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Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican Senate candidate from Missouri, caused a firestorm of controversy because of his remarks about "legitimate rape" and opposing abortion in rape cases. Akin has since apologized, but readers of all political persuasions seemed mostly unified in opposition to Akin's remarks; they tended to differ much more when talking about what those words actually mean politically.
Mark Ivy, who describes himself as an independent who plans to vote for Mitt Romney, said he believes Akin should bow out of his senatorial race.
"We need people who can judge what is fact from fiction, no matter one's personal ideology," he said via e-mail. "We need people who can tell that if it is raining you take an umbrella when you go out."
His CNN iReport video commentary riffed off Missouri's oft-debated "Show Me State" nickname, which the Missouri Secretary of State website defines as the "stalwart, conservative, noncredulous character of Missourians." His strong stance attracted several commenters, including CKThompson, below.
k3vsdad: "While many are seeing this as a discussion on abortion, to me it is rather a question of judgment and common sense. The congressman, who is standing his ground and vowing to stay in the race, is to me a failure on two very important concerns that voters in the Show Me State should be focusing.
"Show me good judgment – Akin in his remarks fails on this.
"Show me common sense – Akin fails on this as well."
CKThompson: "There is no defending his statement in this case ... it was completely absurd. But to eliminate him as a viable candidate because of an absurd statement is, in itself, absurd. As I said on another iReport, if we eliminated every politician who said something stupid during a campaign, every capitol and statehouse would be empty."
But then we found Ivy becoming the commenter on another video commentary iReport from Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas. Willies said he believes many evangelicals are "comfortable with" Akin's views, and added that he also sees a "war against women" welling up in portions of the Republican Party.
"Akin's comments were backward, offensive, and showed a complete disregard for women," Willies said. That got a response from several commenters, including Ivy.
EWillies1961: "Republican senatorial candidate Todd Akin says a woman's body protects against 'legitimate rape'. This is not a mis-speak. This is an ideology."
k3vsdad: "No ... not ideology ... idiocy. This guy is just plain stupid, nor is he representative of the whole."
The conversation dominated the comments on CNN.com. This comment was the most popular for much of the day:
JasonTremblay: "Shows the true agenda of Republicans: to interfere in the personal lives of others whether it's abortion or gay marriage. None of which is based on facts, only their fairy tale book."
The remark attracted several replies. Here's a sample:
Brandon Messenger: "Actually this shows the true agenda of the liberal national news media. The name of the game is 'deflect and redirect.' Instead of focusing on the REAL ISSUES of the election – the horrible Obama economy, the horrible Obama national debt spending out of control – we need to 'deflect and redirect.' Let’s talk about nonissues that will make the other side look bad. Yeah! That’s the ticket! This is a good news story for the conservative side because it means the national news media is in agreement that Obama is in a bad position going into the elections when all they can come up with is to 'deflect and redirect' away from the major issues that are going to tank him in November."
picklemonsta: "What is shocking to me are all the bleeding hearts here who act surprised when conservatives act conservative. And when liberals act liberal, who would have thought?! Get with the times people, politics are polarizing for a reason. Division is key!"
Are the divisions clear-cut? Some of those commenters said no political party seems to fit them.
Bruinman86: "It's ignorant to group all Republicans together as against gay marriage and abortion. I know many who are in support of marriage for all as well as pro-choice. The hard core right wingers are the ones you want to focus on."
MEonEARTH: "What I need is a third choice. I don't like Democrats' socialist, big government, anti-Second Amendment agenda. I don't like Republicans' anti-First Amendment, Bible thumping, anti-abortion, creationist agenda."
ovipconsult: "I'm an economic conservative and social liberal ... the best party for me is the Libertarian since the GOP can no longer accommodate people like me, and I don't like economic liberalism."
A few commenters groused about religious leadership.
mauiharper: "We really need to start taxing churches. It would help with the national debt and go a long way to stopping this propaganda about women's reproductive rights. Churches have abused their tax free status miserably to cover up pedophilia, deny marriage equality and a host of other social injustices. It is sad, because most people of faith don't subscribe to these beliefs, but their churches do."
The discussion about religion and science was much more pronounced on a related opinion article, and even spilled over onto a story about the Mars rover Curiosity.
In particular, readers opined that Akin's membership on the House Committee on Science makes the remarks more baffling. Several also compared Akin to Paul Ryan, the newly minted vice presidential candidate. A separate opinion article discusses the many ways Ryan is appealing to Republican women.
saboth: "You know what is even scarier than the ignorant comment itself? This Republican serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. You want to know why America is slipping behind other countries? Our legislators are ignorant in the very fields they are supposed to be legislating."
Guest: "His beliefs are no different from Ryan's, who has co-sponsored legislation in the past that would ban any abortion under any circumstances including rape!"
This reader said one can't just apologize easily.
IndMind: "And you do not get to say 'oops, my bad' after the world calls you out on something this stupid. This is a clear inclination to twist facts or ignore science as a means to an end. That mentality doesn't wash away with an insincere apology."
Should fetuses be aborted if they are the product of rape? What do doctors think about Akin now? A couple of commenters claiming to be Republican doctors gave their thoughts.
christyh214: "I'm a doctor, I'm a Republican, and I'm a woman who became pregnant when I was raped. That's such a disheartening statement to hear this day and age, it goes back to making this crime the woman's fault. I guess that means that according to men like this, I must've been 'illegitimately' raped. I just thank God that when this happened to me, abortion was an option, and although I didn't use that option, I have peace in knowing that the choice was mine to make."
texdoc78154: "As a Republican, male and doctor, I'm appalled at the stupidity from one of our candidates for Senate. No support from the national party, no support from other Republicans, it's now up to the voters of Missouri. I hope he steps down in time for us to field another candidate."
Readers discussed the details of keeping a child born of rape. As the discussion turned to abortion and religion, we saw very provocative interpretations of childbearing, abortion and the story of Jesus.
GAGGEDinUSA: "Many women would recognize that the child is innocent and a part of them and still go through with the pregnancy and ignore the rape part as much as possible. To this day, I still believe that Mary was raped."
sarahH: "So why make their sacrifice meaningless by forcing them to do it?"
Another thread took a different spin on that concept. These commenters expressed a strong anti-religious sentiment.
MrBean101: "What he seems to be saying is that if you turn up pregnant and say it was the result of being raped, you are lying. Jesus wouldn't let that happen so you must just be a harlot. I fear Taliban Christians more than Muslim ones."
jonnyboiler: "The irony of it all - Mary was raped, and Jesus was the result according to their beliefs."
MrBean101: "... This invisible nonexistent sky-god never penetrated her so as to leave her a virgin and really impress everyone, so it's not technically a rape anyway. Just wonder if Joseph was consulted."
One male reader said he sees things more broadly.
globaldecay: "There isn’t one single thing on Earth that could be done to promote greater freedom and liberty, or to fight poverty and suffering, then as would ensuring all women everywhere have complete control over their own reproduction. I may just be a man, but if the liberty of women is threatened then it is also a threat to my own liberty. That’s how it is with freedom."
Finally, this commenter said the Akin comment bothered them because of what it says about women's motivations.
Bart Sturdow: "I think when the congressman said 'legitimate rape' he meant rape when the woman was really getting raped as opposed to illegitimate rape, what he believes are the times when a woman later says she was raped and it was consensual. By arguing that women do not get pregnant if raped is, in effect, saying that all women who get pregnant and say they were raped are liars. Cannot imagine a much more offensive thing to say about women."
What do you think about Akin's statements? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.
Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.