Waves from a comment by a Missouri politician Sunday that women are rarely pregnant from a "legitimate rape" rippled across country to Washington state today, with fellow Republican Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner calling it ignorant and Democrats trying to tie a link to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, who won a primary for the right to challenge U.S. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, stepped in it Sunday during a radio interview. According to an Associated Press report, he was asked if he would support abortion for a woman who was raped, and replied: "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."
He later said in a statement he misspoke and insisted he has "deep empathy for the thousands of women who are raped and abused each year."
But some Republicans were already calling for him to get out of the race, GOP presidential nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney termed the comments offensive and other candidates were quick to follow suit.
Among them was Baumgartner, who this morning issued a statement that the comments were inexcusable: "To belittle the trauma rape victims go through is extremely offensive and I am horrified that he would show such little empathy."
He also suggested candidates "call a truce on the culture wars" and go back to talking about the economy and fiscal problems.
That's probably not going to happen soon. Sen. Maria Cantwell's campaign quickly fired back that Baumgartner signed on to a Spokane County GOP platform that defined life as stretching from conception to natural death, and said he would make an exception for abortion in cases in which a woman's life is in danger but not an exception for rape cases.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was trying to tie Akin's comments around McMorris Rodgers' neck, saying they co-sponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which as originally written tried to change an exclusion in the law from rape to "forcible rape." That suggests that some kinds of rape and incest are consensual and health care could be restricted accordingly, the group said. Wouldn't be surprised if the DCCC was sending out a cookie-cutter press release in most of the bill's 227 co-sponsors.