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Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s controversial ‘legitimate rape’ comment could hurt his Senate bid

Republican Rep. Todd Akin made a controversial statement claiming that pregnancy after a rape is rare since the female body has ways of shutting “that whole thing down” and preventing pregnancy when it senses it is being violated.

According to the New York Times, the male representative has taken a strong stance against the right of a woman to choose, even in cases of rape. He justified his belief by alluding to as-of-yet unknown ways in which the female body can, without the aid of pills or condoms, selectively chose when it does not want to get pregnant.

The Times quotes him as saying, “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”.

Akin’s insinuation that there is a difference between “legitimate” and other kinds of rape caused an online frenzy. The Examiner posted some of the “twitter lynch mob” tweets.

Akin later released a statement saying he misspoke and his statement did not reflect the “deep empathy” he holds for the “thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.” The actual number of rapes and sexual assaults per year in the U.S. is closer to two-hundred thousand, according to the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network.

Over 30,000 pregnancies result from rape every year.