Rep. Gingrey: “Legitimate Rape” Comment Was “Partially Right”

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 11 2013 11:49 AM

Rep. Gingrey of Georgia Says Akin "Legitimate Rape" Comments Were “Partially Right”

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Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) said he doesn't "find anything so horrible" about making the distinction between "legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape"

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican of Georgia, knows that comments about rape have cost fellow Republicans their seats in Congress. But that didn’t stop him from wading deep into controversial territory during a breakfast meeting in his home state, reports the Marietta Daily Journal.  The lawmaker talked mostly about gun control but then opened the floor up for questions and was asked about abortion. And that’s when Gingrey, who made sure to point out he has been an OB-GYN since 1975, mentioned controversial comments about rape and pregnancy made by former Reps. Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, that many say contributed to their electoral losses last year. This is the Journal’s account of what Gingrey said next:

“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.”
“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.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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