In a surprise news conference Monday, President Barack Obama addressed the controversy surrounding a remark by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) that women who suffer "legitimate rape" rarely get pregnant.
"The views expressed were offensive," said Obama. "Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we are talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me. So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."
The comments are the most high profile in a series of rebukes from both Democrats and Republicans. Earlier in the day, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also condemned Akin, who is running to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
Obama did not call on Akin to leave the race, as some Republicans have done. "He was nominated by the Republicans in Missouri," he said, "I will let them sort that out." He did, however, use the opportunity to contrast his approach toward women's health care with that of the GOP.
"Although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions, or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape, I think those are broader issues," Obama said. "And that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party."