Former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri may have packed his bags and headed home after he was defeated in a race for U.S. Senate, but House Republicans are still talking about "legitimate rape."
Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia told an audience at a town hall Thursday that Akin was "partly right on that" when he said a woman's body can shut down a pregnancy in instances of "legitimate rape."
And while Gingrey, an OB/GYN, says his comments were taken out of context, a GOP strategist says that no matter how hard they try to explain, it is one topic GOP lawmakers should just stay quiet about.
Both Akin and Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock lost their election over female reproductive stumbles.
"Right now, it is rhetorical territory that is fraught with peril. Women don't want to hear men talk about rape no matter what party they are in," says Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist. "What is the advantage to making the point in the first place? I don't get it. There is no upside."
Gingrey, unlike Akin, actually has a medical background. Gingrey says woman who are stressed do have a harder time conceiving.
"And I've delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, 'just relax.' Drink a glass of wine. And don't be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate. So he was partially right wasn't he?" Gingrey said, according to a video at the Daily Journal.
"But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you're not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman's body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart."
Gingrey's office released a statement saying the congressman did not endorse Akin's statements, but merely sought to help the audience understand where Akin's statements were coming from.
"I do no defend, nor do I stand by, the remarks made by Rep. Akin and Mr. Mourdock. In my attempt to provide context as to what I presumed they mean, my position was misconstrued."
Mackowiak says the GOP should just stay away from this issue.
"Men cannot credibly and sensibly with sensitivity address rape. No one has done it yet," he says.