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'Legitimate Rape' Comment Stirs Backlash

Statements by Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin provoke reactions at the national and local level.

A controversy continues to rage since Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, suggested during a television interview in St. Louis that women have a biological mechanism preventing pregnancy resulting from what he called "legitimate rape."    

"It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape is] really rare," Akin said in an interview with KTVI-TV that was released on Sunday.

"If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said. "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 of the rapist, and not attacking the child."

Responses at the national and local level were swift and loud.

"Absolutely outrageous," said Lisa Jordan, general counsel of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

According to Jordan, about 4.5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy, or about 32,000 pregnancies annually in the U.S.

"It's startling and somewhat repulsive to think that victims could somehow prevent their pregnancy," Jordan said.

About 466,000 Maryland women, or 20.5 percent of the female population, experience rape during their lifetime, according to the coalition.

According to Baltimore County Police Department data, an average of 144 rapes occur in the county every year.

Akin's remarks were condemned by the campaign of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican presidential ticket.

"Congressman’s Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said in an interview with National Review Online Monday morning. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."

During a Monday press conference, President Obama said that Akin's remarks were offensive.

"The views expressed were offensive," Obama said. "Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."

Some suggest that Akin's comments are the latest example of a "war on women" by conservatives—attacks on reproductive rights and health care services for women.

Steve Kolbe, chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, said that Akin's remarks were "shameful" but held no larger significance.

"I fail to see how some shameful comments by a candidate in the Midwest has an impact on elections at home," Kolbe said. "I reject the whole notion of a 'war on women.'"

What are your thoughts on the issue? Tell us in the comments.

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Gail Dener August 21, 2012 at 04:20 PM
"If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said. My comment is that any person who truly believes this in his heart has no business sitting on any committee or body politic that can in any way pass legislation that will affect women, women's health or abortion funding. He is just too ignorant to hold public office of any kind.
Margaret August 21, 2012 at 09:28 PM
I agree with you Gail but we shouldn't have abortion funding of any kind. Yes I am pro life for defend life
Margaret August 21, 2012 at 09:29 PM
He should be removed from office!!!
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