Todd Akin's Party: More Than 40 Republican Candidates Oppose Abortion In Cases Of Rape, Incest

In this Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 file photograph, Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, waves to the crowd while introduced at a senate candidate forum during a Republican conference in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
In this Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012 file photograph, Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, waves to the crowd while introduced at a senate candidate forum during a Republican conference in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) faced scorn and ridicule from members of his own party this week after expressing his belief that rape victims don't need to have access to abortion because "legitimate rape" rarely results in pregnancies. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called his comments "wrong, offensive, and indefensible" and was just one in a chorus of Republicans calling on Akin to drop his U.S. Senate bid.

While many Republicans may not have used Akin's blunt wording, his sentiments are not unusual in the GOP. Just two days after he made his remarks, the party voted to incorporate strict anti-abortion language into its platform, with no exception for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.

Additionally, there are more than 40 House and Senate candidates besides Akin -- including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the man who has been tapped as Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate -- who want to ban abortion access even for women who have been victims of rape or incest.

Each election cycle, the political action committee Republican National Coalition for Life submits questionnaires to GOP candidates about their positions on choice issues and then endorses candidates who advocate a strict no-abortion platform. Selected candidates must be "unconditionally pro-life" and "recognize the inherent right to life of every innocent human being, from conception until natural death, without discrimination."

The group has so far endorsed 40 House and Senate candidates this cycle, although there are still several more months until the election and that number could increase. In 2010, RNC for Life endorsed 85 House candidates, a large number of whom were added in the month before the election. The group did not return a request for comment.

RNC for Life's endorsements this year don't even include Akin or Ryan, who is still on the ballot for reelection to the House, despite also running as Romney's vice president. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) did make the list, though. He was one of the few defenders of Akin's remarks this week, adding that he had never personally known anyone who had been raped.

Senate candidates with the RNC for Life stamp of approval are Ted Cruz in Texas, Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada. The group also endorsed former Rep. Mark Neumann in Wisconsin, but he lost his primary to Tommy Thompson.

Nineteen of RNC for Life's candidates are incumbents, including Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

The push from within the Republican Party to move further to the right on abortion isn't new. The plank adopted by the platform committee -- which still needs to be approved by convention delegates on Monday -- is similar to what was included in the 2004 and 2008 platforms.

Republicans first addressed abortion in the platform in 1976, although the language included then did not fully endorse a constitutional ban on the procedure.

In 2010, Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle received a significant amount of national attention when she told young rape victims to make "a lemon situation into lemonade" -- the "lemon situation" being the rape, and the "lemonade" being giving birth to, and raising, the child. Colorado Senate candidate Ken Buck stated, "I don't believe in the exceptions of rape or incest," and backed a constitutional ban on abortion.

Both candidates lost their elections.

The public continues to be divided on the issue of abortion, although a majority of voters believe it should be legal, at least in some instances. A much smaller percentage wants to outlaw it completely. In a recent Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, just 17 percent of adults said they believe it should be illegal in all instances.

On Tuesday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) chided his party for adopting a strict anti-abortion platform, writing in a letter to Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus that the GOP was making a "mistake."

"It fails to recognize the views of pro-choice Republicans like myself," said Brown, who is running against Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, to hold onto his seat. "Even while I am pro-choice, I respect those who have a different opinion on this very difficult and sensitive issue. Our Party platform should make the same concession to those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choose."

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.)

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