Rep. Todd Akin, Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri, said in a television interview on Sunday that abortion should not be legal even in cases of rape because victims of "legitimate rape" will very rarely become pregnant.
Akin, a congressman who is running to unseat first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., appeared on St. Louis' KTVI-TV to promote his campaign. He discussed his position on abortion, stating that he believes abortion is acceptable when the mother's life is threatened.
When asked to discuss his view on abortion in cases of rape, Akins state that "legitimate rape" very rarely results in pregnancies because women have biological defenses to stop themselves from conceiving.
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin told KTVI-TV. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
"Let's assume that maybe that didn't work, or something," Akin continued. "I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
McCaskill responded quickly with the statement, "It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape. The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."
Akin never clarified exactly what a "legitimate rape" consists of, nor did he cite any scientific examples to back up his statements that women rarely become pregnant in the case of rape.
Talking Points Memo points to a 1996 study published in the American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists which sates that "rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency." The study estimates that "32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year."
Recent polls place Akin ahead of McCaskill by 49.7 to 41.3 percent. The latest polls show McCaskill's numbers taking a large dive. The race's outcome could determine control of the Senate.
Watch Akin’s statements on “legitimate rape” and pregnancy below.
A separate video is also embedded, showing Akin’s remarks in the context of the full interview. A discussion of abortion begins around the two-minute mark, with his statements on rape stating around four minutes.