Rep. Gingrey: Todd Akin 'partly right' about rape and pregnancy

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) was "partly right" when he made controversial comments that women cannot become pregnant from a rape.

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Akin, then the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, said a woman cannot become pregnant from a "legitimate rape" because the female body can "shut that whole thing down."

Gingrey, who is an OB-GYN, said in a town-hall meeting that Akin was partially correct, according to a report in the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal.

Gingrey said a rush of adrenaline can prevent the female body from ovulating — something he's seen a lot in women who are tense about trying to conceive, he said. 

“And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true," Gingrey said. "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?"

Gingrey's office said he was only commenting on the political implications of Akin's August comments, and that he does not agree with them.

"At a breakfast yesterday morning, I was asked why Democrats made abortion a central theme of the presidential campaign. 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," Gingrey's office said in a statement.

Former Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R) lost his election following a controversy over his statement that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Here's the full quote from Gingrey, as reported by the Daily Journal:

“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.

“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."

“That the Chairman of the Republican Doctors Caucus shares former Congressman Todd Akin’s extreme, offensive views on women and rape is both alarming and telling,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Communications Director Jesse Ferguson. “Last November women across the country sent the message loud and clear that they are not interested in electing men who don’t take women’s health and safety seriously, but House Republicans have apparently still not gotten that message.

"As long as Republicans have extremists like Congressman Gingrey leading their health care policy, the Tea Party House Republicans will be too extreme for women."

— This report was originally published at 10:55 a.m. and last updated at 3:41 p.m.