Akin doubles down on claim that some doctors perform abortions on women who aren't pregnant
Republican U.S. Senate nominee Todd Akin isn’t backing off his claim, made several years ago on the floor of the U.S. House and now circulating on the web, that some physicians have performed abortion procedures on women who weren’t pregnant.
Instead, his campaign released a statement Wednesday from a former director of Planned Parenthood who sought to back him up.
The video of Akin’s 2008 speech has touched off some political controversy in the past couple days, although so far nothing like his assertion in August that victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant.
In the video, Akin refers to doctors who perform abortions as "terrorists."
In the release issued Wednesday, Akin’s campaign quotes former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson of Texas.
Johnson says, "In support of Congressman Todd Akin, I can attest that when I served as director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, we often scared women into getting services they did not need - including abortion - so we could collect the fees. This included women who were not pregnant and women who were in the process of miscarrying.
"Anyone that would attack Congressman Todd Akin for his factual comments on the House floor in 2008 are misguided at best,” Johnson concluded.
(Update) Paula Gianino, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Advocates, the political arm of the agency's Missouri operations, accused Akin of voicing "the most extreme views, the most extreme language, not founded in fact."
Every woman who comes to Planned Parenthood's clinics, which include a facility in St. Louis, "has her pregnancy confirmed, not only by a pregnancy test but also by ultrasound,'' Gianino said, adding that Akin "has no credibility on these issues."
"Mr. Akin not only has a long history of saying ridiculous things,'' she said, but "voting for public policy based on these falsehoods."
Gianino added, "Mr. Akin just demonstrates time and time again that he is too extreme for Missouri and doesn't deserve to be elected to the U.S. Senate." (End of update)
The Akin campaign’s decision to issue Johnson’s statement does toss the abortion issue once again into his campaign against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. His original “legitimate rape’’ comment set off a wave of GOP criticisms and calls for him to drop out –- which Akin refused to do.
Bringing up the issue could energize activists on both sides, particularly since local Planned Parenthood supporters have been wearing special pink T-shirts and picketing outside many of Akin’s campaign events.
Akin is a staunch opponent of abortion and opposes all exceptions, except in the case of ectopic pregnancies. He acknowledges being arrested during an abortion protest about 25 years ago.
Akin also has been an outspoken critic of Planned Parenthood for years.
The renewed focus on abortion comes amid the release of several independent polls that show Akin trailing McCaskill among likely voters. Both are sparring via attack ads, and at least two pro-McCaskill groups are running anti-Akin ads that cite his "legitimate rape'' comment, among others.