Former Rep. Todd Akin, whose abortion remark sunk his political career, dies at 74

Former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri, whose "legitimate rape" comment helped tank his chances to win a Senate seat, has died at 74.

The former congressman's, son, Perry Akin, told the Associated Press his father had cancer for several years and died at his home in Wildwood, Missouri, near St. Louis.

The conservative Republican was a House member for over a decade before losing a bid for the U.S. Senate, which was sunk by controversial remarks about rape and abortion.


"As my father's death approached, we had people from all different walks of life share story after story of the personal impact he had on them," Perry Akin said. "He was a devout Christian, a great father, and a friend to many. We cherish many fond memories from him driving the tractor at our annual hayride, to his riveting delivery of the freedom story at 4th of July parties dressed in the full uniform of a colonial minuteman. The family is thankful for his legacy: a man with a servant's heart who stood for truth."

Akin represented Missouri's 2nd Congressional District from 2001 to 2013 before giving up a seat that had been considered safe for a 2012 Senate bid against incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin went on to lose the race by 16 percentage points in a result that helped Democrats maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

During an interview with St. Louis television station KTVI, Akin was asked whether abortions for women who have been raped should be legal. Akin called such instances "really rare," adding, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The remark about "legitimate rape" prompted a national controversy. Mitt Romney, then the Republican nominee for president, distanced himself from Akin, calling for him to exit the race, as did Reince Priebus, who was then the Republican Party's national chairman.

McCaskill later published a book, writing that she sought to help Akin win the Republican primary because she thought she could most easily defeat him.

McCaskill wrote on Twitter on Monday that Akin was "a nice man," adding that "although we had major disagreements about just about everything, he was authentic to his beliefs."


"He actually believed in everything he said, which is a tribute to his character," she said. "My thoughts are with his lovely family."

Akin is survived by his wife, Lulli Boe Akin, his mother, Nancy Bigelow Akin, four sons, two daughters, and 18 grandchildren.

Original Location: Former Rep. Todd Akin, whose abortion remark sunk his political career, dies at 74


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