In 2012, Todd Akin said that he did not support rape exceptions in abortion bans because he felt they were unnecessary. “If it’s a legitimate rape," he explained, "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." The public did not feel very good about Akin's mystical view of the female reproductive system or this notion of so-called legitimate rape, and his Senate campaign soon went down in flames. The Missouri Republican has been pretty quiet since then, but broke his silence on Thursday to criticize Hillary Clinton over her apparent disregard for rape victims. (And to promote his book.)
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Akin addressed audio recently published by the Washington Free Beacon in which Clinton seems to suggest that she knew her client in a 1975 child rape case was guilty before detailing what she did to get him off with time served. Republicans have been using the audio to attack Clinton's credibility on the issue of violence against women and sexual assault, which was also Akin's approach.
He accused Clinton of making a "practice of trashing women with legitimate claims to having been assaulted," then went on to defend his 2012 comments. "I faced a media firestorm for an unclear comment," he said."It is the responsibility of the media to make it clear that liberal Democrats like Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are the true perpetrators of the ‘war on women.'"
Rather than back away from his use of the word "legitimate" to describe certain forms of sexual violence, Akin doubled down in his book and argued that some women lie about rape, which is why he believes it's important to say "legitimate" to denote when he does not think a woman is lying about being raped.
"When a woman claims to have been raped, the police determine if the evidence supports the legal definition of 'rape,'" he writes. "Is it a legitimate claim of rape or an excuse to avoid an unwanted pregnancy? Are the police warranted to take action against a crime or not?
"In short, the word 'legitimate' modifies the claim and not the action. [...]
"My comment about a woman's body shutting the pregnancy down," he continues in the book, "was directed to the impact of stress on fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me? Google 'stress and fertilization,' and you will find a library of research on the subject."