Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., stepped into the Todd Akin rape controversy this week, telling a group of constituents that the former Missouri GOP congressman was “partly right” in saying that a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy in events of “legitimate rape.”
According to The Marietta Daily Journal, which first reported the comments, Gingrey was responding to questions about the current state of the abortion debate. He also mentioned failed Indiana GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who said late in his campaign that pregnancies resulting from rape were a gift from God.
“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, according to the newspaper. “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.”
The newspaper noted that Gingrey cited his own experience as an obstetrician-gynecologist 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.”
Gingrey also said he was open to some limits on the size of gun ammunition clips as he discussed efforts in Washington, D.C., to respond to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
“There are some problems, and maybe these huge magazines even for someone who says, ‘Look, I just use an AR-15 for target practice,’ but do you really need to be standing there shooting at a silhouette a shot a second or even quicker with that kind of weapon? For what purpose?” Gingrey asked. “I would be willing to listen to the possibility of the capacity of a magazine.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway followed up with Gingrey’s office, which issued a statement walking back his comments on both issues.
“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,” Gingrey’s statement said.
As for his remarks on guns, Gingrey issued a statement, saying, “As a father and grandfather, I am heartbroken at the tragedy in Newtown. No parent, child, or community should have to suffer such devastation and overwhelming grief. At the same time, as we begin a national dialogue on how to prevent future tragedies, it is of paramount importance to defend our Second Amendment rights. Throughout my political career, I’ve been a tireless advocate of Second Amendment rights and will continue to be one moving forward.”