Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) Senate campaign confirmed on Wednesday that the candidate stands by a comment he made in 2008 that doctors regularly perform abortions on women "who aren't actually pregnant."
In a statement to BuzzFeed, Akin spokesman Rick Tyler called the congressman's comments "factual" and cited an investigative news article from 1978 as evidence that doctors trick women into thinking they're pregnant in order to collect fees for an abortion.
"There's ample evidence that abortion doctors on any number of occasions have deceived women into thinking that they're pregnant, and then collect money for a procedure that they don't perform," he said. "And I say they don't perform it because obviously the women weren't pregnant."
Tyler said nobody hears about this happening anymore because the problem is no longer talked about. "That's a war on women that never gets reported," he said, adding, "I don't want Todd to be held to some standard because there's no accurate reporting on abortion, because there isn't."
Abby Johnson, a staunch anti-abortion advocate who previously ran a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, backed up Tyler's claim in statement provided to BuzzFeed by Akin's campaign. "In support of Congressman Todd Akin, I can attest that when I served as director of Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, we often scared women into getting services they did not need - including abortion - so we could collect the fees," Johnson said. "This included women who were not pregnant and women who were in the process of miscarrying."
Dr. Nancy Stanwood, an obstetrician and board member of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, said Akin's claims are baseless and offensive to doctors.
"I think this reflects the fact that [Akin] is not an authority on women's reproductive health in the modern era," she told The Huffington Post. "What he's saying is baseless and medically ridiculous."
She added, "This is an old narrative, that physicians who provide abortions are greedy. It doesn't reflect the reality of what I see in my practice. We're thoughtful and passionate, and we've worked really hard to get the medical training we need to take care of patients. That's our motivation, and that's the 21st century narrative that we want people to pay attention to."
"That's just an absolutely ridiculous claim," Michelle Trupiano, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood's Missouri branch, told the Associated Press. It "just goes to show how extreme Todd Akin is, and he's not in touch with what happens in women's lives."