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Rep. Todd Akin Gets Strong Support From A Pro-Life Group

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, running for the U.S. Senate, continues to draw fire over his remarks last weekend suggesting that women who are "legitimately raped" have a secret biological method to avoid conceiving a child after a rape. Akin said: "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

He's since apologized, and run several ads saying he knows women can become pregnant through rape. But he later said his mistake was actually using a single word - legitimate - to describe rape.

He's been denounced by Democratic and Republican candidates, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and lost key financial support, including from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign which AP reports was poised to pump $5 million dollars in advertising.

But his supporters continue to back him. NPR's Steve Inskeep talked with Connie Mackey, the head of the pro-life Family Research Council's political action committee. Steve asked her if the word 'legitimate' was the only thing that Akin got wrong. "Unfortunately no", she said. "The statement was wrong, plain and simple."

Mackey says people have seen images of the horror of rape, and that's why the incident blew up so quickly. "When you try to go into the weeds politically on this issue it's a disaster, as we just saw," she observed.

So why support Akin?

Mackey launched into a full voiced defense: because he's pro-life. Akin has won election to his congressional seat six times, understands economic issues, is a military veteran and is a "good and decent man". She says the rape comments were a single "gaffe".

When Steve questioned whether Akin should have known ahead of time his remarks were incorrect, Mackey fired back, asking why the media hasn't questioned President Obama's statement that men should never legislate health issues related to women. NPR replayed the Obama statement, which actually says that politicians, some of them men, shouldn't interfere in women's health care.

Asked if there's enough financial support from pro-life groups to help Akin run his campaign, Mackey ruefully said, "no". But she says the Family Research Council won't turn its back on him.

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Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.

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