WASHINGTON -- Women’s issues are again front and center in the high-profile US Senate race between GOP Senator Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, stoked by outrage over comments made by a Missouri Republican about “legitimate rape.”
Brown on Monday called on his fellow Republican, Representative Todd Akin, to drop his bid against incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, one of about a dozen high-profile contests that could decide which party will control Congress.
‘‘As a husband and father of two young women, I found Todd Akin’s comments about women and rape outrageous, inappropriate, and wrong,’’ said Brown. ‘‘There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking.
“Not only should he apologize,” said Brown, a pro-choice Republican, “but I believe Representative Akin’s statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for US Senate in Missouri.”
Akin has come under fire for comments made Sunday to a Missouri television station in which he said that it is rare for a woman to become pregnant from a “legitimate rape.”
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin said.
Akin later said he misspoke during the interview as he discussed his opposition to abortion.
Akin has gotten stinging rebukes from many Republicans, including the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
Warren and Massachusetts Democrats on Monday seized on the issue to link Brown to what they say has been a Republican agenda that is “devastating for women’s rights.”
“I understand that Scott Brown and other Republicans want to pretend Todd Akin is an isolated individual, but he is clearly in line with the Republican agenda,” Warren said in a statement.
“The agenda of the Republican Party is to limit access to health care services. It’s to deny women equal pay for equal work. It’s to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. And it’s to select as a vice presidential nominee someone who co-sponsored legislation with Representative Akin to redefine ‘rape,’ “ Warren said, referring to Romney’s pick for vice president, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Akin’s comments could boost McCaskill’s bid for reelection. She is arguably the most endangered Democrat in Congress because of the increasingly conservative leanings of her state. Akin’s comments could be an opportunity for McCaskill and other Democrats to drive a wedge between Republicans and women voters.