President Obama strongly condemned Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) during a surprise press conference Monday for his remarks that “legitimate rape” doesn’t cause pregnancy. Obama said Akin’s statement was reflective of the broader Republican Party’s treatment of women.
“Let me first say the views expressed were offensive,” Obama said. “Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”
Akin has since claimed he “misspoke,” and Republican politicians, including Mitt Romney and a number of Republican Senate candidates, have joined Democrats in expressing outrage over his comments.
But Obama, while acknowledging criticism of Akin from within the Republican Party, said that his remarks were indicative of the GOP’s anti-abortion record. He pointedly referenced a House Republican bill co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan that distinguished “forcible rape” in banning funding for abortion, language that was subsequently withdrawn after an outcry from women’s advocacy groups.
“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women,” Obama said. “So although these particular comments have led Gov. Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think that the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women … or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape are broader issues.”
Despite Obama’s tough talk for his Republican rivals, he acknowledged: “I don’t think that they would agree with the senator [sic] from Missouri in terms of his statement. which is way out there.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.