Pressure on US congressman Todd Akin grows after rape remark

 

A Republican Senate candidate under fire for his comments about rape and pregnancy was under intense pressure to drop out of the race ahead of a significant deadline today. Republicans feared the turmoil could damage their hopes for winning control of the US Senate.

Congressman Todd Akin vowed to fight on despite the storm over his comments that women's bodies can prevent pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape." He was once seen as a strong challenger to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in the Midwestern state of Missouri.

But ominous signs were mounting against the six-term legislator, notably the apparent loss of millions of dollars in campaign advertising money from his own party.

Akin has pledged to keep the campaign alive, even as some in his party urge him to step aside. He posted an apology video online today but made no mention of the race.

The decision has some urgency. Missouri election law allows candidates to withdraw 11 weeks before Election Day. That means the deadline to exit the 6 November election is 5 pm (Central Time Zone) today. Otherwise, a court order would be needed to remove a name from the ballot.

"I was told the decision has to be made by 5 tomorrow, but I was calling you and letting you know that I'm announcing today that we're in," Akin told radio host Sean Hannity.

In a radio interview with former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Akin repeatedly apologized for the remarks but also vowed to stay in the race.

"The good people of Missouri nominated me, and I'm not a quitter," Akin said.

The uproar began Sunday, when St. Louis television station KTVI aired an interview in which Akin was asked if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.

"It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said.

Later on Sunday, Akin released a statement saying that he "misspoke." In the interviews with Huckabee and Hannity, he apologized repeatedly, acknowledging that rape can lead to conception.

"Rape is never legitimate. It's an evil act. It's committed by violent predators," Akin said. "I used the wrong words the wrong way."

But the comments drew a sharp rebuke from fellow Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his vice presidential choice, Rep. Paul Ryan.

The Senate's top Republican said Akin's comments about rape might "prevent him from effectively representing" the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell called on Akin to "take time with his family" to consider whether he should continue in the Senate race.

Missouri has grown increasingly conservative in recent years, and McCaskill is seen as vulnerable. She was not among those calling for her opponent to get out of the race.

Akin also apparently lost a key source of funding. Sen. John Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, told Akin that $5 million in advertising set aside for Missouri will be spent elsewhere and that Akin will get no other help from the committee, according to a committee official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversation was private.

Republican frustration grew today. Two party officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to irritate Akin, said party officials were having trouble reaching him last night and this morning.

Akin campaign spokesman Ryan Hite declined today to reveal Akin's whereabouts and said the campaign may release information about his public schedule later.

At least one outside group that has pounded McCaskill with ads, the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads organization, also pulled its ads from Missouri.

Akin posted a video to YouTube early today in which he described himself as a compassionate father of two daughters, apologized for his poor choice of words and clarified that he understands the possible outcome of rape.

"Fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is rape has many victims," he said.

President Barack Obama said yesterday that Akin's comments underscore why politicians — most of whom are men — should not make health decisions on behalf of women.

"Rape is rape," Obama said. And the idea of distinguishing among types of rape "doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said a woman who is raped "has no control over ovulation, fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg (i.e., pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths."

Between 10,000 and 15,000 abortions nationwide occur each year among women whose pregnancies resulted from rape or incest. An unknown number of babies are born to rape victims, the group said.

Research on the prevalence of rape and rape-related pregnancies is spotty. One estimate published in 1996 said about 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy, or about 32,000 pregnancies among adult women each year.

One anti-abortion group expressed support for Akin, while another called on him to step aside.

Missouri Right to Life, which opposes a woman's right to get an abortion even in cases of rape and incest, said Akin's "consistent defense of innocent unborn human life clearly contrasts with the anti-life position of Senator Claire McCaskill."

But the Christian Defense Coalition called on him to withdraw. The coalition's leader, the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, called Akin's comments "offensive, repugnant and troubling."

The idea about rape and pregnancy has been raised in anti-abortion circles for at least three decades.

Leon Holmes, onetime head of Arkansas Right to Life, wrote in a 1980 letter to a newspaper that concern for rape victims "is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with the same frequency as snow in Miami." Holmes went on to become a federal judge.

Abortion foes in the Pennsylvania and North Carolina legislatures have made similar statements. And in Arkansas in 1998, Republican Senate candidate Fay Boozman came under fire for saying pregnancies from rape were uncommon. He apologized and later acknowledged that his unsuccessful campaign never recovered from the criticism.

AP

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

£40 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Nurse needed in salfordI a...

Nursery Nurse

£25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...

Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape