The comments made by Congressman Todd Akin which suggested that rape victims have an instinctive ability to prevent their own pregnancies, have made international headlines, reinvigorating Democratic charges of a Republican war on women's rights and leading the Missouri politician to insist he 'misspoke.'
First and fastest to dissociate themselves from Akin's comments at the weekend were presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, who insisted they did not share Akin’s theories on 'legitimate rape.'
Speaking to the press on Sunday, Akin said he opposed allowing rape victims to have abortions because, he claimed, pregnancy through rape is 'really rare.'
'If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,' he explained, citing unnamed doctors who he alleged supported his theory.
A firestorm of criticism and open mockery followed, until Akin felt pressured to release a statement saying: '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.'
According to the New York Daily News, on Sunday the Romney campaign released a statement through spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg saying: 'Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.'
Critics immediately recalled that as a congressional candidate in 1998, Paul Ryan said he opposed all forms of abortion, including in cases where a woman had been raped. Ryan's only exception was in cases where the mother’s life was in danger.
Last year, Ryan co-sponsored federal legislation called the 'Sanctity of Human Life Act' meant to 'provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization' which if enacted would essentially outlaw abortion and even some forms of birth control.
Akin, a six-term congressman, hopes to unseat incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in November and has refused to bow to pressure to withdraw from the race. He has said that he can not understand why he should step down for holding views that his fellow party members actually share.
Meanwhile, McCaskill told MSNBC’s Morning Joe program that the 'legitimate rape' interview offered 'a window into Todd Akin's mind.'
'For most Missourans, I hope this is a gut-check moment when they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us on the floor of the United States Senate,' she said.
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