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Meet Phil Gingrey, the GOP Congressman Who Just Brought Back 'Legitimate Rape'

The Atlantic
Meet Phil Gingrey, the GOP Congressman Who Just Brought Back 'Legitimate Rape'
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Meet Phil Gingrey, the GOP Congressman Who Just Brought Back 'Legitimate Rape'

If you thought Todd Akin's defeat in November's Senate race ended the "legitimate rape" controversy, get ready for Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey, a pro-life OB-GYN who very much has gone there — and way beyond. The Marietta Daily Journal reports this morning that Gingrey said Akin was "partially right," and went on to make a comparison between rape victims and "tense and uptight" women trying to conceive.

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"[Akin] 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 is quoted as saying to the Cobb Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast meeting Thursday.

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And Gingrey didn't stop there. He went on to draw this shocking comparison: 

And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. 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.

Gingrey was referring to Akin's notorious comments in August, when Akin said the following: "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." Akin later went on to recant various portions of that interview, but the comments sunk his Missouri Senate campaign. So why would Gingrey defend Akin? At the breakfast, Gingrey pointed out that he had been an OB-GYN for 25 years and was asked about abortion and state law, which eventually made its way back to Akin. He went on:

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, who was elected in 2002 and has a history of pro-life comments, was also asked about another member of November's so-called "rape caucus," Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock in Indiana, who said at a debat pregnancy as a result of rape "is something that God intended." Gingrey is quoted by the Marietta Daily Journal as saying:

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.

And these latest defenses might just cost Gingrey his relative anonymity — if the fate of Akin and Mourdock are any indication.

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