WASHINGTON — Sen. Claire McCaskill called rival Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” a window into the Republican’s thinking, seizing on a moment that has suddenly boosted her imperiled re-election bid.
In an interview on MSNBC on Monday morning, a stern McCaskill, D-Mo., spoke of her background as a prosecutor working with rape victims, and said Akin’s answer to a question about abortion in the case of rape lacked sensitivity.
“It shows how many people are out there, sometimes in very important positions, that just don’t understand the trauma, and don’t understand what it means,” the Democrat said. “For most Missourians I hope this is one of those gut-check moments when they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us and for our values on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Akin, a Republican congressman from Missouri, was asked in an interview with KTVI-TV if he would support abortion in the case of rape.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin replied. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Medical experts estimate that about 30,000 American women each year become pregnant as a result of rape.
Akin later said he misspoke, though he did not retract or clarify the statement. McCaskill called that response “jaw-dropping and stunning.”
“This statement is kind of a window into Todd Akin’s mind,” she said.