HARRISBURG - The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania said Monday that his opposition to abortion under any circumstances was something his own family had to deal with when his daughter became pregnant out of wedlock.
Tom Smith, the nominee running against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, made the comment after being asked how he would argue to keep the baby if a daughter or granddaughter were to become pregnant as a result of rape.
Smith said that his daughter went through "something similar" to the decision some rape victims have to make, although she was not raped, and that she chose to keep the child.
His position on abortion is to ban it without exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
"I lived something similar to that with my own family, and she chose the life, and I commend her for that," Smith said. "She knew my views, but fortunately for me ... she chose the way I thought."
Asked how that was similar to rape, Smith said: "Having a baby out of wedlock."
After another follow-up question, about whether the out-of-wedlock pregnancy was similar to a case of rape, he said: "No, no, no, but, well, put yourself in a father's position. Yes, I mean, it is similar, this isn't, but I'm back to the original, I'm pro-life - period."
Smith made the remarks to reporters after speaking to the Pennsylvania Press Club.
The issue of rape and abortion arose recently when a Missouri candidate for Senate, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, said victims of "legitimate rape" rarely become pregnant, triggering calls by fellow Republicans for him to drop out of the campaign.
Akin said that in the case of rape, a woman's body has a way to prevent becoming pregnant, a claim that is not supported by science. Akin, who has apologized, has said he intends to remain in the race.
Smith said he did not condone rape but was categorically opposed to abortion under any circumstances.
"A life is a life, and it needs protected," Smith said. "Who's going to protect it? We have to. I mean, I believe life begins at conception. I'm not going to argue about the method of conception. It's a life, and I'm pro-life . It's that simple."