After Todd Akin’s terrible speech, the Republican party essentially abandoned him.

Krishnan Sethumadhavan, Editor-in-Chief

On August 19, 2012 Todd Akin, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, made the claim that female victims of what he described as “legitimate” rape rarely experience pregnancy as a result. Akin is running for a Missouri Senate seat in the 2012 elections.

The remarks were made during an interview with a local St. Louis television station and immediately caused an uproar, with the term “legitimate rape” being taken to imply belief in a view that some kinds of rape are “legitimate,” or alternatively that the many victims who do become pregnant from rape are likely to be lying about their claim.

Junior Robert Blaine said, “[I]t is a woman’s own choice what to do with her body and if she doesn’t believe she is ready to have a child then it may be for the best.”

Akin’s remarks were based on a long-discredited pseudoscience that has no basis in medical validity and although he was not the first to make such claims, he was perhaps one of the most prominent. Many commentators saw the initial comments as representative of his long-held views on rape, rather than an accidental gaffe.

Senior Nicholas Swann said, “Although I do believe in the preservation of life in the womb, there are special cases (including, but not limited to rape victims) where I don’t really think there’s any other option, because being raped was not their choice.”

Although Akin apologized for his remarks, Republicans immediately withdrew their support from him. Presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney called Akin’s remarks “inexcusable, insulting, and frankly, wrong.” Nine sitting US senators, four former Republican Missouri Senators, and the serving Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt all called for Akin’s resignation while fundraisers such as the Super-PAC (Political Action Committee) announced that they would be cutting off all aid to Akin’s candidacy for Senate. Akin, however, has refused to drop out of the race.

Akin had some defenders in conservative social organizations, including the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, who called Akin a “defender of life,” and in socially conservative politicians including Mike Huckabee, who raised funds for Akin after the remarks.

Sophomore Josh Sacks said, “It is amazing that in the twenty first century our national leaders are saying things like that. It is just wrong.”

Politically, Akin’s remarks hurt Republican chances of gaining a majority in the Senate. Missouri is a swing state and polling (prior to the election) showed Akin with a lead, but according to Rasmussen Reports, his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill gained a 10 point lead of 48% to 38%.

Furthermore, Romney’s lead over President Obama in Missouri also vanished as a result of the controversy, the latest Rasmussen Report shows that President Obama has 47% support compared to Romney’s 46%.

In the larger context, however, Akin’s remarks brought back into the spotlight the alleged Republican “War on Women.” Republicans fear that the re-introduction of these divisive social issues will take away attention from the under-performing economy and thus decrease their potential for winning the election.