The uproar over comments by Missouri congressman and Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin on abortion and rape has focused attention on the initial version of an abortion bill that included among its co-sponsors U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, Akin and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
The uproar over comments by Missouri congressman and Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin on abortion and rape has focused attention on the initial version of an abortion bill that included among its co-sponsors U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, Akin and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. (Information has been changed to correct an error at 7:30 a.m. 8/23/12. See correction at end of story.)
The bill that was introduced in January 2011 would have prohibited the federal funding of health coverage benefits that included abortion unless the mother’s life was in danger or the pregnancy was due to incest with a minor or a “forcible rape.” Critics argued that may not have included statutory rape of a minor or an assault involving drugging the victim.
The U.S. House in May 2011 approved an amended bill without the term “forcible.” Gibbs and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, voted “yes.” U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, voted “no.” She later said in a statement, “I trust women to make private, personal health care decisions for themselves.” The U.S. Senate has taken no action on it.
Gibbs said he opposes abortion but did not elaborate this week on whether there should be exceptions. Renacci’s spokesman James Slepian said while Renacci has “great sympathy for victims of rape,” he opposes abortion, including in cases of rape or incest, “because he believes strongly in the sanctity of life.”
Sutton and Gibbs’ Democratic opponent in the 7th District congressional race, Joyce Healy-Abrams, say they favor women having the freedom to get an abortion.
When asked what’s nonforcible rape, Gibbs said, “Rape’s rape and that’s how I define it. ... obviously you’ve got one word in there ... we’re going through the legislative process, you find those things and you try to fix them and so that was fixed.”
Healy-Abram’s spokesman John Kohlstrand said Gibbs “co-sponsored a bill to try to redefine rape so some rapes matter more than other rapes. And that’s wrong.”
The four candidates condemned Akin’s statement, that he has retracted, that in a “legitimate rape,” a woman’s body resists getting pregnant.
Gibbs said while he believed Akin “was under pressure during the campaign” and in the “heat of the moment,” he called Akin’s comments “very irresponsible” and said that “rape is a hideous crime.”
Gibbs said he disagreed with Akin’s assertion that women usually can’t get pregnant from rape.
“I’m a farmer. I understand that there’s no biological method that, that was a nonmedical statement. That’s not possible.”
Correction: U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, and Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan were co-sponsors of the abortion bill. Their status was incorrect when this story was first published online at 9:25 p.m. 8/22/12.