A Republican nominee in a closely watched House race in Virginia made bizarre and false comments about rape victims, saying in leaked audio recordings that she wouldn’t be surprised if a woman’s body prevents pregnancies from rape because “it’s not something that’s happening organically,” and that the rapist is doing it “quickly.”
The nominee, Yesli Vega, a supervisor and sheriff’s deputy in Prince William County, made the remarks at a campaign stop last month in Stafford County, according to Axios, which published the audio recordings on Monday.
The person Ms. Vega is speaking with in the two clips, which together run about a minute long, is not identified and Axios did not reveal the source of the audio.
In a statement, Ms. Vega did not dispute the authenticity of the recordings, but said: “As a mother of two children, yes I’m fully aware of how women get pregnant.”
The first clip indicates Ms. Vega was speaking in the context of the debate about abortion, as she can be heard saying: “The left will say, ‘What about in cases of rape or incest?’”
Ms. Vega cited her experience as a police officer, saying that she had “worked one case” since 2011 “where as a result of rape the young woman became pregnant.”
In the second clip, after the unidentified woman said she heard that it is “harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped,” Ms. Vega replied: “Well maybe, because there’s so much going on in the body, I don’t know. I haven’t, haven’t, you know, seen any studies but if I’m processing what you’re saying it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically, right? It’s forcing it.”
After the unidentified woman said the body “shuts down,” Ms. Vega replied: “Yeah, yeah, and then the individual, the male, is doing it as quickly, it’s not like, you know, and so I can see why maybe there’s truth to that.”
Ms. Vega’s statement did not say directly whether she stood by her comments. “Liberals are desperate to distract from their failed agenda,” the statement reads. She also said her political opponents “would rather lie and twist the truth” than explain their stance on abortion.
Her campaign did not explain what “lie” her comment was referring to.
Ms. Vega won a June 21 Republican primary to take on the Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District, a newly drawn, Democratic-leaning district. Ms. Spanberger supports abortion rights.
On Twitter, Ms. Spanberger called Ms. Vega’s comments “extreme and ignorant” and “devoid of truth.”
Ms. Vega’s recorded comments are similar to remarks made in August 2012 by Representative Todd Akin, who, as the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, said pregnancy from rape is “really rare” because, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
Leading Republicans called on Mr. Akin to drop out of the race, which he rebuffed. He went on to lose the race to the Democratic incumbent, Senator Claire McCaskill, by nearly 16 percentage points.