Update (below): House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemns Republicans for partnering with Akin
Speaking to reporters during Monday’s daily press briefing, President Barack Obama admonished Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) for suggesting that women do not get pregnant in cases of “legitimate rape,” seizing on the comments as a chance to rebuke Republicans for repeatedly pursuing legislation that would ban all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest.
“The views are offensive,” he said. “Rape is rape. 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 it certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”
The president added that Akin is an example of “why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.”
“Although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distances themselves, I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women, for their health care decisions, or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape,” Obama said.
“I think those are broader issues and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party,” he added. “I don’t think they would agree with the Senator from Missouri in terms of his statement, which was way out there.”
Asked if he believes Akin deserves to be atop the Republican ticket in Missouri, he replied: “I’ll let them sort that out.”
The president’s comments come on the heels of his campaign highlighting Akin’s ties to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who both favored bills co-sponsored by Akin that sought to redefined rape and ban all abortions.
“While Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are working overtime to distance themselves from Rep. Todd Akin’s comments on rape, they are contradicting their own records,” Obama spokesperson Lis Smith said in prepared text. “Mr. Romney supports the Human Life Amendment, which would ban abortion in all instances, even in the case of rape and incest. In fact, that amendment is a central part of the Republican Party’s platform that is being voted on tomorrow. And, as a Republican leader in the House, Mr. Ryan worked with Mr. Akin to try to pass laws that would ban abortion in all cases, and even narrow the definition of ‘rape.’”
“Every day, women across America grapple with difficult and intensely personal health decisions — decisions that should ultimately be between a woman and her doctor,” Smith added. “These decisions are not made any easier when Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan treat women’s health as a matter of partisan politics.”
“Gov. Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” a Romney campaign statement explained. As a Congressman, Ryan supported legislation that would ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.
“Congressman’s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,” Romney also told The National Review on Monday. “Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.”
Update: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemns Republicans for partnering with Akin
“Congressman Akin’s statement is another manifestation of the total disregard and disrespect of women by Republican leaders,” Pelosi said Monday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, this attitude is nothing new. Congressman Akin has already joined Congressman Paul Ryan and other House Republicans in co-sponsoring a bill to weaken the definition of ‘rape.’ It is almost impossible to believe that any political leader would suggest that any case of rape is ’legitimate.’ The fact remains: Congressman Akin’s offensive comments are simply one more part of the Republican attack on women’s health.
“Republicans are true to their nature – maintaining a low opinion of the rights critical to the health and security of America’s women. Americans were shocked earlier this year when Republicans would not even let a woman testify on key women’s health issues. Congressman Akin’s reprehensible remarks are inexcusable; the legislation he is co-sponsoring is disgraceful; and both must be condemned by leaders regardless of party.”
This video was broadcast by Fox News on Monday, August 20, 2012.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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