Rep. Phil Gingrey says Todd Akin ‘partly right’ about rape

Months after comments about "legitimate rape" helped Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) lose a Senate race, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) is defending some of his former colleague's words.

"He’s partly right on that," Gingrey, an OB-GYN, told constituents Thursday. A traumatic event could cause a woman not to ovulate, he said, and he didn't see anything "horrible" about distinguishing between "legitimate rape" and "a scared-to-death 15-year-old" who might lie when she "becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents," the Marietta Daily Journal reported.

Where Akin was wrong, Gingrey said, was in suggesting that a pregnancy could never or almost never result from rape. 

"We tell infertile couples all the time ... '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?" said Gingrey. "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."

Gingrey, like Akin, is a staunch social conservative from a deep red district. Along with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), he founded the GOP Doctors Caucus, which he co-chairs. At the same breakfast, Gingrey announced that he was open to some gun control legislation.

The congressman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that his words had been misconstrued and that he was not defending Akin or Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who also faced a backlash for commenting on rape and pregnancy. 

“At a breakfast yesterday morning, I was asked why Democrats made abortion a central theme of the presidential campaign," he said. "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.”

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · January 11, 2013