Missouri Republican senate candidate and congressman Todd Akin is trying to run away from his claims that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy, insisting that he “misspoke” while making “off-the-cuff remarks,” even though they were in an interview with a local reporter. Akin made a similar half-apology following his claim that “at the heart of liberalism really is the hatred for God,” with his spokesman arguing that his claim during a radio interview were “off-the-cuff.”
Akin is a beloved figure of the Religious Right, and his campaign advertises endorsements from Concerned Women for America activists and activists like Mike Huckabee, Phyllis Schlafly, Michele Bachmann and David Barton. Barton, who recorded campaign ads calling Akin a “true Christian leader,” has compared Akin to John Witherspoon and other founding fathers. American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, who hosted Akin on his radio show the day after the congressman’s primary victory, said people need to “lighten up” about his rape comments:
Previously, Akin said he wants to ban the morning after pill, worried marital rape laws will be used as “a legal weapon to beat up on the husband” and sought to narrow the definition of “rape” in legislation. Akin also prominently advertises his endorsement from Schlafly, who has said women cannot be raped by their husbands.
Sarah Posner in Religion Dispatches notes that Akin, who has a masters in divinity, received his degree at a denomination which teaches that rape seldom leads to pregnancy and should not be relevant to laws on abortion rights, and as Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones pointed out, anti-choice luminary John Willke asserts that hormones make pregnancies resulting from rape “extremely rare” and Physicians for Life believes “the rate of pregnancy is actually very rare” because the stress from the rape “alter[s] bodily functions, the menstrual cycle included.”
Those opinions are commonplace among anti-choice activists.
Human Life International says “it is very useful to be able to show just how rare rape- and incest-caused pregnancies really are” in order to expose women who falsely state they were raped in order to have abortions: “Women who are willing to kill their own preborn children for mere convenience obviously see lying as a relatively small crime.”
40 Days for Life, the group which holds hundreds of protests outside of abortion clinics throughout the country, in “ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments” also says that pregnancies resulting from rape are “extremely rare” and “can be prevented”:
“What about a woman who is pregnant due to rape or incest?”
a. Pregnancy due to rape is extremely rare, and with proper treatment can be prevented.
b. Rape is never the fault of the child; the guilty party, not an innocent party, should be punished.
c. The violence of abortion parallels the violence of rate.
d. Abortion does not bring healing to a rape victim.
It remains to be seen which conservative leaders will condemn—or defend—Akin as pressure mounts on the candidate to quit the race.
Update: Fischer is now even claiming that “Todd Akin is right,” citing an article by Willke.