November 7, 2012 — Three Republican congressional candidates -- Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), Richard Mourdock (Ind.) and Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) -- who made controversial remarks about abortion during their campaigns were defeated in Tuesday's election, Politico reports (Haberkorn, Politico, 11/6).
Elsewhere, Washington House candidate John Koster (R) -- who used the phrase "the rape thing" while discussing abortion -- also lost (Heffter, Seattle Times, 11/6). Meanwhile, Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) was reelected, despite criticism over a taped phone call in which he told a woman he had a sexual relationship with to obtain an abortion (Schelzig, AP/WBIR, 11/7).
In Missouri, Akin -- who said pregnancy does not result from "legitimate rape" -- lost his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). Of the 51% of state voters who said in exit polls that they believe abortion should be legal, 76% voted against Akin (Von Kanel, "Political Ticker," CNN, 11/6). Doctors had criticized Akin for making the statement.
In Indiana's Senate race, Mourdock lost to Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). Mourdock remarked during an October debate that pregnancy resulting from rape can be something "God intended" (Politico, 11/6). Donnelly, the first Democrat to win the seat in decades, opposes abortion rights in most cases (Puente, WBEZ, 11/7).
Walsh, who was seeking a second term, drew fire after he said that abortion is never necessary to save a woman's life. As with Akin, doctors condemned Walsh for the medically inaccurate statement.
Polls released before the election suggested female voters were breaking sharply against Walsh and Mourdock, according to Politico. In the Missouri race, Akin's comment gave McCaskill -- who trailed Akin over the summer -- an opening to attack him on the issue of women's rights (Politico, 11/6).
Abortion-Rights Supporters React
NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund applauded the defeat of Akin and Mourdock.
Cecile Richards, PPAF president, said, "Women went to the polls tonight and sent a resounding message to politicians who want to insert themselves into personal health care decisions," adding, "Several key races tonight show that there is a political price to pay for demeaning and dismissing women" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/7).
Jess McIntosh, spokesperson for EMILY's List, said the election shows that "voters saw a clear contrast between the parties" and "there was an absolute rejection of extremist Republican (proposals)" (Abdullah, "Political Ticker," CNN, 11/7).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership