CNN's Dana Loesch excused Rep. Todd Akin's (R-MO) inflammatory remarks that it's “really rare” for women subjected to “legitimate rape” to become pregnant. In a series of posts on her Twitter account, Loesch dismissed those comments, writing that “Akin was trying to fit medical explanation into a soundbite,” and that he “failed a soundbite.”
AKIN: First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work, or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
While discussing those comments on Twitter today, Loesch repeatedly tried to downplay Akin's remarks, accusing Akin's critics of “hypocritical overreactions,” and claiming that Akin was recounting “medical explanation.”
In contrast, as CNN.com reported*:
Statistics on pregnancies that result from rape are difficult to produce, since rape is a crime that often goes unreported. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, along with Planned Parenthood, each estimate that 5% of rapes lead to pregnancy. A 1996 study from the Medical University of South Carolina found the same percentage, adding that 32,101 pregnancies occurred annually from rape.
Loesch also tried to compare Akin's comments to remarks made earlier this year by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
While defending the women's preventive health mandate in the Affordable Care Act in July, Harkin noted that some women are prescribed birth control pills to regulate menstrual cycles, stating:
There are many women who take birth control pills, for example, because they have terrible menstrual cramps once a month, some of them almost incapacitated, can't work. I know of young women myself who, because of this, aren't able to work and be productive, and it's prescribed by their doctor.
Indeed, Harkin was right; 82 percent of teenage-aged women use contraceptives for more than just pregnancy prevention, as the Guttmacher Institute reported.
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.
Akin is reportedly opposed to the morning-after pill as well, which he has said “is a form of abortion.”
While Akin did not explain what he meant by “legitimate rape” during the interview, he later said in a statement following backlash over his remarks that his comments were “off-the-cuff” and that he “misspoke.”
This is not the first time Loesch has dismissed efforts to address women's health care needs.
In March, amid the controversy over Rush Limbaugh's misogynistic attacks on Sandra Fluke, Loesch pursued the right-wing media campaign to bully the then-Georgetown law student. Loesch called Fluke a “nympho” and claimed that Fluke “embarrass[ed] herself and her sex by ... discussing about how she has a huge inability to control her sexual urges.”
In fact, Fluke's congressional testimony centered on the health benefits of contraceptive coverage. She cited a friend's need for access to contraceptive medicine to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome and another student's need for contraceptives after she was raped.
In February, Loesch defended a bill from the Virginia legislature that would have forced women to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, saying that the procedure was no different than consensual sex:
LOESCH: That's the big thing that progressives are trying to say, that it's rape and so on and so forth. And, in fact, this big battle that I've totally won with Keith Olbermann by the way, like, not only won once but twice and three times is -- there were individuals saying, “Well, what about the Virginia rape? The rapes that -- the forced rapes of women who are pregnant?” What?
Wait a minute, they had no problem having similar to a transvaginal procedure when they engaged in the act that resulted in their pregnancy.
Loesch has been heavily criticized by CNN journalists for outrageous comments.
*CNN later updated its reporting. This reflects that change.