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New McCaskill ads feature three rape survivors who condemn Akin's views

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2012 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is launching an unusual series of three ads  that take aim at Republican rival Todd Akin’s views on rape and his opposition to emergency contraception by featuring three survivors of sexual assault.

The ads are stark as each woman – identified only as Diana, Joanie and Rachel – looks directly into the camera and condemns Akin’s statement that he wants to make emergency contraception illegal. Such contraception prevents pregnancy if taken within a few days of unprotected sex.

They also attack Akin’s televised statement, which launched a furor Aug. 16, in which he contended that rape exceptions aren’t necessary because victims of “legitimate rape” rarely get pregnant because their bodies generally prevent. (Experts say that’s not true, and Akin has apologized.)

Akin laid out his opposition to emergency contraception in a Kansas City radio interview just days after his Aug. 7 primary victory. Akin said, "As far as I'm concerned the morning-after pill is a form of abortion. I think we just shouldn't have abortion in this country.” 

But it was Akin’s rape comments that set off a wave of GOP condemnations and calls for him to step down as the nominee. He did not, and many major Republican figures since then have shifted back into his camp.

The ads show why some GOP-aligned SuperPACs have opted to stay out of Missouri’s contest. One of the women in the ads identifies herself as a Republican, while two say they are “pro-life.” The ads appear to be a direct appeal to GOP women, even those who consider themselves anti-abortion.

McCaskill also is using the ads to raise campaign money online.

Her campaign said that McCaskill, a former prosecutor, became acquainted with the women through her contacts in the law-enforcement community and women's support groups.

(UPDATE) Akin's advisor Rick Tyler contended Wednesday that the ads were released now to divert attention from the controversy over the $39 million in federal rent subsidies that went to low-income housing projects where her husband has a financial stake. (End update)

“What matters to Missouri women is not what Todd Akin said about rape, it’s that he believes rape survivors should not have have access to emergency contraception, whether they opt to take it or not,” said McCaskill campaign manager Adrianne Marsh in a statement.

“Todd Akin’s beliefs are so extreme, he would criminalize emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, robbing them of a deeply personal decision that reflects their values and respects their faith. Diana, Joanie and Rachel, like so many others, have courageously spoken out about this intensely personal issue because they believe no politician should be allowed to make this decision for survivors of rape and incest. ”

The campaign said that “all three women have taken the courageous step of becoming public advocates for survivors of sexual assault, working in their communities to counsel survivors and educate women about protecting themselves from sexual violence.”

Here is the text for each of the ads:

30 seconds
Diana: I'm a Republican and a pro-life mother, and a rape survivor.
In the hospital I was offered emergency contraception.
Because of my personal beliefs, I declined.
Here's what else I believe: No woman should be denied that choice.
What Todd Akin said is offensive, but what he believes is worse.
He would criminalize emergency contraception.
I've never voted for Claire McCaskill, but because of Todd Akin, I will now.

30 seconds
Joanie: Todd Akin apologized for implying there’s such a thing as legitimate rape.
He may have misspoken, but I do believe he showed his true colors and his true intent on what he intends to do if he’s elected.
Accepting his apology is up to you.
I’m a pro-life mother and a survivor of an extremely violent sexual assault.
As a woman of faith, I must forgive Todd Akin.
But as a voter, it’s not something I can forget.

30 seconds
Rachel: Ten years ago, I was brutally raped in a home invasion.
For me, taking control started with taking emergency contraception at the hospital.
At the worst moment of her life, no woman should be denied that choice.
What Todd Akin said was troubling enough, but it’s what he believes that’s worse.
His policies would criminalize emergency contraception for women who are raped.
That’s what he would do with his vote in the Senate.
What will you do with yours this November?

“Diana” (online)
Diana: I'm a Republican voter. I'm pro-life, and I'm a rape survivor.
I'm here today because what Todd Akin said was wrong.
I feel that it's important that Missouri voters hear it straight from someone who survived sexual assault what it's like to address these topics that he so callously disregarded.
I chose not to take the Plan B pill because I felt strongly about my pro-life values, but it was something that I needed to decide for me.
I can't imagine what it would be like for any survivor to go into a hospital, complete one of those rape kits and not have the Plan B pill as an option.
For Todd Akin to take that option away from sexual assault survivors is to victimize them all over again.

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