SACRAMENTO — The leader of a conservative faction within the California Republican Party said pregnancies by rape are rare because a woman’s body is traumatized by the violence, recalling remarks that derailed a U.S. Senate candidate’s campaign last year.
Celeste Greig, president of the California Republican Assembly, made the remarks to the San Jose Mercury News ahead of this weekend’s state GOP convention in Sacramento.
Greig was responding to a question about former Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, who last year said women’s bodies have the power to prevent pregnancy – or “shut that whole thing down” – after what he termed “a legitimate rape.”
Greig said Akin’s comment was insensitive and required an apology, but she then gave a similar remark.
“Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it’s an act of violence, because the body is traumatized,” Greig told the newspaper. “I don’t know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through, I don’t know what percentage of pregnancy results from the act.”
The newspaper cited statistics from a 2003 study by St. Lawrence University that showed women get pregnant after rape at a rate that is more than double that for a single act of consensual sex. Relying on data from U.S. National Violence Against Women survey, the study said the per-incident rape-pregnancy rate was 6.4 percent while the same rate for women having consensual sex was 3.1 percent per encounter.
Many Republicans blame the Akin comment on abortion and a later one by Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock for GOP setbacks in last fall’s election. Mourdock, who also lost his Senate bid, was criticized after saying pregnancy resulting from rape is “something God intended.”
Greig’s comments come as the California Republican Party is trying to reboot its image after years of election defeats and registration declines.
The party has dropped below 30 percent in voter registration, does not hold a single statewide office, has less than one-third of the seats in the state Legislature and does not yet have a credible candidate to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown when he is up for re-election next fall.
Public opinion surveys show Republicans are consistently in the minority on a range of social issues supported by a majority of California voters.
Greig did not immediately respond to a telephone message and email asking whether she would like to elaborate on her comments to the newspaper.