Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Tom Smith said getting pregnant by being raped is "similar" to getting pregnant out of wedlock Monday. It was hard enough to say Todd Akin's views on rape and abortion were out of the Republican mainstream when the party adopted a platform with the exact same position as Akin, and now another GOP Senate candidate has expressed some pretty backward views on rape and abortion. When an Associated Press reporter asked Smith how he could tell a rape victim she had to keep her rapist's baby against her will, Smith responded:
Smith: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they [sic] way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.
Associated Press: Similar how?
Smith: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.
Associated Press: That’s similar to rape?
Smith: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.
Do you not understand how they are the same? Allow me to translate, I speak caveman: They are similar because the pregnancy is shameful, because an unwed pregnant daughter brings shame upon the father, no matter how she got pregnant in the first place. Smith went on to reiterate that he's pro-life in all cases, no exceptions: "I’m not going to argue about the method of conception," he said.
The comments come a week after Rep. Akin, running against freshman Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, falsely claimed that in cases of "legitimate rape," a woman's body blocks the rapist sperm so she doesn't get pregnant. Akin apologized, and Republican leaders begged him to quit the race, but he did not. Smith, a businessman, is challenging freshman Sen. Bob Casey Jr. He spent $5 million of his own money to win the Republican primary. He made the comments at a press club luncheon in Harrisburg.
Update: Smith's campaign clarifies that his daughter was not the one who was unmarried and pregnant. His communications director Megan Piwowar issued this statement:
"Tom Smith is committed to protecting the sanctity of life and believes it begins at conception. While his answers to some of the questions he faced at the Pennsylvania Press club may have been less than artful, at no time did he draw the comparison that some have inferred. When questioned if he was drawing that comparison, Tom's answer was clear, 'no, no, no.' Tom was speaking to the difficult decision faced by his family, not the nature of his daughters conception."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.