This August, American Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri was asked about his “no exceptions” abortion policy on a local talk show, specifically with regards to abortion in cases of rape. He replied firstly that from what he understood from doctors, pregnancy following rape was “pretty rare,” and he replied secondly, that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” A digital version of this interview was first posted on Youtube by a Democratic super PAC (Political Action Committee), but has now been reposted by several political groups and news sites. Members of the Congressman’s own Republican Party condemned his remarks exerted pressure on him to discontinue his campaign for a Missouri Senate seat. He refused, and later in September, conservative super PACs started to resume funding to his campaign.
In a campaign debate in October, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, one of the few Senate candidates to receive a direct endorsement from Mitt Romney, confirmed his pro-life stance when he said that even if a pregnancy results from rape, “that is something that god intended to happen.” The next day, the Romney campaign released a statement saying that the comments made by Mourdock did not reflect his views.
Both Republicans continued their campaigns right to the 6 November election. Representative Akin released a brief, 30 second apology, and candidate Mourdock gave a press-release clarifying that his words were “mistook and twisted,” and that he was simply saying what he believed: that “God creates life…”
Perhaps the Congressmen felt safe enough with their responses to outrage and the time buffer between their gaffes and the election. Both were running for fairly conservative seats, and both were receiving political and financial backing from far-right super PACs and other organizations.
However, on election night, both candidates lost their seats. Todd Akin lost to Democrat Claire McCaskill, who won 54.7% of the vote to Mr. Akin’s 39.2%. Mrs. McCaskill’s campaign ran several attack advertisements referring to Mr. Akin’s unfortunate comments, which no doubt had an effect on the outcome of the election. Mr. Mourdock was defeated by Representative Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, for a seat that has historically been held by Republicans. Mourdock, a Tea-Party backed conservative, appealed to the far-right voters that caused him to win the primary earlier this year. This extreme approach, combined with his comments about pregnancy from rape in October, seem to have lost him the Senate seat. According to the Chicago Tribune, “87% of likely voters” had heard about his comments.
This turn of events has shown that even a region of America that seems to be majorly pro-life will not let comments justifying a rape-related pregnancy fly.