Pregnancies from rape, unmarried sex ‘similar,’ says GOP Senate candidate

A second Republican Senate candidate has waded into rough waters while explaining his conservative stance on abortion. 

Tom Smith, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), said Monday that he believes in outlawing abortion, with no exception for rape victims. He then appeared to compare pregnancies from rape to pregnancies that result from consensual sex between people who are not married.

Smith was asked to explain how he would tell a victim of rape to continue with her pregnancy.

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"I lived something similar to that with my own family," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "She chose life. I commend her for that.

"Don't get me wrong — it wasn't rape," he added.

Pressed to explain what circumstances would be like pregnancy from rape, he said "having a baby out of wedlock."

Smith appeared to backtrack briefly before continuing. "Put yourself in a father's position," he said. "Yes, I mean, it is similar."

According to the Inquirer, he denied making the comparison later on in the interview. 

"I never said that. I didn't even come close to that," he said. "Do I condone rape? Absolutely not ... but I am pro-life, period. A life is a life, and it needs to be protected." 

Smith's spokeswoman followed up with an emailed statement.

"While his answers to some of the questions ... may have been less than artful, at no time did [Smith] draw the comparison that some have inferred," said Megan Piwowar. "When questioned if he was drawing that comparison, Tom's answer was clear: 'no, no, no.'"

Abortion politics moved to the forefront last week after Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), another GOP Senate candidate, said that victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant.

Smith, a former coal executive, said Monday that he does not agree with Akin's statements, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Hill rates the Pennsylvania Senate contest a "likely Democratic" win.

—This post was updated at August 28 at 10:18 a.m.