Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri, said he doesn't support abortion even in cases of rape because victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant.
"First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape is] really rare,” Akin, who's running to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill, told KTVI-TV in an interview posted Sunday. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
He continued, "But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something -- you know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child."
A 1996 study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology said approximately 32,000 pregnancies result from rape each year in the United States and that about 5 percent of rape victims are impregnated.
McCaskill tweeted Sunday afternoon that she was outraged by Akin's comment, posting: "As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases,I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM."
As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases,I'm stunned by Rep Akin's comments about victims this AM bit.ly/NahiHz— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) August 19, 2012
Earlier in the interview, Akin described his position as one to always "optimize life."
"Sometimes people talk about life of the mother as a situation," he said. "One of the foundational things America's built on is the respect for life, and so I would say you optimize life. So for instance, a woman has a tubal preganncy or something. Well technically by my understanding life begins at conception so you've technically had conception, but the child doesn't have a chance and will soon kill the mother. OK so I would say in those kinds of situations you try to optimize life."
First elected to the U.S. House in 2000, Akin won the Republican nomination for Senate in a three-way race earlier this month.
Watch the full interview below:
(h/t Talking Points Memo)