A Georgia Republican congressman said that former Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, R, was "partly right" in asserting that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant.
Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., a former obstetrician-gynecologist, said at a town hall meeting that Akin was “partly right” in his controversial suggestion, which was widely cited as a factor in his loss to Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, D, this past November.
Gingrey said, according to the Marietta Daily Journal:
“And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”
“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.”
Akin originally told KTVI-TV in August: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Republicans quickly distanced themselves from Akin, urging him to end his bid for Senate to allow another GOP candidate to step forward. Mitt Romney, then the party’s presidential nominee, publicly said that Akin should end his campaign.
However, Akin, a congressman, resisted the calls for him to drop out, giving Democrats fodder to paint Republicans as out-of-touch with women voters. Another GOP Senate candidate, Indiana’s Richard Mourdock, also gave fodder to Democrats when he suggested that pregnancies by rape were “something God intended.” (Mourdock, like Akin, lost a Senate race on which Republicans had been counting to win.)
Gingrey addressed the cost of those controversies before making his own assessment of the science behind Akin’s remarks:
“Part of the reason the Dems still control the Senate is because of comments made in Missouri by Todd Akin and Indiana by Mourdock were considered a little bit over the top ... Mourdock basically said ‘Look, if there is conception in the aftermath of a rape, that’s still a child, and it’s a child of God, essentially.’ Now, in Indiana, that cost him the election.”