Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin dead at 74

ST. LOUIS — Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri has died at age 74.

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According to The Associated Press, the Wildwood Republican died Sunday night after a long bout with cancer, Perry Akin, the former lawmaker’s son, said in a statement.

“He was a devoted Christian, a great father and a friend to many,” the statement read, according to the news agency. “We cherish many fond memories from him driving the tractor at our annual hayride, to his riveting delivery of the freedom story at Fourth 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, who represented Missouri’s 2nd District in suburban St. Louis from 2001 to 2013, ran for U.S. Senate in 2012 but lost to then-incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, the AP reported. During his campaign, comments he made about abortions for rape victims drew criticism from opponents as well as fellow Republicans.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” Akin told a St. Louis TV station at the time, claiming that pregnancies resulting from rape are “really rare.”

Then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his 2012 running mate, former U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, issued a statement after Akin’s interview, saying they disagreed with his remarks, The Guardian reported.

“A Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,” the statement added.

Akin said in a statement that he “misspoke,” the AP reported. Although he later said his comments were wrong, he took back the apology in his 2014 memoir, “Firing Back.”

“By asking the public at large for forgiveness, I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said,” he wrote in the book, according to Politico.

He added: “My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down was directed to the impact of stress on fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me? Google ‘stress and infertility,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject.”

Read more here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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