WASHINGTON -- After saying he “can’t defend” Rep. Todd Akin’s suggestion that women don’t get pregnant from rape, Mitt Romney stepped up his rebuke on Tuesday when he called on Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race. But archives from Romney’s previous presidential bid show that the Massachusetts Republican has historically supported the person who is the source of Akin’s theory, Dr. Jack C. Willke, the father of the antiabortion movement.
A physician and former president of the National Right to Life Committee, Willke was an “important surrogate” for Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. Willke is the oft-cited source of the theory that rape-related pregnancies are “rare.” The theory is sometimes used by antiabortion advocates to argue that abortion laws should not contain exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest.
Willke believes that trauma caused by violent rape causes a woman’s reproductive system to shut down. He presents this belief as fact in educational materials, including a book about abortion and a website called abortionfacts.com. Willke’s views – and his role in promoting a theory that has been widely rejected in modern medicine – appear not to have concerned Romney in 2007, when he touted Willke’s endorsement.