tough sort of ethical question?’ 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 that whole thing down. But, let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something…”
You can watch the whole interview here. The exchange is in the second segment about 4 minutes in.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the number of police-recorded rapes in the United States from 2003-2010 are as follows:
- 2003: 93,883
- 2004: 95,089
- 2005: 94,347
- 2006: 94,472
- 2007: 92,610
- 2008: 90,750
- 2009: 89,241
- 2010: 84,767
Remember, of course, that many rapes go unreported.
Not surprisingly, Democrats have jumped all over this comment. I just got an e-mail from DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the subject and Senator McCaskill was Tweeting about it within a few minutes of it airing.
The Congressman, of course, tried to walk his statement back as a misstatement: ” 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.”
Unfortunately for the Congressman, this is not a case in which someone “misspoke” in an inartful way the way Obama and Romney and Biden (and – sooner or later – so too will Ryan) have done several times. This was a mistake in the sense that Congressman Akin erred in telling us that his world view includes the beliefs:
1) The incidence of rape – non-consensual sexual intercourse – is rare thus implying that the vast majority of those reports above are made up.
2) If a woman was indeed raped her body would somehow reject the rapist’s sperm to prevent fertilization.
Both of these beliefs are objectionable in the extreme and cannot be forgiven as misstatements.
The second one reminds me of the Dark Ages’ test for witches: tie a stone around a woman and throw her in the river. If she survives, it is a sign of witchcraft and she should be burned at the stake immediately. If she doesn’t survive, well, at least she went to her heavenly reward with an unsullied reputation.