Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin sparked national outrage in August when he justified his opposition to abortion by claiming that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." However, the Republican congressman's now-infamous remarks are not the first time he's made a scientifically questionable statement on abortion.
As Slate's Amanda Marcotte reported Tuesday, Akin gave a speech on the House floor in 2008 denouncing abortion providers as "terrorists," claiming that they sometimes perform abortions on women who "are not actually pregnant":
"It is no big surprise that we fight the terrorists because they are fundamentally un-American, and yet we have terrorists in our own culture called abortionists. One of the good pieces of news why we are winning this war is because there are not enough heartless doctors being graduated from medical schools. There is a real shortage of abortionists. Who wants to be at the very bottom of the food chain of medical profession? And what sort of places do these bottom-of-the-food-chain doctors work in? Places that are really a pit. You find that along with the culture of death go all kinds of other law-breaking: not following good sanitary procedure, giving abortions to women who are not actually pregnant, cheating on taxes, all these kinds of things, misuse of anesthetics so that people die or almost die."
Akin's allegation of doctors performing abortions on non-pregnant women is particularly puzzling, since, by definition, an abortion cannot be performed if there is no pregnancy to terminate.
Akin, a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, also gave a speech in 2005 on stem cell research, expressing his concern that a science-fiction story his daughter wrote about humans being harvested for body parts could become reality.
"Oppose public funding that destroys little yous and mes, and oppose this harvest of destruction," he urged his congressional colleagues considering a stem cell research bill.
Despite the overwhelming backlash to Akin's "legitimate rape" claim, the Republican has a good chance of beating incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in next month's election. The latest polling shows Akin with a lead of one percentage pointover McCaskill, and a number of Republicans, including Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich, have come out in support of Akin in recent weeks.