Todd Akin says 'legitimate rape' comments distorted to destroy his career

Akin says his "legitimate rape" comments were deliberately misunderstood, but stands by what he says he meant.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  July 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- It's been two years since Todd Akin snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in his race for U.S. Senate in Missouri with comments about "legitimate rape," and on Thursday, he again tried to reframe the infamous comments that handed Sen. Claire McCaskill an easy re-election.

"Well, here, let me just try to give you an explanation," Akin said, appearing on MSNBC. "Legitimate rape is a law enforcement term and it's abbreviation for legitimate case of rape. If I had been choosing my words better, I should have said legitimate case of rape. And I have acknowledged that it is a poor choice of words."

Akin, who is promoting his new book, Firing Back: Taking on the Party Bosses and the Media Elite to Protect Our Faith and Freedom, accused the media of having "intentionally misunderstood and twisted [his comments] for political purposes."

"This is something that's done all the time in politics to destroy somebody's character," he said, comparing himself to the attempts of character assassination of Hillary Clinton over her defense of an accused rapist in the 1970s.

When pressed, Akin said he would consider supporting laws that allowed abortion in situations where the life of the mother was threatened and there was no chance to save the life of her baby, such as in a tubal pregnancy.

And though he refused to say it in so many words, he seemed to confirm his opposition to abortion in the case of rape.

"Should the child conceived in rape have the same right to life as the child conceived in love?" he said. "I think what doctors should do is try and save life."

In 2012, Akin, a U.S. representative who had mounted a strong challenge against McCaskill, a Democrat, watched his campaign crash and burn after he said: "If it's legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

On Thursday, he denied having meant that a woman can't get pregnant after a rape.

"Now, the media lied about that I said that, but I never said it," he argued. "I was simply talking about the stress effects on statistics of people becoming pregnant."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, at the time, dismissed Akin's comments outright.

"While chronic stress, for example from extreme exposure to famine or war, may decrease a woman's ability to conceive, there is no scientific evidence that adrenaline, experienced in an acute stress situation, has an impact on ovulation," the group said.

Akin seemed unconvinced.

"I'm not presenting myself as a doctor, he said, but "there have been six recent studies that say stress has an effect on pregnancies."

The former lawmaker has been a thorn in the Republican establishment's side and whose reappearance just months ahead of the midterm elections has party bosses preemptively cringing over comments that could exacerbate the GOP's gender gap.

But suspect timing aside, Akin says he's not running for office.

"No i'm just taking one thing at a time," he said. "The reason I wrote [my book] is not to get even with anybody.

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