Report: Doctor cited by Akin for rape claim was 2007 Romney surrogate

The doctor whom Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) cited for his claim about pregnancy and “legitimate rape” was a surrogate for Mitt Romney in 2007, according to a report.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Dr. Jack C. Willke, a physician whom abortion-rights opponents often reference when making the claim that pregnancies from rape are uncommon, served as a surrogate for Romney in his bid for the party’s 2008 nomination. 

{mosads}”Dr. Willke is a leading voice within the pro-life community and will be an important surrogate for Gov. Romney’s pro-life and pro-family agenda,” a statement from the 2007 Romney campaign said in October of that year.

Willke has again drawn attention following Akin’s comment on Sunday that the female body has ways of terminating a pregnancy from a “legitimate” rape. Willke has been a proponent of the claim that forcible rape victims are less likely to become pregnant because of biological defenses. 

In an interview on Monday with The New York Times, Willke reiterated that view, saying that sperm in a woman who is being raped is “less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.” Health experts dismiss Willke’s claims.

Since Akin made his comments citing Willke’s theory, he has received a torrent of criticism and pressure to end his candidacy to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). On Tuesday, Akin said he planned to stay in the race, missing a deadline to exit without any penalties. He will need to file a court order now to remove his name from the ballot.

Romney and most GOP leaders had called on Akin to exit the race, fearing he could harm the presidential ticket and the party’s hopes of retaking the Senate. Akin said Wednesday that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Romney’s running mate, had personally called him to urge him to “stand down.”

But the 2007 ties to Willke could harm the Romney camp’s efforts to distance itself from Akin.

At the time, Romney, according to the Times, said he was “proud” to have Willke’s support.

“I am proud to have the support of a man who has meant so much to the pro-life movement in our country,” Romney said in the same statement. “He knows how important it is to have someone in Washington who will actively promote pro-life policies. Policies that include more than appointing judges who will follow the law but also opposing taxpayer-funded abortion and partial-birth abortion.”

Willke, in 2007, also praised Romney as “the only candidate who can lead our pro-life and pro-family conservative movement to victory,” a report in The New York Times noted.

This story was last updated at 9:01 a.m.

Tags Claire McCaskill Paul Ryan

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