Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin dies at 74
Todd Akin, a six-term congressman, died on Sunday after a battle with cancer. A staunch pro-lifer, Akin was arrested multiple times in the 1980s for protesting in front of abortion centers. He served in the Missouri state legislature for 12 years before winning the state’s 2nd Congressional District seat. In 2011, he gave up the safe position to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill. He was soundly defeated following a comment about abortion and rape that garnered national criticism. Akin and his wife homeschooled their six children, and he served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
What happened in 2012? In an interview, he disagreed with allowing abortion in cases of rape, commenting that pregnancies are rare in cases of “legitimate rape.” Although Akin apologized for the comment and said it was wrong, Republicans withdrew funding and endorsements. He refused calls to step down and lost the race by 16 percentage points. In his concession speech, Akin thanked God: “And so I say, to God alone be the honor and the glory, regardless of how he decides to organize history.” Later he wrote a book in which he criticized Republican lawmakers for distancing themselves from him during the controversy and said his comment was misinterpreted. Upon hearing of his death, McCaskill tweeted her condolences and said she respected Akin’s character and the way he was “authentic to his beliefs.”
Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Janie B. Cheaney’s 2012 column on Akin’s comment and the abortion debate.
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