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Phil Gingrey, Todd Akin & More Incendiary Rape Comments

Phil Gingrey sympathized with Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Read more inflammatory comments on rape.

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey has rekindled the whole “legitimate rape” debate by saying Todd Akin was “partially right” and sympathized with Richard Mourdock. Read the comments by Akin and Mourdock, and more of the most inflammatory remarks made by politicians on sexual assault.

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Phil Gingrey

He couldn’t just let the whole “legitimate rape” controversy end after the election. In an interview published Friday in the Marietta Daily Journal, Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey said that his former fellow Republican Todd Akin was “partially right” when he said that women don’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” “I’ve delivered lots of babies,” said Gingrey, who is an OB-GYN. “It’s true. We tell infertile couples all the time that they are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating … the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took it and tore it apart.” That wasn’t the only comment Gingrey made on rape. He also defended former Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, saying, “Mourdock basically said, ‘Look, if there is conception in the aftermath of a rape, that’s still a child, and it’s a child of God, essentially.’ Now in Indiana, that cost him the election.” Gingrey blamed the “over the top” comments by Mourdock and Akin for keeping the Democrats in control of the Senate.

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Richard Mourdock

Richard Mourdock, who beat out the venerable Sen. Richard Lugar for the Republican nomination in Indiana, says it was difficult for him to come to his current position on abortion. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said during a late October debate. “And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The huge backlash that ensued wasn’t enough for Mourdock, who supports abortion rights when the mother’s life is at risk, to change his tune. Instead, he doubled down, saying his words were “twisted” by his opponents. “I spoke from my heart,” he said. “For speaking from my heart, for speaking from the deepest level of my faith, I cannot apologize.”

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Todd Akin

Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, set off a firestorm when he went on a local news program in August and proceeded to broadcast his view that “legitimate” rape rarely results in pregnancy. Said Akin: “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.” Less than 24 hours later, the congressman, who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said he made a mistake but refused to drop out of the race, despite pressure from his party.

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Joe Walsh

Rep. Joe Walsh offered a new take this month on why abortion shouldn’t be available to women whose lives might be in jeopardy as a result of their pregnancy. When reporters asked the Tea Partier, who’s fighting a challenge for his Illinois House seat, if there was no such thing as a medically necessary abortion, the congressman answered, “Absolutely.” He went on to explain, “With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance” where a mother’s life might be in danger. “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing,” he added. Walsh later walked back his statement, saying in a letter to the news media that he supports abortion in the rare cases where “both mother and baby will die if the baby is not aborted.”

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Michele Bachmann

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s take on the HPV vaccine caused some head-scratching during the GOP presidential primary. In September 2011, Bachmann was trying to score some political points against rival Rick Perry, who as governor of Texas issued an executive order mandating that girls be inoculated against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer. After criticizing Perry for forcing young women to get an injection, Bachmann went on the Today show and told Matt Lauer that she was approached by a woman whose daughter suffered from “mental retardation” after taking the vaccine.

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Ron Johnson

Can’t afford birth control? No problem! Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has the solution for you. Just use the Google. Johnson, a Republican, vehemently attacked regulations requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. When asked by a reporter in March what he would say to women who don’t have the money to pay for contraception, the senator responded, “My wife actually went online here in Wisconsin and typed in, ‘what if I can’t afford birth control?’ Came up, bam. If you can’t afford it, you can get birth control in this country. That’s a straw-dog argument. There’s no conservative who’s trying to deny women health care or contraceptives. We’re just saying this is an issue of religious freedom.” When asked to clarify, Johnson responded, “You can get it. Go online, type it in. It’s easy to get.”

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Herman Cain

Herman Cain’s short-lived presidential run was marked by his inconsistency on abortion. But he saved his most inflammatory rhetoric for Planned Parenthood, claiming that the organization’s mission was to “help kill black babies before they came into the world.” Planned Parenthood, he declared, was in the business of “planned genocide.”

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Rush Limbaugh

It’s rare that Rush Limbaugh apologizes. But when he criticized Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke last winter for speaking out about the need for access to contraception, it was apparently too much for even his sponsors to bear. Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and demanded that she put videos of herself having sex online. “So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal,” the conservative radio host said. “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.” After scores of advertisers jumped ship, Limbaugh said he was sorry.

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Rick Santorum

Over the years, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has made his share of anti-abortion rights comments. But this election cycle, he really upped the ante to appeal to the conservative Republican base. In January 2012, he said that babies conceived through rape are “a gift in a very broken way” and that victims should “accept what God has given to you.” These women should “make the best out of a bad situation,” he continued. He also bemoaned the effect he thinks abortion is having on the social safety net. “The Social Security system, in my opinion, is a flawed design, period. But having said that, the design would work a lot better if we had stable demographic trends,” Santorum told a New Hampshire radio station. “We don’t have enough workers to support the retirees. Well, a third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion.”

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Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan’s attempt to shoehorn his strongly anti-abortion rights stances into a package that will appeal to moderate voters has been the source of much consternation to abortion rights supporters, who see the vice presidential nominee as willing to say anything to get elected. Ryan, who opposes abortion in instances of rape, co-authored an abortion bill last year that would have distinguished between statutory and “forcible rape.” The bill, called the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” was blocked by the Senate but came up as an election issue after Todd Akin, another one of its sponsors, made his now infamous “legitimate” rape comments. When pressed, Ryan quickly changed his tune, insisted he really didn’t mean it, and said the language was just recycled from other legislation. “Rape is rape, period,” the Wisconsin congressman said. “This is language that was stock language used for lots of different bills—bills I didn’t author—and that language was removed, to be very clear, and I agree with that, removing that language so we are very clear. Rape is rape, period. End of story.”