GOP Missouri Rep. Todd Akin now says he goofed when he insisted "legitimate rape" victims don't get pregnant. Akin, who is running for Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, had said in an interview yesterday that some kind of biological mechanism protects "legitimate rape" victims from pregnancy, so abortion isn't necessary for them, reports Talking Points Memo. In fact, a "significant number" of pregnancies—some 32,000 a year—occur each year from rape, according to a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Akin now says he "misspoke," reports the AP, which notes it's not clear what he believes he "misspoke" about. "In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke, and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year," Akin said in a statement.
Viewers were dumbfounded when Akin told Fox's KTVI-TV in St. Louis: “From what I understand from doctors," pregnancy from rape is "really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Even in cases when the "whole thing" doesn't shut down, he's still opposed to terminating pregnancies resulting from rape, he added. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child," he said. McCaskill immediately tweeted that she was "stunned" by the comments, and a spokesman for Mitt Romney's campaign said Romney and Paul Ryan do not agree with Akin's rape statement, and do not oppose abortion for rape victims—though Ryan has said in the past he opposes abortion even in cases of incest and rape, according to TPM. Akin had a slight lead over McCaskill in the Senate bid, but his comment triggered "overwhelmingly negative sentiment" on social network sites and could lose the race for him, notes Nate Silver in the New York Times. (Read more Claire McCaskill stories.)