"Legitimate rape," the least-expected controversy of 2012, is back.
At a breakfast with businesspeople in Cobb County, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., offered a partial defense-medical exegesis of the whole kerfuffle over Todd Akin, the Missouri congressman and Senate candidate who stirred up the national campaign pot last year with his claim that women's bodies could prevent pregnancy in the case of "legitimate rape."
Gingrey is a conservative congressman who worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist. He made the comments at a breakfast Thursday hosted by the Smyrna Area Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the Marietta Daily Journal's Jon Gilooly reported:
"And 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."
Gingrey pointed out that he had been an ob-gyn since 1975.
"And I've delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things," he's quoted as saying. "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."
Of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who suggested pregnancies from rape are intended by God, Gingrey reportedly said, "Mourdock basically said, 'Look, if there is conception in the aftermath of a rape, that's still a child, and it's a child of God, essentially.' Now, in Indiana, that cost him the election. "
When asked whether the quotes were accurate, Gingrey's communications director, Jen Talaber, said she was not at the meeting but that she has called reporter Gilooly to inquire.
Gingrey has already said his comments are being misconstrued as a defense of Akin and Mourdock.
"At a breakfast yesterday morning, I was asked why Democrats made abortion a central theme of the presidential campaign," Gingrey said today in a statement Talaber provided to ABC News.
"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."