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Americas

US congressman refuses to stand down over rape remarks

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-08-21

Republican US congressman Todd Akin (photo) pledged to stay in the Missouri Senate race on Tuesday despite calls from throughout the Republican Party for him to step aside following the furore over his controversial comments on rape and pregnancy.

AP - A Republican Senate candidate under fire for his comments about rape and pregnancy was under intense pressure to drop out of the race ahead of a significant deadline Tuesday.

Republicans feared the turmoil could damage their hopes for winning control of the U.S. Senate.

Congressman Todd Akin again vowed to fight on despite the storm over his comments that women’s bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape.” He was once seen as a strong challenger to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in the Midwestern state of Missouri, but now even prominent members of his own party urge him to step aside.

“By taking this stand, this is going to strengthen our country,” Akin told the radio show hosted by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. “It will strengthen the Republican Party.”

But ominous signs were mounting against the six-term legislator, notably the apparent loss of millions of dollars in campaign advertising money from his own party.

The decision has some urgency. Missouri election law allows candidates to withdraw 11 weeks before Election Day. That means the deadline to exit the Nov. 6 election is 5 p.m. Tuesday. Otherwise, a court order would be needed to remove a name from the ballot.

The uproar began Sunday, when St. Louis television station KTVI aired an interview in which Akin was asked if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

“It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said.

Later Sunday, Akin released a statement saying that he “misspoke.” In the interviews with Huckabee and Sean Hannity, he apologized repeatedly, acknowledging that rape can lead to conception.

“Rape is never legitimate. It’s an evil act. It’s committed by violent predators,” Akin said. “I used the wrong words the wrong way.”

But the comments drew a sharp rebuke from fellow Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his vice presidential choice, Rep. Paul Ryan.

The Senate’s top Republican said Akin’s comments about rape might “prevent him from effectively representing” the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell called on Akin to “take time with his family” to consider whether he should continue in the Senate race.

Missouri has grown increasingly conservative in recent years, and McCaskill is seen as vulnerable. She was not among those calling for her opponent to get out of the race.

Akin also apparently lost a key source of funding. Sen. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Akin that $5 million in advertising set aside for Missouri will be spent elsewhere and that Akin will get no other help from the committee, according to a committee official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversation was private.

Republican frustration grew Tuesday. Two party officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to irritate Akin, said party officials were having trouble reaching him Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Akin campaign spokesman Ryan Hite declined Tuesday to reveal Akin’s whereabouts.
At least one outside group that has pounded McCaskill with ads, the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads organization, also pulled its ads from Missouri.

Akin posted a video to YouTube early Tuesday in which he described himself as a compassionate father of two daughters, apologized for his poor choice of words and clarified that he understands the possible outcome of rape.

“Fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is rape has many victims,” he said.
President Barack Obama said Monday that Akin’s comments underscore why politicians – most of whom are men – should not make health decisions on behalf of women.

“Rape is rape,” Obama said. And the idea of distinguishing among types of rape “doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said a woman who is raped “has no control over ovulation, fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg (i.e., pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.”

Between 10,000 and 15,000 abortions nationwide occur each year among women whose pregnancies resulted from rape or incest. An unknown number of babies are born to rape victims, the group said.

Research on the prevalence of rape and rape-related pregnancies is spotty. One estimate published in 1996 said about 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy, or about 32,000 pregnancies among adult women each year.

One anti-abortion group expressed support for Akin, while another called on him to step aside.
Missouri Right to Life, which opposes a woman’s right to get an abortion even in cases of rape and incest, said Akin’s “consistent defense of innocent unborn human life clearly contrasts with the anti-life position of Senator Claire McCaskill.”

But the Christian Defense Coalition called on him to withdraw. The coalition’s leader, the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, called Akin’s comments “offensive, repugnant and troubling.”

 

 

 

Date created : 2012-08-21

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