News Column

Akin: Republicans, Conservatives Criticize 'Legitimate Rape' and Conception Comments

Aug. 21, 2012

Ed Mahon

A Missouri congressman's comments about conception being rare in cases of "legitimate rape" sparked outcry nationwide, as well as rebukes from many fellow Republicans and conservatives, including in York County.

"I can tell you that no Republican that I know of here in York County feels the same way," said Bob Wilson, chairman of the York County Republican Party.

Lee Ann Burkholder, who said she personally believes abortion should be illegal in all cases, described Akin's comments as "absurd" and "ridiculous."

"I also think it's ridiculous ... how the media is trying to tie him to the tea party," said Burkholder, communications director for the York 912 Patriots and a founding member of the local tea party group.

The furor began Sunday in an interview on KTVI-TV in St. Louis. Asked if he would support abortions for women who have been raped, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., said: "It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Later Sunday, Akin -- who is challenging incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in a U.S. Senate race in Missouri -- released a statement saying that he "misspoke." But the fallout was swift and severe.

Akin made no public appearances on Monday but went on former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's national radio show to apologize. He vowed to continue his bid for higher office.

But Akin seemed to be losing political support by the hour as fellow Republicans urged him to abandon a race the party had long considered essential in their bid to regain control of the Senate.

York County leaders echoed the national criticism.

"It is scientifically proven that rape does not cause a woman's body to prevent pregnancy," Cheryl Huber, president of the York chapter of the National Organization for Women, said Monday, reading from a statement. "The idea that a woman's reproductive system knows that it has been raped is a complete lie promoted by religious zealots. Obviously, Mr. Akin buys into this sort of thing without checking the facts."

She also called his comments a "despicable disservice to women everywhere, who are so often not believed when they tragically have been raped."

Bob Kefauver, chairman of the York County Democratic Party, said Akin's remarks were part of a larger trend, of Congressional Republicans prioritizing other issues over strengthening the economy, creating jobs and aiding small businesses.

"The Republicans' war on women has reached a new low," Kefauver said. "...This is both deeply disturbing and highly offensive. And this point of view raises several questions for Representative Akin, beginning with, 'What exactly is an illegitimate rape?'"

Bob Wilson, the local GOP leader who also criticized Akin's comments, called Kefauver's comments about the "war on women" part of a larger strategy by Democrats to take people's attention away from the most important issues in in this election: jobs and the economy.

"All issues would be underneath those two," Wilson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Congressional candidates

Republican Scott Perry, Democrat Harry Perkinson and Libertarian Mike Koffenberger in separate interviews Monday all criticized U.S. Rep. Todd Akin's comments about conception being rare in cases of "legitimate rape."

All three are running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County.

--- "I have no idea what he based his comments on. And ... the fact that he's essentially said that his comments were incorrect or ill-advised -- I think speaks volumes about his comments," Perry said.

--- "I think his comment was pretty incredible. It's so bad, I really don't know what to say about it," Perkinson said, adding it seemed like the kind of comment "that ends political careers -- it's so far out there."

--- "His comments are ridiculous, and it sounds like he needs to go back to grade school to find out how the human body works," Koffenberger said. To read about their views on abortion, as well as for more views on the controversy over Akin's comments, visit

Source: (c)2012 York Daily Record (York, Pa.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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