Just a few days ago, Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri, was a rising star in his party. He handily won the GOP Senate primary in early August, and appeared to be on his way to unseating Sen. Claire McCaskill, a vulnerable Democrat who has been lagging in the polls. But then, in response to a routine question about whether abortion should be allowed if a woman has been raped, Akin ignited a firestorm. Abortion, however, isn’t the only issue about which Akin has made outrageous statements. Here are five of his greatest hits.
“Legitimate Rape”Akin’s now-infamous comments that a woman’s body has a defense mechanism that keeps her from getting pregnant if she was the victim of “legitimate rape” have gone viral and been roundly criticized by liberals and conservatives alike. "It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, [rape resulting in pregnancy is] really rare,” Akin said in an interview with KTVI-TV. "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." Almost immediately Akin tried to backtrack, saying he misspoke. “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it's clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Akin said in a statement.
Stage 3 CancerWhat could be more like cancer than the government giving low-interest loans to college students? In April, as the Missouri Senate primary was heating up, Akin attacked the federal loan program, comparing it to the life-threatening disease, because it allowed the federal government to give loans directly to students instead of going through private banks. “America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in,” Akin said. “What the Democrats did to get rid of the private student loans and take it all over by the government was wrong. It was a lousy bill. That’s why I voted no. The government needs to get its nose out of the education business.”
Creative Health Care FinancingWhat should happen to a healthy 28-year-old who chooses not to buy health insurance but later gets cancer? According to Akin, a staunch opponent of health care reform, a person who opts not to buy insurance should be held responsible for the bulk of the costs, no matter how expensive the medical bills get. It may just require some self-sacrifice like, say, selling your car to afford the chemo. “All of us make decisions in our lives, and there are consequences of those decisions,” Akin said during a primary debate. “People have to start being held accountable for their decisions and if somebody’s not buying insurance then they’re going to have to be selling their car or whatever it is to try to help cover that.”
Liberals Hate GodUpset that NBC edited out the phrase “under God” as the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at the U.S. Open in June 2011, Akin expressed his frustration during a radio interview with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. He accused the network of systematically and intentionally corroding the values that make America a special place. “I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God,” Akin said. “And so they’ve had a long history of not being at all favorable toward many of the things that have been such a blessing to our country.”
The 17th AmendmentOn the campaign trail, Akin has lamented the growth in the size and scope of the federal government and has said he is concerned with the erosion of states’ rights. One solution, according to Akin, could be repealing the 17th Amendment, which gives the people the right to vote directly for their U.S. senators. That idea has been embraced by some members of the Tea Party, who say the amendment takes away an important check on the federal government’s power. “It may well be that a repeal of the 17th amendment might tend to pull that back,” Akin said, referring to federal authority. The congressman hasn’t staked a firm position on the issue, but has said he’s leaning toward wanting to repeal the amendment.