By Jessica Huseman
After setting off a firestorm of criticism this morning by saying that women’s bodies somehow go into overdrive to prevent pregnancy during rape, Missouri Rep. Todd Akin has rolled back his comments in a Facebook post.
“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,” reads the statement in part. “Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”
He goes on to say that while he understand the issue of abortion, especially as it relates to rape, is “very emotionally charged,” he does “not believe harming another innocent victim is the right course of action.”
He also attempted to move passed the issue by throwing attention onto the economy.
“We’ve had 42 straight months of unacceptably high unemployment, trillion dollar deficits, and Democratic leaders in Washington who are focused on growing government, instead of jobs,” he said. “That is my primary focus in this campaign and while there are those who want to distract from that, knowing they cannot defend the Democrats’ failed economic record of the last four years, that will continue to be my focus in the months ahead.”
Akin is right, this is going to be a distraction – but one thousands of people feel is completely merited.
Akin has a history of taking controversial positions on abortion. Last year, Akin co-sponsored the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act,” which would have made the Hyde Amendment permanent. The amendment had allowed exceptions for cases of rape and incest for years, but this time around changed the language to “forcible rape.” Opponents argued this would leave out statutory rape or cases where drugs or alcohol were involved.
Democrat Claire McCaskill, who Akin is challenging for her seat, also told the press it was recently reported that Akin “opposed a state law against spousal rape because it might be used as a tool against husbands in a ‘messy divorce.’”
While the most recent polls have Akin up by five points, this incident could swing favor to McCaskill. Nate Silver reminds us of historical examples of less-than-tasteful comments having similar effects.
And it looks like that may already be happening. Patrick Ruffini, president of Engage, reported on Twitter that GOP activists want McCaskill to step down by an 80 to 1 margin. Akin has until Tuesday at 5pm to do so.
Watch Akin’s controversial comments below.