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Obama, Romney react to Missouri GOP candidate Akins' 'legitimate rape' remark

Updated: August 20, 2012 2:26PM



WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney said Monday morning remarks GOP Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Atkins made about how "legitimate rape" will not cause a pregnancy were "insulting" and "offensive" and "he should correct it."

Romney made his comments to National Review Online as Atkins remarks were sparking an uproar in a presidential battleground state.

GOP Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Atkins said in an interview broadcast Sunday--fasten your seat belts for this one--that a woman who is a victim of a "legitimate rape" only rarely becomes pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The remark puts Republicans up and down the ticket on the defensive to start the week as the Democrats are pushing out the science-defying comment of the Missouri lawmaker. Atkins made those remarks about abortion during an interview with Charles Jaco of KTVI-TV in St. Louis and a clip was posted on YouTube by American Bridge, a Democratic SuperPac specializing in research.

At first, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney distanced himself from Atkins via a statement through a spokesman, adding stronger language Monday morning in the National Review interview.

"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney told the National Review. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive," Romney told the National Review. "I have an entirely different view. What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."

GOP Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Atkins said in an interview broadcast Sunday--fasten your seat belts for this one--that a woman who is a victim of a "legitimate rape" only rarely becomes pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

"Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Atkin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney distanced himself from Atkins. "Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Atkin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said in a statement.

Atkins is in a Senate battle with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)--a former prosecutor--in a presidential battleground state.

"It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," said McCaskill. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

Here's what Atkins said:

"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's (becoming pregnant from rape) is really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Akin added: "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 on the rapist and not attacking the child."

Once the uproar stated, Atkins said he "misspoke"--but did not centrally address his original remarks in a statement.

"As a member of Congress, I believe that working to protect the most vulnerable in our society is one of my most important responsibilities, and that includes protecting both the unborn and victims of sexual assault. In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, 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. Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.

"I recognize that abortion, and particularly in the case of rape, is a very emotionally charged issue. But I believe deeply in the protection of all life and I do not believe that harming another innocent victim is the right course of action. I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election.



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