Tuesday August 21, 2012

BOSTON -- Comments by a Missouri Senate candidate who said women's bodies are able to prevent pregnancies in cases of "a legitimate rape" have reignited the debate over contraception and abortion in Mass achusetts' closely watched Senate race.

Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren rejected the remarks by Missouri U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, as did Republican presidential candidate and former Mass achusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who called the comments "insulting, inexcusable and, frankly, wrong."

Brown quickly released a statement Monday saying that as a husband and father of two adult daughters he found Akin's comments "outrageous, inappropriate and wrong."

"There is no place in our public discourse for this type of offensive thinking," Brown said. "Not only should he apologize, but I believe Rep. Akin's statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign the nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri."

Warren called the comments "reprehensible" but went further by saying Akin is in line with a Republican agenda to limit health care and deny women equal pay.

"I understand that Scott Brown and other Repub licans want to pretend Todd Akin is an isolated individual, but he is clearly in line with the Republican agenda," Warren said.

She cited Brown's support of legislation by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., that would have allowed employers to refuse health care coverage of services for "moral reasons" under Barack Obama administration's birth control coverage bill.

"Brown has been right in the middle of this through his support for the Blunt amendment, his opposition to equal pay legislation, his endorsements of Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket and his work for a Republican majority in the Senate," Warren said.

Brown opposed the Democrat-backed Paycheck Fairness Act, which aimed to strengthen the Fair Labor Standards Act's protections against pay inequities based on gender.

Both the Blunt amendment and the Paycheck Fairness Act failed in the Senate.

But Brown also broke with his party last year, rejecting calls from fellow Republicans to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood as long as the organization performs abortions.

Brown said at the time that while no part of the federal budget should be immune from cuts, eliminating Planned Parenthood funding "goes too far." Brown also said he supports family planning and women's health services and hopes both sides can find a compromise.

The Massachusetts Democratic Party put out its own statement Monday saying Brown's political action committee had donated thousands of dollars to Republican lawmakers who supported legislation that would have, in part, redefined rape to "forcible rape."

Brown opposes federal funding for abortions but thinks women should have the right to choose to have the procedure. He opposes efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Akin's remarks also drew a rebuke from another Massachusetts Republican -- former state mental health commissioner Elizabeth Childs, who is seeking her party's nomination for the state's open 4th congressional district seat.