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Rep. Gingrey: Todd Akin was wrong, but not all wrong

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

There are certain subjects that you probably should just not talk about at a public breakfast if you are an elected official, especially if you are a Republican, and especially if your party just took a massive shellacking at the ballot box last November in part because of loose talk by some of the dimmer members of your party on the same subject.

That didn’t stop Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., when he was asked about Rep. Todd Akin’s now-notorious comments about women’s bodies being able to prevent pregnancy during rape during Thursday’s Cobb Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Smyrna Community Center. Let’s go to the tape, according to the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal:

Gingrey weighed in on comments made by two once-favored GOP Senate candidates, Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, who both lost to Democrats in 2012 following remarks they made about pregnancy and rape.

“Part of the reason the Dems still control the Senate is because of comments made in Missouri by Todd Akin and Indiana by Mourdock were considered a little bit over the top,” Gingrey said. “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.

“And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, ‘Look, in a legitimate rape situation’ — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that.”

Gingrey pointed out that he had been an OB-GYN since 1975.

“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.”

He does appear to be saying that Akin was wrong on the biological facts, but boy, does he have lousy bedside manner.

UPDATE: Gingrey sent the following statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding his Daily Journal remarks:

“At a breakfast yesterday morning, I was asked why Democrats made abortion a central theme of the presidential campaign. I do not defend, nor do I stand by, the remarks made by Rep. Akin and Mr. Mourdock. In my attempt to provide context as to what I presumed they meant, my position was misconstrued.”

Note that he doesn’t say how his comments were misconstrued or what he point he was originally attempting to make, just that he doesn’t want to associated with Akin or Mourdock. He could have down a better job of that by not expounding on what he thought they meant in the first place.

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