Former GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin who sparked outrage by saying women’s bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of ‘legitimate rape’ dies aged 74 after cancer battle

  • Todd Akin died aged 74 after a lengthy battle with cancer, his son has confirmed
  • In 2012 Akin sparked outrage after claiming pregnancy from rape is ‘really rare’
  • He said women’s bodies can terminate cases of pregnancy from ‘legitimate rape’
  • Comments ended his political career after years representing parts of Missouri

Former GOP Senator candidate Todd Akin who sparked outrage by saying women’s bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of ‘legitimate rape’ has died aged 74 after a cancer battle.   

Akin represented a Republican-leaning eastern Missouri district that included St. Louis-area suburbs for 12 years, giving up a safe seat to run for the US Senate in 2012. 

In the runup to the election Akin, a strong abortion opponent, was asked during an interview by a St. Louis television station whether he supported allowing abortions for women who have been raped. 

He answered that ‘from what I understand from doctors’ such pregnancies are ‘really rare’ and added: ‘If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.’

The comments ended Akin’s political career, sparking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to immediately rebuke him and causing him to lose the Senate election. 

Former GOP Senator candidate Todd Akin who sparked outrage by saying women’s bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of ‘legitimate rape’ has died aged 74 after a cancer battle

In the runup to the election Akin, a strong abortion opponent, was asked during an interview by a St. Louis television station whether he supported allowing abortions for women who have been raped

Akin said that ‘from what I understand from doctors’ such pregnancies are ‘really rare’ and added: ‘If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down’

https://youtube.com/watch?v=yKa5CY-KOHc%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1

Akin’s comments also sparked Romney to say his campaign would allow abortions in such cases.

Criticism of Akin’s remarks clouded his US Senate bid until the end, making him a symbol of how Republicans could fumble away races they had a good chance of winning with a candidate deemed too far to the right. 

Akin’s campaign initially said he ‘misspoke,’ and Akin later said he was wrong but he had ruined Republican chances of recapturing a Senate majority by unseating then incumbent Democratic US Senator Claire McCaskill.

Akin faced pressure from the national GOP to withdraw and allow the state party to pick a replacement. He refused and ended up losing the race by nearly 16 percentage points, receiving 39 per cent of the vote.  

Yet other Republican officials and officeholders across the US occasionally echoed his remarks – signaling how conservative some of the party’s base had become on the issue.

Two years later, Akin published a book, ‘Firing Back,’ in which he accused GOP leaders of abandoning him and letting McCaskill win and labeling news organizations as bullies. 

In the book, he also retracted his public apology for his ‘legitimate rape’ remark.

Akin never ran for office again, though early in 2015, he briefly fueled speculation about a 2016 primary challenge to GOP US Senator Roy Blunt with remarks that tea party Republicans wanted ‘new blood.’ 

Akin faced pressure from the national GOP to withdraw and allow the state party to pick a replacement. He refused and ended up losing the race for Senate by nearly 16 percentage points, receiving 39 per cent of the vote

Backlash: Akin faced an angry feminist lobby in 2012 after his gaffe became the subject of daily outrage in the press

Akin was born July 5, 1947, in New York City, but grew up in the St. Louis area. 

He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering and management from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts in 1970, served in the US Army and worked for IBM. 

He worked in corporate management at the St. Louis-based Laclede Steel Co. He won a seat in the Missouri House in 1988 and served in the Legislature for 10 years. 

He won Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District seat in 2000 and was reelected five times. He also served on the board of the anti-abortion group Missouri Right to Life.

In the 2012 US Senate primary, Akin faced two formidable opponents, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and businessman John Brunner.

Many Democrats thought McCaskill’s best shot at winning reelection would be with Akin as the GOP nominee. 

Her campaign aired television ads suggesting Akin was too conservative, Brunner was not a reliable conservative and Steelman represented ‘more politics as usual.’

Republicans took the ads as McCaskill’s attempt to help Akin win the GOP primary. 

An autobiography that McCaskill published in 2015 said she also tried to boost Akin’s campaign by urging it through back channels to resume airing a television ad featuring an endorsement from former conservative GOP presidential candidate and ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

McCaskill’s moves paid off. Akin prevailed in the eight-person GOP field with only 36 per cent of the vote.

In the 2012 US Senate primary, Akin faced two formidable opponents, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and businessman John Brunner but was eventually chosen as the Republican nominee

Todd Akin and his wife Lulli talk to reporters the day after the politicians ‘legitimate rape’ claims sparked outrage

Akin had cancer for several years, his son, Perry, said in a statement. He died at his home in Wildwood, a St. Louis suburb.

‘As my father’s death approached, we had people from all different walks of life share story after story of the personal impact he had on them,’ Perry Akin said in a statement to The Associated Press.

‘He was a devote Christian, a great father, and a friend to many. 

‘We cherish many fond memories from him driving the tractor at our annual hayride, to his riveting delivery of the freedom story at 4th of July parties dressed in the full uniform of a colonial minuteman. 

‘The family is thankful for his legacy: a man with a servant’s heart who stood for truth.’

 Funeral information has not been announced. Survivors include Akin’s wife, Lulli Boe Akin, his mother, Nancy Bigelow Akin, four sons, two daughters and 18 grandchildren.

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