Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.) campaign to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill received a heavy hit Sunday after the Republican candidate told a local television affiliate that women who are “legitimately raped” can not become pregnant and therefore should not be entitled to receive abortions.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said, citing unnamed “doctors” for the false medical claim.
The comments have provoked varying degrees of condemnation from both sides of the aisle.
Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign issued a statement Sunday night stating that both Romney and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who has previously praised Akin for his work on the House Budget Committee, “disagree” with the Congressman’s remarks.
“A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” the statement reads.
Sarah Steelman, a fellow Republican from Missouri who challenged Akin in the party’s primary, also weighed in, calling the remarks “inexcusable, insulting and embarrassing to the GOP” in a Twitter post.
Democrats have used the remarks to bolster support and further their case that the GOP is waging a war on woman.
“Akin’s choice of words isn’t the real issue here,” the Democratic National Committee said in an email to supporters. “The real issue is a Republican party — led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — whose policies on women and their health are dangerously wrong.”
Sen. McCaskill, who will likely benefit from the controversy, described the comment as “jaw dropping.”
“This statement is kind of a window into Todd Akin’s mind,” McCaskill said during an appearance on NBC Monday morning.
Several hours after the comments began to attract attention, Akin issued a statement claiming that he had erred.
“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,” Akin said. “Victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”