Calls for U.S. Rep. Akin to drop out of Senate race over rape comments

JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) -- U.S. Senator Scott Brown on Monday called on fellow Republican Todd Akin to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, a day after Akin suggested during a television interview that instances of "legitimate rape" rarely result in pregnancy.

Akin, who has served as the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district since January 2001 and is currently locked in a hard-fought campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, made the controversial remarks during an interview on KTVI-TV on Sunday morning.

"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin said when defending his position on abortion. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. 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."

The remarks immediately set off a firestorm of criticism, and even fellow Republicans joined in to distance themselves from Akin's remarks.

Republican Scott Brown, the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, called on Akin to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race in his state. "As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin's comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate and wrong," Brown said. "There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking. Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri."

McCaskill also condemned Akin's remarks but said it should be up to voters to decide whether he is fit to be a U.S. Senator. "It is beyond comprehension that someone can be so ignorant about the emotional and physical trauma brought on by rape," she said. "The ideas that Todd Akin has expressed about the serious crime of rape and the impact on its victims are offensive."

Akin later released a statement in which he said he misspoke, but did not apologize. "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," he said.

He added: "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."

On the national stage, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney described Akin's remarks as "inexcusable." "Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney told the conservative website National Review Online. "Like missions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."

If Akin wants to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race, he would have to do so before 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday, the deadline set by Missouri election law.

McCaskill's campaign used Akin's remarks on Sunday to highlight several other controversial incidents in his past. The campaign noted that Akin co-sponsored a bill last year which would redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt only "forcible rape" and not rape in general, which critics said could include statutory rape or rape through the use of drugs or verbal threats.

And according to a local newspaper report in May 1991, Akin voted for an anti-marital-rape law but only after questioning whether it could be misused. Akin was reportedly concerned that the anti-marital-rape law could be misused in a "real messy divorce as a tool and legal weapon to beat up on the husband."

Additionally, in 2005, Akin was among about 50 congressmen who voted against the creation of a national sex offender registry database that required those convicted of a sex crime to register before completing a prison sentence, The Hill newspaper reported earlier this month. The bill also increased mandatory sentences for those convicted of molesting children.

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