In a rare form of unity, Republican leaders joined Democrats in condemning GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin's comments over the weekend suggesting "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy.
While discussing his opposition to abortion tied to instances of rape, the conservative Missouri congressman told a TV station, "First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Rep. Akin continued, "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." Akin backtracked later, saying he "misspoke." But the damage had already been done.
The Romney campaign issued a statement following the completely scientifically inaccurate comments saying, "Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape," his campaign said in a statement Sunday.
Just to make sure that message came out loud and clear, Romney addressed the issue himself on Monday. "Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong," Mitt Romney said, distancing his campaign from his fellow Republican. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
Massachusetts Senate candidate Scott Brown formally called for his resignation from the Missouri Senate race. "As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong. There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking,” Brown said.
Akin's Democratic opponent, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill did not call for his resignation. Instead, she told MSNBC she hopes her challenger's remarks serve as a "gut check" for voters in November.
"I spent 10 years as a prosecutor in the courtroom and did hundreds and hundreds of rape cases, held their hands, cried with them," McCaskill said. "That’s why for me this is incredibly painful, because it shows how many people are out there sometimes in very important positions that just don’t understand the trauma and don’t understand what it means."